Cybele and Me


In the grand scheme of things, where do we ultimately fit in?

It’s a question that has sought a question for millennia.  Many men and women, each greater thinkers than I, have come up with answers that will probably beat anything that I can come up with.  However, living as a transgender person is a conundrum that Aquinas and Plato didn’t necessarily consider.

We see the “problem” every day in the news: transgender people committing suicide or facing horrendous acts of violence because of the belief that “God doesn’t make mistakes.”  To some people, that is what we are: mistakes, or obstinate sinners who refuse to live “as nature intended.”

So many of us internalize this belief, and too often it ends tragically.

Cybele is a mother goddess worshiped for several thousand years in different forms, most notably in ancient Greece and Rome.  What makes Cybele distinctive from other mother goddesses, such as Demeter, is that she was served exclusively (for some time) by transgender priestesses.  Men would be castrated before entering her services.  They were revered for their insight and clarity.

As a transgender man who is mostly pagan, I sometimes find myself wondering where I fit even within the context of my own faith.  The modern pagan renewal is something of a girls-only club, although that is not to say that there aren’t prominent men in the movement as well.  But for a religion that focuses on revering nature and all of its rhythms, I catch myself feeling guilty that I can’t be satisfied with this body that was beautifully put together, even if the soul inside doesn’t match.

Perhaps because I grew up with a disdain for that person I saw in the mirror, because I felt that great divide between it and myself, I have internalized the thought that I am a mistake, and that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me.

But then I read about Cybele and her priestesses, or the Native American recognition of “Two-Spirited” people.  There was a time, and there were cultures who appreciated transgender people for their unique perspective on life.  I hope one day that we can be one of those cultures, and this can be one of those times.  I hope that, after serving my gods as a priestess, I might also honor them as a priest.  I hope there will be someone who can benefit from my experience.

In these dark times, I hope.