Celebrating the Sacred [INSERT GENDER HERE]
In Atheopaganism, we don’t believe in gods, and as a result we don’t have revered beings that embody the Sacred feminine, masculine or other genders. Rather than gendering the Sacred (or, as we see it, the Sacred Universe), we understand it as unconscious and without gender. Insofar as we can tell through the analytical lens of science, the Universe has no personality; it simply is, evolving and unfolding over billions of years in accordance with the laws of physics.
But the idea of the Sacred feminine was a revelation not very long ago: it had been erased by the world’s large institutional religions for thousands of years until reintroduced by Pagans, at least in the English-speaking world.
When I was first getting into Paganism in the late 1980s, the Sacred feminine was revolutionary. I was in graduate school in Gender and Politics, and the Women’s Studies department where I took some of my classes was alive with feminist Paganism, discussion of Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, and talk of the Sacred feminine: an idea which empowered and inspired millions as it grew.
Now, that was a long time ago. Many changes–some positive, some negative–have taken place. Among them, Women’s Studies has evolved on many campuses into Gender Studies.
And American Paganism has grown. A lot.
Being a non-theistic religious path, Atheopaganism views deities as ideas, stories, or archetypes, as opposed to supernatural beings. But in the way of addressing the empty space where gendered god/desses exist for theist Pagans, we do have this:
All genders are Sacred.
The myriad forms and identities of people all over the world are Sacred. They aren’t abnormal, nor dirty, they aren’t “sinful”, and they aren’t wrong. They’re beautiful and valid just as they are.
Atheopaganism affirms for each person the rightness of being exactly themselves. Our work is both to rise to our best selves and to elevate others, to affirm their truest selves. Certainly not to judge, denigrate or accuse.
So if it’s meaningful to you to put a symbol of Aphrodite (or Freya or Isis or Hecate or Ishtar or…) on your Focus, go ahead and do that. Or Loki, Hermes or Hermaphroditus. Or Frigg or Osiris or Apollo. If it resonates for you, it’s right for your practice.
As an egalitarian path, we don’t buy into patriarchal ideas of men as doers and actors and women as “helpmeets”. Nor that men and women are the only genders.
For many, gender isn’t a given–it’s a journey. As Atheopagans, we must affirm people on their paths to self-discovery, and that includes seeing however they identify as Sacred and worthy.