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Two Souls People

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In a previous post I wrote:


“For Jung, he explains how he needed to communicate his experiences or else face living in isolation. I think he’s done this exceptionally well and am personally grateful for his work.  He gave me profound insights into my own experiences and made me feel not alone; more so than any other single teacher I’ve had.  I read little of Jung now but for 30 years his collected works were a constant presence in my life. The deeper I went into my own experience, the more I was able to understand his complex writings.


However, even though he was widely read and admired by many, towards the end of his life he wrote that no one he knew of fully understood the totality of his concepts of reality; of how he experienced reality.  And he also notes that anyone who travels the path of individuation must experience a degree of aloneness.


But Jung also notes, and I think it’s true, that whatever you feel and think that’s valid (in that it connects with deeper reality) will also be felt and thought by others throughout history.  (Otherwise it is more than likely personal imbalance; that is, illness.) Of course, the challenge can be finding such connection. For Jung his greatest relief was finding connection with the lineages of both Western and Chinese alchemy. 


We are lucky these days in that we have so much better access to many previously obscure and even previously secret world spiritual traditions and knowledge, but obviously many difficulties remain.  I hope this forum is able to provide you with contact with at least a few like-minded people amongst its lively mixture of wisdom and craziness.” 


In the many decades of my spiritual exploration I’ve found a secession of lineages and spiritual traditions that validated vital aspects of my inner experience. At the time they’ve all felt like home and have been essential for my wellbeing and inner growth.  However, the heart of my existence has never felt entirely at home in one fundamental aspect.  In this thread I’ll attempt to reveal and hence reinforce the process of validation of my two souls self.


By way of background, I’ll start by re-posting some material that’s already been referenced on Dao Bums.  


Constructive contributions from Dao Bum members are most welcome.

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Sulawesi's fifth gender

Written by Sharyn Graham          Published: Jul 30, 2007


I first went to Sulawesi in August 1998 on a reconnaissance trip to determine if this would be an interesting place to study gender relations. I had read a little about gender in Sulawesi, encouraged by my supervisors Dr Greg Acciaioli and Dr Lyn Parker, but I was not quite prepared for the richness of Bugis gender identities. In Australia we tend to assume that there are only two genders, woman and man, and two matching biological sexes, female and male. The Bugis acknowledge three sexes (female, male, hermaphrodite), four genders (women, men, calabai, and calalai), and a fifth meta-gender group, the bissu.


'Bissu' tends to be translated as 'transvestite priest', but this term is less than satisfactory. Transvestite implies cross-dressing, but bissu have their own distinctive clothing. Moreover, bissudo not go from one gender to another; they are a combination of all genders. To become a bissu, one must be born both female and male, or hermaphroditic. (To be precise, the Bugis believe that a bissu who appears externally male is internally female, and vice versa). This combination of sexes enables a 'meta-gender' identity to emerge.


La Tenri Olli'

Aseng tongeng-tongeng

Mu ri langi

Mu nonno' ri lino

Mu riyaseng t


Your name in the heavens

Is La Tenri Olli',

In the name of the buffalo,

Descend to earth.


Mariani begins her chant as the sun is setting behind the limestone cliff. The eerie chant is accompanied on the cylindrical drum called tumba, on cymbals (kancing), and metal rhythm sticks (ana' baccing).


Over 35 of us had squeezed into two small mini-vans and traveled for over an hour to reach this place. We then walked a few kilometres to the mouth of a small cave, which, as I was to find out, went deep into the mountain.




We had come here to perform a ceremony. A woman I knew named Ibu Qadri wanted to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. She needed the blessing of the spirits before she set off. Bissu have long conducted ceremonies like this. They are able to act as mediators between humans and spirits (dewata) because they are considered neither male nor female, and neither woman nor man, but a mix of all four of these.


This was one of my first bissu ceremonies. I was somewhat baffled as to why a pious Muslim would want a blessing from other spiritual beings. However, over the 15 months (until November 2000) that I lived amongst bissu, I learned that at least to the Bugis there really was no contradiction. They told me that Allah is the one and only God, but Allah has helpers, called dewata. The most powerful of the dewata is the one Mariani is calling today. When Mariani is in contact, the dewata will arrange for the most appropriate lesser dewata to descend and take possession of Mariani. Only then can Mariani bestow blessings.


