Episode 80: Genderfuck the Gods (with Andrea Lam)

Happy Pride! We’ve invited our friend Andrea back to do a revamp of our FlameCon panel from last year, discussing myths and legends from around the world that subvert gender norms! We chat about how you should never trust your Trickster God to make a business deal, being invested in snakes’ love lives, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and #myfavoritearse.



Andrea Lam is a writer, publicist and actor. Follow her on Twitter @AndreaNLam!



Audible - Go to audible.com/spirits or text spirits to 500-500 to start your free trial and redeem your free audiobook. This week Julia recommends Circe by Madeline Miller and Amanda recommends The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson.


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About Us

Spirits was created by Julia Schifini, Amanda McLoughlin and Eric Schneider. We are founding members of Multitude, a production collective of indie audio professionals. Our music is "Danger Storm" by Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com), licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.


Amanda: Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy tour through mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.

Julia: And I'm Julia.

Amanda: This is Episode 80: Genderfuck the Gods, with Andrea Lam. Before we get into it, we would love to thank our newest patrons: 00:00:14], Maryanne, Shawn, and Gretty, as well as our supporting producer-level patrons, Neil, Phillip, Julie, Christina, Josh, Eeyore, Jessica, Maria, Cami, Ryan, Phil Fresh, and Deborah.

Julia: Yeah, you guys give good counsel all the time, unlike Loki.

Amanda: Unlike Loki, and similarly, changeable, but also just way more dependable, are our legend-level patrons, Sandra, Audra, Mercedes, Ashley [Buggy 00:00:39], Ashley-Marie, Leanne, and Cassie.

Julia: You all definitely are full and complete people, and you have your soulmate, and it's you. You are your own soulmate.

Amanda: Aw, very good. It's also what we talk about in the episode. We are sponsored this week by Audible. If you go to Audible.com/Spirits or text the word spirits to 500500, you can get a free 30-day trial and a free audio book. Yo.

Julia: Yeah. It's awesome. We have some good suggestions later on in our mid-roll.

Amanda: Cliffhanger.

Julia: Cliffhanger, you'll find out what's cool later.

Amanda: Jules, what were you drinking during this episode?

Julia: Actually, Andrea had a really good suggestion for a cocktail, so I went out and bought the thing that she suggested. It is butterfly pea tea. Basically this is a color-changing tea that changes when you adapt the pH in the tea, in the liquid.

Amanda: Exactly, so it's like beautiful and blue and then you add some lemon and it turns purple. Amazing.

Julia: I made gin and tonics with it.

Amanda: Yeah, it's really good. It has almost lemongrassy flavor, so it's a really nice pairing with a gin.

Julia: With a really floral gin.

Amanda: Juniper, yeah. It was really nice. I like too that it's this sort of color-changing adapting fluidity, because that's what we're talking about today is gender fluid, gender non-binary, and trans folklore throughout time.

Julia: Yep, so it was the perfect choice for us.

Amanda: Yeah. We would also like to wish everybody out there a happy Pride. It is a good and gay month. I hope that everyone there-

Julia: Yes, it is.

Amanda: ... whether you're out or not, or queer or not, or unsure, or you just really like enamel pins, we love you, and we see you, and we are here for you. So is folklore.

Julia: Yeah, for sure. There's stories. You're represented. You matter to us. We're here to tell your stories.

Amanda: No matter what kinds of mistakes you might've made today, they're not going to be as big as Loki's.

Julia: That's true. You'll see why. One last thing, because Amanda won't do it for herself, but the Join the Party Live show is this Saturday, and you can still get tickets. If you're in the New York area or you can find your way here, you should totally come out. Amanda, what's the link for that?

Amanda: It's bit.ly/JointhePartyLive, this Saturday, June 9, 2018.

Julia: You can come and see Amanda play some dope D&D, and you can also see me in the opening show, which I'm doing a chapter from Quidditch Through the Ages for Potterless.

Amanda: Oh yeah, it is a full Multitude family gathering.

Julia: It is.

Amanda: It's going to be really fun. We're also going to be live streaming. If you just check out our Twitter or the Join the Party Pod Twitter, we will give you that link.

Julia: Hell yeah. Come. Come to it. It's going to be awesome.

Amanda: Oh boy, I'm nervous. Well I will leave you with Spirits Podcast, Episode 80: Genderfuck the Gods, with Andrea Lam.

[Theme Muisc]

Amanda:We are so excited to welcome to the pod one of the first friends of the podcast, the publicist, and writer, and actor, Andrea Lam.

Andrea: Hi all.

Julia: Welcome. Hello.

Andrea: I'm very excited to be here.

Julia: Yes.

Amanda: You're definitely our most stylish guest.

Julia: That's totally true.

Amanda: No offense to our previous guests, but Andrea brings it at 13.

Julia: Plus most of our guests, we do not see their outfits, because they phone in, but you are killing it right now.

Andrea: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Julia: There is not much comparison.

Amanda: Love it. Andrea, what are you going to bring us today?

Andrea: Well today we're going to talk about gender fluidity and gender bending across mythologies.

Julia: Yay.

Amanda: Yes, I'm excited.

Andrea: We did a live version of this at least year's Flame Con, Flame Con 2017, and we're doing it again with some additional material.

Amanda: It was really fun to do this for the first time in front of an audience at Flame Con in Brooklyn in 2017. Everyone was so friendly. People came who just didn't know what the show was. It was like, "This sounds fun."

Julia: We sold out the room. They had to turn people away.

Amanda: They did.

Julia: That was pretty cool.

Amanda: They did. We met a lot of listeners for the first time IRL there as well. We definitely wanted to be able to share it with the podcast, and the echoey room recording we had did not do the material justice. Thank you for coming back and recording with us.

Andrea: Of course.

Amanda: If you want to catch our next panel, Panel Number Two: Electric Boogaloo, you can do that, hopefully, crossed fingers, at Flame Con 2018.

Julia: That's actually the panel's name is Panel Number Two: Electric Boogaloo.

Amanda: I don't think that'll bring very many listeners.

Julia: Oh dang.

Amanda: When we talk about gender fluidity and gender bending, I don't want to be like, "What is that?" Because most of our listeners are very-

Julia: Keyed in.

Amanda: ... savvy, but we're talking about people who in mythology and folklore occupy multiple genders, switch between genders, don't identify with any particular gender, and are more gender fluid, non-binary, not always with the vocabulary that we use now to describe ourselves. It wasn't always available then. It is really cool I think to be able to look at stories of the past and be like, "Oh, yes, I see myself in that." I have words now to describe in a more nuanced way what this myth really has to offer.

