The need for a form of nature-worship I could relate to. A strong interest in social justice and inclusivity. My best friend’s gay cat. All of these things played a heavy part my interest in queer, gender non-conforming, and non-binary forms of nature. I had originally intended to include this as a small section of my article "God, Goddess, and Other: Fertility faiths and queer identities," but I quickly realized it would take much, much more space than that to do the topic justice.And the topic definitely deserves a lot of education and research. (In fact, the more I’ve done, the more I feel I need to do!) Humans, I think, have a tendency to assume that other creatures are like themselves unless they prove otherwise. The study of many of the animals I will discuss has been filled with misunderstanding and inaccurate information, partly from a lack of technology for many years (the ability to study DNA has exponentially increased our understanding in just the past few years, which I am very grateful for) and partly due to restrictive ideas of what “male” and “female” entail, and a lack of recognition for sexes outside that binary. This article seeks to remedy that, honour these life forms for their differences instead of glossing them over and help others find ways to incorporate them into their practice.
Before I go on...
I’d like to give a small disclaimer: This article is by no means exhaustive, and though I've tried to include as many perspectives as I could, I’m almost certain that there’s something I’ve missed. Also, keep in mind that some parts of this article are written from the perspective of lesbian sexuality and non-binary gender, because that is where my personal experience lies. If you think I’ve missed something important, or if your gender and sexuality give you a completely different perspective, I would love to hear about it! Read More
The Path to the Guru: The Science of Self-Realisation According to the Bhagavad Gita, by Scott TeitsworthInner Traditions, 978-1-62055-321-3, 342 pp. (incl. prologue, introduction, epilogue, notes, bibliography, and index), 2014In TheBhagavad Gita, guru Krishna employs a “secret dialectic” with his pupil Arjuna. “Teacher and taught begin as polar opposites in whom a kind of osmotic interchange takes place, each stimulating and edifying the other, until they become as one in realization.” The oppositional stance Teitsworth takes in The Path to the Guru seems intended to provoke the same kind of response in the reader.It strikes me that this review is a commentary on a commentary on other commentaries about a story of a guru guiding a guru guiding a guru. I feel like the Hindu deity on the cover, waving a thousand arms in front of a mirror, my image refracting into reflection upon reflection -- one of the more pleasant effects of reading Teitsworth’s dense and thought-provoking book. Read More
Compassion Conquers All: Teachings of the Eight Versus of Mind Transformation, by Tsem RinpocheNew Page Books, 978-1-60163-354-5, 192 pp. (incl. foreword, appendix, glossary, and author bio), 2014 His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche, an unrealized monk, received the teachings of the Eight Verses of Mind Transformation at the age of 13 from His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. The teachings are a translation of the Lord Buddha’s teaching on compassion and, when followed, develop the Bodhicitta or compassionate mind, ultimately leading to enlightenment.The text begins with a discussion of motivation and how motivation affects an action and the outcome of any single action. The eight worldly concerns are introduced and discussed and the reader is instructed to memorize these concerns and use them as a reference point to check their motivation in day-to-day life. When working from the eight worldly concerns, suffering is guaranteed and can only lead to negative states of mind. Read More
Old World Witchcraft: Ancient Ways for Modern Days, by Raven GrimassiWeiser Books, 9781578635054, 272 pp. 2011Raven Grimassi is a name familiar to those of us who have been reading books on Wicca and witchcraft for a number of years as to date he has authored 14 of them. His background is varied and extensive, running the gamut from Rosicrucian studies and kabbalah and various forms of “traditional” witchcraft. This background allows him to approach the subject from a variety of perspectives.In Old World Witchcraft Grimassi is presenting his take on the argument that witchcraft is a survival of an ancient pre-Christian religion. One thing I am sure of is that this book has the potential to polarize the community because of Grimassi's emphasis on the Goddess as the primary deity of early witches, with the God perceived as an invisible presence. This is not the only sacred cow he goes after, although I must emphasize that this is not a malicious attack, but merely an attempt to show how the Christian concept of witches and witchcraft coloured the perceptions of everyone -- including both medieval and modern-day witches. Read More
William Blake's Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Marsha Keith SchuchardInner Traditions, 9781594772115, 398 pp., 2008Reading William Blake one cannot help but realize this is a man who is both religious and spiritually active, especially his poems known as the prophecies. The question is what was the nature of his spiritual life? What inspired Blake to create works that are both heavily Christian and at the same time antagonistic to many Christian ideals? The surprising answer is laid out as Schuchard leads us back into the complex religious web of mystical Christianity of the 17th and 18th century.No clear, singular document exists that explains Blake’s religious life and upbringing, so Schuchard researched and wrote this text as a “reconstruction of the lost religious history of the family of William Blake.” This area is rarely investigated, and considering how bizarre and complicated a picture Schuchard paints it’s not surprising that “sensible academic critics have cautiously refrained from taking the plunge” into this counter-religious culture. Read More