As a practicing witch, feminist, energy worker and a student of life, I am often puzzled as to why, in this day and age, we continue using the terms “masculine” and “feminine” as descriptive modifiers. What exactly does it mean when we call an energy masculine or feminine, anyway? While I understand that these are descriptors that generally address what are typical characteristics – why do we insist on being so vague, misunderstood and perhaps even, insulting, depending on who we are speaking to?
Taken from the Planned Parenthood Site:
WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE FEMININITY:
Dependent, emotional, passive, sensitive, quiet, graceful, innocent, weak, flirtatious, nurturing, self-critical, soft, sexually submissive, accepting
WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE MASCULINITY:
Independent, non-emotional, aggressive, tough-skinned, competitive, clumsy, experienced, strong, active, self-confident, hard, sexually aggressive, rebellious.
In today’s world we are already discussing and understanding that we humans have more than two genders and certainly have more than two gender identities. Are we so brainwashed by the teachings of Carl Jung that we cannot think outside the box or even simplify how we describe people, things and energies but by two gender assumptions?
Why is it so hard to use descriptors that are accurate rather than general assumptions that may be inaccurate?
If someone is sensitive, why is it so hard to say that he is sensitive – is it accurate to say he is feminine? If I am self-confident, does that make me masculine?
Or if we are describing an energy of a thing that is hot and forceful – why would we call it (the energy) masculine when we can say hot and forceful? And really, how does an energy claim gender identity anyway?
I did a Google search on the merging of masculine and feminine energies and was blown away at how many websites there are that are devoted to that one thing. Do people spend their lives attempting to identify what is masculine and what is feminine within themselves and then finding a way to merge them to become whole? Are we so confused by who we are that we feel we need to identify our strengths and weaknesses, our talents, our personality traits by gender identity?
Many practitioners of Wicca deal in such dualities. In their magic, they insist on a balance of masculine and feminine – sometimes by the number of each sex in a Circle – other times but the type of energy applied to the magic. When I first started my studies in magic I was required to learn how to project the energies of masculine and feminine, each by itself, into something else. I found this very confusing. I wasn’t sure how to project them without first feeling them. So I looked for things representative of them to “feel” them and then learn how to project them. Well, those things did not always feel the way I expected them to feel. Nor did what I project, always feel like what I thought it should. This led me to a study of my own energies and personality characteristics – who was I, after all? I have never had a single issue with my own gender identity. I am a woman. I love being a woman. Truth be told, most to the words used to describe feminine, do not apply to me and yet I have never believed myself to be anything else but fully woman. I am direct, assertive and not so much a nurturer. But I loved being a mother, birthing and raising my children. I am passionate in all ways. I am passionate about what I believe in and I am one who will stand up to speak for those less-abled to speak for themselves. Because I am not a “girly” girl, does that make me less “woman?”
When I first came to the Craft – I identified as Dianic. Now, there are two different kinds of Dianics floating around out there. Some say Dianic means woman only. That is not me. I will qualify that however, and say that women need their woman only space and to be honest, my work is dedicated to working with women. But I believe that who comes into a group needs to be determined by the person leading it. For me, it does not define Dianic. What does define Dianic is that we are all of Goddess – all sexes and all identities. Not a pair who birthed us, but of Goddess – She is Whole – One and we are of Her. Is She Nurturing? Loving? Fierce? Dark? Light? Bold? As Above So Below – All Things – As am I, All Things. Not feminine, not masculine, not animus, not anima – but Whole, containing All. Woman.
Personally, I think the terms masculine and feminine are part and parcel born of the patriarchy. Yet another way to separate and divide. How many of us can read that list of feminine descriptors and not see that those words feel “less than?” And the opposite with those defined as masculine. Not all but most. The weaker sex – yes? Not! Science has already proven that women are built to be stronger – to endure more (again as a general rule!). Those of you who are of my generation know how difficult it was to not grow up feeling “less than.” And if that is what happened – how difficult it has been to claim power for yourself. I was lucky because I had very progressive parents who saw that things would be different when I grew up. I was taught to be strong – to make decisions for myself and to believe that I could do anything I chose to do once I “set my mind to it!”
I encourage everyone to really consider the words we use. How do we define ourselves? How do we define each other? What words do we use to describe a thing? An energy? And are we totally a mess inside with two beings, a masculine and a feminine that shall never meet? When something is hot – let’s call it hot. When something is nurturing – let’s call it that and not say it is feminine. It really isn’t difficult. Let’s be clear and use words that really describe something or someone. Let’s step out of the patriarchal terminology and become clear in what we mean. We must start with our words. The word is sacred.
Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of the Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch where she teaches courses in Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, Northern European Witchcraft and Druidic Studies. She mentors priestesses who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine, and publishes the Global Goddess Oracle at each Sabbat.