Im so sorry if this is a dumb question, but can gods be attracted to gods/people of the same gender? Also do they mind transgender people? I was having an argument with a friend of mine about the topic of gods being attracted to the same gender, and she got mad at me, and said no god (or person) would ever care about me because i'm trans. I know that she only said that out of anger, but now i'm worried, since sge has been pagan since she was born (i started last year). Thank you for your time.
I realize this is a Heathen blog, but has your so-called friend literally never heard of Ancient Greece? Like, at all? This Wikipedia article isn’t exhaustive, but it should drive home the point that same gender attraction both to other gods and to mortals was a common thing in classical myth, and even gender changing wasn’t unheard of. And the same could be said for the myths of a lot of other cultures.
But again, we’re a Heathen blog, so we’re going to focus on Norse stuff specifically. And while pre-Christian Norse religion isn’t as well-attested in general, we do have examples of our own.
Loki is, of course, a very prominent one. Some instances of Loki transgressing gender norms in the Eddas include:
- The one everyone knows: Turning into a mare and giving birth to Sleipnir in Gylfaginning
- Spending eight years under the earth milking cows and bearing children (mentioned in Lokasenna)
- Eating a witches heart and becoming impregnated, resulting in him becoming the “mother of all monsters” (Hyndluljóð)
- Cross-dressing to help Thor retrieve Mjolnir (Þrymskviða)
- The whole incident with tying a goat to his balls to amuse Skadi in Gylfaginning may have been an allusion to or have symbolism related to castration (see Norse Mythology by John Lindow)
- Shapeshifting was considered a “queer” act (see “Óðinn as Mother: The Old Norse Deviant Patriarch” by Ármann Jakobsson)
- Loki may be implied to have possibly slept with Odin (Lokasenna) and Thor (Þrymskviða), in a culture where having sexual relations with other men was seen as making a man less “manly”
- Loki disguises himself as a woman twice in the story of Baldr’s death in Gylfaginning: the first time to learn Baldr’s weakness from Frigg, the second time to pose as a female jotun who refuses to cry, breaking the agreement with Hel and ensuring Baldr remains dead.
Note that the Norse would not have seen many of these
acts as socially acceptable. But that doesn’t change the fact that there
is extensive support for Loki sleeping with people of more than one
gender and for not conforming to gender roles. Therefore, Loki is a very
popular deity for modern Heathens to consult when struggling with
orientation or gender identity, or when facing prejudice because of it.
He’s been there, and he provides an opportunity for non-binary and other
LGBT+ individuals to see themselves in the divine in a way that many
converts were denied in the religion they were raised in.
Other instances of LGBT themes in Norse religion:
- Saxo calls Freyr’s priests “unmanly”, implying they might have been gay or even what we would understand as trans/GNC
- Odin practices a form of magic usually practiced by women that probably involved being a bottom during sex (which is basically what made you gay in Norse society). There’s an instance where he disguises himself as a woman to sleep with another woman. And he’s called Jálkr, “gelding,” in a couple places.
- in Hrólfs saga Gautrekssonar, there is an AFAB character originally named Thornbjorg who, upon taking the throne, insists on be called by the masculine name of King Thorberg and using masculine pronouns.
- Archaeologists have found guldgubber that appear to depict same-gender couples.
And honestly? Even if this stuff hadn’t be prevalent historically, that’s no excuse for leaving LGBT+ people out of Heathenry in the modern world. Our society, technology, and conception of gender have changed in the past thousand years, and religion–all religion–necessarily has to evolve to account for that. We have a duty to learn from and improve on our ancestors’ failings if possible, not to perpetuate them.
You are welcome here. You are part of a long and amazing history of people like us. And anyone who denies that is not a friend.
For some more reading on the topic of gender and sexuality in the Viking Age:
- The Valkyrie’s Gender: Old Norse Shield-Maidens and Valkyries as a Third Gender by
Kathleen M. Self
- Óðinn as Mother: The Old Norse Deviant Patriarch by Árman Jakobsson
- The Burning of Rögnvaldr réttilbeini by Frederik Wallenstein
- Dirty Magic: Seiðr, Science, and the Parturating Man in Medieval Norse and Welsh Literature by Sarah Lynn Higley
- Magic Beyond The Binary- Magic and Gender in the Poetic Edda by Meghan Callaghan
- Gender Roles and Symbolic Meaning in Njáls Saga by Thomas Roswell
- Nid, Ergi, and Old Norse Moral Attitudes by Folke Ström
- Monstrous Allegations: An Exchange of ýki in Bjarnar saga Hítdœlakappa by Alison Finlay
- Queer Vikings?
by Sami Raninen
- sections of Iron Age Myth and Materiality by Lotte Hedeager
- sections of Old Norse Religion in Long-term Perspectives
- Mod E