Friday, September 28, 2012

Ain't No Woman Like the One-Eyed God

Someone recently asked about gay men and their role in Asatru.  They had been somewhat put off by the emphasis on sexual differentiation and gender roles in Wicca.  This was my response:

There is certainly sexual fluidity already present in the lore.  While many of them
have been lost, perhaps because of Christian squeamishness, there are
stories of quite a number of the gods being in subservient or
"feminine" roles.  Odin is the Allfather, but in Lokasenna Loki talks
about Odin's having spent time as a milkmaid.  Odin also learned magic
from Freya, some of which may have involved gender-bending.

Thor objects strenuously to being dressed up as not just a bride but
as the beautiful Freya in order to regain his power (hammer).  That
the idea does not come from Loki but from Heimdall is significant.
Loki happily dresses up as a lady's maid in order to go with Thor to
Thrym, but that's Loki for you.  He got pregnant and gave birth as a
mare, so I doubt that anything feminine slows him down after that.

Frey gives away his sword in order to marry Gerd.  He is associated
with peace and fertile fields although he is also remembered as a
warrior king by both the Danish and Swedish royal houses, which he is
said to have founded.  Frey gives us the "total man": a warrior when
he needs to be, a king, a lover and also a keeper of peace.  I'm not a
Freyswoman per se, but I really like him.

I've observed that in Asatru being gay might be treated with some
ribaldness, but I have overall not noticed in being in a cruel way.
We might tease married folks in the same way.  This is only in the
Troth mind you; there are Asatru groups that really value traditional
sex/gender roles and thus see being homosexual as bad for the
reproductive future.  I think we all agree that they are full of it.

Our kindred has 6 females and 8 males.  One of the males is five years
old.  The men tend to be capital-D Dudes who do MMA and shoot a lot of
guns.  We do have gay members and it just doesn't come up in
conversation.  I'm reminded of a column I was reading by a Voudou
houngan yesterday.  He said that Voudou is a community religion.  An
individual may be gay, but since the community and its worship are not
focused on sex in any way (unlike in Wicca) this isn't an issue.

I just finished reading Ronald Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon".  Wicca
is traditionally very focused on sexuality (fertility) and sexual
differentiation, to the point that there have to be separate trads for
gays and lesbians.  The Radical Faeries and the Dianics are the first
two who spring to mind.  Gardner's Wicca started out being
male-dominated, though focused on binary sexuality.  The switch to the
Goddess being more emphasized than the God is a 1970s development.
This has both drawn men to Wicca as well as driven them away.

Asatru does not demand that a god and goddess be worshiped together,
and as hard polytheists we insist that the gods and goddesses are not
"faces" of one God and Goddess.  Choices of patron are very personal.
My husband is an attorney whose patron is Loki.  I'm an Army NCO whose
patron is Thor.  I invoke Frigga when I'm at home; she has a shrine in
my kitchen.

Since Asatru life is focused on deeds, not magic, this also spins our
religion in a way far different from Wicca, but that's another essay,
and already exists out there.

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