"Remember, the serpent is still alive in the Garden of Eden.
Only the heterosexual couple was expelled."
Once upon a time, very long ago there were more flowers than anything else on earth. A flower could become a bird or an animal if it wanted, and an animal could become a human being. But there really was no difference, because all spoke the same language. One day a small lizard was warming itself next to one of the most beautiful flowers in the field, and the flower told the lizard of the day she became a bird. Free as can be, to go wherever she please, she perched high up in the leaves of a tree where, unnoticed, she overheard one of the humans speaking. What she heard was the Legend of King Chalzatan.
C.G. Jung, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, vol. 9/1, p. 86.
Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949), p. 259.
Ralph Waldo Emerson quoted by David MacIagan in Creation Myths, Man's Introduction to the World (London: Thames and Hudsen, 1977), p. 6.
Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology, p. 566.
Quote is directly from the preacher in a phone conversation with the author conducted in February 1984 as part of research for FOOTLOOSE, a feature film about censorship in the heartland of the United States.
Maria Leach, ed. Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. San Francisco: Harpur & Row, 1972, p. 841-842.
Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology, p. 102.
Carl Kerenyi quoted by Paul Radin in The Trickster (London and New York, 1956), cited by David MacIagan in Creation Myths, pp. 18-19.
C.G. Jung, Aspects of the Masculine, transl. R.F.C. Hull (Princeton: Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series XX, 1989), p. 86.
Margaret Fuller quoted by Jonathan Katz in Gay American History; Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A., A Documentary by Jonathan Katz (New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell Company, 1976), p. 466.
Charles Forts' work is discussed in LeShan, Lawrence. "What Is Important About The Paranormal," printed in The Nature of Human Consciousness; A Book of Readings. (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1968), pp. 460ff. This discussion is not about gay people, per se, however it does directly address the issues of psychophysics, and by extension the relation to spirituality, which are relevent to the discussion herein.
C.A. Meir, Healing Dream and Ritual (Eisiedeln, Switzerland: Daimon Verlag, 1989).
Jaan Puhvel quoted by Paul Radin in "The Basic Myth of North American Indians," Eranos- Jahrbuch 1949, Olga Frobe-Kapteyn, ed. (Zurich: Rhein-Verlag, 1950), pp. 359-419, and cited by Howard Teich in "Homo-Vision - The Solar/Lunar Twins," p. 139.
Lao Tze quoted by Edward Carpenter in Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk, pp. 63-64.
The King lived long, long ago, and he had the gift of prophecy to guide his tribe. He foretold of a time when an army of men would imperil the future nation. The King was saddened, but he was a very wise King, and so he had a golden city built for the strongest and bravest of his race, a true people of paradise waiting in ready to turn back the invaders. In time, though, the wise King grew old and died, and as one generation followed another, knowledge of the brethren hidden was lost in the dim tradition of their tribe.
Well, the lizard started to think that perhaps the flower made up this tale, for if everybody in the tribe had forgotten, then who could tell of the lost city? But the flower chided the lizard, saying: "No. No. The city was not lost. It was but hidden. The Hidden City of Culhuacan."
William James, Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Collier, 1961), p.81.
THE MYTHOLOGICAL MIRROR
Culhuacan is part of the lore of Aztlan, a fabled golden time in Mexico's pre-Columbian past. The King looks into the future to the coming of Cortez. The Aztecs would subsequently mistake the Spanish conqueror to be the return of their QUETZALCOATL, the famed plumed serpent who ruled the pre-Aztec Toltec empire. Each and every one of Aztlan's constituent parts - flowers, rocks, butterflies, and, of course, human beings - lived in this earlier paradise animated by a supernormal state of consciousness. For the old Mexicans, QUETZALCOATL himself, as the ancient lord of understanding, was identified with the light of mystic awareness. He embodied each side of the cosmic coin, symbolically referred to as both the morning and evening stars.
