There are two reasons why Neo-Paganism is such a cool movement for Gay people to be participating in, that I wonder why anyone would bother with anything else: (1) Pagans as a whole are definitely the most positive and supportive, welcoming and friendly, group of folks towards Gay people that I have ever encountered (2) Only in Paganism will you come across Gay Creation myths.
I guess it’s partly the heavy emphasis on multiple Deities, various Pathways, numerous Traditions- variations upon the various Pathways of the numerous Traditions- that inclines Pagans towards a respectfulness of All Others. I suppose too that a large number of Pagans tend to be political liberals- or that’s my impression at any rate- and so I guess are inclined in principle towards acceptance and equality.
For whatever reason, I have always found Pagans to be exceptionally welcoming of their Gay associates, which is of course a nice thing to encounter.
I was re-reading Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth the other night (you know you’re a Pagan when you say things like, I was re-reading Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth the other night) and I noticed something new- something that seems very pertinent at this time of awareness and alarm over Gay Teen suicides, Gay Teens who kill themselves out of a hostile, socially reinforced idea that their Queer lives are worthless.
As I am sure most Juggler readers recognize, Inanna is the study of “Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer,” by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer (Harper and Row, 1983), wherein they examine the ancient writings of the Sumerians (some of which date back to 2000 BCE) detailing the Great Goddess Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, made manifest in the morning and evening star.
Inanna is also significant for being (possibly) the first recorded Deity to undertake the Underworld Descent, in the story titled “From the Great Above to the Great Below” (p. 52-67), in which Inanna visits her sister Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Dead.
“Inanna entered the throne room.
Ereshkigal rose from her throne.
Inanna started toward the throne.
Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
She spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt.
She struck her.
Inanna was turned into a corpse and was hung from a hook on the wall.”
Talk about your intense sibling rivalry. After a while, the Father-God Enki (God of Wisdom; God of the Waters) notices that Inanna (Queen of All the Lands; Holy Priestess of Heaven) has not returned from the Underworld and guesses what has happened.
“From under his fingernail Father Enki brought forth dirt.
He fashioned the dirt into a kurgarra, a creature neither male nor female.
From under the fingernail of his other hand he brought forth dirt.
He fashioned the dirt into a galatur, a creature neither male nor female.
He gave the food of life to the kurgarra.
He gave the water of life to the galatur.” (p. 64)
So basically Father Enki (God of Wisdom) hatches a plan with the kurgarra (which is one creature neither male or female) and the galatur (which is another creature neither male nor female, but a being different from the kurgarra; fashioned from the dirt under the other hand than that which made the kurgarra, in fact).
The kurgarra and the galatur are to transform themselves into flies (so they can shape-shift) and travel down to the Underworld (so, like only a very, very Select Few, such as Inanna Herself, the kurgarra and the galatur possess the power to travel Between the World and the Underworld). There they will find Ereshkigal in the agony of childbirth.
They are to show themselves as sympathetic to Her, moaning in heartfelt empathy and praising her exceptional courage. Then, after the birth is over, Ereshkigal will make them an offering of anything, anything at all, that they want.
The kurgarra and the galatur are to ask for the corpse of Inanna.
“One of you will sprinkle the food of life on it.
The other will sprinkle the water of life.
Inanna will arise.”
And so the kurgarra and the galatur do as Father Enki has instructed; turn themselves into flies; and travel to the Underworld; where Ereshkigal is all sorts of out-of-sorts in pain.
So they commiserate, and they’re all, Oh poor Ereshkigal, how Thou doth suffer! and so on. Then later, when Ereshkigal is feeling better, she’s like, what can I give you to show my thanks?
And the kurgarra and the galatur are like, We’d love to have that corpse hanging there on your wall.
And Ereshkigal is like, You’re kidding, right? Cause that’s a CORPSE!!
But the kurgarra and the galatur are like, No, no, we want the corpse.
So Ereshkigal is like, Alriiiiight…and gives them Inanna’s corpse.
“The kurgarra sprinkled the food of life on the corpse.
The galatur sprinkled the water of life on the corpse.
Inanna arose.” (p. 67)
What an exceptional myth, right? Incidentally, as well, perhaps the first (ahem, the FIRST) recorded instance of a Deity rising from the dead.
The miraculous resurrection is brought about through the intervention of the mysterious kurgarra (a creature neither male nor female) and the galatur (also a creature neither male nor female- but apparently a different “neither male nor female” creature from the kurgarra). Shaman-like, the kurgarra and the galatur shape-shift, and- shaman-like- they can descend to the Underworld and return. (Cause it’s nothing to descend to the Underworld; anyone can descend to the Underworld. It’s, can you come back once you’ve descended that’s the trick.)
Apparently the kurgarra and the galatur can, and apparently were fashioned by Father Enki specifically to do so- the kurgarra and the galatur, who are different, but alike in that both are neither male nor female.
Does it take much imagination to read the kurgarra and the galatur as Gays- as a woman who is neither female nor male (a Lesbian) and a man who is neither male nor female (a Gay Guy).
Would we not then have a Creation Myth, about how Father Enki made Gay people, to travel between the worlds and to revive the Goddess Inanna?
In her Interpretations, Wolkstein calls the kurgarra and galatur “instinctual, asexual creatures who will not disturb the necessary infertility rules of the kur ['the Great Unknown,' the Realm of Death].” (p. 160)
I assume that Ms. Wolkstein interprets “a creature neither male nor female” as asexual, and therefore not “disturbing” to the “necessary infertility rules” of the Sumerian Underworld, the Land of Death.
If that is the case, though, why does Father Enki make both a kurgarra AND a galatur? Why two versions- one from the dirt under the fingernail of his left hand, the other from the dirt under that of his right- of a creature neither male nor female?
Assuming that the point is not to “disturb” the Underworld with “fertility”- rather than being asexual creatures, doesn’t it make sense to interpret the kurgarra and the galatur as homosexual creatures?
Doesn’t the story appear to suggest Gay people as Sacred beings- as fashioned by Father-God Enki specifically to travel between the worlds, a canny combination of both male and female, but neither one outright.
See how wonderful Paganism is? Whereas other religious traditions disdain Gays as sinners and outlaws against righteousness- Pagan traditions can conceive Gays as being formed especially by the Gods, to journey between the realms. How sacred.