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The Wisdom of Direct Knowledge

A Rebirth of the Way to Gnostic Transsexuality

by Cathryn Platine

When I was three years old I had a series of dreams.  Now everyone dreams, but what is strange is my memories of my waking times at that age are very spotty at best, but many of my dreams from that age are clear memories.  I suspect I'm not the only one of my people for whom this is true.  Who are my people?  The Gallae, ancient and now modern.  Dallas Denny once said that "transsexuality is a spiritual experience", I think it is much much more.  That it is a calling.  Most transsexuals tell of knowing of their difference from an early age, usually about the same age of my dreams.  I was also then well aware of who I was.  I even, at that young age, knew what science now is proving;  that my brain was female.  Growing up different in our black and white, bipolar, science worshiping culture is almost always difficult at best for anyone different, but for transsexual people, particularly those classified as male at birth, comes a bombardment with the clear message from that early age on that who we know we are is wrong and must be suppressed, hidden away and buried and never to be spoken about.  But there was another thing I knew about myself that had to be ruthlessly buried, buried so deep that even after I finally found the need to be myself overpowering and transitioned to the woman I am today, I still hid it from most others.  I had to as the price of being declared "sane" by societies standards for the "permission" of the self-appointed gods of science and medicine for the means of my transition.  That I am, and always was, a mystic who walked in both the spirit and the "real" world equally.  That I was called.

For most people, direct knowledge of certain aspects of their lives are so ingrained in culture that they are unquestioned and unexamined.  They are told they are male or female and know, from within, the truth of this.  They are taught that dreams are not reality and so often forget them as soon as they wake.  They are taught that experiences outside the senses science tells us we have are "make believe", not "real" and because they have no conflict with who they are told they are and who they know themselves to be, they learn these lessons so thoroughly as to eventually believe that they also know them essentially and unexamined as well.  It becomes the compact of shared reality.  And yet..........something within tells them differently.  Something they don't understand and cannot examine but is just as real.  They are fascinated by ghost stories, feel that odd tingle up their spine walking in the dark in a place of the dead, seek out other answers in the form of religion.  Even for the most rational of people this is true, but because they have direct knowledge of the "truth" of the elemental aspects of their reality, who they are, confirmed by those around them, it takes an extraordinary effort to question the other "truths" they are taught on more than a superficial basis.  The reality of science can thus mix with their religion as long as the conflicts are not too great or overt.

For transsexual women, even more so than transsexual men, the very first messages those others around them send are false.  Told they are males, they know differently on a level so basic that even if this self-knowledge is ruthlessly suppressed, it re-emerges later in life.  Viewed by others as having a sickness, a wrongness, the message hammered into the young transsexual girl by virtually all they come into contact with and cherish, the young transsexual internalizes this image of themselves as "sick", as wrong and then learns to hide or suppress the other direct knowledge within her as well.  The results are much the same as for non-transsexuals with a major difference.   For deep within her, she still knows who she is, that the basic message about who she is told she is, was wrong and so on some level she also mistrusts the learned truths that form the basis of societys unwritten compact as well.  It's this further direct knowledge of the transsexual woman of the failure of others to know her essence that allows her to maintain a connection to the spiritual in the face of learned "truths".  It can be our greatest strength, it is one of our greatest gifts.  It is the very nature of our calling to Her and the well of our spirituality.  This spirituality of transsexual women often leads them to the Christian religion where, more often than not, they are treated with the same disrespect as they find in the rest of society.  In this manner, many of us return to Her.

In the time before self-appointed gods of science and organized religion those things that could not be explained by the shared realities of daily living were seen as mystical and magickal.  The result of direct intervention of the Goddess or the demi-gods.  For the level that most people live on, magick and science are still interchangeable even today.  Why did this strange thing happen?  Science knows or the religious leader knows or the gods know and that is enough.  That is accepted as sufficient explanation for anything not understood in the mundane world of everyday folks.  Magick is every bit as valid explanation as science for the miracles of the modern world such as television and personal computers and cell phones if one doesn't know electronics.  It is one of the learned "truths" commonly shared and thus unquestioned.  Someone in authority knows and that is enough.  In this way, the modern sophisticate with his feelings of superiority over the ignorant superstitious people of the past is actually thinking and living on the exact same level.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the superficial nature of modern Christianity which teaches that all one needs is to believe what one is told to believe.  That belief is enough, for the leaders know the answers and will pass them on as needed.  A religious version of the "need to know" basis of modern military.  The transsexual woman, with her gut knowledge of the fallacy of this type of thinking, is much more likely to seek a more enlightened answer.