It can be said that the retreat into such a hidden golden city as the fabled Culhuacan in many ways parallels the plight of modern gaiety. It is lapsed into a state of withdrawal, hidden in the recesses of our minds, yet still alive within the gay psyche. Psyche as originally applied by the classical Greeks was used to denote the state of being alive - the life force itself - and it is called by different names worldwide. The Polynesians call it mana, the Siouan Lakota: wakanda. The ancient Egyptians called it ka. Hindus refer to prana; science equates it with energy, and in the words of popular culture it is known in "Star Wars" circles as "the force." Analytic psychology calls it libido. Appropriately enough, psyche is the root from which is derived the term psychology, the study of the soul.
Dreams are one voice expressive of the human soul, and myths are generated from the same source. They provide a powerful vision for a gay people, communicating spiritual principles and traditional wisdom, the purposes of which are found deeply embedded from the earliest times to the present. The status of gaiety, as with all of our human thoughts and acts - like when we're lusting after that beauty in the market and time our departure for a "chance meeting" on the checkout line - is but a variation of one, true, innermost design. That is, from birth the libido, the "energy" of the psyche, is gay, and within the gay libido - what could equally be called the "gay soul" - live all the golden halos, the petals to the most beautiful flowers on earth, the mythos of the queers as mighty holders and beholders of the world.
"Gay mythology offers much more than confirmation of our presence, [and it] does not take a heterosexual model as its point of reference." 1 One common feature is that of the HERMAPHRODITE, in which masculine and feminine no longer stand apart. It combines the heavens and the earth, with all the elemental and instinctual things in the body and the mind.
Carl Jung, the noted Swiss psychologist, wrote that homosexuality is an "incomplete detachment from the hermaphroditic archetype, coupled with a distinct resistance to the role of a one-sided sexual being." 2 Insofar as HERMPAHRODITE itself, he said, "it preserves the archetype of the Original Man, which a one-sided sexual being has, up to a point, lost." 3 For Jung, an archetype, like any sacred or mythic character, was a primordial image known throughout the whole of the collective unconscious, itself something like the waters at the bottom of a very deep well, or the primordial sea from which we draw forth the dragons and the starships to populate our dreams. "[Archetypes] do not belong to one individual alone but to a whole group of individuals, and generally to a whole nation, or even to the whole of mankind." 4
William James, the eminent American psychologist, spoke of the same such unitary reality of HERMAPHRODITE present in the psyche: "It is as if the opposites of the world, whose contradictoriness and conflict make all our difficulties and troubles, were melted into unity. Not only do they, as contrasted species, belong to one and the same genus, but one of the species, the nobler and better one, is itself the genus [Original Man] and so soaks up and absorbs its opposite into itself." 5 You might say that as expressed in the most profound depths of the human soul, the hermaphroditic archetype of Original Man has the potential to influence the psychic functioning of the entire human race. Indeed, for this gay archetype is the heavenly androgyne.
The word "androgyne" is derived from the Greek andro + gyne, meaning male and female combined; similar you might say to ACHILLES, that mythological Greek hero and lover of PATROCLES who, not incidentally, dressed in drag. And just what was in that bucket of ambrosia which APOLLO fed CYPARISSUS in their gay love grotto in the wilds? Consider the immortality of the "universe," from the Latin unus + versus, meaning "all taken together" or "turned into." The Sumerian word for "universe," an-ki, literally means heaven and earth together. The psychologist Jung said it another way: "Often [the gay individual] is endowed with a wealth of religious feelings, which help to bring the 'ecclesia spiritualis' into reality; and a spiritual receptivity which makes him responsive to revelation." 6
C.G. Jung, The Sructure and Dynamics of the Psyche, transl. by R.C.F. Hull, Bollingen Series XX. 8 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1960), pp. 247-248.
