The rainbow dance: queering the human psyche.

In this essay I would like to propose an alternative model to the idea, so popular within modern paganism and especially wicca, that each of us has a feminine and a masculine part of our psyche, and that we need to find a proper balance between these two, or even strive for some union between the two. Often, this concept is given names like ‘achieving the Mystical Marriage’.

I’ve always found this whole concept quite problematic for a number of reasons. The core one being that it often starts out with quite stereotypical notions of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ as representing either our outer and inner persona, or our harder vs softer qualities. Also, for those among us who are genderqueer, there’s obvious additional issues. And of course there’s the fact that it relies very heavily on heterosexual symbolism.

It is for these and other reasons that I would like to propose the ‘rainbow dance’ as an additional model that allows for a lot more fluidity. I will try to explain.


Obviously, there exist masculine and feminine energies within the world. Each and every one of us, independent of our gender, exists because these energies combined to create the seed that would become us: our body and perhaps our soul as well.

But why would our creation be limited to that instant when our parents had an orgasm? We are not born complete: it takes many years before our personality is fully formed, and our environment continues to influence who and what we are throughout our entire lifetime. So, if we try to explain who we are, wouldn’t it be fair to take all of that into account?

Yes, we are originally created by the union of the masculine and the feminine. And throughout our life, we continue to interact with these (and other forces). So, instead of saying that the masculine and the feminine are part of our psyche, we could equally well say that we are continually shaped by their interaction every moment of our life. And the shape this interaction takes will define who we are in that moment, including our gender. And there is no absolute law that states that that gender has to be a constant throughout our life.

Maybe, instead of saying that we have a fixed gender, it would be more correct to say that each of us has one (or maybe multiple) resonance frequencies that are most likely to become activated by contact with our environment [for the non-scientist: resonance frequency means roughly speaking that every object has a natural ‘tone of voice’ and if that note is played close to the object, then the object will begin to sing along and produce that note itself, increasing in volume the longer the note is played. There may be reactions to other notes as well, but they will be much, much weaker.]

For most of us, that resonance frequency will be the one corresponding to the gender of our physical body, though not necessarily for all of us. Or there may be multiple notes we react to, or none at all. Which, for most of us, would mean that we are the gender corresponding to our physical body most of the time, but not necessarily always. And a lot of that will depend on the forces that are at play outside of us, and their interaction.

The freedom this allows is that these forces do not necessarily always need to be of opposite genders, but may equally well be different shades of the feminine or the masculine, independent of our sexual identities.

Sometimes this may be the union of the feminine and the feminine: the force that gives birth, together with the force that nurtures. Sometimes the union of these may precisely be who circumstances require us to be: a mother who is only able to mother because she is supported herself. Without the addition of that second feminine force, we would not be able to be who we needed to be, and hence that motherly, feminine eigenfrequency would not be activated within us. And note that this very process could equally well take place within a person who is physically male!

Similarly, sometimes we are only able to act decisively or generate new ideas, because we find ourselves in the cross-fire of opposing ideas. I leave it to you which gender you associate to this, but a same-gender union seems to be a better fit here than a union where one side is purely receiving and one side is purely giving.

Obviously this idea needs further refining, and for that I would look towards people with a better understanding of the masculine and the feminine than I have, and especially to people with a better understanding of same-sex unions and their energetic dynamics. This is an embryonic idea that needs further refining.

Why do I want to propose it then if it is only half-finished? Because by making masculine-masculine and feminine-feminine unions relevant psychological notions to each of us, we can create more inclusivity, and sex becomes just one expression of a phenomenon that is relevant for all of us. And it makes that, instead of making the heterosexual union the model underpinning psychology for all of us, that suddenly each of us would need to make an effort to understand all types of unions.

For like all (most of us) have a gender that is our default one, it would make each one of us a ‘natural expert’ in a type of energetic union. A type of ‘as above, so below’, only now one could call that, ‘as in the flesh, so in the spirit’ … You could even add trans-people as experts in the situations where both feminine and masculine energies clash rather than harmonize…

My hope is that this idea could bring us to a situation where all types of sexuality are seen as of truly equal value, and so that in our next circle or Beltane ritual, we will make space to honour all of them, because we acknowledge that all of them are an essential part in the dance of creation, for all of us…


  1. Interesting post. As someone whose patron god has a heterosexual hieros gamos as a big part of his mythology, and not connecting with that at all, I’ve been trying to think of ways around that. Being ok with not connecting with it is one. Seeing it more as an energetic or alchemical union is another.