Julia: Hell yeah.

Andrea: Right. The gods and goddesses and various deities that we're going to be talking about, I wouldn't say that they would've used pronouns, gender pronouns the way that we understand them now in terms of orientation and representation and presentation, but we're going to do the best we can.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: It's so much more nuanced now.

Andrea: Okay, so I guess we'll start with, I believe someone that most of our audience members will be familiar with already, Loki, from-

Julia: Loki.

Andrea: ... Norse mythology.

Julia: I would hope so. I feel like you would have to be living under a non-superhero filled rock in order to not know who Loki is at this point.

Amanda: If you've been able to, power to you, to be able to avoid the-

Julia: That's impressive.

Amanda: ... Marvel net. Tell us about Loki.

Andrea: Well Loki has a lot of really fun, pretty wacky stories associated with him, some of which made it into the Marvel cinematic universe, some of which, for various reasons, did not. This one did not, although, as I think we'll talk about briefly, there's a little bit of allusion to this story in one of the early Thor films.

Anyway, so Loki as we know him is the Norse trickster god, really fun, really kind of a bastard sometimes. This story takes place during the early days of the Gods of Asgard, when Asgard was basically being built. This story is described in the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. Essentially the gods had created Midgard for the humans and they had created Valhalla for the dead. They were in the process of building up the realm of Asgard, and they decided that they needed essentially to make it a fortress, to make it as safe as possible for themselves and for the rest of the world.

Julia: Makes sense.

Amanda: I mean as we know from Norse mythology, the gods are aware that they will eventually die at some point.

Andrea: Exactly, yeah, so they were very concerned about these sorts of things.

Julia: I would be too.

Amanda: Me too, me too.

Julia: Facing my own mortality is kind of hard.

Andrea: Essentially the gods undergo a search, and they find a master builder, who offers to build them these fortress-like walls. I believe the original deal was over the course of three seasons that we build these walls. In exchange, this mysterious master builder requested the hand in marriage of the Goddess Freyja. In addition, he also requested possession of the sun and moon, so not asking a lot, a really good bargain, right?

Amanda: Yeah, no big deal. Not a big deal.

Julia: I mean not great. I don't know why you would agree to that.

Amanda: I mean even if you hold it up against the safety and continued existence of your people, not having the sun and moon or having ownership to some person you don't even know, that is a pretty equivalent thing.

Julia: It's definitely a ballsy deal that this guy is trying to take.

Amanda: Yeah, it's not like, "Take my firstborn in exchange for the species." Okay, from a utilitarian point of view, you can understand that.

Julia: Sure.

Andrea: The Aesir, the Gods of Asgard, they had some qualms about the terms of this deal.

Julia: I would.

Andrea: Essentially they tried to bargain down this master builder and told him that, "If you can build the fortress walls of Asgard in one season, over the course of one winter," then they would agree to give him Freyja, and the sun, and the moon.

Amanda: You can have it fast or you can have it cheap, not both.

Julia: Is it the assumption being like, "He can't do that. It'll be fine."

Andrea: Exactly, yes.

Julia: Okay.

Andrea: I mean they didn't know who this guy was, but it seemed unlikely. The master builder found this a little bit iffy, obviously, and so he bargained harder. Eventually the gods and the master builder worked out that, yes, the master builder would build the walls over the course of one winter, but he would also be allowed the help of his horse, named Svaðilfari. He was not allowed the help of any other human or humanoid being, but he was allowed the help of his horse, presumably to heft all the stone and wood and all of the heavy lifting, literally speaking.

Amanda: Fair enough.

Julia: He couldn't private contract it. He couldn't delegate it out to other people. He had to do it on his own.

Andrea: Pretty much, yeah.

Julia: Got you.

Andrea: The person who oversaw this bargain, this is important, was Loki.

Julia: Okay.

Amanda: Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Why put your trickster god in charge of negotiations?

Andrea: Right. Loki was the one who said, "Yeah, okay, let him have his horse," essentially. This is important, because as the winter wore on, it was very clear that this master builder was not who he said he was.

Female: Oh no.

Andrea: He built the walls much more quickly than the gods anticipated. Clearly, they thought they were in trouble. They would have to give up the Goddess Freyja, they'd have to give the sun and moon.

Julia: Not good.

Amanda: Good negotiating advice, make sure you're willing to do what it is that you say you do.

Andrea: Exactly. Also, don't listen to your trickster god.

Amanda: Never. Never.

Julia: Just in general.

Andrea: It was almost summertime, and the walls were nearly complete. The gods were rather worried. They looked at Loki, Loki who makes bad decisions, Loki who according to the Jesse Byock translation of the Prose Edda ... I love this, Loki, son of Laufey, the one who councils badly in most matters.

Julia: Hard same.

Amanda: I love it.

Andrea: Don't listen to the trickster god. Don't listen to Loki. This, I do like that they, whether intentionally or not, they translated this pretty well into the Marvel films. Loki in every incarnation makes bad decisions.

Amanda: Yeah, or listen to his advice and then do the opposite.

Andrea: Pretty much, yeah. The gods, seeing that the walls were nearly complete, that they'd have to give up this sacrifice that they had technically agreed to, they went to Loki and said, "You know what? You screwed this up for us. You fix it." Loki had a bit of a think. Loki had a look at Svaðilfari, the master builder's giant horse, and decided, "You know what? I know what I'm going to do. I am going to transform myself into a fecund mare and attract the horse, distract the horse, and the walls will not be completed in time for summer."

Julia: Loki goes, "Hold on one second, I have a plan. I'ma fuck that horse."

Andrea: Exactly.

Julia: "I'm going to fuck that horse." God bless.

Andrea: They don't exactly say, "I'm going to fuck that horse," in the Prose Edda, but-

Julia: That's fair. Not in that translation at least.

Andrea: You read between the lines.

Amanda: Yeah. Oh man. Oh man, Loki. Oh man. I mean there's better ways to distract people from work, I guess. Any plan that involves a cross-species transformation might be too elaborate.

Julia: I feel like Loki is just the Norse mythology equivalent to the disaster bi trope.

Amanda: Oh yeah.

Andrea: Pretty much, yeah.

Amanda: That's pretty on brand.

Julia: I identify hard.

Andrea: Summer's almost here. Loki goes out to the field, having transformed himself into a beautiful fecund mare. Svaðilfari, the master builder's horse, pokes his head up, sniffs the air, smells that this mare is-

Amanda: Ready.

