Category Archives: Gender

The Near Annual Post-PantheaCon List

1. PantheaCon as always gives me such joy and such stress. This year however, I can honestly say was less stressful than the year before *by quite a margin*.

Inevitably though, other points must be made. Like the following:

2. No, actually. Your personal politics don’t belong in conversations about specific topics. But, your personal politics do have bearing on the kind of attention and platform you are creating for yourself (and others) when you present.

3. The work that happens in hospitality spaces should be respected. If someone says to you that the event is private and for an “affinity group” and you do NOT belong then your job is to accept it and move on. Being snotty to the person who gives you that information is NOT the way to respect the space. And it’s not very respectful of someone who has chosen to spend this time at the door letting in people who need to be in that space. They are taking time out of the potential offerings to sit there and your snotty attitude does NOT endear them to this work.

4. The work I do, is NOT the work that you are required to do. It is my own work and it is fulfilling and happy-making, even when it leaves me completely broken and breathless from its pain. But I am more than willing to do it because I don’t know what else I would be doing. Please honor the people who do their own work.

5. The PoC Hospitality Room is the work of many people. Those people sometimes want their names attached and sometimes they don’t and that’s fair but I hope that when this room is someone else’s job that they will do better than I have. That they NOT make my mistakes. Because I have made them. But no one will see them because they are using the space and utilizing it in ways that people need to and that’s what matters.

6. It’s taken a while to find a way to succinctly state my own beliefs. Currently, that’s to say that I identify as a polytheist. But because there is no specific dogma or church attached to that label, people figure that we are some sort of weird amorphous blob on the pagan spectrum. Polytheists have been around far longer than neopaganism. Polytheism is (to my way of seeing things) a movement to recognize that an individual’s role is to establish a relationship with their G*ds, because They are real. I don’t get into P/polytheist debate much because I don’t get the focus but I do witness it on my feeds and it makes me feel batty at times because the questions are always the kind that require DISCERNMENT. It’s a scary word but it’s a vital one. Vital because in order to establish relationships we have to actually put in a bit of effort.

All this being said!

7. I had a blast! I horsed Nerthus for the Vanic Conspiracy’s “Four Thrones of Vanaheim” ritual and that went really well! Tidbit for those of us who offer our bodies for trance possession: try the ritual bits you specifically HAVE to do and check that you CAN do them. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me: discovering as soon as you open your mouth to sing a refrain that you’ve known and have worked on for a while that all you can taste is Her bog where She receives sacrifices. I got through it and the rest of the folks found the melody to sing it for me but it was definitely an interesting moment.

8. It is always a pleasure to sit down with PoC at PantheaCon and this year’s caucus was the BEST yet! New people and faces and from such faraway places! Their expression of how great it was to have the PoC hospitality room really made it clear to me how vital this work is, not just for individuals but as a community-wide endeavor to give us a space that is both carved out from the cloth of the conference but has also now been woven into it. People LOOK for that room, specifically. People have conversations there that they don’t have in the rest of the conference floor, people share ritual and information and knowledge in ways that don’t happen on the ‘con floor and that is amazing.

And vital. Allies (those new and those weathered) discover a renewed zeal for their own work; as anti-oppression fighters and as people who seek spiritual guidance (because we are there for that, too!).

9. Thank you to Dee and other discussion leaders for the Gender Diversity discussion because it was GLORIOUS to sit in a room with other gender nonconforming people! Many good points were raised and thought-provoking moments and I look forward to continuing these conversations and these ways of supporting each other that were pointed out. Yes, even as a genderqueer individual, there are ways I can support other gender non-conforming folx. We all can!

10. Thiasos Bakhios puts on amazing Dionysian devotionals! I am elated and grateful that I was asked to take part as a maenad! I apologize for that maenad bringing out my SoCal and Valley Girl affectations. But we did have a blast!  We went through a case of wine, we danced, we frolicked, we shimmied, we shouted, and the whole time Dionysus of the Revels smiled at our antics! The divination that people received were spot-on from all the people who shared theirs with me. I’ll revel with this group ANYTIME!

