Tag Archives: gender

Headcovering

This is an entirely personal post that pretty much has nothing to do with the focus of this blog because it’s neither a religious act or a cultural one, the way I’m doing things. And by things I mean wrapping my head with a scarf.

Yours truly with a simple wrap on.

So as you can see I have basically joined the ranks as a “veiled pagan” though honestly I’m neither veiled or pagan in the subculture sense. I bring this up because when searching for headcovering styles and stories its predominantly women who either do it for their gods or do it for ritual/psychic purposes. I share none of that, and do not see another like myself who does this. So here’s my perspective:

I’m not a woman. I am female bodied, but as I’ve mentioned before in other posts I’m non-binary and my gender status is agender. Therefore the headscarf is not a symbol of being an adult woman for me (though I do recognize it as meaning such for most other headscarf wearers since that is a common attribute). The aesthetic appeal of a well done wrap or scarf is something I like on all genders, just like how I love long hair on all genders. But external stereotypes do influence me a bit and I find that I like the more decorative wraps on days I feel more womanly, whereas on more manly days I just want to keep things plain or not have a scarf on at all. The wrap you see in the picture above was one of those womanly days. The days where I’m neither are anything goes days pretty much. 

I do not wear the scarf for ritual or spiritual purposes. My current restrictive living situation and the fact that I’m just now getting started in exploring aspects of myself and who I want to be in the future means my wrap-wearing hours are limited and irregular. The wrap doesn’t go on or off for any particular holiday or moon phase or anything like that. It doesn’t have an association with rituals like divination or spirit work (mainly because I don’t do those things). I am not devoted to any gods who would want me to do this nor do I believe that such a direct, personal request would even happen in the first place.

As far as I currently know headwrapping is not a universal practice in pre-Christian Central Europe, though various things were worn on people’s heads in a variety of cultures (hats, jewelry, helmets) and neighboring empires like Rome did have women covering their heads. But comparing modern cultures to ancient ones we see more examples of headcovers in recent times than the bronze and iron ages, possibly the result of Christianity. Obviously I’m not wrapping for Christian reasons and there’s no solid historical precedent to make wrapping a recon move either. 

So why do I wrap? I wrap because of power. I can choose who can and can’t see a part of me that is normally taken for granted as being visible in my society. No matter how much I scream from the rooftops that I’m nonbinary people will still look at me and see “woman”, with all the entitlement to my body that goes with that assumption. So fine, here’s a “fuck you” by creating a barrier between my body and the eyes of others. I am not approachable, I approach people instead. I am not here for you to look at, I’ll decide when you can see me and how much you can see. My body is for me alone. It’s a political statement essentially (and I do also use the headwrap’s association of being an older woman or old fashioned/conservative woman for that distancing purpose as well). 

On the flip side, I also like how it makes me feel, both for the protective aspect and for the aesthetic appeal. Headscarves are beautiful and the methods of wrapping them even more so. I feel beautiful wearing one, which is a difficult feeling for me to obtain. It protects me on an emotional level, but also in a practical way because it covers my hearing aids/cochlear implant, which protects them from inclement weather like rain. Scarves aren’t itchy or uncomfortable like hats are and hats tend to be outdoors only while scarves are also appropriate indoors. Hats also tend to hurt due to the bulky nature of my implant around my ears, while scarves go around that and aren’t restricted to just one head size or shape. 

In essence, I wrap because of personal secular reasons. I don’t cover because I’m a pagan, I’m a pagan who happens to cover. Well, technically a heathen who happens to cover but Google search of “heathen headcovering” just brings up bible studies, so this is pretty much restricted to the pagan/neopagan community. There may come a time in the future, once I can more freely and regularly do this, that the wrapping takes on more religious meanings for me or develops into a meaningful system, but for now it’s pretty simple. 

NOTE: the style I use is not tichel or hijab or anything like that. Those are specific words for religious headcovering customs and I do not lay claim to any of them.