Andrea: ... hot and ready and waiting for him. Oh my god.

Julia: Pheromones.

Andrea: Pretty much. Svaðilfari drops everything he's carrying, runs off after Loki the mare. The master builder essentially goes, "What the fuck? What's happening? I can't finish these walls in time without my huge magical horse who has gone off with this trollop."

Julia: I want to refer to Loki as a trollop constantly now.

Andrea: Oh yes. A trollop across species.

Amanda: Yeah, across species.

Andrea: A nondiscriminatory trollop.

Amanda: Yeah. Absolutely, multi-gender-inhabiting trollop. I love it.

Andrea: Pretty much. Loki the mare leads Svaðilfari the horse on a chase day and night. Again, the Prose Edda leaves this out, but things happen in the forest.

Amanda: As they do. Things will happen in the woods.

Andrea: Then the sun rises on the first day of summer, and the walls are incomplete, almost done-

Amanda: Hey.

Andrea: ... but incomplete. The master builder rages and rages, because he was denied his end of the bargain. He was denied the hand in marriage of the Goddess Freyja. He was denied possession of the sun and moon. In his rage he revealed himself to the Gods of Asgard, and the master builder was actually a giant.

Amanda: Whoa.

Andrea: The bargain was broken, fairly, not fairly. We don't decide these things. It's between the gods and the giants. Thor comes back all of a sudden from wherever he was.

Amanda: Thor's always coming and going, man. Thor's always just rolling out of some party back to Asgard being like, "What? What's up? What's going on?"

Julia: Thor's the guy that wanders into the bar when everyone's wrapping up to leave, be like, "Yo, time for shots."

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: Yeah.

Andrea: Essentially, yeah. Thor comes back from wherever he was and smashes the master builder giant's head in with his hammer.

Amanda: No.

Julia: Solid choice.

Andrea: No need to worry about this bargain anymore.

Julia: Done deal.

Amanda: I mean I guess so.

Andrea: We would like to say it's all set, it's fine. Nothing doing, no harm done.

Amanda: I bet that there's no neat ending, because there's no neat endings in folklore.

Andrea: Oh no, never. I mean, Thor smashing a giant's head in with his hammer is fairly neat, if a little bit messy. The thing is nine months or whatever a horse's gestation period is later-

Amanda: I think it's close to a year.

Julia: I was going to say 16 seems right to me. Amanda, Google it. Google it, Amanda. Tell us that horse birth.

Amanda: 11 to 12 months.

Julia: Yeah, solid. So a year later.

Andrea: About a year later, give or take, Loki the mare ... Well, we actually don't know if he is still a mare at this time, we don't know if he has transformed back into his humanoid god form.

Julia: That was going to be my question.

Amanda: Yeah.

Andrea: We don't know exactly how he gave, but the thing is Loki got knocked up and Loki gave birth to a Sleipnir, eight-legged gray horse.

Amanda: So much happening there.

Julia: So many legs.

Amanda: How did it become eight-legged?

Andrea: We don't know. Probably through godly interference.

Amanda: I mean, I guess I'm asking specific questions about a tale that really defies logic, so I might retract that, but I don't know. Wow. That's just, it's so much.

Andrea: So yeah, I mean Loki is the baby daddy of a lot of gods, goddesses, demi-gods, et cetera.

Julia: Weird monster creatures.

Andrea: The rest of them we know about, he sired them from either a female giantess, or a female goddess. In this, Loki is actually the baby momma of Sleipnir, the eight-legged gray horse, who actually turns out is given to Odin to be his steed. That is the part of the myth that you can see in, I believe it's either the first or the second Thor film.

Julia: I'm pretty sure it's the first, you see him riding into battle. He's got that eight-legged-

Andrea: Yeah, there's a very quick shot of Anthony Hopkins on this eight-legged horses back.

Amanda: "This is my grandson, also my horse."

Julia: I just love Anthony Hopkins so much, he's so good.

Amanda: I know.

Andrea: I mean if you follow him on Twitter, I don't think he's on Instagram, but if you follow Anthony Hopkins on Twitter, he's essentially your old, eccentric, artist uncle Tony. He's great, I highly recommend following him.

Julia: He and Patrick Stewart are my favorite dad ones. You're like, "Oh, my good grandad, Anthony Hopkins and Patrick Stewart."

Amanda: Yeah, Patrick Stewart's Instagram is like very many selfies very many like his hand holding food in Brooklyn, and his dogs. It's really cute.

Julia: And just him super high recording stuff of himself occasionally.

Amanda: Yeah. I love here that Loki is a parent in lots of forms, and sometimes to carry his children, sometimes doesn't. It's a kind of cool, I don't know, early example of the fact that you don't have to be a mom to bear a child, you don't have to be a woman to do that, you don't have to be matching the kind of way that we think child-bearing and rearing actually happens.

Julia: Hell yeah.

Amanda: Even though in this case there is some, obviously additional changing of things involved.

Andrea: Talking of Loki's incarnation in the Marvel universe, not so much in the films but in the comics, some of the more recent comics reflect Loki is canonical, as it were, gender fluidity. There are two instances that I was able to find. There's a storyline in which Loki becomes Lady Loki, is reincarnated in the body of the Goddess Sif, in a woman's body. There's another story, the Agent of Asgard storyline in which Loki is Loki, but Loki is also bisexual and gender fluid.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: Hey.

Julia: Hell yeah.

Amanda: Lots, and lots, and lots of fanfic in which Loki's gender identity is really seriously and in a nuanced way and beautifully written, considered, and dealt with, and used in a very cool manner, because fanfic writers are often queer, and non-binary, and awesome, and we want to think and talk about this kind of stuff. The fact that there is some, not only source material, but also historical analog, to be able to engage with that stuff, I think is really cool.

Andrea: Just to wrap that up, there is another instance of Norse gods gender transformation in contemporary transformative media. I'm not sure if a lot of Spirits listeners will be familiar with, I hesitate to say go and watch it, but it's pretty fun, especially if you're a little bit tipsy. The recent television series from New Zealand called The Almighty Johnsons, Loki is characterized as a dude, there's no real canonical gender fluidity going on with Loki in particular in The Almighty Johnsons, but there is an episode I believe in the second series ... Oh, and just to back this up a little bit, Almighty Johnsons was a television series in which most of the Norse Gods are reincarnated in New Zealand as kiwi bros.

Amanda: Aw, adorable.