11. I am grateful to the people who attended, sang, danced (as they were able), and lent energy to my Pomba devotional. I am glad that I was able to share with the attendees a little bit about Pomba Gira Maria Padilha and bits of the tastes of Brazil proper. I hope that the technical difficulties I experienced beforehand did not detract from the experience you all had and I hope I get asked back!

And the list of what I MISSED!

12. The Coru Cathubodua hospitality room and temple-space. Again. One of these days I will be able to get away during your regular hours and be able to stand with Her in that space beyond the ONE time I have done it. It is a fervent wish and prayer.

13. The rituals and performances and presentations from friends and chosen family members: Elena’s “Loving Our Monsters”, “Facets of Freyja”, and so many more!

Now that I’m mostly back in the real world, I do want to say thank you to so many people who were amazingly helpful in the suite and in presenting in it or holding events there to draw people to the suite:

– Niki Whiting for hosting a meet and greet for Many Gods West which will take place in August 2016.

– Heathens For Social Justice for their “Social Justice as Heathen Praxis” which we are hoping to do as a Zoom! videoconference lecture for sharing!

– Jasper for leading a radical self-care drop-in that helped people get to balance and have a small amount of time for themselves and the Cauldron of the Celts for their donation of self-care goodies and the other donation that showed up as well (I’m sorry, I never caught the name!)

– Darcy and Geoffrey for leading an intense discussion for PoC who experience white-passing/presenting/reading privilege. In talking to the Beloved about their own struggles around this I knew that this was a topic that needed time and space to be explored and I knew also that this was NOT a topic for me to try and lead and Darcy and Geoffrey stepped up beautifully. I look forward to watching where this new avenue leads people!

– To Áine, Beverly, Luna, and Tanisia who co-facilitated a beautiful ritual for those who identify or have black ancestry. Getting to stand outside the door as it was wrapping up and feeling the power and love and strength in voices gathered in song. That was life-changing for me and I thank you for honoring the space by using it in this way. I will forever remember it as a highlight of the ‘con for me.

– To the people who stopped in (both staff, volunteers, attendees, etc.) for a bite to eat, a sandwich, a hot dinner that they didn’t have to pay a lot for: thank you for sharing time and space with us. The hospitality room is a labor of love and is set to celebrate five years in 2017. We look forward to doing something really special!

Okay, I think that’s enough. I will be updating on a more regular basis and trying different media options (maybe a podcast!).

So be it. See to it. – Octavia Butler



A Love That Motivates

We are all of us pushed in ways that make us grow; whether we know it or not even the things that we come to detest are motivating factors and actions in our daily experiences.

However, when the motivating factor is a nonracist world; the motivation has to come from a place both within and withOUT. The problem with that is when I tell people what my motivating factor is, I get ridiculed.

What motivates me to try and educate and teach and urge others? Love. Love is what keeps me going. Love is what pushes me to stand up and be a voice against all the other voices I hear because if I am a being inherently capable of love than that love has to expand and be expounded upon.

That love has to push me to see better in others. That love has to be something that others see in themselves.

I love the idea of people struggling and working through their privilege; it’s a beauty to see that struggle and realization on the faces of people who appreciate the work they are doing.

I cherish the opportunity to remind myself that racists and bigots are deserving of love. Because, they are.

We all are.

However, as much as that love can instill in me a sense of wonder and awe at a world that creates order from chaos (eventually), I also have to keep in mind that what I love about the person isn’t their belief system that says I am lesser than. What I love about them isn’t their mindset of bigotry and misogyny; it’s their flawed humanity that I love. Not the concept that creates that flaw.

It’s a difficult mindset to cultivate, and there are days when I wish I didn’t have to do that. There are days when the pain of staying that open to the world leaves me weak and unable to get out of bed even when I should be up and moving. Those days. The days of exhaustion and fear that the ridicule I perceive will lead to more actions by people who choose to be anonymous… Those days matter to me.

But not enough to keep from doing what I do.

Not enough to stop me.

The few months since I last wrote have seen great losses in the ability of people in this world to let each other’s humanity shine out. The more I struggle with it, the tighter the bonds of love that trap me. Until I finally surrender to them, to letting the love of humanity’s ‘humanness’ fall over me and remind me that flaws and all warts and all, love remains.

