A few days ago, as the start of the Transgender Visibility Week, we wrote an article on the position of the trans community within paganism. We find that many times transgender people encounter the same difficulties they face in the rest of society in terms of discrimination or even hatred for being what they are. This should not be the case since paganism represents for many a safe place to express themselves, where to find a place to belong. Fortunately the gods do not understand these absurd discriminations that humans do.
In the article with which we began this week, apart from talking about discrimination, we also talked about the dualism so linked to gender in Wicca and how a transgender person can face and adapt those roles. Yesterday we published on the facebook of the Shrine a gallery of images where we explained some of the stories of gods that have or have had at some point of their myths a transgender facet so that this can serve as a nexus with the divine much more direct for all those people who do not just fit into binarism.
While the archetype of maiden, mother, matron and old woman may not fit at all for transgender people, we find another person who can do it. Within the search we did to find divinities with some of these characteristics we found that there was a very specific archetype that was repeated in some of them and if we expand the research to spiritual figures that are not gods that same archetype is still present. The divine rogue or trickster is an archetype present in many mythologies around the world. The trickster is a trickster, a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic beast who does tricks or in one way or another disobeys rules and norms of behavior. What is more radical than disobeying the rules of gender behavior being by its very nature something that escapes the common and the socially established?
We find that within the tricks, tramps or deceptions that these spiritual figures usually adopt to get what they want is often the change of gender, and not as a disguise, if not a completely change their being from one gender to another . The case of Aphrodite Urania, at the time of wanting to escape the lust of Hermes would fit into one of the forms of behavior of this archetype. Hermafrodito could also fit by his nature in this archetype, either as the son of Hermes, who in many of his myths acts as a trickster, or by the trick of Salmacis to never separate from him.
Loki is considered one of the gods that best exemplifies the trickster. At one point he became a mare to make a giant artisan’s horse escape for him / her and copulate and thus delay the giant and that the gods did not have to pay him what was agreed. From that union in which gender change later came Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse who had given birth to Loki himself.
But we also find this trickster archetype with trans elements in its history in other beings that are not considered gods as we conceive them in Western culture. We refer to many of the spirits with that facet of tricksters that appear within Native American mythologies. In one of the stories of the natives of the southwest the Coyote falls in love with a man and to lie down with him temporarily removes the penis. In the southwestern tribes it is the Crow who does something similar. He castrated himself and put his penis inside a pudding that he gave to Mother Earth. Once it was ingested it was fertilized by the Raven.
The trickster turns everything. Nothing is safe from your hand, nothing is untouchable. The ultimate goal of this archetype in its many forms is to teach, to put the message in a medium that can work when the reason has been ignored. They often play with gender and in societies where this is a rigid entity they are the only ones authorized to do so. They are not questioned for their masculinity or femininity, they do not have to prove any of them. Working with the trickster what it does is to give the opportunity to change the mentality as much for trans people as for all those around them.
As Raven Kaldera says in her book Hermaphrodeities: The Transgender Spirituality Workbook: ” Being a trickster has long been a method of teaching the rigid or defensive to change their perspective as well. Traditionally, it’s the jester who could tell the king he might be wrong when all the king’s counselors were shaking in their boots with fear of beheading. The jester’s privileged position of never being taken quite seriously gave him the ability to slip in the occasional bit ofcriticism and let it simmer. It’s a careful and masterful balancing act. “
Kaledra points too out that most people are frightened of the trickster that his figure ends up implanting the idea that, in the end, there is nothing too sacred to be questioned, and that this can not be questioned periodically. Most like that there are things, at least a few, that can not be questioned, refuted or questioned. The figure of the trickster is the figure that continuously points with his finger and asks “why?” Gender is one of those things that seems to cause more fear or refusal to be questioned, even more when this genre affects the gods themselves.
Embrace the archetype of the trickster in any pagan tradition provides an opportunity for all trans people to make a change in their own lives when facing the problems and difficulties that are to express who they really are and when to provoke a change in their environment that helps people question gender as something rigid and be able to accept its fluidity within the spectrum of the sacred.