Andrea: Eventually they fold in some of the Maori pantheon finally, but it's largely to do with these variously slacker bros in and around New Zealand dealing with what it means to be Norse Gods.

Amanda: I mean, if we're going to think about ways to characterize gods in the modern times, like since 2016, TM, TM, TM, we've been calling the Greek Gods fuckboys, like we know what we're doing.

Julia: We know what's up.

Andrea: Oh yeah, The Almighty Johnsons are definitely all fuckboys.

Julia: Nice.

Andrea: There is one episode though, in the second series, in think Odin, young, early 20-something Odin, who's technically a student, not really, yeah, classic Kiwi slacker, but he wakes up one morning and he is in the body of a beautiful young woman. "What the fuck?" He says. "What the fuck?" All his brothers say. Essentially it's a fairly fun episode. The conclusion that all the brothers, the gods come to is that for whatever reason Odin has been transformed into a woman because he needs to learn some sort of lesson or gain some sort of information. He has to interact with all his fellow pantheon members in this new body, some of them figure it out, some of them have no idea, and, "Who is this young beautiful woman? Can we fuck her?" It gets a little messy.

Eventually the resolution comes when, at the end of the episode, Odin, again in the body of this beautiful young woman, sleeps with a goddess, specifically the character who's meant to represent the Goddess Schiofin, who's the Goddess of Marriage incidentally, this is important. Sleeps with her and wakes up back in his normal male Odin body.

Amanda: Are we meant to derive from that that he did have to ... I don't know, like is there a significance to the fact that it was sex that ended his sojourn into the female body?

Andrea: I think the subtext certainly is that it was important. It was interesting that he ended up sleeping with the Goddess of Marriage, who's canonically bisexual, which is great. That turned out to be the knowledge he needed to find in order to transform back into his normal body.

Julia: So learning about commitment probably was the-

Amanda: Yeah, something like that.

Andrea: Or you know, the classic, what do women want?

Julia: Oh god.

Amanda: Yeah, which we've obviously seen done very badly in a lot of media, but there are also so many valuable essays and memoirs by trans people who talk about the fact that having such a unique perspective on the way that gender is perceived and coded in the world, being able to say you know things that people who are cis and grow up as and present as one gender their whole lives, don't necessarily know. There is knowledge to be gained in being gender fluid or trans, so that's kind of neat.

Andrea: Exactly. Existing in the in-between or moving between spaces.

Amanda: Liminal spaces. We need a liminal spaces t-shirt I think.

Julia: Yeah, I think so.

Andrea: Which actually brings us really nicely to the next story that I'm going to tell, which is the story of Tiresias from Greek mythology.

Female: Sweet.

Andrea: Tiresias, I believe a lot of people will be familiar with him from the Odyssey. He is essentially a seer, has the gift of prophecy. How he came to the gift of prophecy is a bit of a longer story. Tiresias' story is told in the Metamorphoses by Ovid and begins when he is walking along, going from A to B, we don't know, probably drinking, they're Greek. Tiresias encounters a pair of mating snakes in the middle of the road.

Amanda: Uh-oh, Tiresias.

Julia: Oh buddy.

Amanda: Don't mess with the snakes.

Julia: Don't mess with nature.

Andrea: Exactly, you would think. Tiresias-

Amanda: One snake, I run away. Two snakes, I run away.

Andrea: Don't do the thing Tiresias, no Tiresias, don't do it. Tiresias did the thing.

Amanda: Uh-oh.

Julia: Tiresias does the thing.

Andrea: He encounters this pair of mating snakes and instead of leaving well enough alone, making little snake babies or whatever, he decides to break up the happy couple, hits them with his staff. That was his first mistake.

Julia: Always a bad mistake.

Andrea: As punishment, the Goddess, the Queen of the Goddesses, Hera, decides, "You know what? I'm going to transform you into a woman. I'm going to transform you into a woman for seven years." Tiresias lives as a woman for seven years. He becomes a priestess of Hera to try and regain her favor.

Julia: You would hope that you would get it after that.

Amanda: Okay, the first good decision Tiresias has made this entire story.

Andrea: Exactly, yeah. He or she, since she is at this time living as a woman, she marries a man, has children by this man. One of those children, a daughter named Manto, turned out also to be a seer so that at least passed down.

Amanda: Oh cool.

Julia: There we go.

Amanda: Wow.

Andrea: After the end of seven long, or maybe not so long as we'll see, after seven years he encounters, she encounters another pair of mating snakes in the middle of the road. We don't know if it's the same road.

Amanda: Don't touch them.

Andrea: There's just a lot of snakes all over Greece, and a lot of them are fucking.

Julia: I mean, sure.

Andrea: Having learnt his lesson from seven years previous, Tiresias leaves this pair of snakes alone.

Julia: Good move.

Andrea: Again, little snake babies, wonderful. As a reward, Hera turns Tiresias back into his old body, that of a man. The seven year span is very important to Tiresias' story. Through it he essentially learned to see life from the other side of things. He basically leveled up in wisdom through experience.

Julia: The wisdom score is now plus three.

Amanda: Yeah, yeah. Turn into a woman because you messed with some snakes, plus seven XP.

Andrea: After all this is over, sometime later in life, again we don't know, it's a very squishy, time-wimey, wibbly-wobbly, whatever, Zeus, King of the Gods, king fuckboy, pulls in Tiresias into an argument that he's having with his wife, Hera.

Julia: Oh buddy, no. You know that he's going to side with Hera, come on.

Amanda: Well actually.

Julia: Really? All right, here we go.

Andrea: The argument that Zeus and Hera are having is that Zeus believes that women get more pleasure out of sex, and Hera believes that men get more pleasure out of sex. They pull in Tiresias because he has experienced both sides of this, I mean assuming a binary, but he has experienced sex in two bodies.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: Yeah.

Andrea: You would think that he would side with Hera that men have more pleasure, you know, because this is a patriarchal society, et cetera, et cetera, what is a clitoris?

Amanda: Right, yeah. People still, Andrea, don't know that answer. They still are searching illusively.

Julia: For the clitoris. Jesus.

Andrea: This is how we end up with a romantic comedy with Mel Gibson as the lead.

Julia: Oh no.

Amanda: No.

Andrea: Patriarchy. We blame patriarchy for that.

Julia: We do.

Amanda: Toxic masculinity makes men suffer too.

Andrea: This is true. The thing is Tiresias sides with Zeus, that women have more pleasure.

