Plumbing and Polarity do not Equate
Author: Black Cat
Posted: On WitchVox March 30th. 2001
In Witchcraft we look to nature around us for inspiration and for clues to help us understand the workings of the world. Although we may not understand the mechanics that make magick spells come to fruition, we still cast our spells and get results.
In modern times, we are finding that science is confirming what Witches have held to be true for many years. Namely, that the objective nature of the world is one of flux, energy and change. In science, when matter is broken down into its smallest components, it is ultimately found to be energy. Now I am not a scientist, I am a Witch and I'll stick with the topic I know best.
In magick one will often hear discussion of polarity. For example, it is often said in Wicca that the Goddess and the God are representative of a polarity in nature. This polarity is what sets up the dynamic of flux and change, which is evidenced all around us through life's movements, and changes. This all sounds like a good construct to give us a form for understanding the world. But, what happens when we take this concept and extrapolate further?
As the Goddess is generally conceptualized as female and the God generally conceptualized as male, there is a natural inclination to simplify the symbols of the Goddess and God such that the Goddess represents the feminine polarity and the God the masculine polarity. If we accept this premise, the next sequential thought is that human men represent the masculine polarity and human womyn represent the feminism polarity. Herein lies the risk of misunderstanding through oversimplification.
Most people associate their gender with their physical body. The thought process may go something like this,
"I have a penis, therefore I am male gender. I have a vagina therefore I am female gender."
It's that simple. Likewise, most people associate gender with sexual behavior since the most obvious difference in gender relates to the reproductive organs. The penis and vagina are like mirror images, with one fitting into the other (or one wrapping around the other), like two symmetrical opposites...
"I have a penis and I am male gender. I am aroused by females and I put my penis into the vagina that is my opposite female polarity. Opposites attract like the two poles of a magnet. Therefore the Goddess and the God are like to attracting opposites or poles of a magnet. Polarity therefore is expressed in terms of female and male."
Newsflash! The Goddess is not female nor is the God male.
The Goddess and God are the terms we use to conceptualize that which is beyond human comprehension. Another term is "the divine". I favor this term because it gives us a word symbol to use and work with, but it does not assign a gender. When we assign a gender label to the divine, we also assign all the symbology that our culture carries with that label. When we say someone is male, we assign a whole group of generalizations to that person even though we have no way of knowing whether they hold true for that individual. The fact of the matter is that humans do not agree on what gender means, because gender goes beyond the obvious physical differences.
I think it fair to say that gay folks have been dealing with these generalizations of gender stereotypes since the dawn of time. When I say gay, I mean any one of the millions of people in this world who does not self identify in terms of an opposite- gay men, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transgendered folks. In truth, I also mean sexually secure straight folks.
Now, if we look at the example thought process outlined above and reword it from the perspective of a gay man, it may go something like this: .
"I have a penis and I am male gender. I am aroused by other men. My natural inclination to touch other penises. I am attracted to my sameness, like the two poles of a..." whoops, what is happening here?
Some folks can say that gay people are somehow unnatural, but the fact is that gay folks have been around for as long as anyone knows. Gay folks are a part of the world That in itself is enough to demonstrate the naturalness of homosexuality- it occurs.
So, what about the attraction between the opposite genders? That is natural too. How can it be that the same genders as well as the different genders can be attracted like the two poles of a magnet? It is because gender has nothing to do with polarity.
The poles represent the extreme ends of a spectrum. This is emphasized in Faery Traditions in particular. All of life can be thought of, not in terms of definite static forms, but in terms of a shifting spectrum.
When we look at ancient Asian philosophies, we are introduced to the concept of yin and yang. The reason I bring this up is that the yin and yang symbol, although heavily tied to physical gender in terms of symbology, explicitly demonstrates that each yin contains a portion that is yang, and each yang contains a portion that is yin. This inner mix is represented by the little dot at the center of the swirl yin and yang symbol. In each of us we contain both polarities. Polarities are merely extremes of a spectrum.
The energy in magick flows between people and things. We can use the polarity concept to help us construct a way of understanding this. It is not to be taken so literally in my opinion, but is useful nonetheless. As each person contains both polarities, either gender may relate with either gender, in any possible combination.
To go back to the magnet analogy, if you cut a magnet in half, you do not end up with one pole here and the other pole over there, you end up with two complete magnets, each with positive and negative poles. Likewise with people; we are all naturally "bi-polar", so to speak.
This is an empowering concept because it gives us a new construct that says we are each magickally complete in and of ourselves. We can acknowledge and even celebrate physical gender differences without tying them to energetic polarity.
Ideally, a Witch will train to be able to bring about both of these polarities within the self and can do so by manifesting aspects of BOTH the divine Goddess and the divine God. The role of the hermaphrodite (Hermes- Aphrodite) in religious ritual is well documented. I encourage this for gay folks as well as straight folks. Gay people must be open to experience the polarity exchange with a different physical gender, the same as straight folks must be open to experience the polarity exchange with the same gender. We are all people after all.
PROFILE: BlackCat is High Priest of Sylvan Grove coven. He has practiced Witchcraft for 20 years. He is a Witches' Voice sponser, a regular contributer to the northwest pagan newspaper "Widdershins", and has been featured on Seattle television program "Evening Magazine". He resides in Seattle WA with his three cats.
NOTE: this article was written by me and was originally published in the NW Pagan Newspaper "Widdershins" vol 6 issue 1