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Day 9: Beliefs – Deity Gender

I briefly discussed this in my first Non-Binary Mysteries post so it might sound repetitive, but I want to make the 30 days of Paganism structure as complete as possible.

My beliefs about deity gender (or the gender of wihts in general) are not strongly held. Several of my gods have been depicted in both male and female ways (no third genders simply because the source cultures were binary, as far as we know), but the depictions are usually in favor of one gender over the other. Volos (Veles), for example, is primarily depicted as male. Yet there are giant snake/dragon beings that share everything with the “standard” Volos associations, except they’re described as female (or they’re mentioned as suckling young, which is a traditional sign of being female). Many deity depictions of my gods are like that, where there’ll be either an opposite-gender version in one of the stories, or there is an opposite-gender counterpart with a similar name (Fra Berta has many names, one of which is Lady of the Ember Days. There is also a Man of the Ember Days, with no distinction other than being the male equivalent).

I do ascribe to certain gender depictions for certain deities without switching back and forth simply because that’s either how I’ve come to know them in the stories, or it simply “feels” right. Having Csodaszarvas or Fra Berta be female feels the most comfortable to me due to their motherhood associations and due to how “female” is viewed in the culture I’ve grown up in. When I left Catholicism and started researching all this, it was empowering to me to see these powerful and important figures as a sex that I’m viewed as, as the sex that’s lower in rank compared to males. But as I got older and became more comfortable with myself, the gender of the deities became less important to me as well.

I also started to realize that the deity’s genders were more symbolic of how they worked with humans and how the sexes were viewed in the source cultures, rather than anything actually involving sex or genitalia, which allowed me to become more apathetic about their gender as well. For instance, Nagy Boldogasszony is always described as female. This isn’t because she biologically has a uterus, xx chromosomes, etc., but because she has consistently been the god to petition to for women’s protection in pregnancy and birth. That association carries over to the more symbolic realm, where the Magyars considered agriculture and earth-related endeavors to be associated with female qualities due to the appearance of the earth giving birth to new life each year (my suspicion, assuming the “original” Magyars were steppe riders, that this is an adoption from their agricultural Slavic neighbors once they became more sedentary). Her becoming conflated with the Catholic Virgin Mary solidified the female depiction.

I find that the high gods, due to having more “official” descriptions compiled over time, tend to be the ones with gender associations, while the lower gods and local wihts are usually more ambiguous. The foxes have no apparent gender, for instance, nor do the nature wihts that I’ve come in contact with thus far. The one local wiht that I met up near Door County, WI  (The “White Lady”) was female, but that’s because she appeared as a form of Virgin Mary to a future nun and her followers accepted that vision as fact (I’ll go into that in a future post, as she was a one-time visit rather than a permanent part of my pantheon, since I don’t live there anymore). That’s how she “felt” to me too, so that’s how I’ll consider her until it’s indicated otherwise.

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Non-Binary Mysteries: 1-Beginnings

This is the start of a project made by Milo of rotwork whom I’ve been following in various blog forms for a while and have learned so much from them. Normally I don’t talk about myself and my own identities outside of religion because this is a heathen blog, but from time to time I do find that my own gender/sex identities gets in conflict or is completely unknown in the religious context, so I kinda have to tweak things a bit. So I’ll be following these prompts, and if I’m able, I’ll respond to some of them too on this blog. These will be part of the “Reflections” category.

First, a little about myself in this context. As far as public image goes I look like a cis-female, since I have a straight boyfriend and my body is, uh, well-equipped for child-bearing. Having a conservative Catholic family doesn’t allow for any deviation from one’s body either, so I just say I’m female on legal documents to make things easier on myself. But if there wasn’t all this social pressure, if I had a flatter, more androgynous body, or if I had the ability to shapeshift, you can bet your ass I wouldn’t be staying in this form. I’d be all sorts of shapes as it suits my mood or the situation I’m in, and I have no particular attachment to the sex that I was assigned (I’m still me in this body, but if I woke up tomorrow and found myself in a male one I’d still be me, there wouldn’t be a body dysphoria issue either way).

