Oneness Ministry

We are One

Two-Spirit Way

The tradition of gender variance has a long history in the Americas because nature is diverse thus making people diverse.  This is the way of Spirit.  Accept that each person is unique to the Universe and yet we are all a part of the Whole.  One with Great Spirit.

“Two-Spirit people are defined as LGBT and gender-variant members of the Native American community. The term “Two-Spirit” was coined in 1990 by queer Native Americans gathering in Winnipeg. Many contemporary LGBT Native Americans use the term “Two-Spirit” to maintain cultural continuity with their traditions. In many of our cultures, some individuals possessed and manifested a balance of both feminine and masculine energies, making them inherently sacred people.” (BAAITS 2010)

“In Native American culture, before the Europeans came to the America’s, “two-spirit” referred to an ancient teaching. This type of cross-gender identity has been documented in over 155 tribes across Native North America (Roscoe 1988).

Our Elders tell us of people who were gifted among all beings because they carried two spirits, that of male and female. It is told that women engaged in tribal warfare and married other women, as there were men who married other men. These individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honoured and revered. Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the care givers (Roscoe 1988). They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies. This is our guiding force as well as our source of strength.” (Sandra Laframboise, Michael Anhorn 2008)

“The abundance of terms that we find as we study various tribes testifies to the familiarity of Native Americans with gender-variant people. It is important to note that this is different than sexual orientation as such words did not exist in Native languages. Concern for appropriate terminology should always be on one’s mind because ‘Gender’ is an obligatory grammatical category in the English/French and Latin languages. It is a linguistic term and has no connection with biological sex or social identity of an individual. This issue comes to a head in the area where ‘gender’ intersects with the Native people of North America. Many non-natives have misinterpreted two-spirit as referring to people with homosexual tendencies, when in fact, the ceremonies and practices were based on different genders being manifested, and not on sexual preferences or practices.

Many tribes had rituals for children to go through if they were recognized as acting different from their birth gender. These rituals ensured the child was truly two-spirit. If parents noticed that a son was disinterested in boyish play or manly work, they would set up a ceremony to determine which way the boy would be brought up. They would make an enclosure of brush, and place in the center both a man’s bow and a woman’s basket. The boy was told to go inside the circle of brush and to bring something out, and as he entered the brush would be set on fire. The tribe watched what he took with him as he ran out, and if it was the basketry materials they reconciled themselves to his being a ‘berdache’ (Colonial term for Transgender). (Roscoe, 1988)

In another ritual, usually carried out when the child is between the ages of nine and twelve, that helped identify a child’s two-spirit nature, a singing circle would be prepared, unbeknownst to the boy, involving the whole community as well as distant friends and relatives. On the day of the ceremony everyone gathered around and the boy was led into the middle of the circle. If he remained in the centre, the singer, hidden in the crowd, began to sing the ritual songs and the boy, if he was destined to follow the two-spirit road, starts to dance in the fashion of a woman. After the fourth song the boy was declared a two-spirit person and was raised from then on in the appropriate manner (Two Spirit Tradition – internet citation).

These rituals determined if the person was two-spirited and taught young boys to do women’s work in addition to that reserved for men. Similar rituals applied to woman. Children of both genders would also spend time with healers, often two-spirit people themselves. Above all, their childhood was marked by acceptance and understanding by the whole tribe. Multi-gendered adult people were usually presumed to be people of power. Because they have both maleness and femaleness totally entwined in one body, they were known to be able to ‘see’ with the eyes of both biological men and biological women. They were often called upon to be healers, mediators, interpreters of dreams, or expected to become singers or others whose lives were devoted to the welfare of the group. If they did extraordinary things in any aspect of life, it was assumed that they had the license and power to do so, and therefore, they were not questioned.

In everyday life the two-spirit male typically would wear women’s clothes and do women’s work. He might take a husband from among the men of the tribe, or might have affairs with several, depending on the role of the gender the two-spirit man in his tribe. This is very different from homosexuality as we know it today. Two-spirit individuals were expected to behave within the two-spirit gender norms of his or her tribe. Roscoe reports that early ethnographers observed a Mojave two-spirit man who was also faking a woman’s menstruation by scratching his inner thighs until he bled thus faking menstrual bleeding. When the partner threaten to leave the two-spirit male even mimicked pregnancy by adding clothes inside his upper shirt and stop the menstruation cycle. He would then eat foods that would give indigestion and stomach cramps thus faking some of the symptoms of pregnancy. When time came to give birth he went into the woods and came back childless under the pretense of still birth. Generally two-spirit males were not expected to have sexual relations with women. All of these rules, however, were culture specific and even within any given Native culture, there was often room for various expressions of gender variance. Throughout historical documents, we see that type of variation from the norm, change, transformation, and fluidity of roles for those who felt called to that path and yet most often they were welcome and appreciated.

