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Queer Magic: Power Beyond Boundaries

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In a wide variety of pagan paths, many forms of modern magic and mystery hold an expectation that all parties are heterosexual, cisgender, and, in many cases, white. In Queer Magic: Power Beyond Boundaries, Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin bring together a diverse and passionate collection of authors and artists who break out beyond that belief and explore how being LGBT+ is not just acceptable when exploring magic, but powerful.

Using the diverse tools of queer activism, education, and storytelling, through academic essays and first-person narratives to comics and poster-style art, this intersectional group exposes a world beyond what so many magical practitioners have presumed is "normal." The reality is that magic, whether in Wicca or Vodou, Heathenry or Polytheism, has been fueled by people and systems beyond the binary for millennia. For many within, magic and queerness are not separate, but deeply entwined pieces of identity, worldview, and culture experienced together, always.

Drag queen magic, Inclusive witchcraft, and magic for healing and survival. Gender transition in Rome, possession practices, and DIY divination. Social justice, queer black tantra, and polarity beyond gender. Honoring ancestors, fluidity of consciousness, and reimagining the Great Rite. Queer sex magic, power sigils, deities that reflect diversity... and more.

Whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, agender, genderqueer, or some other queer orientation, or you are curious about tools to access magic beyond what is often discussed, this book is for you. Each piece is a unique and passionate chance to look into your own relationship with magic, break out of the tales of what your practice "should" look like, and expand your awareness into the queer magic as well as your own power beyond boundaries.

341 pages, Paperback

Published May 1, 2018

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About the author

Lee Harrington

22 books91 followers
Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and across 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on human gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” “Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond,” and “Shibari You Can Use: Japanese Rope Bondage and Erotic Macramé,” among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. You can check out Lee’s adventures, as well as his regular podcast, tour schedule, free essays, videos, and more, over at http://www.PassionAndSoul.com.

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Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for jade.
489 reviews276 followers
June 29, 2020
“never sacrifice your soul on the altar of mediocrity.”

anthologies are notoriously difficult to rate and review. especially when they are as diverse and expansive as this one: we have over 40 contributors sharing their worldview and perspective on the relationship between (their) queerness and spirituality.

even the types of contributions are very varied: you can find anything in this book from comics, illustrations, and poster art to poetry, interviews, essays, academic texts, and (auto)biographical pieces.

i’m sure i might’ve missed a couple, but to give you an idea of some of the various paths, philosophies, and faiths that are discussed here: i’ve seen hellenism, kemeticism, asatru, haitian vodou, several indiginous / first nations practices (in particular shoshone), lucumi tradition, radical faeries and regular faeries both, santería (with a side-serving of catholicism), tantra, wicca, chaos magic, and mentions of many, many more.

the upside of this? it’s huge. it’s diverse. this is an incredibly important work in a world where so many spiritual spaces are white and heteronormative (often to the point of being outright racist, homophobic, and transphobic). this anthology gives a voice to many poc and queer practitioners.

it creates an instant feeling of community, as well as honoring a lot of queer elders who survived racist violence, various phobias, and the aids crisis while supporting and educting their communities. it makes you realize just how big the queer community is, and how long and varied its history.

the downside? not every contribution will resonate with you. there’s just so many topics and so many different styles that you’ll eventually run into something that you simply do not vibe with. there’s even a warning about this in the intro, so the editor(s) were aware of this. even so, i think there are a couple of legitimate criticisms to be made on the anthology as a whole, which i’ll dive into down below -- first, though, the good stuff.
“gender is more than a conversation about pronouns and bathrooms. gender is an invitation to make beauty out of our dynamic self-alignment.”
this book is inspiring.

which, to be honest, shouldn’t be surprising. but there is a lot of queer joy and euphoria in this, and an emphasis on celebrating and honoring / healing yourself while doing away with harmful beliefs and frameworks. i suppose i could even use the word empowering here.

queer history, myth, tradition, and ritual are deeply explored, often on an academic level (including sources and contributions from phd-level authors in relevant fields). this creates a really interesting process of reframing and reinterpreting existing myth to illustrate and/or uplift queerness.

a lot of popular pagan traditions and more wiccan-based paths lean on incredibly gender-binary thinking -- plenty of authors tackle that too, shuffling existing rituals or rites around to not have them revolve completely around Masculine Manly Men Doing The Taking (Active! Sword!) and Feminine Womanly Ladies Doing The Receiving (Passive! Cup!).

such as the great rite, elemental associations, and the wheel of the year celebrations.