Amanda: You know what that means though, is that these people are not communicating in bed properly. Because if Zeus is like, "Surely this experience must be better than what I'm experiencing," and so does Hera, you know, probably y'all need to talk and figure out which yums align and go for it a little bit better.

Andrea: Tiresias had to actually live in the body of a woman to understand that there is a clitoris, it exists, it's fantastic.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: Yay.

Andrea: Unfortunately, Hera is not pleased with Tiresias' verdict.

Amanda: Uh-oh.

Julia: She never is.

Amanda: Uh-oh. Yeah, right, is there a story where Hera woke up, had a great day, and then slept early and didn't wake up in the middle of the night to pee?

Julia: I think there's like two.

Andrea: I have a soft spot for Hera, she does not have a happy life.

Julia: Oh no, she is a wonderful Goddess and deserves better.

Amanda: I know, and-

Julia: We're team Hera here.

Amanda: Examples of women being dissatisfied and fucking doing something about it, I very much appreciate.

Andrea: Hera as well being the Goddess of Marriage has a lot of experience with this.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: Yikes.

Andrea: Hera, being deeply displeased, blinds Tiresias. Most of the stories that we have including Tiresias' appearance in the Odyssey are after this point, when he is walking the world as a blind man.

Amanda: And in T.S. Eliot's Waste Land, which is the place that I first learned Tiresias' name. It was just kind of a passing reference, but characterized as an old, blind man kind of casting out for wisdom.

Andrea: Exactly. Zeus feels kind of bad for the dude and gives him the gift of prophecy. Previously he read the signs, he read the auguries, but Zeus properly gave him the gift of foresight, and apparently the lifespan of seven men, so he spent a lot ... he spent seven years in the body of a woman, he spent almost seven lifetimes as an all blind man. Not sure if that balances out really, but he had seven years of good memories to think back on.

Julia: That's true, that's true, that's true.

Amanda: And apparently more wisdom that most people who experienced life in one body.

Andrea: Exactly.

Julia: I can't believe this is actually real. Actually I do want to get some more G&T with me.

Amanda: Uh, yes please.

[Theme Music]

Amanda: We are sponsored this week by Audible. I love being sponsored by Audible-

Julia: Me too.

Amanda: ... for lots of reasons, one of which is we get to recommend amazing books to you every single episode. I'm going to lead off with mine this month for Pride, it's The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson.

Julia: Nice.

Amanda: Maggie Nelson is, I think, maybe the smartest person writing today. The Argonauts came out in, I think 2016, but I love the audiobook version because the author reads it. Just hearing her talk about this book, it's like a mix of autobiography, personal essay, gender theory, queer theory, and almost like her writing is so cool and that it blends academic terms and a lens on the world of personal perspectives as a person who is married to someone that's non-binary, raising kids in a blended family, and Maggie just kind of writes about being queer and an academic, and deciding whether or not to have kids, and what family means to her, and just kind of her shifting identity as her partnership and family's changed over time. It's one of those books that the minute I started reading it I wanted to start highlighting, and I realized that if I did I would make the book a colorful map. Listen y'all, you really have to check out The Argonauts.

Julia: That's an awesome choice, good job.

Amanda: Thanks.

Julia: I am recommending this week, Circe by Madeline Miller. If you've never read The Song of Achilles, which is her previous book, it is unbelievably good. She does these amazing retellings of really traditional Greek myths, usually from the perspective of characters that aren't usually being told these stories. Oh my god, they're excellent. Song of Achilles made me cry for like the last three chapters of the book, just straight on tears. Oh, it's excellent. We've talked about Circe on the show before, which is why I recommend it. It's really, really interesting and the perspective is really good, and it's super feminist, and I really, really enjoy it, and I think all of our listeners will too.

Amanda: You can enjoy either of these books in your Audible free trial. You get a 30 day free trial and a free book, and that's at audible.com/spirits. You can also get that link by texting, spirits, to 500500.

Julia: Yeah. Head over there, get your free trial, and your free audiobook, and tell us about it. Tell us which one you get.

Amanda: Yes, we need pictures. If you're listening to it on a boat, or on the beach, or on a road trip like we like to listen to our audiobooks, or at work or your desk, tweet us and let us know what your view is when you're listening.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: All right, so thanks again Audible, that's audible.com/spirits, or the word, spirits, to 500500. Now, let's get back to the show.

Andrea: We have another story of gender fluidity and gender bending in Ovid's Metamorphoses. That story is that of Hermaphroditus.

Amanda: It's almost like you're metamorphosing from one gender to another.

Andrea: They planned this really well, moved around index cards with the plot and story structure.

Amanda: Oh yeah, they were like, "What is the pun potential?"

Andrea: Hermaphroditus was a young God, a beautiful young God, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite.

Amanda: All right.

Andrea: Name smush, basically the first Brangelina baby.

Julia: If only they had named their first child Brangelina.

Amanda: Wow, I did not even put that together, but that is very good.

Andrea: Hermaphroditus was famously enormously beautiful, slim hipped, all of those things that you want in a-

Amanda: I don't know.

Andrea: ... in a person.

Amanda: In a person? Yeah. Androgynous appearing as kind of best of both.

Andrea: I mean, as the son of the Goddess of Beauty and the Sexual God of ... I mean, you would expect that your kids would be at least a little bit pretty.

Julia: Yeah, you would hope so.

Amanda: I don't know, my parents were athletes and met at a college frat party, and I turned out-

Andrea: You turned out fantastic.

Amanda: I'm very pale and soft, and enjoy reading, and indoors. I'm just saying, the worlds contains multitudes.

Julia: That was a good reading on the situation.

Amanda: I'm not wrong.

Julia: I mean I'm not saying you are.

Andrea: Hermaphroditus, this beautiful, slim hipped youth goes and visits a spring to bathe.

Amanda: I don't know, I'm just picturing like dappled sunlight in a forest, like tossing hair over shoulders.

Andrea: Very likely, yes.

Julia: It's a perfume commercial is what you just described.

Amanda: Dammit.

Andrea: While Hermaphroditus is bathing nude, obviously, the Nyad, the water nymph Salmacis, glimpses him and instantly falls in love. Never spoke to the guy, just he's really pretty.

Julia: That happens a lot in Greek mythology.

Andrea: She falls head over heels, prays to the gods that she and he would never be parted.

Amanda: Uh-oh. Don't make an extreme and vague wish ever please.

Julia: Never do that. No. That's a monkey's paw, right? That's the reference I'm talking about? The monkey's paw?

Andrea: Yes, one finger curls.

Amanda: Yes.

