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Queer men often find ourselves alienated from religion. Many of us walked away from the religions of our upbringing, having found them to be detrimental to our spiritual and mental health. That the major religions have been mostly antagonistic toward our kind (and quite often violently so) should offer ample explanation as to why we would search elsewhere to sate our spiritual longings. Unlike its mainstream counterparts, Modern Witchcraft mostly dispenses with a moralistic attitude toward sex and on the surface is quite accepting of queer folk. I say, "on the surface" because if you start to dig even just a little, you can start to see the unconscious biases that often lay at the heart of our shared philosophies.
One such Witchcraft philosophy that rears its ugly head is the insistence on gender polarity as a foundational absolute. In Wicca we see this clearly in the mythos of the Goddess and the God, paired together as the divine example of how magic is believed to work. It is the cojoining of the male and the female that is at the heart of the mysteries of Wicca, a religion that is firmly centered on fertility, both personal and, as in the case of their agricultural celebrations, transpersonal as well.
For cisgender heterosexual people to subscribe to such a philosophy makes sense, as it is through their couplings that reproduction occurs, and the attraction of male and female is part of their own nature. Add to the equation that roughly 94% of the population identifies as cishet, and it might not be surprising to find that a good portion of them regard anything other than straight cishet people to be "abnormal" even in the derogatory sense of the word. Sure, they might be polite in public, and even consider some of us to be their "friends," but many also harbor prejudices and unexamined biases that allow them to actively (or unconsciously) reinforce bigoted power structures and paradigms. And those structures infect many spaces in Modern Witchcraft.
I formally began my "career" in Witchcraft way back in 1985 when I called upon the goddess Diana and dedicated myself to the Craft. Since that time, I have had the opportunity to meet and share magical space with a good number of people from nearly all races, cultures, sexualities, gender identities, and levels of ability. I was often told by the (most often cishet) people who ran these groups that they were quite accepting of gay people in their spaces, provided we were prepared to perform within the heterosexist parameters upon which their rituals were based. This even extended to how practitioners were to be placed within the circle, alternating male and female members to allow for the magical energy to flow "correctly."
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with queer people participating in a religion that centers on the cishet experience, as long as we are aware that this is precisely what we are doing. The mysteries of the male/female union are beautiful, and wonderful, and powerful… but do not represent the entirety of the universal mysteries available to all of humankind.
Our magic is not necessarily the same as those of our straight cousins. We are perfectly capable of "translating" what the straight mysteries offer and find some part of it that resonates with our souls. But we also have our own mysteries. And we deserve to explore those in a way that actively celebrates us for who we are, and not simply tolerate us or treat us like an afterthought. We deserve a Queer Craft.
How does a Queer Craft differ from mainstream Wicca and Witchcraft? To begin, we first must understand that "Queer" is itself an umbrella term that includes a lot of different peoples and cultures that all share a common thread: we have been "othered" by the mainstream society because of our perceived sexual or gender non-conformity. In this we are confronted with one of the base problems of the human condition: the unconscious rejection of others who are not like ourselves. Those who are in the majority have often demonstrated a willingness to suppress or even destroy others who were perceived as being "different," a fact that any queer person or person of color can attest. This provides our first pillar, and is the very first thing we must look for in a queer-centered Witchcraft.
1. Embrace Diversity
2. Share Our History
3. Encourage Authenticity
4. Honor Sexuality
That said, we should also do well to understand that just because a person is queer, this doesn't mean that they are automatically inclined to want to incorporate sex into their spiritual practices. So, a Queer Craft should make such things available for those who wish to engage with them, but not make them mandatory for participation in the larger tradition or for moving forward in their work. Asexual people are also part of our Queer community, and their experiences and desires are just as valid as any other.
5. Offer a Path for Healing
Groups should be sensitive to the individual needs of its members, especially in relation to issues around sex, drugs, and alcohol. While it might be tempting for a regular queer get-together to have a Dionysian element of debauchery, there are times in which this might actually be harmful to those present, as they are struggling with their own issues of addiction. A Queer Craft should be adaptable to accommodate those for whom certain elements might be triggering, while also allowing a space for those who do wish to engage in certain behaviors. We are all adults here, and while we should be responsible for our own boundaries and limitations, we should also be sensitive to those of others and do our best to help our fellow humans. It takes a (queer) village. Ultimately a Queer Craft is one that is here for each other, in all of our beauty-flawed weirdness.
Ultimately, a Queer Witchcraft is one in which we truly feel at home, without the need to play a role for someone else or to pretend to be something that we are not. A Queer Craft affirms who we actually are, on every level. It affirms our sexuality, our gender, our race, our talents, our flaws, and our weirdness. A Queer Craft is not simply our grandparents' Witchcraft, dressed up in lavender clothing and sprinkled with rainbow glitter. It is raw, and real, and challenging, and hilarious, and gut-wrenching, and tender, and powerful: it is everything that we bring to the table, each a single thread now woven together with others into a vibrant tapestry. We celebrate our differences instead of just tolerating them. In this we learn to open up to one another and in so doing we learn more about ourselves. We are all different, together. And that is worth celebrating.
Storm Faerywolf is a published author, experienced teacher, visionary poet, and professional warlock. He is a regular contributor to Modern Witch and is a founding teacher of Black Rose, an online school of modern folkloric ...