A very flawed, pathetic sort of love. Because sometimes it’s reciprocated. Sometimes.

We each of us struggle to find something to love in ourselves from time to time. We live in a world where only the perfect is loved; where the flawed are hidden and only by some strange hope get to reach out to the warmth of the sun that shines on all of us. But, even that has it’s problems. That ‘perfection’ we claim to seek has at its heart only fear. Fear of ruining the view of perfection it creates. Fear of being seen as ‘inadequate’ debilitates the opportunities that can be created and cultivated in letting that perfect persona crack and fall away.

But for the people whose shield and cloak is racism and its ilk, that fear motivates. That fear is what lands people in hospitals and morgues; and that fear has fed all kinds of laws and strictures on the social fabric in our lives. That fear of “Other” is so entrenched and seen as the way that self is defined that the love the individual is capable of, and the love that they themselves carry forward in the world is lost and left sorely lacking.

I try to remember that my motivation is to make their love shine forth.

Open SF was amazing and challenging, both of these are good things.

When a presenter is actively sought out to speak at a conference there is a joy and a trepidation that happens.  Joy in being sought out, but trepidation that the expectation of what you can do has already been set.  At least, that’s how I felt when organizer Juana Tango contacted me about Open SF.  I had watched with interest on FL as talk about this conference started making the rounds and as a polyamorous person, had decided that I wanted to attend if it didn’t interfere with Desire, which I am on staff for.  That fear was assuaged when it was decided by my Beloved and I that our honeymoon expenses would be covered by the same amount we spend on working and attending Desire so with heavy hearts we said we’d see our beloved Desire tribe next year.  That meant that when Juana Tango asked me if I’d be interested, I was free and available.

As a presenter, it is hard to balance the needs of the conference with the needs to keep a roof over one’s head.  As a new conference, and new to the Bay Area for presenting, not charging a speaking fee was the most equitable solution I felt for both parties.  They were still able to get some amazing keynote speakers, Tristan Taormino, Yoseñio Lewis, and Ignacio Rivera were amazing both as presenters and in their keynotes.

Another stumbling block for me as a presenter/attendee was the fact that as a Queer of Color (QoC) I am more than willing to discuss what this means in all my different communities.  So, not only did I present my “Intimacy of Sacred Kink” but I also participated in a panel discussion named, “Poly “isms”:  Addressing Multiple Marginalizations in Non-Monogamous and Kink Community” with Virgie Tovar, Stacy Reed, and Invisibleank, to talk about the experiences we have had as People of Color in the different alternative sexuality communities here and in the broader areas we hail from that was moderated by Irene McCalphin.

Why do I bring up all this backstory?  Because most of the media has been silent on the aspect of the conference that made the biggest impact to the attendees; the inclusion and hard work of making sure that marginalized communities in the majority society (which I define as heterocentric, cissexist, gender normative, male-dominated, and white) were represented.

This article from an attendee has a clear focus (and they’re an awesome blog to follow, IMO) but all I can hear is that the experience was one where the gaze was very much on the things he was interested in seeing and hearing and does justice to the presenters but only notes the keynotes and presenters he attended; all white.  Which is not a bad thing, it’s just a thing.  But, in a way, it also speaks to the experience of a person who isn’t of color and already subject to marginalization by the majority society.

This article does slightly better, but by drawing the focus on the ideas of communication no matter what expressions of sexuality happen in a relationship (kink, poly, etc.) while diminishing the idea that there was a presentation (which they mention) on kink, race, and class by Ignacio and Yoseñio, it lends credence to this being like any other typical conference.  The article even asks that question in the beginning, “One of the first questions that arose was whether such a conference was even necessary. Isn’t sexuality something that comes naturally to most people? Does it need to be taught? Don’t people figure it out for themselves?”  The producers, presenters, staff, volunteers, and attendees certainly felt that the answer was an enthusiastic YES!  Because while sexuality is a personal thing, it is also a very political thing when it is not a part of the majority society, and therefore, being able to ask the questions of privilege within a sexual community, and how to deal with that, is important and necessary work.  I’m not saying that it isn’t fun, sex is one of the most fun things out there, expressing my sexuality (in all its vast ways) is my life’s work; but I don’t live in a vacuum, and I can’t pretend that my sex isn’t informed by my experiences as a woman-shaped genderqueer of color of Mexican heritage of a lower working class/immigrant family.  Even when I’m by myself, who I am isn’t set aside just because I have a Hitachi between my legs.