THE BAD APPLE
The comic Greek playwright, ARISTOPHANES (5th century B.C.) explains the origin of sexual love, recounted in PLATO's Symposium. "Mankind is descended,” he says, "from an earlier race of circular beings, some male, some female, and some hermaphrodite,” further explaining that what we would now call gay people came from the moon, which, like the old Mexicans' QUETZELCOATL's evening star, shares the nature of both the sun (the masculine heavens) and earth (the feminine powers). The modern belief that androgyny is a significant part of human nature is foreshadowed in the first man and woman of the Old Testament, portrayed as hermaphrodites.
Most of us know the biblical myth of the serpent, the apple, and Adam and Eve. The Hawaiians told almost the same story nearly 4,000 years before the coming of the missionaries, absent the guilt of sin, of course. We came riding in on rainbows - a visible surge of energy - to land in a paradisiacal garden. The mythological Hawaiians lived in the original androgynous state, a form in which man is united with that female part of himself. The account of the creation of woman in the biblical book of Genesis, with Eve being made from Adam's rib, has long been twisted into a supposed divine plan meant to make women subordinate to men, and men, such as gay men, who are "like women" something much, much worse. Yet what it actually indicates, as in the wisdom of the Hawaiian garden, is that the Original Man, like Adam, contains the feminine powers within himself. To paraphrase the mythologist Joseph Campbell, the evolutionary casting out of consciousness of the superconscious awareness of the feminine is precisely the meaning of the biblical Fall. 7
The early Christians would have it that the temptation of the serpent in the garden was not a metaphorical expression of the outward movement of life, but rather a fall from heavenly grace, and so in its most extreme form they equated life, especially the inner life of instincts, intuition and dreams, with a sin that had to be denied. Yet for the Hawaiians, the Great Goddess Priestesses, the Horned Gods and their followers, this was not their experience at all.
Nine of the Goddesses worshipped in early Greek traditions were conceived of the marriage of Mnemosyne to ZEUS, the divine light. Mnemosyne literally translates to mean "memory," and so these goddesses are the mythological remembrance of the soul's forgotten higher state, at the peak of which is found the very godhead, what in a more secular way some might say is the ever-present energy of the exploded stars. An idea deep from the mists of the Old Stone Age, if not much further back in time, this "memory" finds a voice in Albert Einstein who declared that "past, present and future are only an illusion, albeit a stubborn one."
Like the Mesopotamian "Intermediates" of old, Einstein explored in his "special theory" of relativity the nature of space, time, and matter, later adding that all energy is equivalent to mass in his famous formula E=mc2. The body of relativity physics has ultimately declared that time itself is a fourth dimension, a continuum in space in which the mass of energy and experience interact. That is, it is only our consciousness that moves. The daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus - the nine Goddesses born of the memory of divine light - embodied this moving state of awareness and lived beyond Einstein's illusion, touching into the paradisiacal state of mind. For the Greeks, they represented creative inspiration and came to be known as the MUSES.
Known as the pagan light of lights, APOLLO, though far from alone, is the god with the largest number of same-sex lovers in the kaleidoscopic world of the Greek pantheon. Represented as the educator, he is the teacher par excellence. His love for CYPARISSUS, like his tryst with the divinely effeminate HYMENAEUS, delivered nothing less than the rebirth of the spirit, the very union of heaven (energy) and (matter) earth. It was APOLLO's kiss of the beautiful shepherd BRANCHUS which made the young man a prophet. Perhaps unrivalled among his many lovers (though it's a pity to have to compare) was HYACINTHUS, himself the son of a Muse. From HYACINTHUS' blood grew the most beautiful flower on earth. APOLLO, as his lover, brought the blessing of sexual awakening and with it the whole force of the generative spirit to conceive what some say represents the very beginning of culture in the modern world.
