Society

Homosexuality in Paganism: Deities Love the Same Sex, Too

Chinese DeityAs societies and cultures change and adapt, so do the ways that people practice their faith. In recent years American culture has slowly but steadily been moving towards an embracing of the LGBT community. In 2015 the United States Supreme Court ruled the banning of same-sex marriage by states as unconstitutional and therefore gave the same rights to homosexual couples their heterosexual friends already enjoyed. For many it was a joyous celebration of love conquering adversity, and for others it was a cause for mourning and anger. Shockingly, some of those dissenters of same-sex relationships came from the Pagan community; calling it “unnatural” and encouraging others to “covert” people who were attracted to the opposite sex. This is puzzling because there are a lot of instances of homosexual love in Pagan beliefs that some choose to ignore to justify their own prejudice and hatred.

 

Greece is probably the most common place to find love between deities and mortals of the same gender. The god Apollo and the hero Hyacinth were lovers, and when Hyacinth was killed by a wayward discus it is said that Apollo refused to allow his soul to be claimed by the underworld and turned him instead into the hyacinth flower. His tears are said to have stained the petals at the loss of His lover which gives the flower its streaks where the color seems to be washing away.

 

Dionysus also took a male lover named Ampelos and was so distraught at the young satyr’s death that He either turned the man’s body to the first grape vine and created wine from his blood, or took the body of his fallen beloved and created the constellation we now call Boötes. Either seems a fitting tribute to the loss of a lover that was the same gender as the Dionysus was identified as.

 

Zeus Himself had the moral man of Ganymede as a lover when He was struck by his beauty. Zeus eventually granted him eternal youth and immorality, as well as making him his personal cup-bearer; a position of honor and respect. Eventually Ganymede would also become a constellation in the sky; Aquarius. A moon that orbits Jupiter (the Roman equivalent to Zeus) was named Gaynmede because of the enduring tales of Zeus’s love for this man.

 

Even the famed hero Hercules was said to have at least three male lovers during his lifetime: Abderus, Hylas and Iolaus. In the case of Iolaus, a shine in Thebes was supposedly erected in his name where male couples would worship or make vows to one another. The Greeks celebrated love between the same genders and even built places of worship dedicated to just that. Historically, the pagans of Greece were completely accepting of homosexuality.

 

In ancient Chinese tales, Tu’er Shen, the Rabbit God, manages the love between men. The legends surrounding His origins were that He was unjustly killed for his homosexuality but the underworld officials rectified this by making Him a deity of homosexuality between men. Even though homosexuality in China at the time was frowned upon as a culture, it could not stop the worship and even elaborate marriages of these men. In Taiwan there is currently a temple in His honor in the Yonghe District.

 

In Polynesian beliefs, it is not uncommon to find deities engaged in bisexual relationships with one another; both holding merit and love. In Hawaii, there is the story of Wahineomo having relationships with the goddesses Hi’iaka and Hopoe. Hi’iaka is also said to have been a lover of Hopoe, as well as the fern goddess Paupalae. Multiple sexual partners, some of the same sex and others of the opposite sex, are not uncommon and accepted as a natural form a love.

 

Even the Mayan culture from our own continent had a deity of homosexuality named Chin. This deity was said to have introduced the idea of homosexuality and the culture embraced it; with wealthy families creating relationships for their sons with legal binding (like a marriage) to a young man of a lower class. Xochipili was also a patron god of homosexuality as well as art, beauty, dance flowers and song; hinting at more of an effeminate deity that was worshiped during the Mayan civilization.

 

Also from our neck of the woods is Hatian Vodou traditions and beliefs even have a young man by the name of Ghede Nibo. He is depicted as a leader of the spirits of the dead and dresses in effeminate drag. Farmers in Haiti would honor Him with various erotic gestures known as “Massissi” which is a Haitian word for a man who prefers the sexual company of other men.

 

And yet, with all this evidence from all these different walks of faith there are still those who would oppose homosexuality and ostracize Pagans in the community who identify with or support the LGBT community. Some have argued that in times long past where lifespans were short and wrought with danger homosexuality was seen as dangerous simply based on the fact it produced no offspring, but today, with our rampant overpopulation that is hardly a concern. In fact there are plenty of adoptable children just waiting for homes with these couples.

