Since “coming out” as non-binary, since changing my name within my community, I’ve entered this new level of self discovery that I wasn’t ultimately prepared for. Having some-what of an identity crisis at 34 wasn’t something I expected to happen, nor was I expecting what was the follow: so how does being non-binary fit into Paganism when so much of it is gender-identified?
It has taken a while for me to realise that my entire path has been pretty non-binary, and it’s why I eventually drifted away from paths of the gender-specific, such as Wicca (many many moons ago) and Goddess-specific-worship, all under the guise of “I’m not comfortable with this and I’m not sure why.”
I spoke in my coming out blog post that I tried so incredibly hard to connect with feminine divine, and I love my old circle-Sisters deeply. Acknowledging myself as non-binary helps comprehend why there was always that element of uncertainty within me, and why I felt as though I could never properly connect like my circle-Sisters could. Yes, I know, we’re all on our own paths and we’re not all the same, but then-me couldn’t comprehend the missing link.
Moving to the Riverina has been such an opening experience for me in so many ways. Not only as it allowed me to find my true voice and acknowledge my true self, but it has allowed my Pagan path, my Pagan voice, to change so dramatically it’s knocked the wind out of me and I’m only just catching my breath again.
In many situations (again, this could be because I had no idea who I was) I have always felt like the child of the group, the learner, the inexperienced; always in awe of those around me and their connection and their knowledge. Despite first acknowledging myself as Pagan 19 years ago, despite first self-initiating myself 15 years ago, I’ve always felt inexperienced. In a way, this can be quite common for those of us who are so very much solitary. We often get stuck in a world of “readers, not doers” and I know that’s partly been the case for me. Or, my path has been so eclectic and made up on the spot I’ve been missing the academic-side of things, missing “common knowledge” because I haven’t practiced a, or I haven’t studied b, or I’m yet to discover c.
For example, I’ve only just acquired a copy of Raymond Buckland’s, Big Blue Book.
It could also be because my path first took a dramatic change when the Muggle and I moved back to Sydney after our handfasting in 2011, and I went from being a solitary Ocean Witch to studying Druidry, being so far removed from the ocean (okay, it was 30km but that’s a long distance in Sydney-standards). When I was practicing Ocean Witchcraft I had no books on the subject, it was all about feeling the energy of the land, connecting with place, following intuition – in retrospect I think I’ve been practicing Druidry from the very beginning!
Every so often I find myself stopping, assessing my path, and feeling a need to go back to the very basics because I’m finding that I skipped sections along the way – because that’s what we solitary beginners do.
More strongly, I’ve found that my relationship with Herne the Hunter has reached a new level, too. I first began working with Herne in 2003 when I discovered him through a webcrawler search. I worked with him for eleven years before becoming a Dedicant in 2012. Even after becoming a Dedicant, I still felt like a Novice with him being very much the gentle teacher, allowing me to find my feet and discover our relationship as Dedicant/Deity.
When I got my new tattoo, acknowledging myself as Rowan dedicating themselves to Herne the Hunter, a shift happened. I couldn’t explain it, but something happened. Things were no longer like what they were. It’s only been in the last three days where I did something to make Herne really (really) tell me off and pull me into line, that I realise what the shift has been.
My path, in all aspects of itself, as reached a new level. This is so incredibly daunting, but I know that I am ready for it. Reading the cards this afternoon after apologising profusely to Herne has put me at ease to a degree. I know that whatever this new path is, he’s there with me.
I’ve also been inundated with messages from my Oma, which I believe is in part of learning more about Nehelannia, a Goddess of the Netherlands, and finding a greater spiritual connection to my Dutch lineage to compliment the work I do with my Ancestors.
To answer my original question – how does being non-binary fit into Paganism when so much of it is gender-identified – I will simply continue to do my own thing. I’ve read other non-binary Witches write that they’ve removed gender from different elements and aspects of their path, but as someone who has never seen being male as a defining characteristic of Herne the Hunter, I think I’ll continue to just be.