APOLLO can be found in many places and many times. He is, in one form, an attendant of the Horned God CERNUNNOS, the Gallic DIONYSOS and lord of life, who was for the Celts also the inventor of all the arts. He bears numerous parallels to the Indian SHIVA, himself sometimes imaged as a vibrating penis who was associated with horns, too, as well as with THE MYSTERY OF THE TWO SERPANTS and same-sex love. In fact, many of the attributes of APOLLO were the same as those of all of the Horned Gods, one of the most delightful and best remembered of which was known to the early Greeks as PAN.
C.G. Jung, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, vol. 9/1 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 71.
THE MARVELOUS SON OF HERMES
The Nymphs sing of the birth PAN, full of merry laughter. Yet, he was, just as many gay people are today, an "Ugly Duckling," outcast when his mother abandoned him at birth. But HERMES, his father, with a boundless joy in his heart, took his son and carried him to the heavens, where he was welcomed as one of the gods. And the swaddling clothes which HERMES devised - the skins of mountain hares - lived on as one of his symbols, just as HARE is an androgynous Native American Trickster god or the Chinese Fujian Province's patron of homosexuality. The comparisons don't end there. He is often depicted dancing with the Nymphs who raised him in dance and song. And just like the gay god APOLLO, his two-sexed dad HERMES, and the Bronze Age queers who, after all, are the inventers of such things, PAN, too, plays a musical instrument which he invented - vying with the songs of birds with the polyphonic pitch of his Panpipes, made of fluted reeds. They are the same pipes, incidentally, with the same pitch - exactly the same - that were carried from the Near East, through Indo-China, into Oceania, and on to northwest Brazil, spreading like ripples of gaiety carried on the waters of the sea. Yet PAN's claim to fame is more of as a lusty god of nature - human nature - and thereby the divinity which inheres in all things. That is, the identification of PAN - a name which literally means "all" - with the cosmos, also implies the ways and means he mediates spirituality.
PAN's horns are expressive of an aura or halo, typified by the Greeks' representation of the sun's rays as a metaphor for mystical illumination, or the expanded state of the human energy field. And with legs covered with hair, denoting the forces of earthly instincts, he thus not only mesmerizes his followers with air and reeds, but also sexuality. Indeed, another of his emblems is the penis, quivering erect on the Greek vases where he is found running full tilt after the herdsmen. He was the leader of the gay SATYRS, too, who like PAN, half heaven and half earth in their physicality, lead initiates in music and song and dance to an experience of unity. It is only later, perhaps, that the effeminate Horned God DIONYSOS took over this cultural function. In other places PAN is a companion of DIONYSOS and the Great Mother Goddess Cybele, depicted in their riotous processions as the gay GALLI priests dancing on the rose-covered streets. He is identified, too, with the Vedic Pusan and the Egyptian Min, and appears yet again as the same-sex lover of the mythological Daphnis. Yet Pan also liked lonely places in the mountains and the hills, where at noonday he would sleep in some quiet and shady spot, dreaming away the illusions of the world in a meditative reverie - that is, until the church usurped the land.
The reasoning, or so we're told, behind Eve's accepting the serpent's apple and thereby being booted out of the garden, provided the theological impetus to reverse the trend of an awakened unitary consciousness, a magic which the followers of the Goddesses and the Horned Gods lived. The church founders thus grossly misunderstood, in RALPH WALDO EMERSON's words, that "the whole of nature is a metaphor of the human mind." 10 Participation in religious experience, or a deep inner psychical connection with all of creation itself, was no longer to be part and parcel of earthly grace, and so Eve - as representative of the feminine powers - became the scapegoat. And as she did all of the memories of the MUSES, indeed everything of "nature, man, history, and all womankind except baptized nuns," 11 were dispatched to hell. Art - such as in the biblical First Commandment against images - and sexuality - most specifically homosexuality - were both treated as a falling astray rather than with redemption. We hear it today in the delusions of a fundamentalist preacher from Oklahoma as he tries to justify the burning of records and books: "There ain't no place on a Christian leg for both a prayin' knee and a dancin' foot." 12 Whatever the old world had regarded as evidence of a divine presence in nature, and thereby human nature, the church interpreted as of the Devil, and they dressed him, like PAN, with the Horned Gods' antlers and hooves. Curiously enough, however, it is said that "on the day Christ was crucified, a ship passing the island of Paxos in the Ionian Sea heard a call from the island: 'Great Pan is Dead!' When the ship got to Rome the story was told, and it was noted that thence-forth all the oracles went silent." 13 Outcast as the devil, gaiety followed suit; the creative whirl of the FAIRIES' mist became a stinking pyre of sin.
