Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beantown on a Broomstick, Part the Second

The evening of the Fall Equinox found me on a train heading North, where, once again, I managed to misunderstand the payment system.

After we embarked, a porter came by and asked for my ticket. I handed her my light-rail transit card. She did not think this amusing.

"This is a commuter train," she said flatly. "We don't accept transit cards."

Nor did they accept credit cards. And I didn't have any cash on me. I'm pretty sure she wanted to punch me. Instead, she took my driver's license and wrote down my address. I'll be getting a bill for $5.25, payable to the State of Massachusetts, in four to six weeks. But at least they didn't kick me off, because that would've been unfriendly to my enterprises.

The whole point of this leg of my journey was to meet face-to-face with a Minos (High Priest) of the Minoan Brotherhood and present myself as a candidate for initiation. Which... well, happened. And it's funny, because I've been sort of secretly fascinated by the Minoan Brotherhood ever since I first heard about it, but until very recently I never pursued it the way I did Traditional Wicca. When introduced to Minoan initiates at pub moots or parties, I'd be polite but not express curiosity. If asked if I was interested in the tradition, I always responded, "It's really not something I want to look into right now." Even though it was. And it took a verbal smack upside the head for me to figure out why.

I was on the phone with Deborah awhile back, complaining about relationship issues and what-not, and I don't remember exactly what I said that sent up a red flag, but she suddenly cut me off and went, "Wow. You are really uncomfortable being gay." This was not an easy thing to hear, mainly because it's true: I'm not particularly comfortable with my homosexuality. I mean, I don't see it as a bad thing, or something of which I should be ashamed, but sometimes being gay feels like wearing a suit that's a little too big. Or like when I was a kid and my family would go to the beach, and everyone else would play in the surf while I hung out at the hotel pool, because it wasn't as scary as the ocean.

My various attempts at queer spirituality were supposed to fix this, but they didn't, and sometimes they just plain exacerbated the situation. I'm thinking of the Radical Faerie circles Jack and I used to attend, which always seemed to denigrate from celebratory to giggly-naughty, i.e. "In this ritual, we're going to be skyclad, tee hee!" Granted, a good time was generally had by all, but it quickly became clear that what we were doing was less about honoring our specialness and more of an excuse to get grabby. Which in itself led to serious drama, usually when some of the "committed and monogamous" Faeries couldn't seem to keep their hands out of other Faeries' sarongs.

So there was that, coupled with the whole Gardnerian issue. Thing is, I love being Gardnerian. I love our rituals and the Gods we venerate and my Co-Witches. Love 'em. Unfortunately, within the gay ghettos of NeoPaganism, British Traditional Wicca is often... not frowned-up, exactly, but viewed as... geez, what's the word I'm looking for, dismissible? Unworkable? Obsolete? Whatever, long story short, I get weird looks from gay Pagans when I tell them I’m Gardnerian, and sometimes they don't want to play with me anymore.

The obvious solution is, of course, stop telling them, you moron. But acceptance is a twisty little monster. When straight Pagans get huffy with me about being Gardnerian, I offer them a cheerful "fuck off" and go on with my life. When gay Pagans give me grief over it, I get twitchy and angry and desperately want them to like me.

This, methinks, be not beneficial.

And sadly, this is also what kept me away from the Minoan Brotherhood, even when it should've been a no-brainer. [And not just in terms of homosexuality: When I was 16, I wrote a term paper on the enduring influence of the Minoan Snake Goddess in classical Greek mythology. I received a solid A, because, quoth my high school English professor, "I honestly have no clue how to grade this."] But a week ago tonight, I managed to step out of my insecurities and give my full trust to a fellow gay Pagan, knowing I was in the right place at the right time, doing what was right for me. And knowing that this particular path would not be an option if I wasn't the gay man I am.

Through this experience, something just on the edge of definable clicked. Within the Gardnerian Tradition, I found the family I'd always wanted. Within the Minoan Brotherhood, I found a key, missing piece of myself, a piece which fits perfectly between my healthy self image and (I'm owning it) my sacred sexuality.

The train trip back to Boston was a whole nother adventure.


Kitty said...

Awwwww...I'm gonna cry...seriously.

Today I told someone I was Gardnerian and he looked at me and said "oh, you're hard core" YEP!

annyikha said...

It's great that you have found a good org. The Minoan culture was very beautiful, so if you do join, I hope that your group maintains the rich colors and flowing forms. :)

Do you know why the organization is using "temenos" instead of "coven/circle/grove" for the group names? As a Hellenic Polytheist, this actually offends me a little bit. If people want to borrow Hellenic words for their modern traditions, they should choose appropriate words (unless of course the Minoan Brotherhood means to say that each group itself is a nonphysical temenos).

Brother Christopher said...

and I know, as a brother, I am glad to have you. I also hope it unfolds for you beautifully.

