People like great things – cars, rivers, cities – like they’re female. That’s OK. Lots of people blindly think mothers are the absolute best, plus we live in a culture of female objectification, ergo object plus motherhood = presumed female gender of an ostensibly inanimate object. Works great on cars, all bodies of water, and even cities.
That’s fine if that’s how you see the world. But for people like me – people who experienced “mother” as an untrustworthy, vicious being to duck at every opportunity – are unlikely to apply the female gender to inanimate things we like or love. It’s not about partriachy, or if it is, it’s not conscious. It’s jus that some things often referred to as female just seem… I dunno, male, to me.
Most Pagans: the Mother Mississippi
Me: Old Man River, the Mississippi. (on the same page with Mark Twain)
Most Pagans and former San Franciscans: She’s a harsh mistress
Me: Handsy motherfuckin’ priest
Most Chicagoans: City of broad shoulders, an old workman
Me: That is one raging, PMS-ridden city
Most People: Oh, my car, she’s a good ol’ jalopy
Me: Who you callin’ she? All my cars are boys. Except the Ford Escort. Ford Escorts always thought of themselves as mares.
This could rapidly devolve:
“Well I think it’s female and there’s no point arguing…” Who was arguing? I wasn’t arguing, but clearly someone thinks something as arbitrary as gender – and yes, gender is arbitrary, a set of social choices and assignments unfairly extrapolated from genitals without any legitimate corroboration – needs defense. Because if we don’t know what inanimate objects are male and female, cats and dogs sleeping together! Chaos!
“But why do we need labels???” Often, we don’t, but we need time to reset our styles of communication since our brains get wrinkled in specific patterns by all that gendered acculturation.
“You hate trans people!” One or two, possibly, but I assure you it has less to do with their transitive state and more to do with actual urine in my Fiber One.
Gender began as a metaphor among magical people for projective and receptive polarities. Somehow certain groups ((*cough* old-school Wicca *cough*)) somehow began interpreting this as everything having to be boy-girl-boy-girl. If you’re only intent involves a satisfyingly sex-driven fertility cult with lots and lots of babies as the product, this makes sense. However, if you are less literal minded – or say, want to make stuff besides babies and gigantic crops – a non-gendered or variety gendered way works better. Everyone can take a turn being a vessel or being what fills the vessel (and thus you end up feeling a bit like a vessel at the end of it – sort of like passing fluid back and forth, which may explain why some people are kind of stuck on the mechanical sexual imagery, come to think of it…) Like being right or left handed, some people may be better at one than the other – but most people really do have capacity for both. ((Don’t you dare relate this to bisexuality. Not. the. same. godsdamned. thing.))
Now, for people who were like me at the beginning, let’s answer this:
OK, so gender fluidity is just a metaphor to explain being projective or receptive when working with magical energies. Great, so what do I do with it?
Mostly you look at your personal practices and figure out which you’re doing – are you projecting an energy into the universe – or are you receiving an energy from the universe? Your genitalia has little relevance in these operations unless the working involves factual physical fertility.
For example, a protection spell, a glamor, and an attraction spell all act as projectors. They would be classed as “male” energy even though the last two often fall into what culture assigns to the female identified.
On the other hand, an abundance spell, divination, meditation, and at least self-healing all quality as “receiving” practices. You must be in a passive/receptive state for these things to arrive.
Gender… it’s fluid. It also sometimes referred to as fluid. But really it’s all just a metaphor.