What does Paganism say about sexual orientation, if anything?
In a technical sense – Paganism, being an umbrella term that encompasses all non-Abrahamic religions – doesn’t really say anything at all, as each of the paths and religions under that umbrella may (or may not) have their own ways of dealing with the issue.
Having said that though, I think it’s fairly safe to say that in a more general sense many Pagans and their associated religions are in some ways more welcoming, or at least more sensitive to the LGBT community, than many of the more mainstream religions might be. However, that is not to say that you won’t find anti-gay, or even downright homophobic individuals or groups within Paganism as a whole.
Some traditions/paths that do have known stances…
- If you look at recent events at PantheaCon the last couple years, to the controversy surrounding “women” only rituals and the comments and actions of Z Budapest (founder of Dianic Witchcraft). This is an ongoing case where it is clear that those who are transgender, are particularly not welcome within certain paths.
- We often hear about racism within some Heathen groups (though it’s important to note that this is not something that is at all condoned by the wider Heathen community), and along with that often comes homophobic sentiments as well. Interestingly in this particular case, it’s something that is not necessarily supported by the lore, as there are definite cases where the Gods – Þórr and Loki in particular, take on gender-opposite roles. In the Þrymskviða, (Poetic Edda) Þórr dresses up as Freyja in order to retrieve Mjölnir, which the jotnar Þrymr has stolen. In the Gylfaginning (Prose Edda), we learn that Loki is actually a mother. Having changed himself into a female mare in order to save Asgard from losing Freyja and the Sun and Moon, and as a result gives birth to Sleipnir. There is some indication though that it may have been considered “unmanly” for a man to do “women’s” work, however that didn’t stop Óðinn from learning Seidh. The following is an interesting read on the topic in general.
- Within Wicca specifically, though Gardner himself was known to be extremely homophobic, my understanding is that many covens will welcome those who are LGBT. Something to keep in mind though, is that though one’s sexual preference, when one is not working with one’s coven, is generally up to them – due to the nature of the religion (being a fertility cult and all that entails), within ritual work, it all comes down to the plumbing (so to speak). Men take on the traditional male rolls, women take on the traditional female rolls, regardless of one’s normal sexual preference.
- There are various groups who are completely inclusive, and clearly welcoming to those of all orientations or gender identities, there is Reclaiming, or Feri, and some Traditional Witchcraft paths – though those are more apt to be gender specific, such as the Minoan Brotherhood, or Dianic.
So in general there are many choices if one is looking for LGBT support within the Pagan community. Of course like any where else in life (at least until we can get to a point where one’s sexual preference/gender identity is no longer an issue), it’s matter of finding place that fits us the best.
You are very welcome. Sorry it took so long to get it posted. 🙂
I am part of The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. I have seen a very inclusive stance within the Order. So far, I have not seen any issues whatsoever.
Awesome!! Thanks for letting us know!! 🙂
In the coven I trained under previously, they went with the spiritual gender of a person. That meant that a woman who felt she was spiritually male (though not necessarily transgendered at all) could choose to fill male roles like Guardian or High Priest. The idea was that your spirit is key, not the body it’s housed in.
Was your coven part of a specific tradition, or eclectic?
It was part of the Equitas Venefici tradition, which is based on the idea of “equal truths, equal magics”, or that all paths have validity. Equality in all forms was strongly encouraged to us as students, to include acceptance of people different from us.
there isn’t a whole lot of bigotry in general up in central ny, but i can say at any of the pagan festivals i’ve been to, there has always been plenty of gay people, guys wearing dresses and booty shorts and lots of other things most would call “weird” and i’ve never seen them treated any differently by the rest of the pagans there.