On Being A Twenty-first Century Argr Man

by Jálkr
excerpt from Wightridden: Paths of Northern-Tradition Shamanism

            Attaining some measure of understanding about my identity has been a convoluted journey, requiring sleuthing, research, personal introspection and just plain audacity. Any worthy explication of the process is consequently likewise. I don't think using terms of identification from an archaic culture is inappropriate, but I do think it is making a large leap, a justifiable one.

            The basics, to establish my credentials: I am a middle-aged female-to-male transsexual, of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian ancestry. I have borne multiple children. I am also newly arrived on the Heathen spiritual path, that of my forebears. I decided to embark upon it after careful reflection on my life's purpose. At this point I can only say my Fulltrui, Óðinn, is satisfied with my current understanding, but I am fully cognizant that there is no such thing as reaching a conclusion - with no further striving required - as long as I draw breath. Valföðr tries his votaries to the breaking point, that much I know for sure. Obtaining a sex change at 39 was no easy feat.

            I see Heathenry being grounded in pre-existing lore, but influenced by UPG - unverified personal gnosis. Without UPG, all we have is static soul-less artifact. Without pre-existing lore, UPG can take wild flights of fancy. Neither can function without the other.

            Neil Price's exhaustively researched The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron-Age Scandinavia has been my primary resource regarding historical reference to being ergi or argr. Of course, Price ties being ergi with performance of seið, and I am not a practitioner of seið (yet). What I am, though, is a being of socially stigmatized status whose sexual behavior would definitely be described by many as "deviant", and whose childbearing experiences have definitely affected both my sexuality and my perceptions of things both physical and spiritual.

            Socially, I have gone through all the necessary processes to be granted legal status as a man, but they are far from ironclad, and I think most people reading this have a fair idea of just how marginally transsexuals are regarded in contemporary society. My manhood is regarded as suspect, even moreso because I still use my remaining female anatomy, my genitals, as a source of sexual gratification for myself and my partners. I am the frequent and enthusiastic recipient of penetrative sex, not merely of "tab A and slot B" variety, but extremely queer and transcendent unions. Whatever shreds of normalcy I may have once managed to hide behind are really quite irrelevant these days. If anything they underscore just how deviant I have become, in the eyes of society. Just like the ergi of old, not a one can meet me or know of me and think that I am "just a regular kind of guy."

            I leave you with a personal journal entry from when I was first coming to knowledge:

            "Back in September I went down to Brown University during their week of Viking-related programming and heard Neil Price, from Uppsala University, discuss Viking Age archeology, cosmology and social structure. In particular, I wanted to find out from this amazing man about the concept of ergi as it related to gender and sexuality. I ended up buying Price's gigantic tome The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia and could spend hours in it, prowling around and learning. As an FtM (female-to-male) mother of northern ancestry, I find all this really fascinating and it speaks to me across the ages. I remarked to someone in e-mail today that I feel like a double agent, gender-wise. My physiology and history anchor me to my origins and I will not deny them. Nothing contemporary in the lexicon of identities works as far as encompassing all of it, but honestly, isn't everyone a mix of paradoxes? I'm just a little more weird than others. What a feeling it is, then, to read about these long-dead folk and recognize my spiritual kin."