For the blessing to be a success, Mariani and three other bissu had to enter a cave. I too was invited in. We took off our sandals, and two of the bissu carried burning torches to light our way. I was urged to lead in front. I later found out this was so that I could take their photograph as they entered the cavern. After we had slid on our backsides down the entry passage, walked quite a distance, successfully avoiding treading barefoot upon the many scorpions surrounding us, we came into a large cavern. Here we squatted in a circle. Mariani began chanting. At appropriate times the other bissu joined in. The ceremony here was short. When the chant was over we returned to the opening of the cave.


While we were away, preparations had been made for the main ceremony. Mariani took her place (or 'hir' place, since she is both male and female) in front of the large assortment of ritual offerings that were to be offered to the dewata. These included cooked rice died into four different colours(songkolo), eggs, a hen and a rooster, cigarettes, bananas, and coconuts. Mariani again began to chant, but this time hir chanting became erratic and frightening. Hir body began to shake and s/he became very angry. 'Where are the siri leaves?' These are an important part of the ceremony, but there were not enough of them. The spirit that possessed Mariani was furious and refused to give the blessing. Through Mariani the spirit conveyed that we could, however, perform the ceremony at the woman's house. By the time we arrived at Ibu Qadri's house it was dark. The altar and the offerings were set up in her living room, and the bissuadorned themselves in their powerful, magical (sakti) clothing. The ceremony began again. Everything was complete.


Mariani and the three other bissuperformed their chants. In order to honour the spirits who had possessed them, and hence bless Ibu Qadri's pilgrimage, the four bissuperformed the ma'giri. Each bissutook their little dagger(kris) and tried to force it into their throat. If a powerful spirit has possessed them, and if the blessing is successful, the kris will not penetrate and they will not bleed. On this occasion, when Mariani had completed the ma'giri, I noticed blood coming from hir neck (see cover photo).


Not till many months later did I venture to question this. The reason was that the spirit who possessed Mariani had not been very powerful. However, with the combined efforts of the four bissu, Haji Qadri did make the pilgrimage to Mecca. On her return, she requested another bissu ceremony to give thanks to the dewata for protecting her on her journey.




This brings us to calalaiand calabai. Strictly speaking, calalai means 'false man' and calabai'false woman'. However, people are not harrassed for identifying as either of these gender categories. On the contrary, calalaiand calabai are seen as essential to completing the gender system. A useful analogy suggested to me by Dr Greg Acciaioli is to imagine the Bugis gender system of South Sulawesi as a pyramid, with the bissu at the apex, and men, women, calalai, and calabai located at the four base corners.


Calalai are anatomical females who take on many of the roles and functions expected of men. For instance, Rani works alongside men as a blacksmith, shaping kris, small blades and other knives. Rani wears men's clothing and ties hir sarong in the fashion of men. Rani also lives with hir wife and their adopted child, Erna. While Rani works with men, dresses as a man, smokes cigarettes, and walks alone at night, which are all things women are not encouraged to do, Rani is female and therefore not considered a man. Nor does Rani wish to become a man. Rani is calalai. Rani's female anatomy, combined with hir occupation, behaviour, and sexuality, allows Rani to identify, and be identified, as a calalai.


Calabai, conversely, are anatomical males who, in many respects, adhere to the expectations of women. However, calabai do not consider themselves women, are not considered women. Nor do they wish to become women, either by accepting restrictions placed on women such as not going out alone at night, or by recreating their body through surgery. However, whereas calalai tend to conform more to the norms of men, calabai have created a specific role for themselves in Bugis society.


If there is to be a wedding in Bugis society, more often than not calabai will be involved in the organisation. When a wedding date has been agreed upon, the family will approach a calabai and negotiate a wedding plan. The calabai will be responsible for many things: setting up and decorating the tent, arranging the bridal chairs, bridal gown, costumes for the groom and the entire wedding party (numbering up to twenty-five), makeup for all those involved, and all the food. Rarely did I attend a village wedding with less than a thousand guests. On the day, some calabai remain in the kitchen preparing food while others form part of the reception, showing guests to their seats.


Bissu, calalai, and calabai challenge the notion that individuals must conform to one of two genders, woman or man, and that one's anatomy must support one's gender. Bugis gender reveals the diverse nature of human identity. It makes me question our own notions of gender. For example, why should Australia insist on a boring old two-gender system?


