Pronouns

I dove into my article on gender and pronouns out of a desire, as a writer, to find a better way.  While I have tried to use the singular they instead of the cumbersome “his or her” or visually irksome “he/she” (slashing is noWordle: pronounst the answer, I recall reading in an essay in college, because violence never is), my dear wife finally convinced me it was incorrect, and I was discontent.  The fact that I was discontent is a form of progress:  I am in essence a conservative, which means that I want good justification before I change something that appears to work perfectly well, and the generic “he” worked quite well in my mind for a long time.  Once I accepted that “he” doesn’t quite include everyone, I wanted to get away from the clumsy alternatives, which happily led me to recognize the need to get away from gender entirely in pronouns, if possible.

Preferred pronouns, I reasoned, did not serve that end, because I saw them referred to as “the pronouns e prefers” rather than what these sets are, more inclusive pronouns than what we’ve got.  What I learned in my research is that, even if they are simply a step in the right direction, it could be a big step if we start working on the cultural shift towards associating pronouns of preference with everybody, not just the few who stand up and say that two genders are not enough.  I was further taught that, in such a world, quite a few of us identify as one of those genders might realize we’re not entirely comfortable with the binary system, either.

And then I got very, very stressed, because when you interview a lot of people with pronoun preferences, you need to keep track of them all and get them right.  That’s not a comfortable place to be.  Granted, it’s surely not even close to living a gender that our culture doesn’t recognize as legitimate, but as a writer, I thought my head would explode.  Although I can envision pronoun preference being the norm, I think the generation that embraces it would have to be normalized to it in its youth.  What we have now is a tiny sliver of society — transgender folks and their allies — attempting to navigate a difficult transition towards a new way of thinking and communicating, and these are chaotic waters.

While I’m an ally, I don’t know any trans* people that I see on a regular basis, so the only support I can offer is through my writing.  I’ve learned more about the issues — far more than I could even cover for The Wild Hunt — but I’m left wondering if there’s more that I can do with words than simply reinforce the idea that special people deserve special pronouns, which will not sway the hearts and minds of the vast majority of people, who don’t even know the word “cisgendered,” much less that it describes them.  My desire to unfetter English from this unintended bias remains strong, but the way forward for me is not clear.  It is better, though, to lack clarity thanks to knowledge, rather than to be clear due to ignorance.

Not a question

It’s not a question of calling it enhanced interrogation or torture – it’s a question of whether we would do it to our loved ones.
It’s not a question of whether torture provides valuable information in times of desperation – it’s a question of how to avoid feeling desperate.
It’s not a question of valuing our enemies’ lives over our loved ones’ – it’s a question of not becoming enemies in the first place.

“Why can’t you be nice???”, or, why I get angry on the Internet

TPWard:

I ask myself this question. I loathe conflict and the way it twists my guts, but I keep diving in. Perhaps the way forward is less about moving away from anger than it is moving through it.

Originally posted on Lean in to Joy (transition priestess, spiritual midwife):

1) It’s my job.

2) It’s my Job.

3) People respond to it, not to my “let us pray for peace” posts.

I am a transition Priestess. I walk the Edges and I do it well. I move people and spirits from life to death, from here to there, from comfortable to uncomfortable, from complacent to transformed. It’s my job. If folks paid attention to nice, I’d do that, but on the Internet folks pay attention to RAWR! Especially on Facebook.

People engage when they see the !!!!!!s on my Facebook posts. Some engage in support, others engage to tell me I’m full of crap, or they are apologists, or they are simply saying, “But I….” Frankly, I don’t care from which direction you engage – you are engaging and that brings awareness, that promotes discussion. I tend to discuss the undiscussable (yes, not a word, I know). I discuss…

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Good news is bad news

Well I am getting a lot of feedback to my request for cisgendered folk, thanks to some kind helpers, so much so that I have to be careful not to overcompensate and sideline the people that live with ill-fitting pronouns every day. This is a good problem to have, and I am appreciative to be in this position, but don’t be afraid to contact me no matter your gender, okay?

Curiously, the feedback I’m getting is entirely from ciswomen.  Cismales, step up and represent!

Help me find cisgendered Pagans to talk to

I’m working on a story for The Wild Hunt about gender and language.  In what may be a comment on where the Pagan and polytheist communities are at these days, I am having more difficulty finding cisgendered people to talk to than anyone else, so I’m hoping for a signal boost.  If you haven’t a clue what “cisgender” means, it likely refers to you:  it’s a word which describes those of whose bodies and gender identities happen to match each other; if you consider yourself a “he” or a “she” and have never questioned that identification, you are certainly a cisgendered person.

My piece will deal mostly with pronouns, so my ideal subjects are people who are aware that there are other pronouns beyond he and she that people use in English to identify themselves or others, whether or not you use those pronouns yourself.  I’m also not opposed to talking to more people who are not cisgendered, because I need all the help I can get since I’m a cismale and I expect I’m more ignorant than I can imagine.  As of this writing, though, I don’t have any cisgendered folk weighing in, and while that may help the majority understand what it’s like to be silenced, it doesn’t make for good journalism.

I will use your preferred name (and pronouns) if I quote you, and I don’t mind not including your name so long as your commentary isn’t abusive.

Phytalmius photo op

Green Man

Badass green man jacket, front.

I am no stranger to the Green Man.  Indeed, I wear his jacket, or would if I could remember to get the zipper fixed.  That’s why I was pretty excited to write about Poseidon Phytalmius, since I had no idea he had any meaningful link to green, growing things.

Tumblr readers, you’re going to want to click through now, because my pics over here on WordPress are sweet today.

