POEM: Feral dogs

They run in packs like feral dogs, not wild, not tame,

a lingering scent of civilization on them, ancient granaries,

numbers for counting, temple hymns and then epic poems

and Shakespeare and HBO. Indoors, they might lie

on the couch, eat out of a bowl, answer to a cute name and submit

to a collar with a leash, but outdoors, in the night,

they forget any touch of softness, any touch that isn’t

bared teeth. Wolves only dominate and submit in cold,

concrete cages, but these are not wolves. Hierarchy is bred

in their genes, in their weak hip joints, their shortened muzzles,

their running eyes. And the prey they take is anything that

isn’t pack, doesn’t smell of their sores and neuroses. That

long-legged beast with white fur prefers the flesh of tender

brown children, calls them thugs and monsters as it rips out

their throats, leaps from behind and then whines with fear

over the dead bodies. That male dog pissing everywhere,

balls nearly dragging the ground, sniffs women and humps

them, hilarious, harmless, before it rapes them to death.

The alpha male and alpha bitch, purebred once when

it mattered, in a Victorian living room, hunt “trannies” and “fags”,

shred off clothes and makeup to reveal the most vulnerable

parts, snarl and snuffle over the genital wound, the lie

in the flesh. But what one dog brings down, all the pack

will eat, joyful with rage and hunger: Another cunt, another

nigger, another faggot, another tranny, another queer, another

Muslim, another witch, all of them rightful prey to the pack

that is racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, hatred,

bigotry, prejudice, fear, greed, the feral dog howling in the heart.

No, wait, actually, we have to talk about this

Every so often, there’s a blow-up in pagandom, like an unexpected geyser in Yellowstone or the stirring of a long-dormant volcano. It’s a sudden explosion of willful ignorance, of fear and hatred, of gatekeeping and exclusion. It poisons the atmosphere for a while, and somebody has to clean it up; that somebody is not usually the people who caused it.

We’ve had a blow-up of Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism in the past week, accompanied by gender intolerance. Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists don’t like being called TERFs, but no English speaker will use multiple syllables when an acronym will do. They’re TERFs. They exclude people. They refuse to respect trans folk.

So I have to clear the atmosphere and state unequivocally that whatever contributions people may have made twenty, thirty, even forty years ago, if right now they are expressing fear and hatred toward trans people and saying we should exclude them, then they’re not contributing anything useful or wholesome to the pagan community. No matter what books of yours I read when I was a teenager, no matter how much you influenced me then, you are not my elder if you are pushing away a woman because she was identified male at birth.

The same goes for any self-identified elder or authority who wants to exclude people on the basis of any other form of gender identity or gender expression, or of race, or ethnicity, or on the basis that they belong to a non-pagan religion and there can be no peace between (Muslims or Christians or whatever) and Real Pagans. All they are doing is poisoning the atmosphere for the rest of us.

The people of Antinous have always been queer, been transgender, been gay and lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual. The people of Antinous in ancient times came from Egypt, Greece, Italy, Spain, Anatolia, and all over the Roman Empire. The city of Antinous that Hadrian built in his honor was a place of diversity and mingled cultures and multiple languages and many gods. The Naos Antinoou, the Antinoan cultus of which I am a Magistrate and Mystes, honors this ancient tradition and strives to do better still. Everyone is welcome among us except for those who insist on excluding others.

So I hope that sufficiently clears the air. Now I’m going to have breakfast. *dusts hands, walks away*