NICOLE KALI

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NON-HETEROSEXUAL DEITIES


PRE-CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEWS

It is a fact pre-Christian belief systems had non-straight spiritual beings. Worldwide, the number may reach beyond hundreds. We cannot link identities such as LGBTQ to them per se, as this predates modern gay expression.

But for clearer reading, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, etc,) will be used. Sexuality in non-Christian worldviews have a long history. You need a decolonial lens to see.


Sedna, Inuit divinity of fate and the seas

Indigenous spirits rule not only over agriculture, necromancy, love and lunar cycles. They also control nature's patterns and sexual energy-even magic. And their genders, very form change at whim.

In this way, ancient bonds between men, women and all within reflected sexual openness and strength. Male and female were transient labels that solidified over time.

Still, this supernatural gender fluidity is a timeless reoccurence. And so, societies of sexual freedom were attacked by religious imperialism. This is a look.


AFRICA

Androgynous, trans-, same-sex oriented and genderfluid beings exist here. This is further discussed with True Africa.

WEST AFRICA

Dahomey belief, Vodun, centers around Mawu-Lisa as the second heavenly Creator. They are made from the sun and moon as one.

Sexuality plays a major part in Africa's creation accounts. Lisa was engaging Mawu in physical unison, when sun eclipsed moon. The same story recurs with Yoruba's Obatala and Oduduwa.

Mawu-Lisa's Great Mother, Nana-Buluku, is the universe's architect. She too has male-female attributes that defy limits.

Nana-Buluku is the supreme deity for several West African ethnic groups. The matrilineal Akan peoples of Ghana, Togolese Ewe, Yoruba and Igbo tribes consider her "the great supporter of the world".

Her role and worship vary regionally, but Nana Buluku has always represented primordial power at Earth's beginning.

Africa would be a different continent without these belief systems.


AMERICAS

 

ARCTIC

Inuit Sedna presides over destiny, the afterlife, and the sea.

Her companion-lover Qailertetang is matron of hunters, an animal guardian and weather spirit on the ocean floor (Lesbian Goddesses).

CENTRAL AMERICA


The Aztec "flower-prince" Xochipilli [pronounced sho-ki-PEEL-i)

Xochipilli (Toltec + Aztec mythology) was guardian saint of homosexual love (in addition to the spring, games, fine arts and dance). He also watched over gay sex workers and worshippers.

Xochiquetzal (Xochipilli's female counterpart) and Tlazoteotl protected patlache, Nahuatl for women-loving women.


Xochiquetzal, Aztec goddess of childbirth, fertility, love and womanly sexual power.

Similarly, the Aztec lunar goddess Coyoxauhqui is interpreted as a patlache divinity. Chicana artists have reenvisioned her with themes of feminine sexuality and women's strength.

Xmucane and Xpiacoc were ancient Maya feminine deities who created the world as a pair: the divine grandparents of Maya's world (Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories).

CARIBBEAN

Haitian Vodou has Erzulie Dantor, iwa of lesbians. Inle, Erinle, is their equivalent in Cuban santeria.

Baron Samedi is a bisexual loa in the Caribbean.

Chronology of Mexican Gay History


ASIA

EAST ASIA

Tu'er Shen ("rabbit deity" [兔兒神]) is a Chinese lord-god and conduit of gay romance. The Tale of the Rabbit God arose from Zi Bu Yu (子不语), Qing poet Yuan Mei's supernatural anthology.

Consider the translation roughly becomes "what Confucius did not speak of".

Yuan remains a profound writer today. Why the rabbit? This connotation carried derogatory undertones for homosexual people (Huffington Post).

 Same-sex discrimination had its supporters among imperial China's highest government.

This legend paints a prophetic portrait for gay men. Hu Tianbao had been human once, afraid that his feelings risked discovery from a fellow official.

 Hu's stare and confession earned him a fatal beating.

Yang Wang (underworld's god) passed judgment on Hu's death and ruled that it had been unfair. Newly reincarnated Tu'er Shen appeared in a fellow villager's dream one month later. His love earned respect from the townspeople to the gods.

The Rabbit God's temple was called "Tu'er shen miao" (Ming and Qing Homoerotic Tales).

Yuan Mei's Rabbit God is not well-known beyond Fujian (southern China) and Taiwan, so scholars speculate if they were merely an artistic invention with real-life parallels.

Qing court records hold that cults of Hu Tianbao did exist though. We're still unsure on many inner details. Homophobic government tried to stamp their existence out with resounding success.

