What’s gender got to do with magic?

Raise your hand if you’ve heard something like this: The moon is femme; The Empress is the Divine Feminine embodied; The Sun is an archetype of the Divine Masculine. Maybe you’ve even said something similar yourself. Well, consider this your invitation to question why exactly you do that and maybe cut that shit out.

Masculine and feminine are merely two genders amongst many. Gender is our embodied expression in this world. It is the way we present ourselves and the way others perceive and react to that presentation. It is a mirror that we use to craft outsides that match our insides and it is the way the world mirrors that back to us. It never lines up perfectly. Sometimes the world sees something in us that we don’t see in ourselves. Sometimes the world refuses to see us. Sometimes we see each other and something wholly new is created.

Under this understanding, gender is SO MUCH MORE than masculine and feminine. And when we get right down to it, gender as simply masculine-feminine is oppressive. Not because gender is inherently oppressive, but because binary gender has been used oppressively for more years than we can count. For centuries AFAB folks have been told that they just ARE women and so they must be submissive. Their gender, and therefore their possibilities, were assigned by external forces. For so long possibility was stolen from people by externally imposed gender.

So when someone tells you the moon, The Empress, the Queens in the court cards just ARE women that person is not only externally imposing gender, they are mirroring the violence that has been replicated in this false gender binary for millenia.

The next time you want to call an energy “feminine” I encourage you to consider what you actually mean: Do you mean receptive? Do you mean flexible? Do you mean intuitive? Why not say that? Because when you externally impose feminine you are replicating a centuries old violence.

And let’s be real – the moon (and other things like it) gender can only ever be applied externally. It’s a fucking rock in space. An amazing magical rock, but a rock nonetheless. They are inherently, naturally beyond gender.

I want to be clear: I am not categorically against the language of the Divine Feminine or Divine Masculine. I think it has its place – IF that is truly what you mean to say. But if you are going to use that language it is vitally important that you consider the larger context.

I most often see the Divine Feminine being used as a short hand for a huge variety of qualities – nurturing, intuition, flexibility, child bearing and rearing, sharing power, gentleness, softness, channeling, and more. It’s a HUGE term. And as such it’s not very precise. A man can be intuitive just as well as a woman. Hell, in this day and age men can bear children. So not only is it an imprecise term, it’s exclusionary.

If you’re someone who has relied on gendered spiritual language like Divine Feminine or Divine Masculine and you want to start taking more care with your language, the following questions will help you begin to clarify your language:

  • What does the Divine Feminine mean to you? What does the Divine Masculine mean to you?
  • How have you used these concepts in the past? Have you ever applied them externally or do you use them exclusively in consent-based, self-selected contexts (for example, personally or in spaces where everyone has self-selected to identify in that way)?
  • What synonyms do you associate with the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine? Can you choose to use those?
  • If you feel resistance to that, what do you feel you’re losing by not associating that quality with a gender? Why do you think you feel that that quality cannot be possessed just as well by a woman as a man as a non-binary person?

You might not have answers to this right away. You might have to sit with this for a while. That’s understandable. Binary gender concepts are hardwired into our society, and so, because you were raised in this society, it’s ingrained in your thinking. That doesn’t meant you can’t change your thinking for the better if you so desire. It just might take some time and that’s ok. Enjoy the journey, relish your new discoveries.