Polarity Polarises – Guest post by Philip Carr-Gomm

A few days ago Philip Carr-Gomm posted an article on his blog that reminded me of a post I wrote last year. To me this is an important topic that could do with some more discussion, so I’m re-blogging Philip’s post here. A fascinating piece that is sure to get people pondering their own connection to inner polarity.


Polarity Polarises & The Movement From Procreativity To Co-Creativity by Philip Carr-Gomm

A year or so ago I  caught myself mid-thought. I had been at a meeting of our men’s group, and once again I was struck by how kind and nurturing we had all been to each other. I think it fair to say that in this group we are all ‘gentle men’. I was thinking, ‘We are all so open now to our feminine side,’ and then I thought ‘No – it’s not meaningful to allocate gender to these qualities.’ Over the coming months I started to see how pervasive the ‘gendered’ way of seeing things had become – particularly in Pagan and New Age circles, and I started to question whether this was helpful.
Is it helpful to think of aspects or qualities of my being as gendered? What is the ‘inner marriage’ really about? If it is to unite or integrate my heart and mind, is my heart ‘feminine’, my mind ‘masculine’? A nonsensical idea of course! If it is to unite ‘inner male with inner female’ then have we not created a tautology? I blame Mr Jung, but that’s for another post…
And then when we come to features of our world, is it really helpful to assign gender to the elements or directions? Is Air any more or less feminine than Water?
I shared these thoughts at an OBOD Samhain camp and there was a sigh of relief from the workshop participants. One man recounted how he had been told in a Five Rhythms workshop how good it was to see him ‘opening to his Feminine’, and his reply was ‘I was just dancing.’
Synchronistically we started to receive letters at OBOD HQ from students who were raising these very issues. It felt like an idea whose time had come. Perhaps it just isn’t a helpful metaphor any more. I know it has an ancient lineage – Daoism, alchemy and then the more recent Wicca make great play of gendered polarity – but what I feel now is that an emphasis on polarity has the effect of polarising positions and people. And by stressing polarity when considering creativity, the emphasis naturally falls on procreativity. Today, as humanity moves into an extraordinary and challenging new phase of its evolution, I believe our interest should shift from procreativity to co-creativity, to echo that move from Me to We, from Ego to Eco, from a concern with Self or Couple, to a shared sense of community.
And then today I spotted a new addition to the OBOD library: author Joanna van der Hoeven’s essay ‘Paganism, Anthropomorphisation and Gender’. This way of looking at things really is in the air!
But what do you think?!

Well, what do you think?

4 responses to “Polarity Polarises – Guest post by Philip Carr-Gomm”

  1. I am very happy to read this. As someone who is very interested in and identifies with a lot of the Pagan community, one of the biggest issues I’ve struggled to reconcile myself with is gender. The binary, polarizing treatment of gender in many Pagan traditions has always seemed somewhat problematic to me, especially as I have begun to understand gender as a spectrum, rather than as two categories of qualities that are at odds with each other. It can also be a bit alienating to individuals who may identify as a gender that does not fit into its binary conception (trans*, androgynous, genderqueer, etc.). So I am glad to see that this topic has raised discussion.

    On a different subject – Damh, I always enjoy reading your thoughts and listening to your music. I’ve been a longtime lurker but I got so excited I had to post. Thank you!

  2. This is a very interesting subjet, as a pagan who has been practicing for 25 years or so. Ive also struggled with this subject. As a whole were seeing diffrent aspects of gender.and really this is nothing new. As we have grown itnto a mordern world our aspects of gender became narrowed. I feel we have lost our abbilities to see thru genders. It seems we feel the need to place gender qualities onto things that may not need such labels. This is a hard suject, and im glad you brought it up. I think we should think about this subject and it should b talked about. I love your blog and this is one good reason why!
    Blessed be to you Damh and all who adore you….

  3. Yes, I do agree. Putting everything into male and female does narrow things. So much of what we feel a connection to doesn’t have a gender or need one!

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