Sharyn Graham ([email protected]) is researching her PhD at the University of Western Australia, Perth. All names are pseudonyms. Thanks to Nick Herriman.


(Originally referenced here by Earl Grey)

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Gospel of Thomas - 22


Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his disciples, "These nursing babies are like those who enter the (Father's) kingdom." They said to him, "Then shall we enter the (Father's) kingdom as babies?" Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]."


(Originally posted here by Jeff) 

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Gender Roles, Native Americans Acknowledged 5 Genders

By Pearson McKinney - June 19, 2016


It wasn’t until Europeans took over North America that natives adopted the ideas of gender roles. For Native Americans, there was no set of rules that men and women had to abide by in order to be considered a “normal” member of their tribe.


In fact, people who had both female and male characteristics were viewed as gifted by nature, and therefore, able to see both sides of everything. According to Indian Country Today, all native communities acknowledged the following gender roles: “Female, male, Two Spirit female, Two Spirit male and Transgendered.”


“Each tribe has their own specific term, but there was a need for a universal term that the general population could understand. The Navajo refer to Two Spirits as Nádleehí (one who is transformed), among the Lakota is Winkté (indicative of a male who has a compulsion to behave as a female), Niizh Manidoowag (two spirit) in Ojibwe, Hemaneh (half man, half woman) in Cheyenne, to name a few. As the purpose of “Two Spirit” is to be used as a universal term in the English language, it is not always translatable with the same meaning in Native languages. For example, in the Iroquois Cherokee language, there is no way to translate the term, but the Cherokee do have gender variance terms for ‘women who feel like men’ and vice versa.”


The “Two Spirit” culture of Native Americans was one of the first things that Europeans worked to destroy and cover up. According to people like American artist George Catlin, the Two Spirit tradition had to be eradicated before it could go into history books. Catlin said the tradition:


“..Must be extinguished before it can be more fully recorded.”


However, it wasn’t only white Europeans that tried to hide any trace of native gender bending. According to Indian Country Today, “Spanish Catholic monks destroyed most of the Aztec codices to eradicate traditional Native beliefs and history, including those that told of the Two Spirit tradition.” Throughout these efforts by Christians, Native Americans were forced to dress and act according to newly designated gender roles.


One of the most celebrated Two Spirits in recorded history was a Lakota warrior aptly named Finds Them And Kills Them. Osh-Tisch was born a male and married a female, but adorned himself in women’s clothing and lived daily life as a female. On June 17 1876, Finds Them And Kills Them gained his reputation when he rescued a fellow tribesman during the Battle of Rosebud Creek. An act of fearless bravery. Below is a picture of Osh-Tisch and his wife.



Osh-Tisch (Left) and his wife (Right)


In Native American cultures, people were valued for their contributions to the tribe, rather than for masculinity or femininity. Parents did not assign gender roles to children either, and even children’s clothing tended to be gender neutral. There were no ideas or ideals about how a person should love; it was simply a natural act that occurred without judgement or hesitation.


Without a negative stigma attached to being a Two Spirit, there were no inner-tribal incidents of retaliation or violence toward the chosen people simply due to the fact that individuals identified as the opposite or both genders.


“The Two Spirit people in pre-contact Native America were highly revered and families that included them were considered lucky. Indians believed that a person who was able to see the world through the eyes of both genders at the same time was a gift from The Creator.”


Religious influences soon brought serious prejudice against “gender diversity,” and so this forced once openly alternative or androgynous people to one of two choices. They could either live in hiding, and in fear of being found out, or they could end their lives. Many of whom did just that.


Imagine a world where people allowed others to live freely as the people nature intended them to be..without harm..without persecution..without shame. Imagine a world where we are truly free.


(Originally referenced here by Taomeow.)

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Winyanktehca: Two-souls person


Marjorie Anne Napewastewiñ Schützer


 "I stood among them but not of them."