A big part of my willingness to participate in Open SF was Pepper Mint and the rest of the staff were willing to challenge themselves during the process of creating a line-up.  In talking to him about it, he (I am using the gender pronoun I have seen most often applied, and apologize if this is incorrect.)  talked about how there were people on staff originally who were upset and dropped out when the focus became less about the ‘fun’ stuff and more about the ‘hard’ stuff.  A shame to have lost them, but at the same time, it meant that walking the halls of the host hotel I didn’t feel like I needed to wrap the flags of my intersections tight around me like a cocoon to shield myself from the White Male Gaze.  I attended caucuses and presentations where the question of, “How do I make this work for me as a person of color?” wasn’t answered with there is no change because lalalalalalala I don’t see your color, but with careful thought out consideration for what that means in this country.  And that, is a success to me.

Maybe I am biased because I attended more of the presentations by people of color than not, but for me, as a queer of color, as a non-gendernormative person, as a woman-shaped person, talking about how this body and the steps it takes as political acts, are a respite for a world-weary view.  I grow tired of being the ‘one and only’ in a room full of people who when they step out of the dungeon space, or the cuddle party space, appear for all intents and purposes to be the majority society.  I can’t do that.  So, I live my full poly, kinky, pagan, genderqueer life, that’s a political act in itself.  But, Open SF, gave me a platform to show me that I am not alone, and that the majority society types who inhabit these same spaces, now know I am there too.  And I’m not going away.

Open SF; I’m available to check out at Poly Speed Dating!

So, as part of Open SF‘s events for that weekend, there is a Poly Speed Dating set up for Saturday!

I am enjoying the people I have met so far in SF but, like most good hedonistic types, more is awesome!

Please click the link above and check out the Poly Speed Dating!  Register for that, or for the entirety of the conference as well (come and see me!) and we can cruise each other during the Poly Speed Dating!  😉

On the Front Burners

1.  Raising funds for the Pagans of Color hospitality suite at Pantheacon next year.  Goal is 1000$USD through WePay.  Click here to donate.

2.  Intersectionality.  As a person of color, from a low-mid to low working class, female presenting, able-bodied presenting, nonheteronormative, nongendernormative, non-Abrahamic religion practitioner, and in a relationship with a female, there are many things that I know aren’t counted in my favor.  However, I can enjoy the intersections and the work inherent in each, strive to make injustice a thing of our collective pasts, and live an authentic life.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t days when I feel like crap and want to give up and crawl under a rock and wait for it all to be over. . . I have plenty of those days.  Some days though, much better than others.

3.  There have been days here in the Bay Area lately that have been cold and despite the sun the warmth just doesn’t sink into my bones.  On those days, I grit my teeth and move as best I can, my joints are swollen and stiff, sometimes they lock up and won’t move.  On those days, I’m grateful for tea and my wonderful cats (how great to use the plural again) and I am glad to not have to be at a job where I would be required to move much more swiftly than I am able to.  But then I remember that I have expenses and I have bills (like we all do) and it hurts to not be able to pay them as quickly as I wish I could.   On those days, I try to remember to have compassion for myself.  Compassion for myself then emanates and becomes compassion for all who are job-searching, and for those who have jobs, and for those who work at finding others jobs, or manage the job market. . .the world.

Sometimes, this job, this being that coalesces sex and Spirit, it isn’t sexy in the way we’re conditioned to see sexy. But it can be highly charged and motivating, and make our breath quicken, our lips purse, and our sex throb a bit.  Why?

Because, better to eat of the forbidden fruit of knowledge then watch it rot from ignorance.

At least, that’s what my morning meditation showed me.  What might you see?

