Asexuality and Paganism (for May 2016’s Carnival of Aces)
Standing in the Kemetic section of Crescent Moon Gifts, I waivered. On the shelf before me was a beautiful statue of Bast, lithe form poised to accentuate Her curves and hint at the sensual, playful side of this goddess of felines and motherhood. I held it in my hand, turned it over, all the while feeling an internal pull that yes, this was what She had pushed me here for, this should be my first purchase as I undertook the journey as Her devotee. And yet, I waivered. Not because I was afraid of the commitment, or because I wasn’t sure She was the one I should follow. I waivered because of that sensuality. I wondered if I could kneel before a statue so obviously carved to portray a beautiful female fully aware of, and fully embracing, the attractiveness of her form. I saw the playfulness in it, yes, but also the undercurrent of raw sexuality, and it was at that I balked. Being at best sex-indifferent and more often sex-repulsed, how could I find understanding and kinship in a goddess of physical desire?
In the end, I bought the statue. The call inside me overcame my uncertainty, though I still had strong reservations. And thus my journey as a devotee of Bast began, and my journey to accept and embrace my asexuality evolved to the next level. I had never imagined the two could be connected, let alone inextricably interwoven. The last year has shown me my fears were unfounded; though as with all journeys, there would be bumps in the road.
The first thing I learned when I started working with Bast is that She not only did not judge me for being asexual, but loved me all the more for it. My initial fears that She would push me toward sex or brush me off for not being comfortable with that side of Her were quickly allayed. Bast’s presence always felt motherly to me, and while I acknowledged the sensual side of Her, She never forced me to interact with it. From the beginning She sent me feelings of love and acceptance, and because of this I firmly believe She stands for all sexual, gender, and romantic minorities. She celebrated with me when the United States finally gained marriage equality, and She comforted me when the subject of physical intimacy caused confusion and heartache in my romantic relationship. When I begged to be cured of my asexuality, She helped calm my mind so I could see clearly and remember to love who I am. While Bast is not the only one to thank for getting me through a very dark period, I could not have done it without the spiritual strength She gave me.
Currently, my romantic relationship is doing exceedingly well. My partner and I have found a comfortable balance between physical intimacy and non-physical intimacy, between giving and receiving pleasure and love in all their forms. We have both done an immense amount of emotional work to reach this point, and I don’t downplay either of our efforts. However, I know Bast had a hand (or paw) in this as well, and I honor Her for that. Sometimes when my partner and I are engaging in physical intimacy, I offer that act up to Bast as thanks for Her help. This is a rare offering, and a very sacred one for me to give, and I feel Her appreciation very clearly. I have even had visions of my partner and I as Kemetic priestesses, making love in an ancient temple. I understand those images to be Bast’s way of showing Her thanks and approval. So while there may be no historical basis for the popular rumor that Bast is the goddess of lesbians, She definitely embraces love in all its forms.
Even more importantly, I think, Bast has lead me to help others in similar situations. I currently run a Tumblr blog called Still-A-Valid-Ace, where I offer advice, encouragement, and support to ace-spectrum folks. The image below of one of my posts shows just how widespread the concern about sexuality and faith really is, especially in the pagan community.
Hundreds of people felt connected enough with this post to like or reblog it; some even have contacted me directly, asking how to navigate relationships with deities when you aren’t comfortable or interested in their sexual sides. I told them what I tell you now – have faith. Humans may discredit or discriminate against you because of your sexuality, but deities won’t. They want to form a relationship with you, and that relationship includes helping you love yourself. Whether you follow Bast, Inanna, Aphrodite, or any other deity who lists love and sex under their specialities, they will love you for who you are.
[ Post script: To those who find themselves under the attention of, or wanting the attention of, a sexual deity, please remember this – we’re never completely immune to fear. Even after the positive experience I have had with Bast, I still went through all the same reservations and “what ifs” when Inanna came calling, worried She wanted to disrupt my comfortable sex-indifference and make me into a more sexual being like Herself. Of course, She wants nothing of the sort, and I should have know that from the beginning. It’s okay to second-guess yourself, even when you think you should know better. Spirituality in any form is about the journey, not the destination. Your faith will stand by you even when your faith in yourself wavers. ]