a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Deconstruction and Paganism

To: alt.magick.tyagi
From: (Shaksway)
Subject: Deconstruction and Paganism
Date: 25 Jun 1997 20:38:45 GMT

Archetypes That Bind: Deconstruction Meets Pagan Reconstruction

	I would like to throw something out for discussion. The title goes
along way in summing up my dilema. My question: Is the wholesale
acceptance and perpetuation of mythological gender archetypes a good
thing? Are Wiccan and Pagan archetypes empowering or narow and delimiting?
Because Pagans have been on the margins for so long they and (some Wiccan
communities) attempt to be inclusive and reflective about gender issues
and the magical use of archetypes. However, a matriarchal religion or even
a heterosexist co-archal model based on binary oppositions and fertility
has at least the potential for evolving into a religion as overdetermined
as the Catholic Church. Are we drawing upon the magical essence of the
sexes or further perpetuating gender stereotypes. The Christian model
after all derives in part from a Pagan one. 

	A structural analysis of Pagan archetypes/dieties and rituals
based on the natal body abound with binary oppositions. This has grown
alarmingly clear to me over the years and is an interesting paradox given
that in day to day practice most Pagans don't seem hung up on gender.
Another paradox is that Paganism has benefitted from postmodern
theoretical concepts (like that of Michel Focault) yet, because of its
insularity within the liberal religious community, it seems immune to
structural critique. Some Pagan and earth centered authors have addressed
the issue briefly but one wonders how productive a formal dialogue on the
subject migt be.

	Dig deep enough into the symbology and at the extreme edge of
romanticism is a kind of nature based totalitarism that relies on the
tension of binary opposites to prop itself up. This is sometimes
unavoidable, but it can become dangerous when it is done unreflectively.
The idea that romanticism or neo-romanticism can be dangerous is not news
but is worth reiterating.

	In Women, Floods, Bodies, History, volume 1 of Male Fantasies,
Klaus Theweleit analyzes the writings of the proto-Nazi Freikorps

"Most dangerous of all, though, are the floods within oneself...The
"gigantic, filthy-red wave" that breaks over [the fascist male warrior]
has really sloshed up inside him. He threatens "to drown" within
himself...The flood is close at hand...either in oneself or on the
outside. The men seem to relate every actual or imminent flood directly to
themselves, each one to his own body. The terrain of their rage is always
at the same time their own body; this feeling is found in every single
utterance associated with the "Red Flood." (233)

	Fascism is an extreme that can result from the excesses of
romanticism. Gender fascism, while not as graphic, is often just as
insidious. This is because of its everyday and rather undramatic nature.
It can be harbored in seemingly innocent ports and perpetuated by generous
and gentle people when the basic ideas are turned to political ends. Are
our rituals that celebrate the supposed union of binary opposites simply
what Luce Irigaray calls the "reabsorption of otherness in the discourse
of sameness" an illusion that reinforces the oppressive symbolic order. Do
they makes us feel good because our sense of feminity and masculinity is
symbolically and ritually reinforced. Through them we understand and are a
part of the natural order, flow, and rhythm. While not addressing the
Pagan community directly, Luce Irigaray has some important things to say
about the concept of an emergent female divinity and the psychosymbolic
role "femaleness" has played in religion throughout the ages. Below are a
collection of quotes that I believe have import for the Pagan community as
it begins to discuss what ___Alan Bonewitt??? Green Egg__ calls a pagan


"This leaves us in our infancy, in our bondage, slaves to the archaic
powers and fears of elementary struggles for life that are  divided
between submission to a technical imperialism alien to us and regression
to magical thinking." (An Ethics of Sexual Difference p-72)

"To be the term of the other is nothing enviable. It paralyzes us in our
becoming. As divinity or goddess of an for man, we are deprived of our own
ends and means. It is essential that we be God for ourselves so that we
can be divine for the other, not idols, fetishes, symbols that have
already been outlined or determined."
(An Ethics of Sexual Difference p-71).

"Paradoxically, the cult of the mother in our cultures today is often
associated with a scorn or neglect of nature. It is true that in
patriarchal genelogy we are dealing with the cult of son's mother, to the
detriment of the daughter's mother".(Sexes and Genelogies-p3)

"When we become parts or multiples without future of our own this means
simply that we are leaving it up to the other, or the Other of the other,
to put us together." (Sexes and Genelogies p61)

"It is important for us to remember that we have to respect nature in its
cycles, its life, its growth; it is important for us to recall that events
in history, that History itself, cannot and must not conceal cosmic events
and rhythms. But all this must be done in the context of entering or
furthering womanhood, not moving backwards. If we resist hierarchies (the
man/woman hierarchy, or state/woman hierarchy, or a certain form of
God/woman or machine/woman), only to fall back into the power (pouvoir) of
nature/woman, animal/woman, even matriarchs/woman, women/women, we have
not made much progress." (Sexes and Genealogies p-60)

"The link uniting or reuniting masculine and feminine must be horizontal
and vertical, terrestial amd heavenly." (An Ethics of Sexual

"Love of self, for man, seems to oscillate among three poles:
- nostaligia for the mother-womb entity,
- quest for God through the father,
- love of one part of the self (conforming principally to the dominant
sexual model)." (An Ethics of Sexual Difference-p61)

Thanks for the opportunity to raise these questions. 

M. Joseph Costello

M. Joseph Costello is a communication psychology and semiotics student in
Springfield MO with an interest in interfaith, gender studies, and
structural analysis. 

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races