When a parent interacts with a child, they will often reduce their interactions and depictions of self to something which is recognizable and friendly to that child. This can often mean donning more familiar clothing, using simplistic language, or giving friendly explanations for complex topics (reproduction, death, etc). It’s not done out of sarcasm or cruelty, but rather from a place of love.

Many will have noticed by now that a good chunk of writings within the Stardust Compass earnestly attempt to eschew gendered language as much as possible, referring to the practitioner as simply “the witch” and often notating the gender of entities with “zer” rather than the more common “him” or “her.” This is a powerful and important difference to the work of the Stardust Compass compared to other worldviews, which often have a gender for nearly all entities (even if they utilize a ternary system).

It’s understandable why the ancients chose to spoke of entities in the same language that the world around them functioned on. Nearly everything we interface with on the planet works in a binary or ternary system - or so it would seem. In fact, much more of our world is a spectrum than our brains would have us perceive - including the biological gender of the human body. To speak of concepts with a binary / ternary system is good when one is a hunter / gatherer hoping to make it to the next meal, but should not remain a standard unit of intellectual contemplation once one is living in a house with modern plumbing and 30,000 channels on their television.

The gender identity of witchcraft practitioners has been a hot topic lately, often with famous pagans intentionally eschewing modern scientific understandings to further their own bigotry and exclusionist regimes. This post, however, isn’t intending to speak heavily towards the gender identity of the witch. The gender of the witch, in no uncertain terms by the spirits, is nigh-irrelevant as a deciding factor in granting or forbidding access to any specific realms of the artes. It’s not that one’s biological gender can’t be inflamed and utilized as a weapon in the same way that one’s voice, spit, or gaze can - it’s simply that it’s not a determining factor any more than one being granted or forbidden access to the artes due to which hand they write with or what color their hair happens to be. When it comes to the Stardust Compass, leave your gender bias at home.

When it comes to the spirits, however, the interpretation and understanding of them (and their “gender”) is gravely important. Referring back to the earlier concept, spirits have noted that they often present themselves to us in ways that make them palatable, calming, and approachable. If they reached out to us it’s because they wish to engage in a transaction, so why screw it up if changing their appearance from something grotesque to beautiful is as easy for them as breathing?

Granted, this isn’t always the case. Entities within the Clavicula Salomonis Regis, for instance, are known for presenting themselves in more ghastly and potentially “native” forms then other entities - finding various benefits to these horrific depictions when interfacing with a witch. Yet, many entities (especially those who have a greater love for humanity) regularly choose to appear in a way that relieves any anxiety or conveys a particular message via omenic revelation.

The spirits of the Stardust Compass, however, wish to break this cycle. They are asking to be approached and seen for who they truly are, called upon free from projections, predictions, and expectations of their appearance, mannerisms, voice, and yes, gender. This, dear reader, is why non-gendered pronouns are used when speaking of these entities. Granted, many of the entities within the Stardust Compass have traits which commonly would apply in modern society to male or female genders. Yet to force our depictions upon them and refer to them with a gender is short sighted, arrogant, and rude.

So just relax, breathe, and observe. Accept that all incorporeal entities are exceptionally different from humans or Earth-based life, and rejoice in that! Ask the spirits to tell you about themselves, and ask them to be honest. Explain gender to them, ask them how they perceive it from their perspectives. Follow this up by asking them to talk to you about whether or not there even is such a thing as gender within the Otherworld, and if so, how they personally ascribe to it. Finally, also accept that your own personal filter is coloring any dialog you have with any entity. Always.

The spirits I’ve interfaced with have blatantly told me that gender as it exists in our world does not exist in the Otherworld. They have shared that how an entity appears can change on a whim, and new entities are not generated via mating in the same way that DNA replicates via cellular division. Spirits and gods, they say, might choose to appear as male, or female, or a spinning icosahedron - but that’s often done for our benefit, not theirs.

The fact that we can’t seem to comprehend spirits is not due to a lack of intelligence on our behalf, or the spirits. Both parties exist on different sides of a veil which separates two radically unique worlds. Open your mind, ask questions, and allow your consciousness to perceive of an existence where the Otherworld is much more “other” than you can imagine. Perhaps once we begin to do this we can all start to leave behind the anthropomorphized, binary gendered, Earth’esque Otherworld our ancestors gave us, a view that we hold onto with a paralyzing death-grip within our collective unconsciousness.

It’s not that the Otherworld doesn’t hold trees, flowers, and our human ancestors who all still have five fingers and five toes. It’s simply that it contains much more beyond that thin Earth’esque borderland that we cross into when we first step into that untamed realm. It’s time to start allowing ourselves to see the Otherworld for what it truly is, rather than allowing it to be turned into what we want it to be.

Image “Barbie provoking conversations on gender inequality" by craftivist collective