My sexual orientation is similar. I’ve been attracted to all sorts of people and gender hardly becomes a part of it. Rather, it’s how I feel around them, or their personality traits, after I’ve gotten to know them. The physical traits that I find “hot” tend to be found in all sorts of people too rather than being a single gender stereotype (i.e. tall person with long hair [when it’s clean and well-taken care of at least], strong arms and hands). Often the people I have crushes on look androgynous and I have no idea what their gender is.

 

So TL;DR, I’m an agendered pansexual (demisexual-pansexual?) who favors monogamy. But like I said, most people assume I’m a straight woman and I don’t really have the energy at the moment to educate everyone on gender/sex diversity let alone try and convince them on what I actually am. The internet is pretty much my sole refuge for exploring those topics.

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Now for the prompts!

How did you first realize you were nonbinary?

Reading anime fanfics in high school (yea. I was one of those kids). This was back when angelfire and geocities were hosting the best sites. I got introduced to a lot of “interesting” things in the stories and they became my sexual awakening so to speak. Later in early college years I started to realize that maybe what I liked about certain characters and ideas were because they were like me, so I started to explore the various lgbt+ facets online. However, I didn’t really grasp the concepts and figured out how they applied to me until the last couple of years, when I was living on my own for the first time and had room to breathe and explore.

There’s still a lot for me to learn though, as this is the first time in my life that I’ve interacted with others over this topic. Previously I was just reading about this on my own.

How did you come to be a practicing pagan, polytheist, or witch?

This was answered in a previous post.

Who was the first deity you ever approached, and why?

Inari. I have loved and strongly identified with foxes for as long as I can remember, and the most accessible tales about foxes for me (again, due to anime and due to my library’s resources at the time) were the stores of kitsune and their counterparts throughout East Asia. Naturally Inari pops up quite a bit in reference to kitsune and when I first started being a pagan (in a wiccanized sense) I thought Inari would be a perfect patron deity. I had done a lot of research on kitsune and Inari, I had some basic Shinto shrine materials from ebay and I was ready. But my petitioning received no response.

Now that I’m no longer 15 I’m grateful that I didn’t get a response, cause otherwise that could have lead to some seriously weeaboo-ish and disrespectful behavior on my part. But looking back on it, it seems like the attraction to Inari was partly due to their fluid nature (of gender, but also of their fluid relationship to human society and nature) on top of the equally-fluid fox spirits, as marginalized and boundary-crossing beings tend to be the ones I can most relate to. That period was an important step in learning about myself.

When was the first time you realized that the system of belief or non-belief you were raised with wasn’t working for you?

Middle school, around 13-14 years. There were a lot of things that I had issue with, but the outdated gender concepts of the Catholic Church just pissed me off so much and became the last straw. I left in a militant huff.

How, if at all, do the above experiences relate to your understanding of gender at the time?

My understanding of gender and gender equality was limited to the binary system at the time. You were either man or woman, and women deserved the same rights as men. Paganism and mythology was similar, where there was an emphasis on humanoid deities that were either man or woman, and were either for men or for women. With the exception of Baphomet the idea of being agendered, trans, or intersex just wasn’t visible, and homosexuality was barely visible.

Over the years I’ve come to find myself more comfortable with animalistic or “force of nature” deity depictions instead of humanoid ones, and their traditional gender, if there is one, is a minor attribute. A few of my gods are indeed humanoid and gendered (i.e. Nagy Boldogasszony is depicted as a humanoid female due to traditionally presiding over women birthing babies), but even then I don’t have a NEED for them to be only that way.

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To end off, given that this is my “coming out” post on this blog so to speak, I am open to questions about this identity of mine and how it works within my form of heathenry. I’m sure I’ll be going over those details in future prompts too.

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