Two Spirits

“He told me that if nature puts a burden on a man by making him different, it also gives him a power.” –John Lame Deer

Dual-sexed or third gender people were treated with respect and considered sacred by over 155 Native American and Canadian indigenous tribes. These androgynous people have both male and female heart and souls. Berdache, an old French term for cross-dressing, is considered a derogatory term because it originated from bardaj, which is a passive homosexual or feminine young boy. The term most acceptable to use is now Two Spirit.

Two Spirits often became healers, counselors, therapists, high religious priests, shamans, witch doctors, medicine men, holy men, prophets, marriage counselors, and matchmakers. Female bodied Two Spirits became chiefs, traders, hunters, trappers, fishers, warriors, guides, prophets, and medicine persons.

The criteria to be a Two Spirit is:

  1. Identify as Indigenous. Indigenous means living naturally or being native to an area. It is an innate awareness of belonging to a specific geography. All people are indigenous if they go far enough back into their histories. However the indigenous-identified soul is consciously aware of the spirit of nativeness.
  2. Exist outside the regular socio-normative definition of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. (i.e. they may be LGBT or I) They have a balance of male/female energy. They express themselves outside the traditional binary gender model in temperament, dress, lifestyle, and social roles. They may specialize in non-traditional gender role work by taking on roles viewed as of the opposite sex.
  3. They hear the call of Spirit and are spiritually connected through beliefs, visions, and dreams.

Being gender queer or transgender is a form of shapeshifting, which is a shamanic technique. Some shaman traditions require cross dressing as training to balance male and female.

“To become a [Siberian] shaman, one had to be both man and woman, because a person should be the sum total of all human experiences. As part of the training of the shaman-to-be, he or she was expected to live for some time as a member of the opposite sex. During this period, the aspirant had to think, act and dress like a man if she was a woman, like a woman if he was a man. Often, a person who successfully passed this part of their shamanic examination would choose to continue living as a member of the other sex. In some parts of Siberia, this was even expected of all male shamans. Many traditional shamanic cultures offered their homosexual members the possibility of living with a partner: a gay or lesbian could become a shaman and change sex, afterwards being able to marry a person of the same biological sex. Usually such transformed shamans would be looked upon with awe, fear or suspicion. They were considered to have very strong and special magical powers and carried distinctive and important responsibilities, yet their shaman costumes were androgynous.” –Daan van Kampenhout

Even though the term “Two Spirit” was originally coined by Native Americans for Native American use, I believe the term is brilliant in the way it represents the duality of gender and sexual orientation in one body.

Learning about the existence of Two Spirits is what led me to the path of shamanic energy medicine. It is what created the belief in me that I could be a healer.

Sometimes I joke that I really am a Four Spirit since I feel I have lived four lives in one lifetime, that of being both gay and straight in a female body and being gay and straight in a male body. Now I have transitioned to a more holistic state of being an androgynous bisexual. In other words, I strive to be in a perfectly balanced state between the polar opposites in gender and sexual orientation. I believe that is the natural state in the Spirit World.

Copyright © 2014 Drake Bear Stephen. Except where acknowledged. http://www.DrakeInnerprizes.com