A common thread in Animist cultures is that gender is not binary. LGBTQ and Queer People are a necessary part of Animist communities. Humans are multifaceted, and our Gender, Sexuality and Queer-ness can be expressed in an infinite number of ways. There have always been special roles and duties for those of the blended spirit, including Spirit Workers for the community. Christianity and puritan doctrine have made all but binary cis-ness evil or wrong, but we know different. Members of this sacred group have been revered, and also persecuted. Today, LGBTQ people are in harm’s way by the introduction and installation of many anti-LGBTQIA+ bills. This page describes a few examples of how “blended spirited” Humans are called for special roles in various Animist cultures in the past and present. The possibilities and expressions are endless. Welcome home.
“Learning that Animism is a spiritual place for what is considered to be gender “non-conforming” in many communities is something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Ones called to the path of the Spirit Bridge and the realm of Spirit are humans who are able to access the worlds. They are called by the Spirit World to be bridges between realities, and balance there to access helpful knowledge for the community. In the past this has meant that the practitioner themself often blended between the worlds of female and male in their societal gender roles. For people who are reading this, those gender roles are in the process of blending for everyone, now more than in the past. Still, those who are called to be Spirit Workers are often somehow ‘in between’ the polarities of masculine and feminine energies, whether called Queer, Gender Fluid, Trans, or Gender non-conforming, whether considered “gay” or “bi” or “straight” by society (one’s sex and gender are not the same), there is a whole complex world of the Blended Spirit that is important to those called by the Spirit World to be a Spirit Worker.
An adjective used by some people, particularly younger people, whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual. Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel don’t apply to them. Some people may use queer, or more commonly genderqueer, to describe their gender identity and/or gender expression. Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBT people to describe themselves; however, it is not a universally accepted term even within the LGBT community. https://gaycenter.org/about/lgbtq/#queer
(wiki) Although biology usually determines genetically whether a human’s biological sex is male or female (though intersex people are also born), the state of personally identifying as, or being identified by society as, belonging to neither the male or female genders is considered in relation to the individual’s gender role in society, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other characteristic. To different cultures or individuals, blended gender may represent an intermediate state between man and woman, a state of being both (such as “the spirit of a man in the body of a woman”), the state of being neither, the ability to cross or swap genders, another category altogether independent of men and women. In any case, all of these characterizations are defining gender and not the sex that biology gives to living beings.
Cultural Expressions: as shared from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_gender
Oman: Xanith, Polynesia: Fa’afafine (Samoan), fakaleiti (Tongan), mahu wahine (Hawaiian), mahu vahine (Tahitian), whakawahine (New Zealand Māori) and akava’ine (Cook Islands Māori), Indonesia, Philippines, Ethiopia: Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo:, Sumerian creation myth, Inscribed pottery shards from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2000–1800 BCE), found near ancient Thebes (now Luxor, Egypt), list three human genders:, References to a third gender can be found throughout the various texts of India’s three ancient spiritual traditions – Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism – and it can be inferred that Vedic culture recognised three genders. Other creation myths around the world share a belief in three original genders, such as those from northern Thailand
Southern Mexico: Muxe, In many Zapotece communities, third gender roles are often apparent. The Muxe are described as a third gender; biologically male but with feminine characteristics. They are not considered be “homosexuals”, rather they are just another gender. Some will marry women and have families, others will form relationships with men. Although it is recognized that these individuals have the bodies of men, they perform gender in a different manner than men, it is not a masculine persona but neither is it a feminine persona that they perform but, in general, a combination of the two.
Hijras of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have gained legal identity, Fa’afafine of Polynesia, and Sworn virgins of the Balkans, and is also used by many of such groups and individuals to describe themselves.
Like the hijra, the “third” gender is in many cultures made up of individuals considered male at the time of birth who take on a feminine gender role or sexual role. In cultures that have not taken on Western heteronormativity, they are usually seen as acceptable sexual partners for male-identifying individuals as long as the latter always maintain the “male” role.
In Israel there have been six genders:
Androgynos: both male and female
Tumtum: without definite sex or physically asexual
Aylonit: female-to-male transsexuals
Saris: male-to-female trans (often inaccurately translated as “eunuch”)
Animist Cultures and Spirit Workers (“Third” Gender)
quariwarmi (men-women) mediated between the symmetrically dualistic spheres of Andean cosmology and daily life by performing rituals that at times required same-sex erotic practices. Their opposite gendered attire served as a visible sign of a third space that negotiated between the masculine and the feminine, the present and the past, the living and the dead. Their presence invoked the androgynous creative force often represented in Andean mythology.”