 

And for those who would argue it is “unnatural” or “against the nature of things”, they clearly haven’t taken a good look around them at the animals of the world. Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, etc.… engage in same gender sex and even bonded pair relationships. Most famously there is Roy and Silo, the mated pair of male penguins who were given an egg that they raised into a healthy adult penguin named Tango, who later started a same sex relationship with another female penguin.

 

Ultimately this type of exclusionary line of thinking has little to do with faith or nature and a lot more to do with ignorance and narrow minds. Like the beliefs that the world is flat or that the sun rotates around the world, they will eventually die out, save for a few crazies that still insist they must be right, despite evidence to the contrary.

Call for Autumn 2015 Events

Autumn Event Roundup

 

Autumn is upon us, and with it is a bevy of festivals and gatherings! We here at Arkansas Pagans would like to help keep everyone informed, so if you know of any events coming up that are open to the public (whether for autumn or farther in the future) please let us know!

Event details can be submitted to our Editor, Ashley Nicole Hunter, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Divining Little Rock, Arkansas: The Tea and Tarot Salon

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(Little Rock, Arkansas) The capital of Arkansas, Little Rock, has grown from humble beginnings to a hub for Southern evolution. Today, the streets of the mini-metropolis are filled with microbreweries, museums, high-class restaurants, and tarot salons. That’s right! Little Rock, Arkansas is home to The Tea and Tarot Salon, a twice-monthly free-of-charge course on Tarot divination.

The Salon, held every first and third Saturday at the Little Rock Unitarian Universalist Church (1818 Reservoir Rd 72227), boasts a wonderful membership of over twenty people and growing. The facilitators, Robbin Walsh and Ryan Edwards created the Salon in efforts to teach and learn the art of reading Tarot.

“Personally, I felt like I didn’t know enough about the tarot, so I wanted this class to help me expand my knowledge base,” said Walsh. “I wanted to find a way to really explore the imagery of the tarot in depth”, she continued.

The faces of the group are riddled with old friends and new knowledge seekers. Its success thrives on its diversity. Walsh explained she and Edwards, “are simply there to facilitate the discussion. Everyone has different and unique perspectives on the cards that are valuable,” said Walsh.

The Salon is set up in a near-circle format in a rectangular library. When you walk in friendly smiles and a welcoming energy meet you. The room is filled with an eclectic group of people from all walks of life, but one thing unifies them, their thirst for knowledge. The format of the meetings is simple. The card of the evening is introduced. Each meeting focuses on a specific card from the tarot that will be discussed. After this a guided meditation is played.

As the meditation takes over the dimly lit room each person takes an independent journey into the card. The journey allows the individual to connect with the card’s symbols and how they match up with personal values and thoughts. Meditation has become a staple of the Tea and Tarot Salon’s schedule.

Edwards explained “that the guided meditation allows us all to have a shared experience while at the same time allowing us to get a host of different experiences and interpretations from each card.” Edwards further commented that this connection opens up a channel to group trust so that conversations following the meditation are less strained and each person has their own voice in a comfortable and safe energy. The energy allows people to find their voice. Conversation is the name of the game at the Tea and Tarot Salon.

Walsh explained, “I think the strength of the course is the open dialogue that comes during the discussions. I love to see everyone’s varying perspectives,” said Walsh.

Walsh and Edwards have created a unique atmosphere that empowers each reader either veteran or novice in the art of Tarot. Those in attendance are uplifted and challenged by other readers in order to expand their trust in self and their abilities as Tarot readers.

“I feel I have really grown in my knowledge of the tarot. I’ve really been pushed by other readers to trust my intuition more and I think it has helped me a lot,” Walsh commented.

Outside the Tea and Tarot Salon, Edwards and Walsh are highly active members of the Pagan community in Central Arkansas and beyond. The two have been members of the Central Arkansas Pagans and Witches MeetUp group and the honorable Priest and Priestess at the inaugural Conway Pagan Pride Day in 2014.

“We’ve been involved on and off for many years but we recently rejoined the community through MeetUp and it has been a real pleasure getting to know everyone,” Walsh revealed.

The Tea and Tarot Salon’s reach goes beyond the winding halls of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Little Rock. Tarot enthusiasts and Pagans alike are telling their story after each wonderful experience. Their hearts filled with confidence and joy. Leaders, Edwards and Walsh, have not only offered a service to the Central Arkansas area, but an avenue to personal discovery. They invite you to connect to the Tea and Tarot Salon of Little Rock on Facebook.

-- This article has been written and published for the express use of Arkansas Pagans online, your elite news source for all things Arkansas Pagan. --

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