Andrea: The monkey's paw finger curls. The gods say, "Okay, sure." Physically merge Salmacis with Hermaphroditus in one body. Still incredibly beautiful, just two in one. More bang for your buck, as it were.

Julia: Not what she meant though.

Amanda: Not what she meant.

Andrea: Not the right kind of bang.

Amanda: ... body and now she does not. She is half of one.

Andrea: Hermaphroditus carried on, we don't know about his feelings about this, but carried on. Salmacis and Hermaphroditus having merged together, two in one, still very beautiful, Hermaphroditus in this state is where we get the word hermaphrodite, the old, outdated medical term, hermaphrodite, which we now know as intersex. This is because Hermaphroditus' body after this transformation, after this metamorphosis has breasts and a penis, and we can actually see quite a few artistic depictions of Hermaphroditus post-transformation in paintings and notably in sculpture. The best known of these is called the Sleeping Hermaphroditus, or the Borghese Hermaphroditus, there are various copies in museums around the world. If you're in New York you can see one in the Met.

Julia: Oh nice.

Andrea: It's actually one of the first mythological sculptures I encountered as a kid, one of the most beautiful as well. Typically if not depicted as a figure standing, the Sleeping Hermaphroditus is depicted as a person lying mostly on their front in bed, notably, one of my favorite words derived from a Greek, notably callipygian, callipygous in ancient Greek means having beautiful buttocks.

Amanda: Yes.

Julia: Same.

Amanda: Shout out to Perseus holding the head of Medusa in the sculpture hall, best butt of all time.

Julia: Yeah, it's just like gently cocked to one side.

Amanda: I know there's very strong side definition. We don't talk about side definition on butts a lot.

Julia: It's very good.

Andrea: I mean my personal favorite butt is-

Amanda: I'm sorry to make you stoop to our level.

Andrea: My most favorite arse in a museum may be, I believe it's called either the Falling Gladiator or the Wounded Gladiator, by, I kid you not, a guy named Thomas Rimmer, thank you very much.

Amanda: Great, match made in heaven.

Andrea: You can see one of the versions in the Met, I believe in the American courtyard, bronze, a gladiator semi-clothed or nude falling backwards into space. Honestly-

Amanda: Nice clenched glutes, I like it.

Andrea: Yes. TMI, but every time I pass by that statue I want to climb up on the plinth and just sort of plaster myself on it gently, just cup it.

Julia: I love it.

Amanda: Both hands cup it.

Andrea: Well worth a visit to the American wing.

Amanda: I challenge you listeners, #myfavouritearse. Please share with us photos of your favorite butts in sculpture and fine art.

Julia: Of course tag us in that.

Amanda: Obviously tag at Spirits Podcast.

Andrea: But yes, of course the Greeks would have a word specifically to express the idea of a beautiful behind.

Julia: Obviously.

Amanda: Yeah, just I assumed that when a society sort of evolves to an almost decadent level, like all you do is just sit around and be like, "Well, that arse is really more callipygian than whatever." You know? Like you just really get into specific taxonomy.

Julia: Oh man, I love butts.

Amanda: Butts, they're great, across, it doesn't matter what your gender is, doesn't matter what your orientation is, butts are great.

Julia: Butts are just always good.

Andrea: The Sleeping Hermaphroditus is a callipygian figure lying mostly on their front. From the front you can see breasts, but when you round the sculpture, as it were, when you see the reverse side of it, you can see the penis and genitalia. It was a very popular subject throughout art history, so it's nice to know that these things ... I mean we can't say whether or not various cultures, the depth to which various cultures accepted gender fluidity, intersex bodies and people, things like that, but it feels good to know that you can see these beautiful objects in museums around the world.

Amanda: Yeah. It is, I suppose, a form of objectification, but especially when there's this history of horrible, not just medical objectification, but also surgeries without people's consent, and horrible kind of botching of bodies in a effort to, "Correct them." It is much better to see a really lovely and heartfelt study of a body that is not just one thing. I'm sure it gets boring after a while for a painter to paint, like the chiseled Grecian traditionally masculine body, and the rounded Venus, nymphs lying on a pool, traditional feminine body. It is much cooler, more interesting to be liminal, and so I see why that would be of interest to painters and sculptors.

Andrea: I feel like fertility, the idea of fertility and the concept of marriage comes up a lot in these stories. I mean in general, sure, but particularly in these stories of gender fluid, godly bodies. Hermaphroditus in some regions, in some aspects was worshiped as a God of Marriage.

Julia: That's pretty cool.

Amanda: The uniting of what is traditionally male and female, but actually they realize is lots of other things, but I see the application.

Andrea: Hermaphroditus is not the first god in Greek mythology to have this kind of body to represent these things. Hermaphroditus is actually preceded by Aphroditus, literally the male aphrodite, who again, like Hermaphroditus had breasts and a penis, and was the subject of a fair amount of cult worship across Greece.

Julia: Yeah. Hell yeah, there's a couple of different versions of Venus/Aphrodite that are definitely pictured as gender fluid of intersex. There's actually a couple of my favorites are like the Venus Barbata, which is the bearded Venus, which I just ... it's a good title, I love it. She's usually depicted as having a beard, wearing female attire, but her whole figure is that of a man, so it's usually attributed to Aphroditus as well as Venus in those versions. She's typically depicted physically androgynous. I have a quote, it says, "On her native Cyprus, Aphrodite was worshiped as the Venus Barbata, the Bearded Venus. Elsewhere as Venus Calva, or Bald Venus. Aphrodite was shown with a man's bald head, just like the priests of Isis. Aristophanes calls her Aphroditus, a Cypriot male name. Aphrodite appeared in battle armor in Sparta, and Venus Armata or Armed Venus became a Renaissance convention," which is really, really cool.

Amanda: It sounds like almost an example of cross-dressing, or like kind of cross-sex presentation with traditionally feminine or masculine body, and then kind of the opposite style of presentation.

Julia: Absolutely. There's actually an also really interesting version known as Aphrodite Urania, so she destroys a king who mates with her upon a mountaintop, "As a queen bee destroys a drone, by tearing out his sexual organs."

Amanda: Man, bees are the fucking most metal animal there is. Yes, I know they're insects, leave me alone.

Andrea: I love her, let me just say that.

Julia: She's great.

Andrea: I love her.

Julia: Yeah.

Andrea: She's my favorite. Speaking Aristophanes, not necessarily a specific god or a goddess, but I feel we should probably touch on the speech that Aristophanes is supposed to have given in Plato's Symposium. Again, listeners may be familiar with this story from the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch. If you have not seen Hedwig I highly recommend it.