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    • I tend to make a big distinction between psychology and the way these powers interplay in the creation of material reality. Without the continuing union of masculine and feminine, none of us would exist, so I have no issue with honouring that, even if I am not really partaking in that process myself as an asexual. Where things start to bother me is when this gets applied to teachings about psychology. Any idea about your patron’s take on that?

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  2. Likewise I honour those creative forces although I don’t personally connect with them. I’m not too sure that Gwyn gets modern psychological approaches. Looking at things alchemically is a new approach for me and something I’m in the early steps of getting my head around.

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  3. This is something I am currently turning over in my head as well.. two of this (genders / sexes / Deity) one of those (Soul / God / Goddess).. I have considered myself polytheist for years, and over the last few years have really been pondering similar perspectives to what you discuss here, although I am yet to articulate them clearly.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your idea, it’s very timely! It seems that from here you can go with the concept that we are each a different color on the rainbow (this seems to be the direction you’re heading), or perhaps we each contain an entire rainbow inside us and only display certain colors at various times in our lives. If we can help people to understand the fluidity of gender and sexuality as it is experienced by a human over a lifetime, we can help them to understand that we all have a spectrum within which we experience our sexuality and gender (they are not static, an expansion of the basic Kinseyan model). I have a love/hate relationship with labels. By labeling one’s self, we are choosing a specific label that seems to best fit. We then often cling to this label even to the point when it no longer fits, at which point the label becomes toxic and limiting. Labels are meant to describe, but sometimes end up defining the person who internalized said label.

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    • Thank you! And yes, I definitely think there’s a lot more expanding that needs to be done on this. By the time we manage to capture the full complexity, we will probably come to realize that it is just as complex as the natural world, rather than the current notion that each of us can be adequately described by a single static label. And completely agree on the ambiguity of labels. It can be vary freeing at first to find a label that seems to fit, until… Probably the worst part is that some people will start treating you as that label rather than the person partially described by it, often without fully understanding the meaning of the label.

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  5. How did I miss this one? It’s an excellent seed-thought, and worth pondering on more. As someone who identifies as queer and doesn’t feel a connection to either “masculine” or “feminine” energies, I wonder if the rainbow spectrum could include non-gendered energies as well?

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    • Thank you! And yes, I think you can certainly play with this to add more… the first one that comes to mind now would be ‘spirit of place’ and how it is part of us and we are part of it. Or if you have an animal spirit you feel a strong relationship to. Deities often appear with a companion animal that appears to be so closely connected to Them that they pretty much form an integral part of who They are. Why couldn’t something similar hold true for (some of) us as well? Masculine and Feminine may have created us (to a point), but only considering these is far, far too limited in understanding the human psyche…

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  6. […] Right, onto other things. Somehow this one passed me by when it was first posted, but Beith at Wandering The Woods has an excellent post with an interesting seed-thought about moving beyond a “traditional” male/female polarity model – The Rainbow Dance: Queering the Human Psyche: […]

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    • Thanks to Ryan for alerting me to the existence of this post via Friday Foraging.

      This is a really good post – I like the idea that we change gender performance and identity depending on context.

      I have written extensively about gender and sexuality in Wicca in my three books on inclusive Wicca (“All acts of love and pleasure: inclusive Wicca”, “Dark Mirror: the Inner Work of Witchcraft” and “The Night Journey: Witchcraft as Transformation”) and also on my blog “Dowsing for Divinity”.

      I also recommend Thista Minai’s excellent book, Casting a Queer Circle: nonbinary Witchcraft”.

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      • Thanks for the recommendation! And I loved your book ‘inclusive wicca’. I think books like that should be required reading for all pagans…

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  7. You are such a generous, transparent and thought-provoking writer! You may find my four part “Animus Diet” and subsequent “Divine Hermaphrodite” article/poem of interest. On my poetry blog you can find them in my Jungian archives category. Your thoughts and ideas on gender set my mind, body, spirit and soul on fire! I can sense myself moving forward and my understanding deepening. There is so much to reflect on here, thank for sharing. Blessings always, Deborah.

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