Cross dressing, cis and trans gender in acolytes of heathen Gods….a philosophical group of questions

In the literature we have on Uppsala, there is documentation that priests of Frey were cross dressers at the least. And Odin dresses as a woman to learn and perform Seidh. I would say, therefore, that some level of transvestitism was performed and acknowledged in ancient ways, because we have the evidence both in the lore and the literature to support it.

And in a separate, but also I.E. tradition, male devotees of Cybele would dance themselves into a frenzy and castrate themselves, thereafter identifying as females, in order to be priest(esses) of Her order.  I would also point out that She shares several traits in common with Freyja including the lions pulling her chariot.

I still see a lot of the over culture assumption of Christian values in heathens. Including in my own group, at least as regards some issues like this. Now, from a purely utilitarian point of view, I agree with the stance that gays and transgenders are not openly welcomed, though tolerated. This does not support the growth and preservation of the tribe, that much is obvious. And with us still having such small numbers, and being so spread out, I can understand this position. I can even support it from the purely utilitarian point of view.  Though frankly, on a personal level, I don’t really care, as long as it’s not directly hindering me from doing something I need to do for myself or my family, or my tribe, and as long as you aren’t harming others in the process.   And you aren’t holding yourself up as an example to aspire to for the children of the group.

And from a population genetics point of view, homosexuality is predicted and expected as the population grows and pressures are placed on species due to competition for resources. This I see playing out in real life.  Again, I don’t care, I see a scientific hypothesis being independently confirmed in real life.

But I have a serious philosophical question. Or related group of questions, rather.
If our religion is going to grow and develop, if we are going to ever have actual cult temples devoted to particular Gods and Goddesses, is there a place for them as there was in ancient times? Will we ever accept cross dressing or even transgendered male to females being priests for Frey?  Will we accept transvestitism from men in order to learn and perform seidh?

Now, in a recent comment on just this topic, someone said that there is a big difference between the modern PC culture of gay and transvestism, and ancient cross dressing.  I am of the opinion(s) that yes, and no.  There was no surgery to make it final.  Other than castration for men, and mastectomy for women.  But I have to wonder if those priests were in fact castrated and if they identified as women in service of their God.  Of course, we also know there were priestesses and cis gendered priests of the same God.  I don’t think they (castrati or whatever they were) were accepted in regular society, I think they were only accepted in the role of devotee/priest/ess.  But there was a place for them.


3 responses

  1. I see the issue as kind of a no-brainer, considering the various stories in the lore about cross-dressing and emasculation (Freyr, Njord, Odin, Loki, Thor) among the gods. As it is, corvids are given great weight in the lore as well – to the point where I have often considered Loki and Odin to be akin to a pair of ravens – and while it is very difficult to distinguish between male and female ravens by looking at them, it’s next to impossible to do with crows because they aren’t only the same size, male crows lack the tell-tale equipment 😉

    But honestly, I could care less whether the gods cross-dressed or not. I don’t think they care what we wear; and I don’t think they care much who we take into our beds. I think this is more societal than religious … if I don’t like it that a man wears a dress or identifies as a woman, I think I can state my opinion (for that’s all it would be) without having to bring the gods in to justify it. This, in my opinion (that dastardly word again!), is perhaps one of the more troublesome Christian values that I see being brought over into Paganism in general … whether it be ‘Gawd,’ or Odin, just because it’s written in a book doesn’t make it right (or wrong). The Christians and their book speak for their god … I see a lot of times, where people are letting Snorri speak for ours. Snorri had his own agenda, his own perspectives and opinions, as we do our own … and none of these things alter the opinions of the gods, except in how we perceive them.

    If I built a temple to Odin, then I would build it for Odin and those who wish to honor him. If I build it for only some of those who wish to honor him, because I have strong opinions about all the others, then I’m not really building it for him, I’m building it for myself. Again, opinion 😉

    • Well, there are the stories in the lore, but in that same lore it’s also pretty clear that even among their own, it wasn’t exactly held up as a standard to aspire to. In the Lokasenna, as the best example, there’s some pretty heated discussion about the transgressions of the Gods – BUT. No one denies the accusations, and I think that’s key. They all acknowledge the truth of Loki’s words, they just don’t like having it shoved in their faces in a public place. Because they aren’t proud of it.

      I think modern PC culture – or really, the special victim status culture – that we currently have, where being transgender is fashionable and *extra* special victim status (and if you’re black on top of it you get FIVE extra brownie points for victimhood!) is celebrated is NOT and NEVER was a part of our ancient culture. I think these people were put into the priesthood – if they weren’t turned out entirely – as the only acceptable place they could continue to exist. They weren’t allowed to live without judgement and avoid their duties to the tribe.

      I do find it interesting that the few stories we have about cross dressing or “transgender” women tend to speak to endocrine disorders either intrauterine (inter sex) or upon adulthood. But then, even if a woman preferred the company of men and preferred women for sex, it still wasn’t going to prevent her from getting married and having children and participating in tribal life.

      I do think you have to set standards for the survival of your people. I do think standards matter. I also think that more research into pre-xtian handling of this is important.

      • I’ll agree, that researching how our ancestors handled things would be a benefit; but in the end, the burden falls upon us, as to how we want to handle and go about this issue as a community / society / culture … in the future, we will be ancestors, too. Our perspectives are allowed to differ from our own ancestors’ perspectives, as their world, their communities and their needs were different from our own.

        I do most definitely agree with your point about everyone in a society needing to find a way to contribute, rather than take, from the community. There are plenty of people, victimized or not, who are allowed to take and take, without giving anything back. That should not be allowed to happen. The victims of this world can play a vital role, too: Havamal, st. 71, seems to support the idea that any and all can and should play a role in society … and the victim role is one I have never seen supported in the lore 😉

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