Tag Archives: deities

G is for Gender Essentialism

Our father who art in heaven; mother earth; Lord and Lady; Odin all-father…

It’s familiar language, but it doesn’t really apply or appeal to me for a couple of reasons. I am not keen on the gender binary, so the mother/father divide does not fit me well. Personally I had a father, mother and stepfather. I don’t know about the concept of deities as parents, either.

Firstly, the gender divide. Most people I know (including me!) don’t fit neatly into the gender binary, and I don’t know what to make of deities’ genders, if any. I know that genders can be fluid, changeable, across lifetimes and across afternoons. I call Brigid ‘my lady’, though this is just habit. I sincerely dislike the ?Wiccan concept of two deities, male and female (but what about all the other genders?) who epitomise masculine and feminine respectively, in a completely-defined-by-their-biology kind of way. It’s not my experience – male as masculine, female as feminine: gods, how boring. I have been masculine and feminine and neither, all in the space of a hour or a fleeting moment.

Second, deities as parents. Not too sure about that, either. Parents aren’t concepts or archetypes; they’re individuals and can’t be generalised. I was brought up by a depressive alcoholic – but with love and affection. My childhood cannot even be compared with that of my siblings, not really, let alone others. The concept of parents is archetypal (biology again!), but your actual parents aren’t archetypes. My mum isn’t defined by the fact she is a mother, though she is my mother. I don’t think I want a deity to be my mother when I already have a mother – not even if the deity is flawless and your archetypal mother, not a real human person with flaws and differences.


It’s all just pondering, really. I know lots of others will have written about this with far more expertise than me, but I like getting my thoughts down in writing. Also, I realise I’ve been writing a lot about things I don’t believe. I find it helpful to be able to outline what I don’t believe in order to work out what I do believe. Paganism is absolutely bloody massive, as many different beliefs as different people, and it can be hard to get a handle on where you want to focus.



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