Besides their spiritual abilities, their capacity for work also figured into the high status of two-spirit people. Even though a two-spirit male would have taken on the gender identity of a woman, he would still have the endurance and strength of a man. Thus his productivity was greater than that of most women, and for that reason he would have been valued as a marriage partner. Other characteristics Natives associate with two-spirit people which help explain their desirability as partners were their highly developed ability to relate to and teach children, a generous nature, and exceptional intellectual and artistic skills.

As we begin to understand the great diversity of genders in Native America cultures, and the ways in which sexuality influenced the performance of gender roles, we are drawn back to the original pre-colonial rituals. The inner calling of contemporary two-spirited people, however, is often mixed in with modern understandings of sexuality, thus creating a perception that homosexuality was well accepted in pre-colonization instead of recognizing that these homosexual behaviours were accepted under the role of gender identity. Arguably culture is not static and thus evolves and incorporates all the experiences of life. Therefore today the modern movement of reclaiming Two-Spirit Traditions incorporates sexual orientation and sexual identity.” (Sandra Laframboise, Michael Anhorn 2008)

Now that you have a picture of Native American tradition surrounding gender it is important to see that Polarity is maintained.  Either a person is male role or female role, not both at the same time.  While they did have fluidity, at any particular moment the person was either male or female.  This is because of Spirit or Universal Law of Polarity.  Law of Polarity is saying that these things (male & female) are the same just on opposite sides of the spectrum. It is all in how we perceive them and it is up to the individual as to what side of this pole to experience. Without one the other could not exist, because they are One.

The other aspect to appreciate is their level of acceptance.  They simply accepted each person for who they are and integrated this individual into the tribe as best they could; empowering the individual to choose their path in various ways.  Our society today can learn much from our ancestors!

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Pride Month

The phrase “Pride cometh before a fall” probably came from the 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Book of Proverbs, 16:18.  Some versions say it this way, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Either way the point is fairly obvious.  A person who is extremely proud of his or her abilities will often suffer a setback or failure, because he or she tends to be overconfident and to make errors of judgment.

Have you ever thought of how Pride fits into your life?  If you are GLBTQ then you have probably attended a Pride festival of some type.  There is an interesting irony to this event, so I would like to share a few thoughts on Pride since June is rapidly approaching and Pride festivals will be taking place all over the USA and elsewhere.

Let’s look at this word a little closer, Pride [prahyd] noun, verb, prid·ed, prid·ing.

Noun ~

1. A high or inordinate opinion of one’s owns dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

2. The state or feeling of being proud.

3. A becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.

4. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself: civic pride.

5. Something that causes a person or persons to be proud: His art collection was the pride of the family.

If we again look even closer one word seems to jump out in the definition, Ego.  Look at the synonyms for Pride – conceit, self-esteem, egotism, vanity, vain glory, implies an unduly favorable idea of one’s own appearance, advantages, achievements, etc., and often applies to offensive characteristics. Pride is a lofty and often arrogant assumption of superiority in some respect: Pride must have a fall. Conceit implies an exaggerated estimate of one’s own abilities or attainments, together with pride: blinded by conceit. Self-esteem may imply an estimate of oneself that is higher than those held by others: a ridiculous self-esteem. Egotism implies an excessive pre-occupation with oneself or with one’s own concerns, usually but not always accompanied by pride or conceit: His egotism blinded him to others’ difficulties. Vanity implies self-admiration and an excessive desire to be admired by others: His vanity was easily flattered. Vain glory, somewhat literary, implies an inordinate and therefore empty or unjustified pride: puffed up by vain glory – boast.

The antonym is humility!  Jesus taught us to have a humble approach to life and not get caught up in our own achievements.  Life is about what you have to offer – what you give!  Pride has its uses and serves to balance life, but it is a trap so many of us fall prey to.  Celebrate your successes, feel good about yourself, know that you have great worth, and do it with humility, so you can avoid the fall!

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH

😀 Sequoia Elisabeth

Unity in Gender Diversity     Discover Free eBooks click here

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

Have you ever considered why this day of remembrance is important?  How about the advocacy work that so many organizations do?  Does it work and why does it work?  I mean what makes advocacy work!  I remember being distressed by the thought of everyone gathering around and sharing victim stories and it was almost like death was a success.  And indeed it is a success for ego mind, but that is another story. 