Julia: It is very good.

Amanda: Very, very good.

Andrea: It is a queer cinematic classic. There's a song in Hedwig and the Angry Inch which paraphrases this story found in the Symposium, which is all about the origin of love, the origin of human romantic and sexual relationships. Briefly, the story goes is that there used to be three classes of human beings, and each of these classes of human being were essentially round. They were, this theme keeps coming up, two in one, facing outwards. One class were two men, the children of the sun, as Hedwig sings. The other was two women, children of the earth. The third were one woman and one man, the children of the moon. Those were in the text described as androgynous beings. These beings became too powerful, this is sort of a theme, these beings became too powerful, the gods feared them, Zeus in particular feared him, that fuckboy.

Julia: Such an asshole.

Amanda: Masculine be so fragile.

Andrea: Zeus reached down with his lightening and split these beings apart. It kind of works out to how we may think of soul mates, each of us searching for our other half in a very binary way, but still. The children of the sun, the two men, described the origin of gay people, gay men. The children of earth, the two women, lesbians. The children of the moon, the men and women are supposed to explain heterosexuality. Obviously this leaves out bi and pansexuality, and various other orientations, but again, it's mythology. It's difficult to say, I'm sure these things were accounted for, but not thought of or described in the ways that we would now.

Julia: Right, and one could argue that a bisexual person or a pansexual person's soulmate in this situation could be either gender.

Andrea: Right, right. You just need to find a suitable other half.

Julia: Exactly.

Amanda: Yeah. This is also a story that we are telling so long after the fact, so some nuance is probably lost over time, but frankly any representation is positive representation to me in terms of like, obviously it has to be a good depiction of it, not a horrible and offensive one. Even a hint of some flavor of non-hetero-cisgender people in history in mythology, like we grab onto it, you know? Even to see, like this is kind of better than average, it's pretty neat.

Andrea: Also to me, it feels really good to know that at least as far as this story's concerned, that human love is so great and so powerful that the gods themselves were afraid of it and had to break us apart in order to maintain control.

Julia: That's a really nice feeling.

Amanda: Absolutely. Yeah. There's no one right one, that it's just that longing for whatever puzzle piece fits into yours, you know, and matches your own.

Andrea: Exactly, yeah. To move away from the mythology of the west, one of my favorite goddesses, or gods, or deities as it were, is Guanyin, who is known by many names across Asia, east and south. Listeners may know her as the Goddess of Mercy. She was a bodhisattva, an enlightened being of compassion, of mercy. The Chinese name, Guanyin, comes down through the ages from the Sanskrit deity, Avalokiteśvara.

Julia: That was an amazing pronunciation.

Amanda: Best pronunciation that's ever been on the show.

Julia: I'm so happy.

Andrea: My apologies to any Sanskrit experts.

Amanda: You probably nailed it, don't play.

Andrea: Guanyin is derived from Avalokiteśvara and is depicted in art, in painting, and in statuary at various times through Asian history as male or female.

Amanda: Cool.

Julia: Sweet.

Andrea: Generally speaking, towards the modern era, Guanyin is more commonly depicted as female, but the male aspect of Guanyin is definitely very present and well acknowledged.

Julia: Cool.

Andrea: According to the Lotus Sutra, one of the most important texts we have, so according to the Lotus Sutra Avalokiteśvara could assume any form needed in order to transmit and to teach the lessons of dama, of compassion, of mercy. Avalokiteśvara could appear as a man, as a woman, as young or old, as human, or animal, or anything necessary really to reach a person.

Amanda: That's really profound, it really is like cutting through all of the societal BS that prevents us from seeing other people as the complex individuals with vivacious inner lives, just like our own. That society teaches us to be fearful of.

Andrea: Yes. Basically it was that whoever you are, whatever your place in life, Avalokiteśvara had the power to come to you in whatever manner, or aspect that you would respond to most.

Amanda: Yeah, that's like meeting your students where they are in the most profound way.

Andrea: Meeting halfway, yeah. Incidentally, on a lighter note, that reminds me of something that happened to me, I believe my very first summer when I moved to New York, about seven years ago. I was on the A train and there was a street preacher on my subway car. He gave this sermon essentially to all of us. I remember very distinctly he was talking at one point about how God, and specifically the Christian god that he referred to, he was talking about how God is many things to many people. He went and listed a whole mess of things that God could be or appear as to you. I just remember, you know, it sounds still but I still love it, at one point he said, "To some people God is a banana." Right?

Julia: I mean yeah, maybe.

Amanda: If you're hungry and you are at the ... there's so many ways in which that can be true, even though you might laugh and smile, that to me is a really profound anecdote.

Andrea: Yes. Thinking about gender fluidity is in retrospect the idea that God could be a banana to someone. It's still a little silly but it feels right.

Julia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amanda: Yeah, and the way that when people say like, "I don't care if you're black, or white, or purple." Like, okay that's not exactly what we mean, there's much more in society, and culture, and history, baggage to unpack, blah, blah, blah.

Julia: You're missing the nuance.

Amanda: Yeah, and so in this way it's like, "I don't care if you're male, or female, or a banana." That's not quite what we mean, because we're talking from a place of personal experience and nuance, but it's pretty awesome. That's how I describe my sexuality or pansexuality to people, depending how you define and identify, as just like the person that I want to be with and feel attracted to is in the body that is their body, and that, regardless of their sex, their gender, their presentation, that's them, and that's why I love them. To me it's hard almost to put myself in a mindset of having and experiencing attraction in a way that's more defined than that, because to me it's just like you meet a person and that's your person.

Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative). All of that is to say really, the enlightenment of a Bodhisattva, of a person, of anyone really, true enlightenment transcends gender, transcends the body.

Amanda: Yes.

Andrea: So as I've said, depictions of Avalokiteśvara and Guanyin vary in terms of whether he, she, or they were depicted as male or female. Guanyin generally speaking, popularly known as the goddess, again, of mercy, could well be considered male, or female, or genderless, or agender. Having talking a bit about Guanyin, of Avalokiteśvara, I'd love to talk a bit about the composite Hindu god, and I apologize to all Hindi speaking listeners and friends if I mispronounce this-

Amanda: We're constantly apologizing for that so don't worry.

Julia: We're like someone you invite over for dinner and they're a little bit too eager, or they use the wrong utensil, or they eat with their hands when they're meant to eat with the fork or vice versa. It's like, "No, but I just, I really love the food here, and I'm so sorry, I'm just trying to appreciate eh er uh."

