Saturday, February 18, 2012

PBP 05: Duality (And Why I Don't Buy It)

(Image from breaking the spiders web)

So this week I decided to tackle the nice topic of duality, and systematically explain why I don't buy it via tying it into sexism and a lotta isms.

I was going to write about death at first, but then I realized I really don't have enough to say about death yet without tying that into a lot of things. So I guess it's rant time again. (You're used to this by now, humble readers, right?)

I don't buy into duality of any sort. Let's take a basic, common one. Day/Night. One can say day is opposite of night; Night is cold, moon-lit, and star-lit. Day is warm, sun-lit, and bright. Simple enough, right? Sure, I get that. This is where it gets all Aquarian.

But what about dusk? Is dusk day--or night? Sunrise? At what point does day dissolve and night begin? Can you pinpoint me a moment? Isn't it true, then, that I could claim there is a gradient--day to night, completely, in several thousand shades of those words?

Okay, let's take another big one. Life/Death. Opposites, but the same. You can't live without death and death begets life. I think we can (mostly) agree on this.

However...If you're in a vegetative state...are you dead? If you've been in a coma for 6 years, and are on life support...would you consider yourself alive? How about if I told you the same coma-patient is living a full, intense life on the Astral while their physical body lays around--is that same person dead or alive? Okay, if you're still following, what if I tell you the same coma patient has several soul parts, and some are alive on the astral and some are laying in wait, dormant, and some are for all intents 'dead' and passing through the death realms as we speak. Is this coma patient, as a unit, alive? or dead?

This is why I disbelieve in duality. I think duality infinitely simplifies reality into humanistic, easy to digest concepts. I think the perhaps most well known concept of gendered energy--yin and yang--is utter bullshit.

I ask this: Why is energy supposedly masculine or feminine? Okay, some might say, but that's an allegory for strong/weak, water/fire, slow/fast. My question, then, is...why gender it then? Why apply a duality of male/female? Why are females always weak, or watery, or emotional? Why, by being brash or hardheaded or sexual or firey are we said to exibit 'yang'/male qualities? Why can't they just be...qualities? Why, if a male exibits nurture or empathy or open weakness is he exibiting 'yin' or female qualities? (It goes both ways.)

Some may say, yes, but even a lesbian couple exibits qualities of yin/yang--has nothing to do with genitalia. Okay, I say, then: why apply a gender label AT ALL? Why hold it to a standard of male/female, and then conform two females to the male/female model? Or two males? Or a transgendered person? Or people? By creating a theoretical 'perfect balance' of yin/yang (male/female) aren't you inherently stating that the male/female model is, however covertly, the ideal? And then you're measuring other forms by said ideal?

The problem is the minute you differentiate "male" and "female" energy you are automatically subscribing to a gendered lens, which is implying things socially about what "male" and "female" are and should be. By accepting "strong, outward, fiery" as male and "watery, inward, understanding" as female, and characterizing energy as such, you are already being exclusive, both to those who do not fit those roles at all, to those who transverse those roles. I have no desire or interest in perpetuating gender roles, so I refuse to refer to higher levels of vibrational energy as "male" or "female". It just doesn't add up to me that we should observe the universe through a gendered lens filter, rather than just observing the universe. It's backwards ass scientific methodology.

I understand humans are pretty simple creatures. Our brains are literally hard wired to categorize things into easily understandable different categories so we don't explode/implode with information. But why should we accept that as the truth? Maybe my Zen background is showing but words can never accurately describe anything, let alone gendered words for energetic frequencies.

I'm no stranger to energy. I work with it on a daily basis, I perform Shamanic healing (quite different from reiki, mind you, I'm not certified in such) I've dragged souls back from many places, and I work with loads of crystals and animals and lightbodies. Not once has any other being, or my own sense, differentiated energy into male/female. I don't even know what that means. If male/female is a physical human body thing, why would one assume it would permeate the astral and the high realms? (Where most beings don't have physical bodies, let alone a gender?) Why would humanity assume that energetic patterns conform to a genitalia? The model falls apart when applied to the things I've experienced.

Let me give you some of the words I have to describe energy fields I have felt: strong, watery, fiery, grounding, spikey, radiating, wave-like, sound-like, ripping, painful, peaceful, calming, and chaotic.

Notice the lack of "this rock is female and this rock is male". Maybe it's because I'm a lesbian and therefore by my existence outside of the gendered paradigm I notice these things--but I have no fucking idea what this male/female energy is supposed to be. No idea. I have felt a thousand types of energy from a thousand beings and never have I thought 'WOW THIS ANIMAL FEELS PARTICULARLY FEMALE-ISH TODAY!'