As a child I was drawn to any wild space within my grasp, just as the Gallae pre-Roman lived as wanderers in the wilderness of the mountains of Phrygia.  I was aware of the connectiveness of my own conscious to the rest of nature and spent the bulk of my time as a child in the wild.  I was blessed, when a young teenager, with living in India for several years, visiting and drinking in the sites of ancient knowledge in Rome, Greece, Turkey and the Middle East as well as on the journey to and from India.  I was always aware of the other world all around us and interacted with it as much as I did with the mundane world.  I was blessed with knowing I was outside the mundane and never lost those connections even if I also learned never to speak of them except in vague terms and even then, only to other mystics I encountered during my life.  I communed with nymphs, dryads, the wisdom of the animals,  and the spirits, even the spirit of my own daughter years before her conception.  A conception that contained it's own myrid mystical connections reinforcing my own gnosis.  I spend a lifetime studying ancient magick and modern psychology and sociology taking germs of what I felt rang true and rejecting the rest.  Without realizing it, I followed the footsteps of my ancient sisters, the Gallae of Phrygia, as my personal answer to my own difference while hiding the manner of my differences from those I knew.

In those ancient days a transsexual was literally considered to belong to the Goddess and so she had her place, a mystical and honoured place.  Her difference might be feared, especially by males who shuttered in primal terror at the thought that someone would willingly un-man (castrate) themselves fully to become female then as today, but the fear was really that the Goddess might someday call them as well to do the same.  The truth of this is evident in the long, somewhat forgotten, poem by Catullus about the Gallae where the protagonist literally begs Cybele not to call him as She calls Her Gallae and projects his own misunderstanding and fear of that call of Her Gallae by assuming they must also regret the calling!  That fear literally drips like venom in the writing of Sir James George Frazer in his "Golden Bough" when he writes of Cybele, Attis and the Gallae (whom he calls gallus and male priests).  His full-blown castration anxiety almost embarrassing and painful to read.  It shows even in the somewhat more sympathetic accounts of the Gallae by Vermaseren in his "Cybele and Attis: The Myth and the Cult".  It led Conner to consider the Gallae to be gay males in his otherwise brilliant "Blossom of Bone".  That fear led many of the Roman emperors to ban admittance to the Gallae by Roman citizens and the locating of the home of the Gallae, the Phrygianum, outside the city of Rome even though the Metroon of Cybele was given a place of honour within Rome itself on the Palatine.  That fear led St. Augustine to label the Gallae "castrated perverts".  That same fear today is given expression in the transphobic labelling of us as mentally "ill" or the newer understanding of our condition as a "birth defect" by science based "professionals", our modern gods, rather than the simple variation of humanity it is.  The birth of an intersexual is still considered a medical emergency with no thought of the eventual wishes of the victim or the future damage to their lives the unwanted, un-needed surgery yields. It is born out of their own misunderstanding that we, transsexual women, are not and never were, males and our calling took place at our births and so they need not fear becoming one of us.  That our births are as natural in the real order of the universe in fact as their own......... just different.  Just as our ability to see reality can be different, yet still natural.  The natural result of the gifts She gave us.

Frazer needed suppose a lost tradition of human sacrifice to the Gallae and other ancient devotees of the Goddess in order to justify his own religious prejudices.  The truth of history is different.  Far from the brutal roots he imagined, was a level of advanced humanity among the Gallae and their earlier sisters far surpassing the norm of their cultures.   For it was the Gallae who gathered up the infants abandoned on the streets who were born "defective" and then raised them.  Today, the Hijra of India, those closest to the ancient Gallae, are brought these unwanted intersexed and others of birth variations for the same reason.  The Gallae were the ones who comforted and helped return to Rome healed and whole it's soldiers returning from their brutal experiences on the battlefield.  The role of the Gallae and their sisters were understood to be healers, their connection to Divine widely regarded as giving them the ability to heal, curse, bless and make prophecies.  Today we know, for example, that transsexuals are two full standard deviations above the norm in intelligence and creativity.  Higher, on average, than any other group in society for any criteria other than intelligence itself!  Such wondrous gifts we are given in return for our calling!  How deceitful to label us as "ill" or "birth defects"!

