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Posted Under Magic & Ritual

Four Nonbinary Ways to Work with Polarity Energy

Black, White, and Gray Candles During Ritual

I love polarity energy! I love the feel of it bouncing back and forth between two or more people. I even love solitary polarity workings, although I do a lot less of that.

Polarity work is controversial these days. Many of us, of many different occult and Pagan paths, were taught that polarity is absolutely essential to magical work. We may also have been taught, though, that polarity is "gender polarity," and requires an entirely heteronormative view of the world. For that reason, polarity has a bad rap in many more inclusive corners of the occult community, and so a lot of people haven't really explored this energy, or have even actively rejected it. That's a shame, because when you dig into the history of polarity, you find a lot of room for nonbinary people to explore and experiment with polarity energies, which can be gendered, or totally gender-neutral, or very queer indeed. Without going on a long historical tangent, suffice it to say that "male" and "female" have been used as labels for a lot of polarities that have nothing to do with gender. We can easily drop that problematic labeling and have fun with the energies that remain.

If polarity isn't gender, what is it? In my book Bending the Binary, I define polarity as, "The presence of contrasting energies, forces, or conditions that attract one another, thereby generating power."

There's nothing in that definition that is about gender or heterosexuality, so it's wide open for inclusive exploration. That's valuable if you're interested in any of the traditions that include, or even require, polarity work, or if you simply want to explore this energy. Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Find Polarities
Upon deciding to explore polarity energy, the first thing to ask is what are these contrasting energies, forces, or conditions? In Bending the Binary, I define six broad polarity areas, under each of which are a few or dozens of additional polarities. For example, under the polarity of self and other, you'll find subject and object as well as lover and beloved.

But it's impossible for me to include every polarity, and your internal explorations are undoubtedly the most valuable ones. So the first exercise is to ask yourself what polarities you observe in your own life. Where is there contrast that creates energy? How does that contrast manifest in your life? Your relationships? Your rituals?

When looking for polarities, note that they are not merely any two things that interact, nor just any two opposites. Polarities exist on a pole: they have a relationship to one another that is dependent, energetic, or attractive. So, dark depends on light—you don't know what dark is without comparing it to light. Dominance and submission attract each other—they can't exist without each other; submission wants and needs dominance, and vice versa. Daytime and nighttime give energy to each other—they move towards each other cyclically, creating a whole 24 hour day. Any of these pairings can be perceived as existing on either ends of a pole, with many phases along that pole, whereas "meat and potatoes," while a common pairing, are not polar, or interdependent, or energetic.

Use meditation, automatic writing, or journaling to create a list of polarities that are meaningful to you. You can then use these polarities in your subsequent magical work.

2. Lean Into It
You've meditated and journaled about polarity, and one that you've found meaningful is (in this example) is stillness and movement. Perhaps stillness, to you, is the earth, and movement is the wind. Life is created when plants, rooted in earth, drop seeds that are carried by the wind.

You've noticed an ability to create power in ritual when one person holds still and takes the role of earth, while the other moves and enacts the wind.

The first way to explore this polarity is to be explicit about it, and lean into it. Don't just let the polarity happen. State it, enact it, and emphasize it.

So, in ritual, one person might say, "I am movement, I am the wind," while the other says, "I am stillness, I am the earth." And then the person who is stillness does not move. They find a spot and stay there, and everything they need to hold in ritual must be brought to them by the person who is movement.

So, if your rituals normally include one person consecrating incense, you'd add the polarity very explicitly so it goes something like:
Stillness: "I am the still earth, ready to consecrate incense."
Movement: "I am the swift wind, bringing the tools of consecration." (Brings incense to Stillness)

And so on throughout the ritual. Movement is giving movement energy to stillness, stillness is giving grounding to movement. These energies attract one another because they need one another, and in this way, energy is raised. As you enact each of these steps, be sure to focus on the polar energy that is a part of the work: Movement should be conscious of moving, and of needing stillness (that incense dish has to be put down!). Stillness should be conscious of holding still, and of needing movement. When they meet, they should observe those energies coming together.

You can do this as a solitary with many polarities. In the case of stillness and movement, you simply declare which you're enacting at each moment. Notice how it feels. When I am still I need movement, I draw that energy close, then when I am movement, I embody that energy until I need stillness, and reverse it.

Be sure to journal about the experience. How did it feel? Did the polarity energy add to your work? Did you feel its power?

3. Find The Third
Every polarity has a third component. This might be a liminal space—a border area, in between the poles but not actually either of them. It might be a whole greater than the sum of its parts, or it might be a thing created by the interaction of the poles. In the example above, stillness and movement together are necessary for creativity to happen; the incense cannot be consecrated without both, so that the creation is the third. In the example of night and day, twilight is a liminal space that is neither/both.

In meditation or journaling, find a third for each of the polarities you previously identified. In ritual, after leaning into a polarity, find a way to unite as the third. In our stillness and movement ritual, the partners work together to create each step of ritual. Here you can declare, "This consecration is the meeting place of stillness and movement, partaking of both."

Can you construct a ritual that allows two poles to come together as a third, and then come apart again? Each coming together leverages the natural attraction poles have for each other, creating a spark of energy that feeds into the third, then separating again starts the process over, in a polarity dance.

4. Switch Back and Forth
There's no reason for one partner to always be the same pole, even for the course of a single magical act. If you root polarity in physical or assigned gender, it is easy to assume that each person is always the pole that they are. I am a cisgender woman, and it is easy to assume that means I am always and forever the "female" pole. But once we release polarity energy from that constraint, I am free to embody whatever pole works for me. Maybe that's a forever pole, but maybe it's moment by moment.

Suppose you are doing a ritual of the fall or spring equinox—a time of year when light or dark are equal. Could you construct a ritual in which a representative of light and a representative of darkness switch roles? For a moment, or perhaps continuously throughout the rite?

For example, open with a meditation on the nature of dark and the nature of light, declaring this to be a ceremony of their balance. One partner wears a black cloak and focuses on embodying the dark half of the year, while the other wears bright yellow and visualizes the light half.

After this visualization, they can dance around each other, feeling the energy of each pole. Perhaps each has a chant or a word they intone. They harmonize the interaction of light and dark.

At last, they remove and trade cloaks, so the former dark is now light and light is now dark. They continue their dance and their song, feeling the shift of energies created by their movement.

They can switch again and again, over and over, expressing the energetic balance of the year.

How might this ceremony be different at a solstice? At a full or dark moon?

If you're a solitary, you've been switching back and forth all along, finding this extraordinary power in each exploration of a pole.

Switching back and forth like this can be seen as queer, or it can be seen as simply a way of working with energy that has nothing to do with queerness: The ideas, creativity, and point of view you bring is entirely up to you.

Naturally, there are a lot more than four ways to explore polarity energy, and a lot more exploration that can be done in these four. These energies are powerful, and wide open for your magical and creative work.

About Deborah Lipp

Deborah Lipp has been teaching Wicca, magic, and the occult for over thirty years. She became a Witch and High Priestess in the 1980s as an initiate of the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca. She's been published in many Pagan ...

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