I am 'Sihasapa', 'Lakota', or rather, that is to say that I am of the Blackfoot tribe. We are one of seven tribes of the Sioux nation. I am Native American. An old Lakota word, "Winyanktehca," has today been contracted to the simple word, "winkte," meaning, 'two-souls-person,' or more directly meaning, 'to be as a woman.' (I would like to suggest that in this speech, I will make use of the word 'winkte' synonymously for 'gender-crosser,' in either direction.) I am 'Wakan' - to my people I am sacred and mysterious, I am a spirit person. The Grandfathers tell me this. I have my feet rooted in the earth of my ancestors and my spirit soars with them in the "land above the pines." The anthropologists call me 'Berdache,' but this is wrong. This word has come a long way from its beginnings in Arabia. It means "kept boy" . . . that, I am not. The Western medical community calls me 'transsexual', but this is not entirely true either. I am 'winkte,' I am a gender-crosser. My people see me as multidimensional and I do not have to fight for a place in my society to be accepted. I already have a place, a very special and sacred place. In my culture I represent a profound healing, a reconciliation of the most fundamental rift that divides us, human from human - gender.


I was called through a vision, by "Anog Ite", (Double Face Woman) from out of the womb, to be that which I am. She offered me a choice. Lakota deities never order. My gender transformation was called for by the Spirits. She blessed me with skills of a supernatural kind. One of our 'Wicasa Wakan.' or Medicine Men of today, John Lame Deer, says in his book, Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions, 'winkte' are men who dress like women, look like women and act like women. They do so by their own choice or in obedience to a dream. They are not like other men, but 'Wakan Tanka', the Great Spirit, made them 'winktes' and we accept them as such. To us a man is what nature, or his dreams, make him. We accept him for what he wants to be. That's up to him. In our tribe we go to a 'winkte' to give a new born child a secret name. They have the gift of prophecy, and the secret name a 'winkte' gives to a child is believed to be especially powerful and effective. In former days a father gave a 'winkte' a fine horse in return for such a name. If nature puts a burden on a person, it also gives a power and that which I produce with my hands is "highly desirable." Anog Ite has set my feet on both sides of the 'line' and I can see into the hearts of both men and women. We are hunters and we keep the house, we cook and do beadwork. I . . . have chosen the path I have walked. In the Lakota language there are no personal pronouns and a child is simply a child until the age or four or five, when he or she shows that which they are. I have a place also, in this . . . your society.


My people have always held their 'winkte' in awe and reverence and before the 'white-man' came to the 'new world' we were many. But our numbers shrank and we began to hide within ourselves as our religious systems were attacked and shattered by western attitudes. Because of the impact of white ridicule we had all but disappeared. Because of the enormous difference between European societies and Native American societies, differences which theoretically rules out any comparison of their respective sex and gender roles, we must ask ourselves, "What is being lost?" Is it possible that within a Native American interpretation we see something that a Western point of view cannot? Being Lakota, I know myself as something precious and the dignity in such knowing pulls me to my full tallness. Being 'winkte' however, allows me the full capability of achieving a strong ego identity, originality, and an active inner life, which is characteristic of adult individuation and personality development.


We are "shamans." We are called upon to bestow secret and powerful names on the new born, names which represent 'long-life' and which could lead to fame. Sitting Bull, Black Elk, even Crazy Horse had a secret 'winkte' name which only a few people knew. These names are often very sexy, even funny, very outspoken. You don't let a stranger know them; he would kid you about it! We were consulted to divine the success of proposed battles. We were tied closely to the war complex, we were even a crucial part of it. We treated the wounded we had custody of the scalps and carried these into camp. We ran the victory dance that followed the raiders' return. Some tribal councils decided nothing without our advice. We were called upon to conduct burials. There are certain cures and uses for herbs known only to 'winktes'. The most sacred of our ceremonies, the Sun Dance, could not begin without our selecting and raising the poles to be used. But even more significant it was believed that our power could extend beyond the individual to affect others. The prosperity and even their existence as a people, in some Native American Societies, depended upon their 'winkte'. One of the major aspects which distinguishes 'winkte' in our native culture, is a preference for the work of the other sex. This key trait, in the Native American perspective, was perhaps of the least importance to western society, since whites do not value women's worth anyway. The crossing of these boundaries requires an unusually strong endowment with power . . . and those who allow themselves to see us with their spirit eyes . . . they can see this.


