The Tale of a Transsexual Norse Pagan Spirit-Worker
by Linda D.
excerpt from Wightridden: Paths of Northern-Tradition Shamanism
I have three patron Deities: Loki, Freya, and Lofn.
Loki, God of Change, Humor, and Sex-Changing, is the one who is training me to do spirit work by putting me in situations where I have to figure out what to do, and gain the necessary skills to fix the problem. He started that with abducting my raccoon spirit-friend into another world, thus giving me the choice of learning to journey to get him back, or of using the now empty raccoon skull to make a stang for travelling to the nine worlds. Either choice is fine with him, as in both cases, I get skill in traveling to other worlds for future errands. He doesn't seem to believe in classrooms much. And as God of Change, having lots of choices is a good thing. As a hypnotherapist, creating change in people is what I do best, and so I think he's pretty happy with my day job. I seem to have an almost magical knack for helping people change.
Freya, Goddess of Desire and Women's Magic (seidhr), has told me that she'll have work for me to do later. I am almost sure that she is waiting for me to have my sex change surgery and be anatomically female before setting me to work for her. In my mind, Freya is a goddess of desire, and I think of seidhr magic as seducing the world into doing what you want, rather than imposing your will with galdr magic. So while her brother Frey is about the having of abundance, she's more about the desire that motivates you to get it.
My third is Lofn, Goddess of Forbidden Loves and Passions. The sum of her lore is about 3 lines in the Prose Edda, and so most Norse Pagans tend to ignore her. Arranged marriages aren't the norm anymore, so why would she be relevant? But if you think about it more carefully, aren't there forbidden loves today, of a different kind? Loves that are socially unacceptable? Passions that are called perversions? I should think the big battles raging right now for and against gay marriage should make it clear that there are still "forbidden loves" today. And what about bisexuals, who are treated as traitors by both straights and gays? And of course, there's all the BDSM relationships, kinks and fetishes. You can find them all in Lofn's realm in the Dreaming, in trance journeys, or during sleep. She's not just about forbidden relationships, you see. She's also about forbidden passions, such as crossdressing, and even simple fetishism for wearing panties, as well as the need to transition to the other sex. If it's a forbidden or socially unacceptable passion (in a given society), then it's part of Lofn's realm.
Lofn helps me directly with my day job, and I've learned quite a bit about her from how she's interacted with my clients as a guide. Lofn's name literally means "permission". A lot of what I do is really about giving people permission to be themselves, and to encourage them to do what they want to do with their lives. Permission is also the central concept for hypnosis: without consent, nothing can be done. This is also true of therapy, as you cannot change someone who does not want to be changed. Another name for this concept is "acceptance", something that many transgendered people badly need to give themselves, as they are often wracked with guilt and shame about their irresistible need to manifest gender-transgression. I think all queers wrestle with that to some degree, and Lofn is the one most capable of helping with that.
For devotions and magic, I consider the key to be her symbol, as well as her magical tool. I see it as an old-fashioned silver key with a golden glow, and I also have a old key like that among my magical tools. For statuary, what I found is a woman showing the way in through an archway or door. It's meant to hold a picture, and I got it at the Las Vegas airport (made for the Monte Carlo hotel). She has asked me to collect flower petals, and has explained they were to be put "on the path". I'm still not clear on what she meant, but I assume laying down flower petals would be good to consecrate a place to her influence, or call her to a place where her magic is needed.
And where does all that leave me? Well, my main spiritual talents are for seership, and I was told by two other seers to get in touch with my ancestor spirits. I've since started talking to one who is responsible for managing the gifts of seership for my family line. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that this bloodline talent is exclusively reserved for women of my family... and I'm sort of in between. So I'm only getting part of the package, and she says I'll be getting more of it after my sex change surgery, which is about 2 months away for me now.
