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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


My recent talk at the 2022 Current Pagan Studies conference treated primarily with the Horned God. Afterward, our esteemed Mark Green asked about Gender Essentialism in the Craft. I wasn't satisfied with my reply at the time, but his question has continued to work on me, and I would here like to offer a rather more considered response. Thanks, Mark!


Do gods have gender?

What does it mean to say “God/he” or “Goddess/she”?

What does it mean to speak of a deity as a gendered being?

Although Received Tradition habitually speaks of the Gods, both Elder (those of nature) and Younger (those of culture), as gendered beings, must we not accept this, in the end, as metaphorical language?

To speak for myself, I number among my gods a planet (Earth), a star (Sun), a satellite (Moon), and a meteorological phenomenon (Thunder). Since neither planets, stars, satellites, nor meteorological phenomena can rightly be described as gendered beings per se, ultimately, then, we must regard divine gender here as ascribed gender: metaphorical, a matter of relational utility. "Earth is like a woman, in that she...." In the traditional gender ascriptions, like addresses unlike-as-if-like relationally, i.e. for the sake of relationship.

Why ascribe gender to the gods? Well, we're human. As gendered beings ourselves, we find non-human others most relate-able when we do. As such, it's largely a matter of convention. The human mind is wont to project itself. To take only one example, humans are four-sided beings; thus, in culture after culture, we find the world divided into North, East, South, and West. It's the ultimate extrapolation of the human body onto the world around us.

Let me take specifically the case of “Him” that we call the Horned. “Him” I would see as a corporate being, the sum total of all fauna/animal life on Planet Earth. As such, then, “He” may truly be spoken of as a gendered being—as could “His” “Brother”, the Green, the sum total of all this planet's flora/vegetation—but, as a being thus made up of (inter alia) both male and female, one would say best, perhaps, by saying that “He” is pan-gendered. The same, I suspect, may be said—if in a rather less literal sense than here—of most other gods as well. How this may best find expression in iconography and ritual, as one would expect, continues to evolve as the new paganisms find their footing in the contemporary thought-world. One thing I do not fear: that our Received Tradition chains us to an unquestioning gender essentialism. The lore itself, in all its nuance and variability, belies any such claim.

A friend of mine (generally when twitting Wiccan unsophisticates) always says: If you think that the Horned God is only a boy, you certainly don't know him very well. We see this in the iconography of the Baphomet, which combines—if admittedly, for the most part, unbeautifully—both female and male in one.

As pagans, we habitually maintain a certain collegiality with our gods and goddesses, and—as is our kind's wont—we tend to treat them as we would treat other human beings.

But though as human beings we may participate in the gods, we wrong both them and ourselves to forget that, in the end, they are far other as well, and that our inherited god-language, love it as we may, is primarily, at thirteenth and last, a beautiful tapestry of shimmering metaphor.



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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Cold Moon in January

January’s Full Moon is also known as the Cold Moon, and most likely a large majority of us are feeling a wintery chill about now.  Many of us are also slowing down and hibernating—becoming more reflective about the world we live in and our place in it. I find it appropriately intriguing that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on this date of the Cold Moon this year. To reflect what Dr. King accomplished in his lifetime, as well as mourn for all the more he could have done if his life had not been cut tragically short are definitely issues to be meditated on for Monday, January the 17th, 2022.

It could additionally be a time to get out your journal and write your thoughts down. See what comes to the surface when you let yourself go for three pages straight without stopping. You may find patterns, an old habit to lose, or some new ideas to implement. If you were to record yourself in a confessional format, what sorts of things would you talk about? What would you choose to share with people? Would you keep your cards close to your chest? Or would you bare all—being honest and liberated in the process?

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    To celebrate the Full Moon and Martin Luther King Day I read reverend King's I have a Dream Speech; Virginia's Statute of Religiou
Aphrodisiac in a Bottle: Blissful Balm

With this blissful combination of oils, you can summon the spirit of love and harmony any day of the year. Amber, rose, and sandalwood essential essences create a sensual scent that lingers on your skin for hours.

  • 6 tablespoons almond oil
  • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil
  • 25 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 3 drops rose essential oil
  • 5 drops amber essential oil


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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Coyote, Close-up Portrait (Photos Prints Puzzles Framed Posters Canvas  Cards...) #20582757

No creative person is “on” all the time.

That's why I'm sitting here at five in the morning writing this.

