Jack Chanek, author of Queen of All Witcheries, joined me on The Queer Spirituality Podcast. During our conversation, we talked about the importance that queerness is embraced by our spiritual community as well as the evolution around gender and queerness in Gardnerian Wicca.
Coming out Spiritually
Interestingly, Jack's coming out was intertwined with his exploration of his spirituality and involvement with Gardnerian Wicca. As a result, for Jack, spirituality and queer identity have always gone hand in hand. While coming out, he found solace and empowerment in the myth, symbolism, and rituals of Wicca, which allowed him to connect with something greater than himself.
The Evolution of Wicca
Gardnerian Wicca has certainly involved over the years. Jack and I discussed that during the 1970s, Gardnerian Wicca wasn't welcoming to queer people. Jack brought up how spirituality can often follow the political environment and that even today, there are covens that don't allow LGBTQ+ people. These covens are often located in areas in which the local politics are anti-LGBTQ+.
We also talked about gender roles in Gardnerian Wicca. This is another area where many covens are evolving and creating more fluidity around gender roles within the circle. Jack emphasized that because each Gardnerian coven is independent, it is important to talk to several covens to find one that is a match.
This is an important point because often when someone is rejected by people associated with a spiritual path, there is a tendency to dismiss all practitioners of that path and the wisdom of that path itself. Jack reminds us that at the end of the day, even spiritual people are still people. They still have faults and biases, and they are still capable of evolving in their attitudes and beliefs.
Queen of All Witcheries
We also talked about Jack's latest book, Queen of All Witcheries: A Biography of the Goddess. Jack talks about his motivation for writing a book about the goddess. He wanted a book that he could give to students or recommend to followers that he didn't have to add a caveat to ignore everything about abortion or queerness. His book explores the evolution of the modern goddess and how she has taken on a distinct character in the modern world. The goddess is a moon goddess, a mother goddess, a patroness of witchcraft, and a goddess of love and sex. She is a figure that is not found in the ancient world but has emerged through the collective imagination and spiritual practices of modern practitioners.
The Importance of a Supportive Community
For me, I saw Jack's central point in our discussion as the importance of a supportive community. He encourages queer individuals who are just starting down the path of spirituality to surround themselves with a supportive community. This community does not have to consist solely of spiritual practitioners but should include people who love and accept them for who they are. Having a safe space to explore and discuss their spiritual journey is essential for personal growth and self-discovery.
It is important to note that not everyone needs spirituality in their lives, and that is perfectly okay. However, Chanek suggests that individuals who feel a lack of connection to something greater than themselves should ask themselves if spirituality could serve them in their lives. Spirituality can provide a sense of transcendence and connection, allowing individuals to explore their authentic selves and find meaning in the world.
As we continue to navigate the complexities of our identities and the world around us, let us remember the power and magic that lies within us. Queer spirituality is a celebration of the divine within us all, and it is through this celebration that we can find healing, connection, and a sense of purpose in our lives.
About The Guest(s):
Jack Chanek is a Gardnerian Wiccan priest and the author of "Queen of All Witcheries: A Biography of the Goddess." He has been reading Tarot since he was eleven years old and has taught workshops on Tarot, Kabbalah, and Wicca. Jack is a CIS gay man and believes that spirituality and queer identity go hand in hand.
Jack Chanek discusses the importance of queer spirituality and the celebration of queerness in spiritual spaces. He shares his own journey of coming out as both queer and Wiccan and emphasizes the need for supportive and inclusive communities. Jack also talks about the evolution of Gardnerian Wicca and the changing attitudes towards gender roles within the tradition. He highlights the unique characteristics of the modern goddess and the influence of Joseph Campbell on the understanding of myths. Jack encourages queer men to explore their spirituality and find connections to something larger than themselves.
- Queer spirituality celebrates and uplifts queerness, rather than merely tolerating it.
- Gardnerian Wicca has evolved over time, with some covens being more inclusive and accepting of queer members.
- The modern goddess is a distinct deity that has taken on a life of her own, influenced by various historical and magical practices.
- Queer men are drawn to the goddess because they often feel excluded by patriarchal religions and societal norms.
- Queer spirituality offers a sense of transcendence and connection to something larger than oneself.
"Queerness is already a magic of its own kind."
"The goddess is a real specific modern deity who has taken on a life of her own."
"Queer men are drawn to witchcraft and goddess spirituality because they don't fit comfortably in the established order of things."
"Surround yourself with people who will love and support you for who you are in what you're doing."
"Queer men have the ability to step outside of convention and see things from an outsider perspective."