Amanda: I mean I work in a cheese shop and a lot of times people walk in and be like, "Oh, you guys have Asiago, I love Asiago cheese." I'm like, "That's ... I'm so glad, I'm just going to cut you your cheese, I'm so sorry."

Julia: If it tastes good, it tastes good, and everything else is details.

Andrea: Related somewhat to the story of Avalokiteśvara is a story the Hindu God, Ardhanarishvara, a composite God, popularly known as the Lord Who is Half Woman. Ardhanarishvara has a lot of different names in Hindu and related mythologies. Pretty much all of the names allude in some way to this duality or multiplicity of gender. Ardhanarishvara is again, we return to the idea of two in one. This time unlike say Hermaphroditus who displayed as the secondary and primary, the sexual characteristics of men and women, Ardhanarishvara is literally split down the middle-

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: Huh.

Andrea: ... when you look at them. One half, typically the right side of the body, the male half, is half the God, Shiva. The other half, the left side of the body is the female half, Parvati.

Amanda: Wow.

Andrea: Shiva and Parvati were married in Hindu mythology. Essentially Ardhanarishvara was meant to represent the inseparable union of the masculine and feminine principles of humanity of the universe.

Julia: That's really sweet.

Amanda: That's awesome.

Julia: I like that a lot.

Amanda: Like in a person, in a marriage if that applies, in society, in just thinking and psychology, it makes so much sense to code those things as like different names we have for different experiences and sets of characteristics, and not as like two lanes, you must choose one, you must tick one box, you must use one bathroom. Like fuck you, you know?

Andrea: Hindu cosmology being very complicated, in broad strokes, the masculine principle energy is called Purusha, which is, we can say the universal spirit. The feminine principle energy is Prakriti, or matter. The right half of Ardhanarishvara, Shiva, is among many things, the God of Destruction and Creation. Parvati is the Goddess of Fertility, and Strength, and Love. Again, this idea of these two gods, who are, in mythology, married, coming together in this composite god. Literally the marriage of two minds, of two bodies, we very much celebrated. In many aspects, for many reasons, Ardhanarishvara is enormously significant and is not the only composite god in Hindu and related mythologies actually, which is delightful.

Not by the name, Ardhanarishvara, but this two in one deity is alluded to in the Mahabharata. Shiva speaks of this aspect of himself who is part female, part woman. I believe at one point speaks to Parvati, alluding to their union in this body.

Amanda: Yeah, so it's not just like two separate selves that happen to share a body, but there is some duality in both of those identities which is pretty dope.

Andrea: Ardhanarishvara is not the only composite god in Hindu and related mythologies, another significant deity is called Vaikuntha-Kamalaja, otherwise known as Lakshmi-Narayana. This god is a regional derivation of Ardhanarishvara. I believe mostly found in Nepal, and I think the Kashmir region. Again, half and half. The right half is male and is the God Vishnu, another of the great gods, along with Shiva and Krishna. The left half is female and is the Goddess Lakshmi. Again, these two gods, Vishnu and Lakshmi in the mythology are married, are linked together in other ways, including in this one body.

Amanda: It makes so much sense to me to have that as a kind of prevalent, or at least a present characteristic in religion, because you can read this story as sort of arguing that gender fluidity, gender fuckery, however you define that, as being non-cis or non-heteronormative is a feature and not a bug. Like it gives you more, more. More access, more experience, more enrichment, more perspective.

Andrea: Greater acknowledgement of the vastness of humanity.

Amanda: Yeah, yeah. Especially if you're a god, like of course you want to experience and understand the full scope of what life on this planet has to offer.

Julia: Oh, for sure. I think that it kind of, especially these last two that you featured there, definitely highlight the fact that human balance features both, "The masculine and feminine." We're not wholly just feminine or wholly just masculine, no matter how we're presenting, because it is a spectrum of how we present and how we see ourselves.

Amanda: Yeah, and that's true for cisgender people, that's true for heterosexual people. When we start to kind of enforce the boundaries of, this is masculine, this is feminine, this is what this person should be, this is what that person should be, that's really where we get into trouble and toxic cultures, and patriarchy, and other toxic masculinity, like these forces that really impact everybody badly, and yet we cling onto the thing that we know.

Julia: Yeah, I think it's a good rule of thumb, is that if the gods think it's important, it's probably important. Having a balance, that's important.

Amanda: Yeah, balance is definitely important. I don't know, I mean to me this is why we do this project, because there is so much value in looking back at history and finding examples of yourself, and finding messages that mean something to you. That's what stories are for, I don't know, it just, it means so much to me to be able to look back and see these examples, as problematic as some of them were, maybe this wasn't what was intended by the representation of these gods in this way, but we are the ones living now, we are the ones telling these stories, we are the ones who get to decide what they mean.

Andrea: I really enjoy stories like this, where the gods and other mythological beings ... I mean, in our contemporary framework we might consider them trans, or gender queer, or they're gender fluid, partially just because they're pretty great stories and they speak to ancient peoples having perhaps a broader, a much broader view of divine and human sexuality than we might ordinarily think. Also, being a gender queer person, I'm not particularly religious or spiritual, but being a gender queer person and someone who is very interested in these stories, it just genuinely feels really good to be able to see myself and my friends in these stories in some way. Hopefully some of our listeners will feel similarly.

Amanda: Absolutely, and it doesn't have to be your divine in order to be divine. This is something that human beings have considered to be worth worshiping in the past, and hopefully that means that we're only going to get better at loving people who are different going forward.

Andrea, thank you so much for bringing us these myths.

Andrea: Oh, thank you very much, it's been such a pleasure.

Amanda: Remember listeners ...

Julia: Stay creepy ...

Amanda: Stay cool. Fuck the binary.

[Theme music]

Julia: Spirits was created by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and Eric Schneider with music by Kevin MacLeod and visual design by Allyson Wakeman.

Amanda: Keep up with all things creepy and cool by following us on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram @spiritspodcast. We also have all our episodes, collaborations and guest appearances, plus merch on our website, spiritspodcast.com.

Julia: Come on over to our Patreon page, patreon.com/spiritspodcast for all kinds of behind the scenes stuff. Throw us a little as one dollar and get access to audio extras, recipe cards, director's commentaries, and patron-only livestreams.

Amanda: Hey, if you like the show, please share us with your friends. That is the best way to help us keep on growing.

Julia: Thank you so much for listening. Till next time.