I'm just coming off of a weekend spent (virtually) at the 2022 Current Pagan Studies conference, for which this year's theme was “Visions of Imagination and Creativity.” There's nothing quite like spending a couple of days hearing a bunch of smart, creative people sharing thoughts on the nature of creativity and our relationship with it, to get one thinking about one's own.

Here's mine: when I'm “on”, I run with it.

I have a certain superstition that, in the course of any given life, there's X amount of creativity given to each of us. You can use it or not, as you choose. But—like everything else—there's a limit to how much you get. Say “no” to creativity, and it may not be back.

I'm not entirely sure that I actually do believe this. For one thing, my experience has been that creativity builds on creativity: that, like an athlete, the more you exercise a particular muscle, the more performance you'll be able to get out of it in the future. But, at very least, I find that operating on this belief—that there's a limited amount of inspiration available to me in this lifetime—seems to be the best way to get the most out of my creative faculties.

I lay down the other afternoon to get some much-needed sleep. Drifting off, I found myself thinking of a couple of stories that I'd written years ago, but since lost: “Why Hare Has Forward Testicles” and “How Coyote F*cked the Chief's Son (and Got Away With It).”

(Unlike virtually any other male animal on the planet, buck hares wear their testicles in front of their penises rather than behind them. Hey, that's worth a story. And as for the other: well, what's more fun than a good, raunchy Coyote story, especially one with lots of hot, consensual gay sex?)

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Sesame Sensation: Enchanted Body Oil
I use this potion as a combination body care oil, massage oil, and lubricant. This is a tip I picked up from a professional who shared her confidential formula with me; she added, “All my clients marvel at how soft and yummy my skin is.” I have acquired several trade secrets from her that I have used to great effect. A total goddess, she also has her clients and lovers worship at her sex altar before they make love. I have to note that she has many repeat customers. Gather up:
  • 1 cup of sesame oil (you can cheat and get the sesame-scented oil from the pharmacy or grocery store, which works just as well in a pinch)
  • Clove, cinnamon, and ginger (powdered)
  • Bergamot, amber, and jasmine essential oils
  • Amber-colored jar
  • Magnetite
Take the sesame oil and add a pinch each of all the spices. Then add a drop of citrusy bergamot and a teaspoon each of the amber and jasmine oils.

Stir gently and then place in an amber-colored jar with a stopper. Place the jar beside a piece of magnetite, also known as lodestone, which draws people to you. Let it sit for a full week, and then use it to bring yourself and your lover to orgasm—again and again.

Note: This is not for safe sex, if you are using a latex condom. (But there are condoms made out of new, oil-friendly materials to be had these days; shop Good Vibrations at to learn more.)

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In the early days of Paganistan, M and N were everyone's favorite couple. Even when the Witch Wars burned through and people weren't talking to people, everybody still loved them.

They were witches, Alexandrians, both fine-looking folks. Somehow, even that never created any hard feelings, they were just so much in love with one another. It was hard to think of them separately, so naturally did they fit together. A friend, in conversation, once referred to them as lovers, then corrected herself.

“You guys are so much in love, I keep forgetting that you're married,” she laughed, and we all joined in, because it was so true.

When M died, it came as a shock to us all. For one thing, she wasn't very old. For another, well...she was just so vital. She'd known that she was sick, of course, but hadn't wanted to darken her last days by spreading the knowledge around. N, of course, was with her to the end. It seemed utterly fitting that she should have died on Valentine's Day.

She hadn't been out to her folks; in those days, few of us were. The pagan community showed up en masse—no pun intended—for her funeral. There probably hadn't been that many witches in a church since the Burning Times. In the eulogy, the priest kept talking about what a good Christian she'd been.

February is a windy, cold month in Minnesota. A stiff, bitter breeze blew in off the prairie as we stood in the cemetery. Still—M would have loved it—there was something playful, even carnivalesque, about that graveside service. Someone, incredibly, had brought along a bouquet of helium balloons: bright colors against the stark, white snowscape. After the prayers, they released them. Watching those balloons soar up and away into they sky was heartbreaking, the perfect metaphor. As they flew away, the tears flowed.

Afterward, the pagans gathered over food and drink for our own remembrance. N looked devastated.

Sorrow had made me bitter. The priest's words still rankled; I complained about them to a friend.

But he was wiser than I.

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Partners in Passion: Lover’s Oil Rub

This ritual permeates your handmade massage oil with passion. Your intention and intuition add a lovely and loving magic to your time together. Gather the following supplies:

  • 1 cup of almond or sesame oil
  • Musk, sandalwood, or orange blossom essential oil 


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