Today's transsexual has been cut off from her roots, her history, her rightful place.  The early Catholic Church ruthlessly suppressed and erased the history of Cybele and Her Gallae more than any other rival.  Mainline historians rewrote the even the very identity of the Gallae into "castrated male priests".  Dishonest translators changed Cattullus' use of "gallae" (feminine) into "gallus" (masculine) even though both words are Latin. Gay historians rewrote them to be gay men, feminist historians likewise if they speak of them at all.  Transsexuals today are even told by the gods of medicine and science that they are a modern invention of medicine and surgery with no history!  The gatekeepers to our modern treatment label us as mentally ill or suffering a birth defect whose very sanity must be questioned and examined and passed before allowing us the basic tools to transform ourselves that they now control.  If, from desperation, a modern transsexual woman follows the path of her ancient sisters, the Gallae, and attempts emasculate herself, she is virtually guaranteed a psychiatic confinement.  Even today, a transsexual child is not safe from torture and brainwashing in the form of "behavioural modification" or even institutionalization if she fails to hide her own identity well enough.  If she escapes that fate, she is as likely as not to be rejected by her own family and thrown out on the streets.  Those of us who do hide ourselves in childhood are still labelled deviants, perverts or sick and rejected by loved ones as adults when we finally deal with our natures.  Told we are "selfish" by our loved ones when we reach the point of crisis, asked the most intimate questions by perfect strangers as if they had a right to that knowledge.   Suffering poor enough self-esteem, we grant that knowledge without the natural sense of outrage at such treatment anyone else in our society would have towards being treated this way.  We are told we are deceitful for "pretending" to be "real" women when discovered/uncovered after our surgeries or transitions and even denied the basic tools of daily life by a society that has no place for us and doesn't value our gifts.  Worst of all, we believe them when they tell us we are sick and think we deserve no better treatment.

Rachel Pollack wrote a wonderful essay on this topic in 1995 called "Archetypal Transsexuality" which ends with words of wisdom for any transsexual:

"Transsexuality comes to us with all the power of a divine force who will not be denied.  If we recognize it and accept it as a true vision of the self from the deepest part of the psyche, if we carry the Goddess with us .....then we may find it opens us to a life of spirituality and joy.  If we try to deny or belittle it, or explain it away, it can destroy us.  Knowing ignorance is strength.  Ignoring knowledge is sickness.  If one is sick of sickness, then one is not sick."

The lesson is simple and yet vastly complex.  We know who we are, we are born with a gnostic potential denied most of humanity and this beginning, by itself if we are able merely to take the next step, frees us to understand a further gnosis of our true nature as spiritual beings and what that means.  We need only to simply learn to love and embrace ourselves as a start.  Those dreams of a three year old transsexual girl?  I dreamed night after night of the Goddess.  She claimed me as Her own even then and has watched over and directed me ever since just as She came to the ancient Gallae in their dreams and called them.

 We Are an Old People, We Are a New People, Chapter One.

Suggested Readings

Brown, Mildred L & Rounsley, Chloe Ann. True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers 1996

Catullus, Gaius Valerius. The Poems of Catullus: Edited with an Introduction, Translation, and Brief Notes, by Guy Lee. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Colapinto, John.  As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who was Raised as a Girl.
New York: HarperCollins 2000

Conner, Randolph P. Blossom of Bone.
San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1993.

Benjamin, Harry. The Transsexual Phenomenon.
New York: The Julian Press, 1966.

Califia, Pat. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism,
San Francisco: Cleis Press, 1997.

Feinberg, Leslie. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to RuPaul.
Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.

Frazer, Sir James G. The Golden Bough,
New York: Macmillan, 1951.

Freke, Timothy & Gandy, Peter. Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians,
Harmony Books 2001

Herdt, Gilbert H., ed. Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History.
New York: Zone Books, 1993.

Hirschefeld, Dr. Magnus. The Sexual History of the World War.
New York: Cadillac Publishing Co. 1941

Jorgensen, Christine. Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography.
New York: Paul S. Eriksson, 1967

von Mahlsdorf, Charlotte. I Am My Own Woman: The outlaw life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, Berlin's most distinguished transvestite. translated by Jean Hollander.
Pittsburgh: Cleis Press, 1995.

Moir, Anne & Jessel, David.  Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men & Women. New York: Carol Publishing 1989

Money, John & Ehrhardt, Anke. Man & Woman, Boy & Girl.
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press 1972

Nanda, Serena. Neither Man Nor Woman: The Hijras of India.
Belmont,CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1990.

Namaste, Viviane. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People.
Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press 2000

Pollack, Rachel. The Body of the Goddess.
Rockport, MA: Element Books 1997

Pollack, Rachel. Archetypal Transsexuality.
http://www.annelawrence.com/archetypal.html 1995

Roller, Lynn E.  In Search of God The Mother: The Cult of Anatolian Cybele.
Berkely: Univ. of California Press 1999

     Roscoe, Will. We'wha: The Zuni Man-Woman.
Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1991.

Shlain, Leonard. The Alphabet versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image.
New York: Viking Penguin 1998

Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman.
San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1976.

Vermaseren, Maarten J. Cybele and Attis: The Myth and the Cult. translated by A. H. Lemmers.
London: Thames and Hudson, 1977

copyright 2003-7, Cathryn Platine.  All rights reserved.  This page may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any electronic or print media without the express written permission of the copyright holder.