So. Energetic duality, if you ask me, is bullshit. Energy is a thousand things, but dualistic is not one of them. Dualistic implies there are two types, two categories, and they are separate but the same. (I have to assume my Quantum hat here and say if you expect energy to separate into male/female it probably will. Since I make it my job daily to not differentiate anything into male/female, the energy probably responds accordingly.)

One might bring up the food chain and that nothing exists in a vacuum. I study Shamanism. I see the World Web. I see an infinite number of connections from one being to another, and so forth, forever. There is no dualistic relationship; that's simply not describing it accurately. Imagine a thousand intertwined strings, from a million beings. That's more accurate. I'm not saying things exist in a vacuum. Just that instead of two things, I see 2 million things.

For balance to exist, the entire web of everything has to be in balance. There is no male/female strong/weak light/dark good/evil paradigm. There are astral beings, and within that there are Lightbodies, Shamanic realms creatures, various Deities from those realms, various 'Demonic' beings, various humans who live half on the Astral in this life, and a thousand other creatures...

I would argue to promote a simplistic duality is to actually place reality in a vacuum.

You could say I'm arguing semantics, here. But this is partly the reason I realized I was hard polytheist. I can't see two male/female deities as a perfect duality. (Especially not as a lesbian, you understand...for...obvious reasons. There are some ways I simply can't relate to that paradigm.) And frankly, if you ask me I shouldn't have to relate to that ideal of male god/female goddess, if I'm not inclined to. Why should my feelings have to be compromised to fit the male/female ideal? Why shouldn't I invent a new theology, that better fits me? (Uh oh, my Chaos Magickyside is showing...)

The very thought of gendered deity bothers me more than I can state. Spirit often takes on a sex to relate better to humans. I've seen them switch sex as if they change clothes. (I have guides that make a game of it.) Why should anything in the universe, which is not confined to a gendered/sex paradigm, be confined to one by humans? It baffles me. Does Deity perhaps conform to a human gendered expectation (Goddess, God), just so we 'accept' them as they are in appearance, as 'normal'?

Just something to think about.

(Does the water move, or the bridge?)

Feel free to share your thoughts on duality as well, I'd love to hear other opinions.


  1. I found your post very interesting and thought-provoking. And I'm totally with you in the issue of gender.
    I agree that we as humans sometimes use overly simplistic categories to make sense of the world, like the duality you just mentioned. But for me, it depends on what labels are used for. If they are used to describe things and people, like in “night is the dark part of a 24h period” I find them ok – after all, this is how children learn a language and start to grasp the world around them. And even with the problem of where and when exactly night starts, the concept as such is still valid enough in that it allows us to deal with the world.
    IMO, labels are only problematic once you start forcing your labels on others, or demand that they confirm to your view of duality.

  2. The way I see Divine as the Goddess within and without reflects in my practice. I see no problem for the blog author Kristen to relate to the Divine as she sees fit and it challenges me to see things from her viewpoint. I am looking forward to hearing more about your theology. In fact, just as the Divine does not have gender, there is also no race but that's another post :) Since we humans can't possibly understand Deity completely, She/He/It appears to us it whatever way is necessary. In fact, I believe Divine is genderless and both (all?) genders at the same, if that make any sense.

    Yeah, gender crap bothers me too, especially when being called female is an insult (Stop acting like a girl!)

  3. I must admit I never actually looked at if from this point of view. I hold strong to the role of duality in my own personal belief system, but as a society you are absolutely right. We have categorized the male vs female and systematically applied these categories to nearly everything. You've opened my eyes a bit... thanks for that!

    Thanks for linking up to PPBH too!


  4. It just doesn't add up to me that we should observe the universe through a gendered lens filter, rather than just observing the universe.

    Yes, this! You said more clearly what I was grasping at in my blog, but hadn't quite clarified for myself.

    I'm glad we each got to read each others blogs about this issue - I know it's been really helpful to me, at least :)

    1. Most definitely. I'm glad there are other thinkers like me on gender issues in paganism. :)

  5. Oh my God. I'm not the only one that believes in soul parts that leave the body at times, while other soul parts remain, keeping the body alive!

    I'm giddy with the notion that there are more with this belief. Now, if I could just manage astral projection......

  6. Thanks so much for writing this! It's like you took all the disorganized thoughts out of my head and wrote them into something coherent. A lot of the points you make have crossed my mind, and I know I don't believe in duality, but it's always been a jumble trying to explain it to myself or others. This really helps me get my thoughts in order :D