Today I would like to shine the light on why it is important to remember events of the past and to honor those who have gone before you.  The obvious answer that I have heard many times, “learn from your past or you are doomed to repeat the mistakes”, falls short.  The other answer that these individuals are important as human beings and kindred family is indeed one of the reasons, but to me not the most important. 

The real gift here is that injustice is brought to light.  Awareness is raised in the minds of all people and they see that violence is destructive and unjust.  Transgender Day of Remembrance brings our community to the main stream consciousness in a cry for equal rights.  It is a statement that we are people too and deserve to be treated as well any other person.  The fact that often gets lost in communities is we are all humans and a part of the whole of life; it is not us against them!  Let me emphasis this point.  It is never about US vs. THEM in any situation.  When this perspective is taken it becomes a losing proposition.  One if not both parties loose.  The Equal Rights movement is about equal rights for everyone.  No one person is better than any other or more deserving or less deserving of common basic human needs such as personal security, love, self esteem, personal fulfillment, cultural security, and participation, plus a right to life, liberty, freedom of thought, expression and identity, and equal treatment before the law.  Let us focus on the things we all desire. 

In the end what makes advocacy work is the Universal Law of Attraction among other laws.  What you focus on grows.  Or to say that another way, the energy of attention is a funnel that sends this power where ever it is pointed.  If you are focusing on the things that are wrong or broken or painful then you get more of them.  However if you are focusing on what is working, how systems are supporting you and what you like about a certain person, place or thing then you will get more of that!  This seems simplistic I know and there are details if you wish to know more.  This works, I am a living testament to it and actually so are you! 

Take advantage of this Day of Remembrance to focus on what you loved about that person who has lost or taken their life.  Focus on the laws that have been passed recently which raise awareness to what is acceptable and what is not.  Share your dream of the world you wish to live in!  It is important to be heard, we all deserve this so listen to others and treat them the way you wish to be treated.  There are no victims only volunteers, thus I honor all the beautiful people who have volunteered to be symbols of change and to shine the light on a community’s needs. 

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

Unity in Gender Diversity

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Bullying?

Bullying is getting blamed for a string of suicides in the LGBT community.  Since I am not responsible for my own life, it must be the other guy’s fault, especially those mean kids who call me names and disrespect me.  Right?  This is portentous ground we travel on here!

Here is a video from the “It Gets Better” project started by Dan Savage.  They offer some compelling statistics and a convincing argument against bullying.  Is this not a “no brainer?”  Harming anyone in any way, verbally, physically, or mentally is simply wrong, not because there is a right way and a wrong way, but because what you do onto another, you have done to yourself!  The Oneness concept is so important to understand in this regard. 

Suicide is hard to explain because the individual committing the act is not around to explain.  However, since there is but one mind, the reasons can be ascertained by simply looking at the individual’s life.  Being a transgender woman who has attempted suicide I can tell you from personal experience it is not about blaming anyone.  All suicide is a cry for help on some level.  The reason anyone commits suicide is because they have no other options they are aware of.  The key is “aware of”.  Let’s give our children options!  Anyone who has felt different or for some reason stands out must learn to deal with their situation. 

Once again I am very familiar with this as a 6’11” transwomen!  The best gifts I have received along my path have been coping skills combined with Loving support.  There is often at least one person in your life that cares enough to show you that you are Loved.  For me it was my Grandmother, along with others in my family who taught me that I am a worthy individual and a valuable person in this world. 

Is this not what we all desire?  A gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person is no different than anyone else in this regard.  We are human beings and we need to treat all members as equals!  Just because someone is different is no excuse for abuse! 

This Transition Blog’s main purpose is to teach coping techniques and Spiritual concepts.  I am telling you now that when you have something to believe in, something larger than yourself, getting through the difficult situations that we all face is so much easier.  You are never alone.

The other thing that helps get you through the rough spots is having friends; a community that supports you and loves you for YOU.  I know that sometimes you feel like you cannot trust anyone, not even yourself!  As the world closes in on you all goes dark, there is no way out!  So Hara Kari wins…  It does not have to!!  There is always another choice, all ways and always! 

The one thing that has helped me lately is to help others.  When you help others you are helping yourself, it is an awesome principle. “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

🙂 Sequoia Elisabeth

Unity in Gender Diversity

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