Yet, the rapture of the MUSES - the "second coming" of a higher state of mind - lives on in the gay psyche, carrying the effervescence of fairy dust trailing on the wind; that is, unitary awareness or the light of illumination. The gay gods to the Greeks were thus inspired by the same interior presence as those who were to become the leading gay theologians, the most preeminent gay scholars and respected gay teachers, the founding gay priests, the most insightful gay philosophers, and perhaps most visible among all, the gay artists - all of them "the earthly heralds of the paridisial dance." 14
Gay people were and still are the openers, from the psychological point of view, to the relationship between psychic energy and cosmic force. If this recalls DA VINCI, WAGNER, MICHELANGELO, ARISTOTLE, VIRGIL, AUDEN, CHAUPIN, BEETHOVEN, WHITMAN, SCHUBERT, THOREAU, TCHAIKOVSKY, MANN, NIJINSKY, SANTAYANA, EISENSTEIN, WILDER, KAFKA, BALDWIN, LORCA, BERTOLUCCI, ALBEE, SONDHEIM, BERNSTEIN and all the other thousands of brilliant lights of gaiety shining forth for all mankind, it should also serve as reason to honor our often sissified nature, as well as the courage and honesty of the drag queens. And as we do, we must acknowledge, too, all the other tender minded gay men who quite simply make the world round - the singers, painters, poets, priests, nurses, teachers, florists, playwrights, cooks, decorators, hairdressers, actors, therapists, authors, gardeners, clowns, and more who are all too often denied.
THE WHOLE OF THE WORLD INSIDE
For the classical Greeks, a poet was originally the mystes, literally "one who is initiated," an experience of androgyny beyond the opposites not only of the feminine and masculine, but also of light and dark, time and space, to the ever eternal beyond. Therein is found yet another archetype which inhabits the same-sex lover's mind, what the ancient Egyptians called THE SECRET OF THE TWO PARTNERS, or otherwise, the dual symbol of the Twins. Sometimes called the double, the Twins are brothers who figure prominently in virtually every mythology of the world. HERCULES had Iphicles, Jacob had Esau. Every locality had its pair of heavenly Twins from South Africa, and Ecuador to Java and the Americas.
Twin heroes are among the most important characters in South American mythology, not only as transformers but also as great cultural figures to which mankind is much indebted - like the gay founders of institutional religion in Mesopotamia, and the first practitioners of the arts. The Twins are often associated with the sun and the moon, and are thus called solar and lunar males. The lunar male is sometimes represented as the son of a god while the solar male is of a human parent, yet they are but mirror images of each other. Indeed, QUETZACOATL, who was also the teacher of the arts to his people, had a dark twin, literally called the Smoking Mirror. They signify the eternal side of gaiety, in short, the gay soul, made manifest in the mortal self living and loving on Earth.
In Vedic mythology, the twin cosmic Ashwins (or Asvins), are often depicted as twilight, one half light, the other half dark, personifying the two luminous rays which precede the break of day, or, otherwise, the dawn of a new frame of mind. As Romulus and Remus, they founded Rome, the center of the empire of the gods. They were known in Greece as CASTOR AND POLLUX, who live today as the constellation of Gemini, eternal gaiety found in the nighttime skies. They were later called the DIOSCOURI, who, like QUETZECOATL, were also associated with the stars, guiding lights for those hoping to break out of the mortal sphere into the heavenly realm of the gods. Appropriately enough, the DIOSCOURI literally embodied energy. Indeed, St. Elmo's fire - the electrical discharge from the ship's mast seen during a thunderstorm - was believed to be a visibly discernible manifestation of the energy of these gay Twin gods.