Finding My Voice in Giving It to Others

I want to write about the gender issues that have been talked about almost ad nauseum since last year’s SNAFU with CAYA’s Amazons and Z Budapest’s vitriolic and hateful words, and how that all came to light and what a change that wound has become to the greater community.  But I am doing it from the place where I can.  Last year, I jumped into that fray as a witness to the Rite of Lillith, the aftermath, the planned and unplanned actions and I spoke often, long and LOUD about the need for civility in our words and language because spewing more hate and vitriol wasn’t going to get us as a community very far, if anywhere at all.

I wrote the following in the PantheaCon Facebook page, which can easily be found by going onto FB from your own acct and searching for PantheaCon.  At this moment, there appears to be an issue and I don’t know if my words will make it to the discussion or not on there, but they will live here.

(These words are written as a direct comment and thus have the bit in the beginning and reference earlier comments in that discussion.)

I realize that Thalassa and many other staff members have jumped in here and spoken and asked for this to be moved to a place where it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the other ideas surrounding Pantheacons for years to come. But, someone pointed out the PoC Caucus and that was mine (as in I put in the paperwork for it, and will continue to do so as long as there is a need for it) and I want to speak to what someone said about it and the larger things surrounding events like mine and Z’s and the trans issue because I was there last year, right in the middle of it all, and I remember very clearly the aftermath (and am still struggling to regain myself from all that, you have no idea how much vitriol was spewed on both sides of that fence).

Yes, the PoC Caucus was listed as PoC and allies; but really in the end, the only voices that were really heard, were from Pagans of Color. Allies who attended listened respectfully to our tales and our issues and our grievances and our triumphs, because as allies, they recognized that their main job isn’t to be the torch bearer for Pagans of Color, but to be BETTER allies.

When cisgendered people refuse to use terminology that isn’t vindictively attacking transgendered people, it doesn’t make for good allies. When cisgendered people ‘hate’ the term cisgendered, it doesn’t make for good allies. It makes for allies who refuse to see that transgendered people have to fight EVERYDAY for the right to use the correct gender pronoun. That is a matter of import, survival, and acknowledgement of who a transgendered person feels they truly are. Yes, some of us will just want to say you are male or female because you say you are, and that should be all that matters. Sadly, there are some who don’t see it that way.

Earlier, someone said that what the PoC Caucus was doing was self-segregating. In a way, that’s true. In another way, I have to ask: why wasn’t my room packed with allies? What fear did you have at coming into the room and listening to Pagans of Color? I didn’t say you couldn’t come in, hell, that’s the opposite effect I wanted SPECIFICALLY because I asked for allies.

As a genderqueer individual, who has struggled with being female-bodied and the minor privilege that gives me, it pains me to read Z’s words about my trans sisters and brothers, it also pains me to read people defending her hate speech and vitriol. She has the right to say, believe, and call to worship whomever she wants. But her history doesn’t make her immune to criticism for the hate speech she uses to get her point across. I did my Blood Mystery work, many years ago. I found that while it may hold some power and be evident to others, because I am a body that menstruates, there is more there that can be mined, and new treasures abound. There are many women who no longer menstruate (whether age, medical reasons, etc.) who would love to create a Mystery cycle in ‘mourning the loss of that blood’, I think that having trans Dianics and allies come together to create this Mystery cycle would be a new direction for Dianics that takes into consideration the great work done early on in the Dianic movement but also acknowledges the new direction it COULD branch into.

I struggle to remember, on a daily basis, that all sides in this issue deserve compassion, because we all are born into a world that has very little compassion to offer, but I do try. I recognize that Z is a person deserving of compassion, that the trans women and men she has insulted are also deserving of compassion, that the people who sit on the sides of this issue and don’t understand WHY it’s an issue, also deserve compassion. I fight to hold onto my compassion, when the insults are great, the pain is palpable, and the confusion abounds.

In discussing this topic, or any other topic that brings up strong emotions, I beg of my greater community, let civility carry the day.  /endcomment

This is the only voice I have to give, my own, colored by the brush of those who have no voice left, who have shouted themselves hoarse into pillows, against walls, in rage at not being heard.  I found that my voice has strength because I am a Pagan of Color, genderqueer, female-bodied individual.  I am capable of using this voice to speak compassion, because I need to speak to greater injustices amongst these groups I belong to.  This is what my work looks like, when it isn’t about me covered in blood and crying out for my Deities.  My work looks like others work in social justice, and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.  Feel free to join your voice to mine, or not.