To annyikha, I really can't say why we use that. I honestly, never thought about it. As to your offense, with all due respect, Hellenism doesn't own a word or language. If it wasn't for all the modern traditions that came into being from mid-20th century, you may not even be calling yourself a Hellenic Polytheist. I really think that there should be other things that should be of more concern that BTW group using a word.

Thalia Took said...

Oh, so Linear A's been translated and they now know the original Minoan words for these things? I hadn't heard. (And you'd think I would've.)

Last I knew temenos was a Greek word meaning 'the enclosure about a temple, sacred space or precinct.' I suppose it occasionally was used for 'grove', but only in the most literal sense, meaning 'bunch of trees where worship took place,' not as a synonym for 'coven.' So it sounds like Hellenic Polytheists (of which I am not one) are using the word in a modern sense of their own choosing, am I correct?

And you are offended that another modern group is doing the same thing?

I am not understanding.

And yeah, Commuter Rail is a different system from the T. You and trains just aren't having any luck, are you?

Evn said...

Kitty: There is no crying in Witchcraft! :P But yes, you are quite the hardcore lil' Witch. Makes me proud. *sniff*

Annyikha: As I understand it, the use of the word temenos within the Minoan Brotherhood came into popularity some time in the early 90's. Minoan groups are called groves, and some (but not all) groves incorporated temenos into their titles (Temenos Theotokos, Temenos Drakontos, etc.), presumably as reference to the sacred space created during ritual. But yeah, in general, we've just got groves. (Which makes us sound like garden pests: "Honey, call the exterminator! We've got groves! And they've ruined my zinnias...")

Christopher: I'm happy to have you as a brother as well! I think I'm gonna like it here. ;)

Thalia: At this point, the trains and I respect each other as warriors.

Word Verification = uncticis: a skin irritation caused by an allergic reaction to annointing oils.

miakoda said...

I'm glad to hear you found your missing piece! Sometimes it takes a big shake-up in your life (or the wisdom of a friend) to drop the blinders and force you to recognize what's been in front of your face all along. Kudos to you for having the courage to do something about it.

Siobhan said...

This made me want to cry too.

I am so very happy for you.

And not to deflate, because truly, enjoy the joy of your epiphany. But remember, the epiphany is always the easy part.

Evn said...

Miakoda and Siobhan, you guys both rock. :)

Brother Christopher said...

zinnias lol.

annyikha said...

Evn » Thanks. The use of "temenos" is interesting when I put on my lit crit hat, and it is creative. I'd probably object less if someone actually took the time to discuss the name choice.

Groves make me think of unicorns and virgins. And maybe Captain Cully and his Band of Freemen, who are 100% more real than Robin Hood.

Brother Christopher » Reconstructionist pagan faiths are not based on Wicca. While Hellenistai benefit from a lot of the work Wiccans and Neo-Wiccans do with the ACLU and such, Hellenism doesn't owe its existence to you because the European groups would still exist. I would probably have converted to Hinduism had I not found Hellenism first.

Thalia » A "temenos," according to Walter Burkert, a scholar of Hellenic religion, is land cut off and dedicated to a god/hero. Some temenoi were huge and did contain groves of trees, in addition to giant stadiums and theaters (kind of like estates). Many had a Super Special Sacred Tree of Sacredness. Some of them were just bounded by a low fence surrounding a small altar. I understand the term, when used in Mycenaean Greece, was also applied to secular estates.

We use "temenos" in the ancient way. Our temenoi aren't just pieces of set-aside property, but can also be rooms in our houses. Using the word "temenos" to refer to a group as opposed to a divine being's space confuses me, and that's why I suggested that there may be more appropriate words (for instance, an Ancient Greek word for "community" or "group"). I don't hold the MB to recon standards, and I definitely don't expect the org to suddenly rename the groups. It's just an objection to keep in mind.

Yewtree said...

Hi Evn - just wanted to say congratulations on joining the MB and I hope it goes well.

Could the discomfort with the whole gay thing be to do with other people (both gay and straight) expecting you to be a certain way just because you have the label 'gay' attached to you? (You know, like obviously you must be into interior decorating...)

Evn said...

Yewtree, you're close. But it's also me expecting people to expect me to be a certain way, i.e., "Am I coming across as masculine enough right now? Gay enough? Should I have worn Versace?" etc.

That said, I am into interior decorating. ;)

Siobhan said...

Can you afford Versace?

On a related note, Glee had a terrific coming out episode last week. Yes, I watch Glee. It's got big production numbers and a team of misfits making good. What's not to love?

Evn said...

Outside of Showgirls, no one can afford Versace. That's partly why gay men are so self-loathing.

I haven't seen Glee yet, but I've heard very good things. I'll try to catch it this week.

knottybynature said...

I dunno. I have always seen the sexuality of a person much like I see eye-color or skin tone. Being thing or fat. It's just physical trait.

I'm compelled to you by your charming wit and good humor. ;) That's why I continue to read your blog, Evn.

Maybe we can't make you more comfortable with that trait. I'm no pixie, and sometimes that's uncomfortable for me. But the people that love you, well, they love you and it really doesn't matter beyond that, does it?