You see, I transitioned to living full time as a woman 15 years ago when I was 21, took hormones briefly and stopped because I thought they were causing problems with my health (I just had an incompetent endocrinologist), and put the surgery plans on the back burner, having no money for it anyway. In my 20's I practiced ADF Druidism with a Norse focus in a grove that I had founded, until the group closed in 1999. During that time, I sought to learn mediumship and trance possession, to be able to learn directly from the gods what the scholarly sources omitted. But after the grove closed, I had about 6 years of getting the divine answering machine: "Please say your prayer at the sound of the beep, and place your offering into the designated slot". I'd occasionally get vague hints about what to do from Freya, and when I didn't carry them out because I didn't understand, she'd ignore me for 6 months to a year. After a while, I pretty much gave up on trying to talk to them, and focussed on my work with transgendered people, getting occasional hints from Lofn when she helped clients. And while I didn't get direct orders during those 6 years, I suddenly found myself interested in doing things, which seemed to be my ideas at the time. For instance, belly dancing lessons were my idea, but the exotic dance lessons I started two years ago weren't. How is me knowing exotic dance useful to the gods? Beats me. I'm also pretty sure learning to weave on a loom wasn't my idea, either.
Many years went by, and then I had a penetrative sexual experience that blew my mind, and prompted me to start hormones again and to sign up for genital surgery. Then, suddenly, my patrons started talking to me again, and for the first time, asking me to do things! I was very excited, after so many years of silence. Were they waiting for me to resume my transitioning before guiding me to peers and teachers? Or did they decide to give me a push to get on with the next phase of my life? Either way, my transitioning and returning to active status as a spirit worker seem to be intimately connected with each other. In my 20's, I was trained for two years as the apprentice of the guardian of my city, who has since moved to another province. I wondered if I should take up the job again. The answer I got was basically: "We shouldn't have to tell you to do the right thing." In other words, it's my choice, but the job does need doing, and they'll approve of it if I do. Divination indicated I should wait till Beltane before officially taking on the job, and that there would be challenges in the meantime. At the very least, I'll need recovery time, and be out of commission for a while after my surgery in January.
So what does it mean to me to be a third gender spirit worker? It means being a betweener, being and understanding both sides, but never completely. It means having experienced what it feels like to ride my brain on male hormones, and then on female hormones, and realizing I make more sense to myself on female hormones. It's understanding being obsessed with sex, and able to utterly ignore emotions to focus on a goal on the boy side. It's having too many emotions at once to be able to understand them, and knowing you're being completely irrational on the girl side, but that it will pass. It's understanding how two very different types of humans feel and think, while being both and neither. Perhaps that helps in understanding how non-humans think.
Shamans are living bridges between the spirit world and human world. We who are between genders are living bridges between men and women. The only problem with this metaphor of being a bridge is... well, people walk all over you while trying to figure out what the other side is rambling about. On the upside, I'm very good at translating boyspeak into girlspeak, and vice versa, for helping couples understand each other. I'm also lucky in that I look very female, and that I live in a city where people usually don't care what you do or what you are.
There is one more aspect that ties into my being third gender, which is being an agent of change. I've been given hints that the ancestress originally responsible for my family's talents was a Norn. There are many Norns of varying ranks and powers, drawn from all the races of the 9 worlds, ranging from the individual lesser Norn guiding a person's soul, all the way up to the big threesome at the Well of Wyrd. And I've come to believe there are two types of Norns, both of whom can see the threads, but who alter them in different ways: I call them Fates and Muses. Fates are the ones who actually decide what is for the greater good, and arrange the threads to make it happen. It's all done behind the scenes. I can see the threads, but I don't know that I can actually alter them. Muses, on the other hand, are the inspirers. They inspire people to act and think in certain ways, but this only works with the person's consent. Which doesn't mean it's necessarily informed consent.
I have found there to be three kinds of Muses: Muses of Desire are those who motivate people to do things, through what they most want to have, do, or be. Muses of Virtue are those who inspire people to act honorably. Some of them do so by promoting the code of conduct of their faith (i.e. Mother Theresa, Gandhi), and others by urging people to follow their own inner wisdom and code of honor. Then there are Muses of Fear, who motivate people with what they fear most. If you haven't guessed it already, I consider myself a Muse of Desire.