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Jason Hine - 28 May 2020


Dogmatic masculine and feminine identities may be a kind of imposition on our wild bodies.

For a woman to be strong powerful, directive and focused they don't necessarily need to tap into their masculine side. A woman can be a powerful focused directive leader in a way that is completely different from how a man is a powerful leader. Femininity may be self-complete. It doesn't need to tap into a masculine energy or masculine archetype to complete it.

A woman doesn't need to tap into their masculine side to be a powerful fighter or warrior. Women don't need to tap into a masculine energy to be complete. Artemis and the Cailleach don't need to "tap into their masculine side" to be strong and assertive. There is a feminine style of being a warrior which has nothing to do with masculinity.

For a man to be nurturing, loving and kind they don't need to tap into their feminine side. They don't need any spiritual feminine element of their personality to be nurturing. Masculinity is in itself self-complete. A man can nurture as a father or a gardener in way that is completely different from how a woman nurtures.

Fatherhood isn't the same as motherhood. Men aren't half beings that need women to complete them. A man doesn't need to tap into their feminine side to be loving or kind, men can be loving and kind without any need to tap into a feminine energy or archetype at all.

"Tapping into the masculine" as a woman, or "tapping into the feminine" as a man can be beautiful and helpful, but this may involve the meeting of two complete wholes not two half parts.

Masculinity and femininity expressed as bodies and as embodied phenomenological gender experiences and as energies exist. But many of our modern lists and ways of describing them found in mainstream culture, new age and psycho-spiritual movements are sourced in imperialist, feudal or mercantile perspectives or are just someone's recent psychological interpretation applied in a blanket generalization to the whole of humanity.

The lived experience of masculinity and femininity and third genders and transgender experiences are diverse and vastly different from modern spiritual, new age, Ken Wilberesque, Jungian archetypal and Californian tantric accounts.

In our human ecological niche as hunter-gatherers males and females play many diverse roles. Sometimes men do most of the hunting and gathering. Sometimes women hunt. Sometimes women did almost all of the food collecting and men just performed ceremony most of the time (dependent partly on the exigencies of the bio-region and ecological conditions). There were and are tens of thousands of variants of male/female embodiment.

By contrast most modern psycho-spiritual, archetypal theories and new age theories of masculine and feminine are derived from recent stages of human history, and coloured with the values of feudal cultures or industrial growth cultures.

That which folk experience in their physical bodies as masculine and feminine and transgender experiences are diverse, just as human culture is diverse. Some folks experience the masculine as present and nurturing, others as directive, penetrative, strong, courageous and assertive. Some experience the feminine as a manifestation of love, tenderness and kindness, others as strong, wild, assertive and wise. All of these interpretations, and a thousand others, are valid.

It's not that masculine and feminine and third gender don't exist as bodies, or as inner energies or don't have characteristics or are indeterminate in some pop postmodernism sense. They do have characteristics and they do exist as bodies and ALSO as independent inner gender experiences and gender expressions, but these characteristics are experienced differently in each cultural milieu and by each person's sensory grounded embodied experience.

Masculine, feminine and trans identities cannot be reduced to a set of lists of characteristics. Everyone experiences masculinity, femininity and transgender, pan-gender and third gender slightly differently. In some forms of traditional tantra masculinity is associated with emptiness and formlessness and femininity with form, and in other forms of traditional tantra masculinity is associated with form and femininity with emptiness or formlessness.

In many cultures femininity is associated with the moon. Yet there are a large number of male moon deities including Tecciztecatl, Mani, Thoth, Tskuyumi and Rahko for example. Yes there are certain characteristics that are more commonly associated with masculinity than femininity and vice versa, but to count up all those characteristics doesn't add up to an account of masculinity or femininity.

Whatever characteristics one might name as female or male, there is always an example of the opposite somewhere on the other side. Why is it just not possible to make lists? Why do lists always exclude something out? Why is sexual identity so wyrd and slippery? This may be because because sexual difference isn't solely about identity. Sexual identity and the male/female borderline IS liminality in itself.

It is not that there is anything wrong with assuming a traditional nineteenth century european conservative masculine or feminine identity or a Jungian masculine identity with a complementary inner anima or a Jungian feminine identity with a complementary inner animus or a Californian tantric identity of being "masculine presence" and "feminine love. " These identities are powerful and beautiful for some folk.

What is not so helpful is when these particular contingent identities are projected as universals onto every human being. This projection of the particular onto the universal can suppress and oppress unique embodied experience of masculine, feminine and third gender experience

This obsession with projecting particular experiences of masculinity and femininity onto the universal may not be a solution to the lack of deep cultural rites to work with the masculine and feminine in industrial growth culture but a symptom of the loss of these deep cultural rites.

The need to parade one monolithic interpretation of masculinity and femininity as an absolutist universal may not be a solution to but a symptom of the lack of deep soul work and initiatory rites in industrialised cultures.

Dogmatic masculine and feminine identities may be a kind of imposition on our wild bodies. Archetypes may be a reduction of our embodied soul that arise from our lack of culturally held embodied experiences of masculinity and femininity and third gender.

All throughout history and in many diverse cultures, with the exception of the period between the late medieval period in europe and modernity, there have also been a diverse variety of transgender, non-binary, intersex, bi-gender, pan-gender, gender fluid, third and sometimes fourth, fifth, sixth and other genders. Such folk go by such names as two spirited, Hwame, Alyha, lhamana, Moxhe, Fa'afafine, Binabinaaine, Binabinamane, Calabai, Calalai, Bissu, Waria, Acault, Hijra, Mashoga, Xanith, Ergi and many others.

These folks sometimes traditionally, although not exclusively of course, take on some kind of liminal or ceremonial magic cultural role. In a sense this may be because they embody the borderland or liminality in the center itself. That's not to say such a person automatically has some kind of vocation as a ritualist. Of course not. But its interesting to note that in a variety of traditional cultures folks take this role.

The transgender, gender neutral, non-binary or third gendered person is often looked upon pejoratively in conservative circles in the West and sometimes looked down upon by some new age and modern neo-spiritual teachers in industrial growth cultures. But it seems likely that this enormous resurgence in transgender identity we see at this time in younger generations is a healthy, helpful response to the liminality of the times.

As extractive economic systems collapse and we move towards animistic mores ten thousand transgender people, reconcilers naturally familiar with liminality, may be resurging or re-emerging to teach us.

In that sense, the gap or hole in our culture, the hole in our embodied soul left by the tendency to file masculine and feminine charcteristics into rigid soul-reducing absolutist lists is creating an unforseen queer byproduct: this hole may be being filled by transgender liminality. This space may be a fecund one into which the transgender ceremonialist emerges, with reconciling gifts for masculinity and femininity, and with healing gifts for humanity and the more-than-human world


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