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 ancestors and spirits infleunce not only over agriculture, necromancy, love and lunar cycles. They also affect nature's patterns and sexual energy-even magic. And their genders, very forms can change.

In this way, ancient bonds between humans reflected sexual openness and strength. Male and female were transient, specific labels that solidified over time.

Still, supernatural gender fluidity is timeless. And so, societies of sexual freedom have experienced religious imperialism. This is a look.


AFRICA

Androgynous, trans-, same-sex oriented and genderfluid identities exist in African belief systems. This is further explored in True Africa.

WEST AFRICA

Dahomey cosmology, or 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 engaged Mawu in physical union 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 genderfluid attributes that defy limitation.

Nana-Buluku is the supreme deity for several West African ethnic groups. The matrilineal Akan peoples through Gabon, Ghana and Guinea,

Togolese Ewe, Nigerian Igbo and Yoruba communities consider Nana-Buluku "the great supporter of the world".

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

Africa would be a different continent without this history.


AMERICAS

CENTRAL AMERICA


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

Xochipilli (Toltec + Aztec) is guardian saint of same-sex love (in addition to the fine arts, springtime and games). He also watches over same-gender sex workers and worshippers dutifully.

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


Xochiquetzal, Aztec entity of childbirth, fertility, love and sexual power

Similarly, the Aztec lunar divnity Coyoxauhqui is interpreted as a patlache.

Chicana artists have reenvisioned her with themes of sapphic sexuality in addition to feminine strength.

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

CARIBBEAN

Haitian Vodou has Erzulie Dantor, the 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.

The translation vaguely means "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.


Lu Wei-ming at the Shrine of the Rabbit God

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.


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 sit on each throne arm.

A heavily debated aspect is this figurine's identity. Are they Frigga who rules in Odin's absence?

Or is this the All-father in a gender-transient state? (Viking Rune)

This silver artifact may represent Odin in Nordic aristocratic woman's dress and a völva's shawl.

He did convene with Freyja's oracles enough to emulate them.

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 associated with feminine magic, especially to Vikings since the goddess-witch Freyja taught Odin (Homosexuality and Gender-Bending in the Viking Age).

The ritual of Seiðr meant that a sorceror/ess commanded spirits from any gender or sex.

Loki referred to Odin as ergi, an effeminate homosexual (Nð, Ergi and Old Norse Attitudes), but we cannot be definite on this widespread opinion.

Norse legend is rife with it. Loki participated in acts that classify as ergi himself. (Sacred Gender Variance in Ancient Germanic Cultures)

Christian priest 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 certainly part of Danish Christianization, but nonetheless expresses a sentiment

in medieval Scandinavia that same-sex male relations were only shameful if non-masculine.

Gender roles became further entrenched after religious assimilation, which 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 follow shamanic ceremonies.

Loki, the Nordic chief god Odin, and many more deities' chosen orientations are a mystery.

THE BALKANS, ANCIENT GREECE AND ROME

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


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

Ganymede returned the god's his scepter and bolt...with interest, we will say.

Greek sun god Apollo frequently met with Hyacinthus, the epic hero, as a lover.

 

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


Artemis and the dryad (tree) nymphs


Sappho especially worshipped Aphrodite as a lesbian poet, because she was guardian over women's passion for one another.

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)