a particular poignant argument was in favor of affirmation rather than inclusion. it’s not enough to only open up spiritual or pagan spaces for lgbtqia+ people, but then still subject them to unnecessary gendering or gender-essentialist roles and rituals.

which instantly brings me to my first criticism: for an anthology with beyond boundaries in its subtitle, it’s sure as hell still includes A LOT of annoying little quotes that are enforcing the gender binary on its reader. i’m sure i looked like i ate a goddamned lemon reading them.

perhaps this was extra jarring because the anthology starts out with so many essays in favor of doing away with sexist/gendered thinking, and i just did not expect it in what is supposed to be a queer friendly book.

a few quotes that tripped me up: “all the women who birthed us into being”, “the world is calling us to remember our essential nature. that nature is wildly and sensuously feminine”, and “she [nature] is the womb of potential, that deep well of knowing that lives in the center of every body, regardless of anatomy”.

but this is the REAL kicker: “she [nature] knows no binary, for within every body lies the wisdom of a sacred femininity”.

this just feels like incredibly TERF-y language to me, adopted in a very fake way to ‘include’ queer people. this needs a 100% more nuanced context to not leave a bad taste in my mouth.

so yeah. some contributions have amazing observations on intersectionality and gender, whereas others show a complete lack of it. this seesawing between essays in terms of inclusiveness and affirming different identities can be very jarring.

and speaking of jarring -- this anthology should’ve had trigger warnings.

going into this, i’d already been expecting all the various phobias surrounding lgbtqia+, but there were A LOT of heavy topics being broached without any preface or warnings. check below the spoiler tag if you’re curious about the details.



i’d also be very interested in hearing from asexual readers on this topic, but a lot of essays delve into decolonizing and reframing sex and the relationship we have with our bodies. the blurb claims to be inclusive of ace folks, but there was nary a discussion in sight about how to employ (or not employ) sexual acts from an ace perspective. which was a little odd to me, considering how often the topic came up.

to circle back to more surface-level stuff: this anthology is well-edited, well-compiled, and also structured in a good and pleasing way. hats off to the editor, for sure. there’s a short bio for all contributors in the back of the book for more info and perspectives on who they all are. i really appreciated that, because it gives a context to their contribution -- which was sometimes necessary.

some of my favorite essays were those rebuilding formerly binary traditions, as well as the interviews by wolfie with queer elders. those were incredibly personal, charming, and interesting.

in conclusion: a powerful read that is very necessary for the queer spiritual/pagan community. the truth of the matter, however, is that not all essays will have a positive effect on its readers. it’s also important to note that a lot of these contributions are deeply personal (and thus not applicable to everyone), but i do think i’m allowed to expect just a little better from a specifically queer anthology.

i’ll close this one off with a quote from the piece gentle affirmation:
“you are awesome, brilliant, amazing, incredible, and totally worthy of having a sacrificial altar built in your honor at the nearest available volcano.”
unfortunately, the nearest available volcano is quite far away :(

3.0 stars.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
1 review3 followers
March 11, 2018
In this latest anthology, Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin have curated a beautiful collection of voices, each with a unique viewpoint and lesson to share with the world. The book includes pieces by over 40 different artists with a variety of backgrounds and philosophies. The project was created to give a space for alternative voices of the pagan community to educate and communicate their experiences and practices. These voices have been presented unfiltered and raw, which not only creates a stunningly real portrait of these artists, but also allows for their unique individual truth to be woven into the larger pagan tapestry.
This work exists as a glowing example of the beauty that can exist when the light of pride has been cast through the art of the weird, different, and magical. The anthology is well organized, beautifully presented, and unapologetically raw and real. The reader can feel the emotions of the authors and artists as they experience their words and creations. The editors chose a wide swath of creative voices for this book, as shown in the biographies of the contributors. These are the voices of the queer community; educated, experienced, and living lives that don’t fit neatly into the boxes of binary-straight pagan myth and practice.
This is a powerful read, it is the words and art of the past, present and future of the pagan community. A future of an intersectional and expanded pagan community that not only worships along the lines of dichotomy but opens itself to the full spectrum of human and divine.

