Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Of Liminal Bent"

This is the freebie for the November [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] alexseanchai. It also fills the "liminal time" square in my 9-30-18 card for the Fall Bingo fest.

"Of Liminal Bent"

There have always been those
who walked between the worlds,
who were not merely one or the other.

There have always been those
of liminal bent, attracted to others
of their own gender, or falling
between genders themselves.

They are winkte and seiðmaðr,
galatur and kurgarra.

In some cultures
they were loved,
and in others feared;
but they were always
known for their power.

They knew men's ways
and women's ways.

They saw into both
the world of matter
and the world of spirit.

They held in their two hands
the earth and the sky.

They walked between
the sea and the shore,
the forest and the field.

They went forth by
dawn and by dusk,
worked magic by
half-moon light.

Those of liminal bent
drew their power from
all that lay between.

So it was, so it is,
so it shall ever be.

Today we arise and
walk in the sunlight,
speak over the far air,
and tell inconvenient truths.

We take up our sovereignty,
don robes of royal purple.
We still go between, and
some people still listen.

We are those of liminal bent,
and its powers are born in us.

* * *


Liminality is the quality of all that lies between other concepts. It is associated with transition, danger, and power.

A winkte is a Lakota person with traits that cross over sex/gender lines, considered a third sex/gender. Today two-spirit is an umbrella term spanning various sex/gender categories from many tribes that go beyond the typical masculine and feminine roles.

A seiðmaðr is a Norse man who works magic through receptive homosexual activity. It was link with nið, which had profound legal implications. These concepts were terrible and terrifying, powerless and powerful, a contradiction -- and inextricably linked with Loki, the gendershifting trickster.

The galatur and kurgarra appear in "The Descent of Inanna." In most translations, the galatur and kurgarra are described as "two sexless beings." Yet if they are both sexless, the same, why do they have different names? This combined with various interpretations of other bits of Sumerian and Babylonian lore has led some people to describe them instead as neuter and hermaphrodite, agender and transgender, or asexual and bisexual. English words don't really fit, because modern culture draws the lines in different ways than the ancestors did. But the concepts of "both" and "neither" seem to apply. In any case, the service of Inanna and Erishkegal attracted a variety of people who in some way differed from the ordinary sex/gender roles of their time.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, gender studies, history, linguistics, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, weblit, writing
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