To acknowledge International Trans Day of Visibility, I wanted to write this article for trans and Non-Binary witches to find some deities they can rely on when feeling in need. Nonetheless, if you’re not a trans person you’re more than welcome, as you could understand the deities you work with from a different perspective.
When talking about gender, we should take it as a human concept. Every culture has its own ways to understand it. The most common understanding we have about gender is a binary one. However, today we know that identity fluctuates as time goes by, depending on how we perceive ourselves and how we want to express that feeling. And that experience rarely fits into the binary labels (male or female). Gender is a spectrum, and there’s no right way to experience it. And as we start to unveil how gender is perceived throughout history and ancient stories we find many non-binary and gender blurred practices.
Let’s delve into it!
Deities that are most likely to protect trans witches
Artemis is the goddess of hunt, childbirth and protector of women. She’s known as the virgin goddess because she decided not to marry or lay with any men. She has a group made up of only women called Artemis’ Hunters which devoted their lives to the goddess.
According to legend, Sipriotes was a young boy who accidentally found Artemis taking a bath. And it is said that every man who bumped into that scene was killed by the goddess for such disrespectful action. However, in this case, Artemis decided that it’d be better to make a deal with him. He accepted to be turned into a girl and decided to join Artemis’ Hunters.
We value the fact that Artemis gave Sipriotes the chance to join their hunt group! I know transfeminine identities could relate with the fact that being part of a group of women makes it easier to feel included and validated. Sorority is really important for (trans) women.
This main Sumerian goddess, also called Queen of Heaven, rules over sex, justice and war. Her devotees are known to break gender-binary stereotypes as they were represented as androgynous. Enheduanna, Highest Priestess of the Moon, wrote Passionate Inanna, a poem in which she mentions Inanna’s ability to “turn a man into a woman, and a woman into a man”. And this is just one of many deities in Sumerian pantheon that falls into gender bending practices.
Leto is the Titanides mother of Artemis and Apollo. And as her daughter did, she also helped a trans person throughout their transition!
This story is about Leucippus, child of Galatea and Lamprus. Galatea was pregnant, and Lamprus said that he would only accept the baby if it was a boy. Later on Galatea gave birth to Leucippus, she concelead the sex of the baby from Lamprus and raised them as a boy. As time went by, it became more difficult to keep the truth from Lamprus. So Galatea went to visit the sanctuary of Leto and asked for help and the goddess finally granted Leucippus a penis. Ecdysia is a ceremony that celebrates Leto’s action on Leucippus, and women from Phaistos were accustomed to lie next to a Leucippus effigy before their wedding.
There’s a similar story in which Iphis, a young AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) who fell in love with a woman. Iphis prayed to Isis for help, and the goddess felt touched and helped him throughout his transition. Iphis ended up marrying the woman he wanted.
As you may already know, Poseidon is the deity related to water bodies and that’s already a good sign. This is so because water represents fluctuation and change. Furthermore, there’s a myth involving this deity granting an AFAB the chance to live as he wanted to.
Legend has it that an Atrax’s daughter, Caenus, asked Poseidon to be turned into an invincible man, and the deity granted him that wish. Sadly Caenus died later on. He was ambushed by some centaurs. However, Poseidon’s intervention on this hero could be taken in consideration for trans men who might need divine intervention (or protection) throughout their transition.
Deities that might be understood as trans
Some of deities’ written records date from times when some concepts were not used the same as we use them nowadays. As it has been said before in this article, I’m looking to give a new interpretation to these myths. It is also not my intention to label these deities. How they might identify themselves is 100% up to them. Anyways, as a trans witch, I believe you’d relate to many of these experiences somehow.
On this list, Loki might be the most known one. He’s the Norse god of mischief and trickery but he also is a shapeshifter. And he has taken advantage of that many times. Loki is known for giving birth to many creatures. The most famous ones are Jörmungandr, the giant snake who would fight against Thor during Ragnarok; and the eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, which is the one Odin rides.
This one belongs to the Shinto pantheon. O-Inari is not exactly a deity. In Shinto belief people praise kamis, which could be the embodiment of natural forces or ancestors. O-Inari is the kami who rules over fertility and industry. They’re represented in many ways, the most common is a fox, but could be understood as female, male or androgynous.
Hermaphroditus is the intersex child of Aphrodite and Hermes. Both of them rule over sexuality, Aphrodite over femenine and Hermes over masculine. However, this is not why Hermaphroditus is Intersex, the legend has it that Salmakis, a Naiad nymph, prayed to be merged to Hermaphroditus, so their factions fused into Hermaphroditus appearance. In the cult of this deity, it’s a common practice to wear androgynous outfits.
If you are interested in more Greek non-binary deities I’d say you should check the pantheon. I was overwhelmed by the amount of myths involving gender fluctuation in this culture. For example, you can find that some interpretations on Dionysius perceive him as intersex.
Back when I started my research to write this article, I asked people on Reddit for trans (or trans supportive) deities. And that’s where I bumped into Guanyin, I had to really dig in to find that she’s a trans goddess. The people that worship her don’t actually care about that. I think it’s one of the most wholesome things I found during my research.
Guanyin began as a Bodhisattva (a person who follows the path to become a Buddha). However, after some time people started worshiping her as the goddess of Compassion. She is strongly recognized as a Thai-Chinese deity, and most of her followers are women or femme-presenting people that find themselves protected and empowered by the image of Guanyin. Women find comfort in this goddess as there are not many Thai-Chinese female referents for them. Guanyin is to be found in individual practices more than in cults, and as Buddhism is a quite open practice I’d say this is one of the safest deities to look up if you’re looking to include in your witchcraft.
Ometéotl is an Aztec deity and their name actually describes the bond between Ometecuhtli (male energy) and Omecíhuatl (female energy). Ometéotl is known as the deity of creation who lives in the highest part of the sky and everything is created and continues existing thanks to their energy. They’re not quite an individual, but more the personification of the concept about this marriage between these complementary deities.
As I was doing research to write this article I found myself immersed in so many cultures and information. I would encourage you to do your own research. There are plenty of myths and deities that you may find interesting. This is barely the tip of the iceberg.
All of these stories are from ancient times, even Before the Common Era. This just proves that us trans people have always been here. We’re here and we won’t ever stay hidden. Please remember that you’re not on your own. If you’re feeling lonely, you can always rely on these stories. However, it’s important to create spaces where you find validation and to share our experiences as trans witches, as we are often silenced.
You’re strong even when you feel numb, and you’ll get over this. We’re here and we’ll always be. Stay safe.