Profile Image for Laura.
287 reviews21 followers
October 10, 2020
I have a lot of feelings about this one that are conflicting just because it's an anthology -- if I rated each contribution individually, my ratings would probably run the entire range of five stars down to zero.
The collection is very diverse in a number of respects -- diverse in terms of the voices included, of magical/Pagan/spiritual/religious traditions that they work in and discuss herein, of the genres of writing, and of the focuses/topics. This is great. It inevitably means, of course, that any reader I feel like is going to find some parts more interesting and/or relevant to them than others, but in an anthology that is, to me, to be expected, particularly when it deals with subject matter that is so incredibly personal.
As mentioned, there were contributions in here that I absolutely loved and know I will return to. A few I found might even inform some shifts in my own practice. Editor Lee Harrington's essay on interstitial elements was a definite standout for me. I enjoyed editor Tai Fenix Kulystin's essay as well. Others I found interesting, enjoyable, and/or just well written and well thought out, but were not necessarily quite as relevant feeling to me personally. Quite a few I just felt 'meh' about -- okay, but not especially interesting to me (though that's not to say they won't be to another reader), or a few that just seemed like they weren't really saying anything substantial at all. Then there were a handful that I did find downright problematic (often this was due to binary-reinforcing and/or biologically essentialist language though there were other issues too - one full of concerning ill-informed claims about trauma really stood out in the worst possible way for me; some of the discussions about reframing sex felt less than inclusive - but I feel like getting into each is beyond the scope of this review).
I like that the editors included short bios of every contributor, and I also liked that visuals (drawings, paintings, photos, sigils) were interspersed with the writing.
Profile Image for Yvonne Aburrow.
Author 16 books49 followers
July 27, 2020
This is such a brilliant collection of diverse queer, Black, PoC, witchy, polyamorous, polytheist, and kinky perspectives on queer magic. I highly recommend it. Many of the contributors have written books on queer magic and offer rituals, healing, and mythology grounded in queerness. It includes contributions from several well-known queer authors and several who I wasn't familiar with but will seek out more of their work. The suggestions for queer ritual and a queer wheel of the year are particularly helpful. Whether you're looking to expand your horizons beyond heteronormative views of magic or are already grounded in queer culture, I guarantee that this book will expand your mind. And I'm not just saying all these nice things because I contributed to this anthology! It really is awesome.

Profile Image for Heather Austin.
38 reviews3 followers
November 7, 2018
This is a fantastic collection of writings by queer folx who follow various pagan paths! Thoughts of fluidity abound, of identity, orientation, boundaries or realms. It is full of freedom to choose your own way, or create a way that feels authentic and meaningful to you. Living and breathing and praying and acting outside boxes of heteronormativity or Christianity is suffused through each writing and piece of artwork! Read it if you want to be challenged, inspired, moved or validated in your uniqueness.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
68 reviews1 follower
April 15, 2021
This book is worth a read as it shows us queer lives that exist on the margins and in the liminal, in the small quiet spaces ignored by mainstream society, both cishet and assimilated LGBT. The writers, poets, and artists in this collection share not just their queerness but their spirit, which ultimately are each made of the other. The most impactful piece was by wolfie: Interview with Clyde Hall, Shoshone Two-Spirit Elder.
Profile Image for Laura.
2,819 reviews
September 3, 2020
Loved this collection of writing and art work by witch queers.
A wide range of experiences and practices. I loved so many of the thoughts and ideas in this book.
Ideas of urban witchcraft, beyond gendered traditions, ideas of sensation vs identity and so much more. I would love to own this book and come back to it.
Profile Image for Jae Lin.
183 reviews5 followers
March 22, 2020
Overall middle of the road experience reading this. Some essays, like Yin Q's, were phenomenal and just filled me to the brim with inspiration and heart. Others I found really uninteresting. But, a learning process nonetheless. Glad I got through it.
Profile Image for Damaris Huerta.
109 reviews32 followers
Read
June 19, 2020
This book is hella long that I'm gonna have to read on my own private time. I like how informative it is and all the different perspectives it has in it.
Profile Image for Robin.
186 reviews5 followers
October 26, 2022
I see a lot of people giving this middling or even low ratings because it's "hit or miss" or only some of the material appealed to them, and like... that's LITERALLY the point of this kind of anthology? The stuff I glommed onto, I glommed onto HARD. And I admittedly skimmed some stuff that didn't seem either useful or interesting to me, but I know there are people out there who are gonna glom onto the stuff I bounced off of and bounce off the stuff I glommed onto. And that's kind of exactly the kind of reactions this kind of anthology should inspire. It means a diverse set of experiences and perspectives was actually collected here, and the particular parts that are gonna be useful to you are gonna be INCREDIBLY useful. And especially if you're still figuring out what your practice is gonna look like, like me, it's good to get this kind of variety pack and have an idea of what to look further into.
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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