As the contradictory aspects of creation the Twins are also often mythically combined in the one supremely paradoxical figure: the Trickster, of the natives of North America. "He is the appetitive thirst of existence, of the instinctual excess which keeps it moving, and therefore he is, as [the mythologist] Kerenyi says, 'a spirit of disorder, an enemy of boundaries, a mighty life spirit,'" 15 just like, you might say, the spirit of a certain cultural staple, the disco, which charges the crowd to a fever by midnight, carried to the dawn. Using something of the same language, Carl Jung weighed in with the axiom that "Sol and Luna are life" itself. 16
The Jungian analyst C.A. Meier sees the symbology of the Twins as recurrent symbols in the same-sex lovers' dreams, depicting, in MARGARET FULLER's words, "the desire of the spirit to realize a whole, [where] the beautiful seek the strong, the mute seek the eloquent; the butterfly settles on the dark flower." 17 It is such an inner wholeness of light and dark, left-brain and right, which for non-gay people, particularly "straight" men, is rent asunder when, especially in the Western world, the lunar male twin is cast out, just as Eve was from Adam's rib, becoming as gay people themselves are today, the "other." Perhaps it is more as HARRY HAY, the founder of the modern gay liberation movement, put it, "neitherness" is more appropriate.
This "neitherness" of the gay male inhabits the middle ground, and becomes an instrument of the cosmos. It is this biopsychophysic state of being, consigned to hell by the Christians, which personifies what Charles Fort used to call "'The Damned Facts': the facts that do not fit in, the facts that cannot be reconciled with the concepts we ordinarily use to explain man and his world. However, if we have learned one thing from science, it is that the atypical case, the unusual incident, the one fact that does not fit in with the rest, is the one which - if we look seriously at it - teaches us about all the others." 18 Indeed, while Meier's psychological conclusions ring with the creativity of the MUSES when he says "the appearance of a pair of identical figures [is] as a rule associated with the emergence of material into consciousness," 19 his words not only also describe the workings of the artist, or of divination, or magic, but the very appearance of the species itself, or the Original Man. For living with the presence of such seemingly irreconcilable differences bridges the divide between the world and its creator. And so it's not surprising that among the Cherokee nation the mythological Twins could see "the little people,” and that they also often have second sight, or some other psychical power resulting from such a doubling. For the gay man living today, ask yourself: can't you just tell when somebody else is gay? Living with this super awareness, Twins, in the words of the mythologist Jaan Puhvel, spring from "the very deepest layer of the 'mythological layer cake.'" 20
The mythological antecedents and gods of gaiety posses a treasure trove of perception triggered by the concussion of a supernova of an inner kind, typifying the presence of a third gender with a very real and important role in the world. Whatever the guise - rainbows, twins, or feathered serpents, fairy dust or Muses - two-sexed beings are portrayed with a manifest psycho-religious import, and, like the Original Man, they remain afloat in the same-sex lover's mind. Lao-Tse, the "Old Master" and Chinese philosopher who founded Taoism and explored the principles of yin and yang, had essentially the same thing to say: "He who knows the masculine and at the same time keeps to the feminine, will be the whole world's channel." 21
MYTHOLOGICAL ANTECEDENTS AND GODS
Full Citations Follow
FOOTNOTES: Full Citations
Mythological Antecedents And Gods
- Will Roscoe, "Dreaming the Myth - An Introduction to Mythology for Gay Men," printed in: Hopcke, Robert and Karin Lofthus Carrington, & Scott Wirth, eds. Same-Sex Love And The Path To Wholeness; Perspectives On Gay & Lesbian Psychological Development (Boston: Shambhala, 1993), p. 116.