What has Western civilization lost by its apparent lack of a counterpart to 'winkte'- by, indeed, bending every social institution to the task of stigmatizing gender mediation? More than the waste of the individual's potential which suppression entails, there is the loss of the "winkte spirit guide" who serves men and women alike with the insights of the intermediate position. This raises the question whether men and women today can ever achieve mutuality and wholeness, as long as men who manifest qualities considered feminine, and women who do the same in male realms, are seen as deviants to be criminalized and stigmatized. The fear of being associated with this deviant status stands before every man and woman who would seek psychic integration, regardless of their emotional and sexual orientation. It is made all too apparent through the observation that, in societies which make a minimum use of sex as a discriminating factor in prescribing behaviour, as opposed to those that maximize sex distinction, that we see 'winktes' become not only open and prevalent, but even necessary. Western images of men and women are not as flexible as 'oyte ikce' (native people). Violent outbursts of hatred or anger toward 'winkte,' comparable to expressions of western homophobia, have never been recorded in Native American history. However, a biological and not a social definition of gender continues to inform both popular and scientific western thinking. But being male biologically and "acting like a man" are not necessarily the same thing. 'winkte' are not branded as threats to a rigid gender ideology; but rather, we are considered an affirmation of humanity's original pre-gendered unity - we are representatives of a form of solidarity and wholeness which transcends the division of humans into men and women. 'winkte' transformation was not, and is not, a complete shift from his or her biological gender to the opposite one, but rather an approximation of the latter in some of its social, and of course today, its physical aspects, effecting an intermediate status that cuts across the boundaries between gender categories. As long as our perceptions continue to be filtered through a dual gender ideology and arbitrary distinctions based on biological sex are held, 'winkte' patterns cannot be appreciated for what they really are. That is, the appropriate and intrinsic behaviour of a third gender. From a dual gender perspective, 'winkte' can only imitate the behaviour of one or the other of the two "real" genders, an imitation which is invariably found inferior and counterfeit. Those behaviours inappropriate for an individual's biological sex, like cross-dressing, are consequently singled out. But comparisons of male to female 'winkte' to women, invariably reveal more about the speaker's view of women (usually a negative one) than they do about 'winkte'. In light of the "discovery" of the third gender, all such accounts must be re-evaluated. Everyone can take inspiration from a society where individuality and community are not always at odds.


In our work we must remember . . . the most important objective we are called upon to realize with our clients is to make available to them this sense of wholeness and inner solidarity. In fact that very wholeness and solidarity which all humans are seeking. It is only through our understanding that 'winkte' status transcends the boundaries of a gender category that is biologically and not culturally and socially defined, that we attain an intermediate gender status, biologically the same but culturally redefined. In many ways, socially, legally, psychologically and even in this day and age, physiologically, western tradition still ignores the individual motivations of our 'winkte', stressing instead categories and labels for these people in the name of our own convenience.


Such sexual diversity has always been considered one sign of a lower social development. In fact, the response of 19th century Victorian America, like the Spaniards before them, to native sexuality is much the same as we see worldwide today and this exposes in every one of us, a central contradiction in our basic belief system. In fact when seen in the light of traditional Native American values it is impossible to rely entirely on a western analysis without distorting this fantastic phenomenon altogether. This is, without a doubt the key where 'winkte' itself must be understood if one is to comprehend the reasons individuals adopt it.


With the recognition of the third gender status the problem of the transsexual or the gender-crosser model becomes clear. For example, the man who becomes a woman contributes to society as a woman. But with a deep understanding of the 'winkte' position, new, unique and rare contributions to society become possible. Society can only benefit by recognizing three, instead of two, genders. Such a reorganization of gender geometrically increases options for individual identities and behaviours. The third gender role of 'winkte,' one which has existed openly within the framework of everyday Lakota culture, is one of native North America's most striking social inventions.


At one time, I believed it was a wise person who was able to recognize their own limitations and was then able to operate within those limitations. However I am now convinced that quite the contrary shall be considered as the fact. It rather the wise person who is able to be aware of all of their own possibilities and to then operate at the outer limits of those possibilities. We owe it to our profession, to our clients and to ourselves, to recognize our own possibilities and then in response to that recognition to move ourselves around the "medicine wheel" of life so as to experience those who come to us for help while we ourselves are standing at a different vantage point, my challenge to you today . . . is to simply . . . "think primitive."


(Originally posted here by me.) 

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Thank you for the interesting thread. I would agree that the balancing of those two sides becomes critical for higher level spiritual development. To your point, from Tao Te Ching, chapter 28..


Know the strength of man,

But keep a woman's care!

Be the stream of the universe!

Being the stream of the universe,

Ever true and unswerving,

Become as a little child once more.



One needs both sides, before realizing the stream of the universe... :)

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