Among the 19th century Chuckchi, the “soft men” (yirka-lául) were a category of biologically male shamans who adopted first female hairstyle, then female dress, and finally married males. They were hated and scorned but also feared by the rest of the Chuckchi, as they were considered to be much more powerful than other shamans (Price 2002, 302). The masculine gendered males who married the yirka-lául were not seen as ‘third genders’ but as ‘men.’
Malidoma Some‘ about the Dagara- in an interview with http://www.csuchico.edu/
“The Dagara not only embrace gay and lesbian diversity, he noted, but honor such individuals as “gatekeepers” between the physical world and the divine. In Dagara cosmology, geography is not only physical, but an energetic existence encompassing other realities crucial to the spiritual health of the individual and the community, explained Some. among the Dagara people, gender has very little to do with anatomy. It is purely energetic. In that context, a male who is physically male can vibrate female energy, and vice versa. That is where the real gender is. Entrance to these worlds is facilitated by the gatekeeper, who is born with the ability to participate in a wider web of consciousness.
Although not all gatekeepers in the Dagara tribe are gay or lesbian, “all gays and lesbians are gatekeepers,” said Some.
“Without the gatekeeper,” he added, “we’re left with a gate unattended” — a sort of spiritual clamping down. Not only is the gatekeeper then robbed of his or her identity, but the community is left without a source of spiritual solace.
The gay person is looked at primarily as a “gatekeeper.” The Earth is looked at, from my tribal perspective, as a very, very delicate machine or consciousness, with high vibrational points, which certain people must be guardians of in order for the tribe to keep its continuity with the gods and with the spirits that dwell there. Spirits of this world and spirits of the other worlds. Any person who is at this link between this world and the other world experiences a state of vibrational consciousness which is far higher, and far different, from the one that a non-gatekeeper person would experience. This is what makes a gay person gay. This kind of function is not one that society votes for certain people to fulfill. It is one that people are said to decide on prior to being born. You decide that you will be a gatekeeper before you are born. And it is that decision that provides you with the equipment (Malidoma gestures by circling waist area with hands) that you bring into this world. So when you arrive here you begin to vibrate in a way that Elders can detect as meaning that you are connected with a gateway somewhere. Then they watch you grow, and they watch you act and react, and sooner or later they will follow you to the gateway that you are connected with.
So to then limit gay people to simple sexual orientation is really the worst harm that can be done to a person. That all he or she is is a sexual person. And, personally, because of the fact that my knowledge of indigenous medicine, ritual, comes from gatekeepers, it’s hard for me to take this position that gay people are the negative breed of a society. No! In a society that is profoundly dysfunctional, what happens is that peoples’ life purposes are taken away, and what is left is this kind of sexual orientation which, in turn, is disturbing to the very society that created it.
I think this is again victimization by a Christian establishment that is looking at a gay person as a disempowered person, a person who has lost his job from birth onward, and now society just wants to fire him out of life. This is not justice. It’s not justice. It is a terrible harm done to an energy that could save the world, that could save us. If, today, we are suffering from a gradual ecological waste, this is simply because the gatekeepers have been fired from their job. They have been fired! They have nothing to do! And because they have been fired, we accuse them for not doing anything. This is not fair!
Let us look at the earth differently, and we will find out gradually that these people that are bothering us today are going to start taking their posts. They know what their job is. You just have to get near them, to feel that they don’t vibrate the same way. They are not of this world. They come from the Otherworld, and they were sent here to keep the gates open to the Otherworld, because if the gates are shut, this is when the earth, Mother Earth, will shake — because it has no more reason to be alive, it will shake itself, and we will be in deep trouble.
By the time we reach a certain level, all the gatekeepers are going to find their positions again. We cannot tell them where the gates are. They know. If we start to heal ourselves, they will remember. It will kick in. But as long as we continue in arrogance, in egotism, in God-knows-what form of violence on ourselves, no, there’s that veil of confusion that’s going to continue to prevail, and as a result it’s going to prevent great things from happening.”
Quynn Red Mountain saw images in their mind of a “Rainbow Gateway” again and again in trance and journeys before ever hearing Malidoma Some’s description about “Gatekeepers”. Quynn has African ancestry, and was so grateful to have received this message. Soon after learning about “Gatekeepers”, they painted the above and below image of the one given to them, as a portal to travel through when they “journey” for others. YOU have blessings given to you by your ancestors and guides as well. Listen and notice to receive them.
Raven Kaldera’s “Way of the Third” in Northern Tradition
This page just touches the tip of the beautiful and deep world of those In Between around the world.
There is much advocacy, healing and reclaiming to do, and we are ready.
People of all Genders are welcome to all events hosted by Web of Life Animists. See our calendar events.