One of the things I do each year is present at a local college’s world religions class as part of a panel on paganism. I talk about how ADF Druids practice and believe, while others on the panel talk about other pagan traditions. Following this year’s presentation, which looked a lot different because it was recorded via video call, I got this question from one of the students:
“How do Druids incorporate non-binary people. So much of what we have seen [in our studies during class] is divided into male and female (goddess/god, sacred forces/energies), so how do non-binary people practice?“
I responded and invited the professor to share my response with the class:
You do certainly see a lot of that [binary thinking/practice] in paganism, and it is one of the things I personally struggle with about it, being non-binary myself. The biggest place you can see the expansion of gender within ADF Druidry is in the calls to the deities. When we call out to the Shining Ones in Three Cranes Grove we call to the “Gods, Goddesses, and Godden”. The Godden are specifically those deities that don’t fit neatly into the binary of gods and goddesses. (I wrote an article about the term here)
Two of the main deities we worship in our Grove are Teutates and Garanus Crane. They have both been known to show themselves to people in a variety of guises, shapes, and genders. We’ve accepted that they probably fit best into a genderfluid category. Unlike other pagan rituals, we don’t always (or even often) honor more than one deity as a special guest at a time, so there isn’t this focus on “balance of male and female” in our rites. We honor whoever best fits the celebration if it’s a High Day, or whoever we want if it’s specifically for them.
As far as the social aspect, ADF has a subgroup called The People of the Purple Feather, and it is for LGBTQIA+ folks. So, we are explicitly welcomed organizationally as a thriving part of the whole. Like the overculture, people still struggle with getting pronouns right and understanding the struggles of gender-non-conforming folks, but it seems to generally come more from a place of ignorance than animosity. In leadership, I am not the only non-binary person in the clergy, so we do have at least some small representation there as well.
So overall, I’m comforted by knowing I have a seat at the table in my religion, and confident that the deities take many forms, some of which are a mirror to my own identity.