The question confounds. Tu'er Shenan actual deity or written myth? Did Yuan find an ancient cult and preserve their story, or were they perpetuating Yuan's? We'll never be sure.

A Tu'er Shen temple opened in 2006 for Taiwan's capital, Taipei: Wei-ming. Taoist priest Lu Wei-ming understood members of the gay community needed spiritual affirmation. LGBTQ protection from religious persecution is sought here.

"Religions both in the West and the East have long pushed the homosexual community into the margin. But providence is benign, and love is given to all human beings as equals." (Taipei Times)

This benevolence is found in Tu'er Shen.


Lu Wei-ming at the Shrine of the Rabbit God.


A visitor lighting an offering of incense for Ta Yeh (master, 大爺)

Gay pilgrims visit Wei-ming temple from the world over: 9,000 or so a year (Huffington Post)

SOUTH ASIA

Kali, Krishna and Shiva are all Hindu 'third sex' deities beyond male or female. They have all had reincarnations of another gender.

WEST ASIA

Enki the Wise molded the Assyrian half-god Asushunamir, Inanna's savior from the underworld. Asushunamir are neither male or female.

They are gender-variant, and in possession of pure, spiritual light-"Their rise is brilliant".


Transgenderism and Same-Sex Love and Lust in Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and Strange


EUROPE

All-father Odin maintains a gender-crossing role throughout Viking folklore.

He acknowledged women as spirit masters via emulation (Odin and Women's Wisdom). Odin wore women's clothing during his travels and prophecies (Engendering Performance in the Late Iron Age).

This aligns with Viking artifacts.


Odin from Lejre, 900 A.D. Roskilde Museum, Denmark. Odin rests on his cosmic "seat" Hliðskjálf. Two wolves Freki and Geri flank him. Both ravens Hugin and Munin perch adjacently.

A heavily debated aspect is the identity. Are they Frigga, who rules in Odin's absence? Or is this the All-father in his gender-transient state? (Viking Rune)

This silver figurine may represent Odin in Nordic aristocratic woman's gown, and a völva's shawl.
He did convene with völva, the oracles trained by Freyja.

In Elder Edda's poem 'Völuspá', a seeress tells Odin in disguise about Earth's creation and Ragnarok-its end. Odin practiced Seiðr and galðr, Old Norse words for sorcery and soul-travelling to other realms (Seeresses of the Viking Period).

These became feminine magic, especially after the goddess-witch Freya taught him (Homosexuality and Gender-Bending in the Viking Age).

Loki referred to Odin as ergi-an effeminate homosexual (Nð, Ergi and Old Norse Attitudes). The passive/active ritual of Seiðr meant that a sorceror/ess commanded spirits from any gender or sex.

Norse legend is rife with this. Odin is angered by the claim since Loki ironically participated in acts that classify as ergi himself. (Sacred Gender Variance in Ancient Germanic Cultures)

Snorri Sturlusson echoed these thoughts in his epic, Heimskringla.

"The use of this magic is accompanied by so great a degree of effemination (ergi)...so that it was taught to the priestesses (gydjunum)." (Ynglinga Saga: 7) Such was the stigma.

Sturlusson was a Christian priest, but nonetheless expressed a common sentiment in medieval Scandinavia. Active male sex roles weren't shameful. Ergi's insult is receptivity, a "woman's trait".

Vikings thought this was equal to homosexuality. Gender roles became further entrenched after Christianization. Religion brutally uprooted shamanistic, non-gender binary sources of spiritual power (The Construction of Homosexuality).

But the myths still persist. It could be that sexual rites followed shamanic ceremonies. Either way, Loki and the Nordic chief god Odin's orientation are left up to us.

THE BALKANS, ANCIENT GREECE AND ROME

Classical Greek mythology held varied gender roles and sexual identities from their foundation.


Zeus expressing his desire for Ganymede. Kylix (drinking cup) ca. 450 BCE, Penthesileia

When the supreme god dropped his scepter and bolt, Ganymede returned them...with interest.

Greek sun god Apollo had Hyacinthus, the divine hero as a lover.

 

Artemis is a huntress-goddess who rejected male company and expected her nymphs to do the same.


Artemis and the dryad (tree) nymphs


Sappho especially worshipped Aphrodite as a lesbian poet, because she was protector of women's love.

Signals of Belief in Early England: Anglo-Saxon Paganism Revisited (Alex Sanmark, 2011)


Further Reading

Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit (Randy Conner, David Sparks)

Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit Database

Sexual Power

The Construction of Homosexuality (David Greenberg, University of Chicago Press. 1990)

Trans Expression in Ancient Times (LGBTQ Nation)