On Sacred Art, Body Mods, and Self-Image

Growing up, I was told that the idea of getting a modification on my body was a sacrilege.  That tattoos, piercings, etc. marred the body g*d had given me and made me imperfect for the afterlife.  I was told all this after having my ears pierced at an age I couldn’t object to, and what I later found out was against my mother’s wishes.  *shrug*  I can’t hold that against her, she shouldn’t either.

However, as I grew up, I learned to see a certain fearlessness in people who would go and get these things done.  That fascination turned into a bit of an objectification for me as I enjoyed meeting with, dating, and getting to be very close to people who had artwork that fascinated and captivated me.

As I grew older and made my forays into the kink communities I chanced upon a class on branding, a new and emerging body modification that was happening in the community at large and decided (against maybe my better thinking) to try it.  I got up and in less than 15 seconds, had a crescent moon branded onto a shoulder blade.  The pain was minimal to nonexistent and there was no bleeding.  The cautery pen (the same kind used in vasectomies) had done it’s job well.  I played around a bit with the healing process and have a smooth scar with very little indentation and marring.  The skin inside didn’t die or nectrotize or any other horror story that’s out there.  It’s been a fairly good mark on me.

As I worked and learned about my spiritual path, the brand took on a life of its own and worked as my very own caller ID, if you will.  If I was in deep meditation and focused on the intent I’d decided on, I would feel the brand light up and burn under the skin, an uncomfortable itch that I would leave alone as this feeling of peace and joy came over me.  It is a way to know that Spirit is close, that I am being listened to, or that I need to pay attention.  It has gone off at the weirdest moments; moments when I’m not paying attention, when I need to be reminded to stop, drop into myself, and check-in on how I’m feeling, moments of trepidation to remind me that I’m uplifted and supported.  And during Ordeal work, it lets me know that one of my Fearsome Foursome™ is around, helping me, guiding me, or pushing me through the working.

It’s also become a marker for my real-life relationship.  I am My Beloved’s Shadow Prince. The Moon and the Stars was one of the first songs I heard from My Beloved’s lips, and the moon on my shoulder warmed in response.  My Beloved also enjoys the imagery and the concept of the spiral and has incorporated it into two complementary pieces of jewelry we wear.

In the here and now, I am currently researching and in consideration of five pieces of body art.  Four for my Fearsome Foursome™ and one for My Beloved.

The one for My Beloved is probably going to be the first one I do and its details aren’t necessary here.  The other four, need to be written down to reference them.  This is also a way to provide some insight into who They are.

The first is a butterfly adapted from Paul Borda’s Butterfly for Xochiquetzal (Head Matron), I’m not sure what I want to change yet, or even if I’m ‘supposed’ to make changes, but we’ll see.

The second is Kali’s yantra.  I am an initiate in the Daughters of Kali through Sharanya and received the name of Duti at my initiation.  It means She Who Is Ambassador.  Quite fitting.

The third is for the Morrighan.  There is a piece of poetry that speaks of her cloaking us in her mantle of red, black, and white feathers.  I am invoking that imagery and a crow into the piece I have created for her.

The fourth is for Odin.  His two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory, one holding a Valknut (as befits a dottir of Odin) and the other holding my bindrune.

The first part of all this is getting past the part where I remember that my flesh is no longer my own.  I am reminded of this on a daily basis as I go through my day to day functions because that’s all I know to do.  I walk in the beauty They provide.  I walk in the mire of life because that is the path laid before me, and the one I consciously choose to walk for Them.

The second part is time and cost.  That is on me, finding the artist who can do this for me, finding the time to get it done, finding the strength to survive the time in the chair, that’s where this all must have focus for me.

This may be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do; harder than inserting hooks into my flesh, harder than standing still while a flogger went after my back, harder than letting myself be tossed around and nearly drowned.  This requires not shying away from myself and where my mind will travel, as the tattoo is placed on my flesh.

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