Why I’m not a dualist, and likely not a neo-pagan either…

I don’t plan on doing rants like this often, because this blog isn’t about pagan political drama. It’s about exploring my relationship to other Beings using a language mode that has many of the features of e-prime. But I’m in a bit of a cranky mood coming out of a discussion where queer men were told we can’t criticize fiction about our sex because it’s not really about us and all pornographic fun anyway.

So there’s this well intentioned but somewhat garbled attempt rationalize duality: A Pagan Aesthetic: Paganism Through Philosophy.

As the Apollonian and Dionysian is originally a duality between two masculine metaphors, the masculine homonormative perspective is easiest to explain: For individuals that identify as gay men, the duality of two masculine metaphors, one receptive and one penetrative, is obvious in its physical translation of gendered understanding of deity. (emphasis added)

“No really, which one is the girl?” I’m not being remotely charitable there, but the whole notion of turning the prosaic issue of “who’s on top” (often “no one”) into a religious metaphor applied across my entire life creeps me out. It’s one of the reasons I ditched the pagan community in favor of a WYSIWYG spiritual naturalism. It was nearly impossible to talk about my gender and sexuality without it being framed in a very anthropocentric gender duality.

To be fair, it is an explicitly described limitation which should have been bumped further up:

With all of this in mind, though the proposed Apollonian/Dionysian experiment only mentions typical conceptions of masculine/ feminine and hetero/ homo normativity, these topics are not exclusive and the entire thought experiment is open to interpretation and modification for the authentic and valid expressions of trans, queer, intersex, and aesexual individuals. The only reason such avenues were not explored is by this authors ignorance of those perspectives and respect to not encroach or speak for individuals with whom I do not yet have an personal dialogue with (yet).

Which, in my mind, is sort of stating the obvious. Putting duality at the center of your religion and metaphysics erases Beings who dance outside of that duality. This includes a fair number of Human Beings, who find that duality to be a central aspect of our oppression.

Then there’s the false dichotomy between dualism and monotheism (via a bad definition of monism). Shortly followed by, “With that in mind the symbols and metaphors of nature are heavily dual.” No, just where sexual reproduction is concerned, you have organisms with plural genders, organisms where mating types can’t be distinguished in terms of morphology or behavior, organisms that don’t do sexual reproduction at all, and organisms whose sexuality is completely alien to the way we usually think about it. These outnumber us in our own bodies, much less the world we inhabit.

An anthropomorphic metaphor of a tree is not the tree itself. It’s the tree I worship, branch, leaf, root, bird and bird shit, squirrels, wasp galls, fiddleheads, moss, lichens, chloroplasts, mitochondria, fungi, bacteria, and viruses in all. The fractal tree doesn’t fit into the dualism of a tree, whether that dualism is male/female or matter/spirit. And that holds true for the other things in my universe. Grandfather is grandfather. Mother is mother. Mouse is mouse. Cat is cat.


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