The story until now:  I excited by mythology as a child, but bored as a Roman Catholic.  I but decided to try harder in my teens, and became a lector (reader) in my church.  That routine didn’t survive the tumultuous transition into college life, but when I met real Pagans, my curiosity (“You mean they worship the Greek gods?”) also led me to explore all the established religions in town.

Badass Green Man jacket, back

Badass Green Man jacket, back

After a time I identified as Pagan, the sort of Pagan that was drawn more to the beings of the forest than I was to the Wicca-styled rituals which were my only experience.  I did rather enjoy drawing down Herne, though, and in time my path led me to a deeper relationship with the Green Man before I allowed my religion to lie fallow for a time.  The theoi, having noticed that I hadn’t entirely forgotten them, eventually came calling, Poseidon tapped me, and here we are.

Along the way, I’ve carried forth the lessons of my earlier forays into relationship with divine forces, and I have also picked up a few objects which remind me of the more profound experiences that I have had.  One of these is a iron Green Man face, which has sometimes hung on the front door, but is really too heavy for that spot.  We’ve talked about mounting it above the mantle, but the bricks are covered with plaster, and that’s a lot of expertise which no one here possesses.

Poseidon Phytalmius Poseidon Phytalmius Poseidon Phytalmius Poseidon PhytalmiusMy Hellenic practice has caused me to cultivate an interest in shrines, both inside and out, and I’ve created a surprising number given the amount of usable land around our home.  In fact, one of them has never gotten a whole lot of use, because although I’ve been sure it’s a sacred spot, I haven’t really known who it was for.  I’ve tried pouring libations to Pan there, but even with the massive patch of moss surrounding the small stone I erected, it didn’t ring quite true.  I tend the moss, and encourage it to spread, but that’s about it, so when I suggested to my wife that I might take the iron face outside to put it in the moss to dedicate the shrine to Poseidon Phytalmius, she was quite agreeable.  What I didn’t expect is how incredibly right it would look — and feel — when I did so today.  The face just settled into the opening created when I removed a pile of stones which I’d placed there previously.  I moved one small tuft atop his cheek, and there it was.

I stood up from my ministrations to look at my work, and a deep sense of satisfaction — of rightness — all but bowled me over.  Seeing him surrounded by leaves, I understood that I should construct festivals to honor his sleeping under the leaves, and for the time of uncovering in the spring.  The spot is also adjacent to the front door of the house which, as is so often the case in my country, is not the primary egress, but it is used, and never had a divine presence nearby until now.  (My Hermes shrine stands at the crossroads near the most-used door.)  It feels like I’m just realizing that he was trying to reach out long, long before I started paying attention to this (okay, any) part of my ancestry.

Dusk

Dusk.

Dawn

Dawn.

What this means in full, will likely take some time to understand, but my appreciation for the subtlety and patience of Poseidon are redoubled by this simple experience.  No doubt there were times in my life that I would point to this as proof of the rightness of my theological stance, which might have been pantheist, or monist, or panentheist, or some other complicated word to express a sort of connectedness that once felt true to me.  Of course, that perspective is almost certainly as entirely true as what I feel now, which is that this is proof that the individual god Poseidon simply was trying to find the right face and right message for me.  And the fact that my Green Man jacket continues to be a hit doesn’t hurt.

End of the line

Nothing else interesting this way. Move along.

It was fun, but now it’s done.  Over the course of Maimakterion I wrote 33 hymns to Poseidon, including all the epithets I know were used for him in antiquity, several that I’ve been assured were or should have been used no matter what the limited records say, and a couple that I’m almost certain have not been uttered up until now.  I think this assignment was only to prepare me for two successive months of Poseideon, but as I write this I don’t know what is expected of me.  I don’t expect further daily demands upon my blog, but I haven’t actually asked yet.  (Divination might work, but I’m also a Quaker, and weekly worship is often where I get my messages.)

The product of this month’s work won’t be restricted to my blogging, though.  Astute readers may note that I have only posted 29 hymns here, but claim to have written 33.  (There’s also a bit of prose that came out, and I’m really excited it did, but even though I know what it’s trying to say, I barely understand it; clearly, it needs a wee bit of polish.)  I do intend on submitting the original 29 for consideration for inclusion in From the Roaring Deep.  I was excited when I learned about this anthology months ago, thinking it would make a good read, then I put it out of my mind.  A few days into my hymn-marathon it was again brought to my attention, and the fact that it opened for submissions during this month was not lost on me — I can be dense, but sometimes a sign is pretty clear.  Beyond that, I know I have more writing to do, because no matter what gets included in that worthy tome, I intend on putting out a collection of my own, one that will include the four I haven’t shown to anyone yet.

Once that book is published, I’m permitted to take on an additional name to mark that offering.

Being a simple guy, I’ve been stunned by the amount of interest and support this work has received.  I’ve seen over 60 hits on this blog some days, and a couple of my posts have nearly 10 comments!  (Seriously, it doesn’t take much to please me.)  Some people have given me particular support that is worthy of public gratitude.  They are:

  • My wife, who I am not naming just because I haven’t ever asked her if I could do that here.  She’s the one who first pointed out that I had a problem with Poseidon, even though she may not think that’s what she was doing, and despite being on a different path, her unwavering support of my religious life makes it all possible.
  • Sannion, the first person who called me on the fact that I really never talked about Poseidon.
  • My priest Timotheos, who pointed that that Poseidon also had noticed.
  • Jolene Poseidonae, who has been an enthusiastic cheerleader and constant inspiration.

The fact that I was experiencing a lot of repressed anger is less interesting to me than the assignment I was given to work on that:  write about him to learn about him, I was told.  I don’t [yet] think that my questions have been answered (except for that one Sannion got an answer to via divination; for some reason I never got the email and ultimately I decided I didn’t want it, not that way), but I now have some tools to help me ask better questions.