I have been on a lifelong quest to merge my spirituality and sexuality Ever since my coming out out the closet at age 15, I’ve been looking for books on the religious experiences of LGBT+ individuals. I have read numerous texts, written several papers on the subject, and have had several deep and revelationaionary experiences there these two aspects, the sexual and the spiritual, have merged. My search has reached a defining moment in reading Tomas Prower’s new book Queer Magic: LGBT+ Spirituality and Culture from Around the World.
Prower takes the reader by the hand and leads them on a journey that spans geography and time. It is clear that much research and love has gone into the construction of this delightful text. I plan to revisit Prower’s extensive bibliography over the course of my life. With over 200 sources, he has dug deep into the multitudes of myths, stories, experiences, practices, and theologies of queer peoples. On top of his down to earth writing, Tomas includes the words of the actual practitioners for each of the religious and geographical sections.
I consider myself a well educated and well read person, however I learned something new on every page. I will have to return to various sections, not that I didn’t understand what he’s written, just that is such a plethora of theologies, and stories here. The world and its history, and all the queer derivations is so vast, Tomas has left no stone unturned, if only to give the briefest of glances.
To that end, some may critique this book for being too male centric. And to that Tomas does justify the high number of male, and gay male experiences found in his research in the introduction. In short, patriarchal cultures have dicated what has been recorded and what has come down the historical timeline. He does his best to find women’s experiences and stories as well. Lesbian, bisexual, and transgender myths and personal stories abound in each chapter. Even through the domineering masculine forces have shaped much of what has been written down, other genders are not left out, even if the numbers favor one sexality over the other.
Reading Queer Magic was a joy. It was amazing to finally have a collection of world myths, and practices, from the LGBT+ community all in one volume. The stories of queer love made my soul sing. However, the number of stories (myth or lived experience) where queer persons were demonized, chastised, exiled, mutilated, or murdered on account of the love they had or how they expressed their gender, are prevalent. Each culture, again due to that patriarchal force, has vilified the queer experience. Whether stating we just don't know the context of a seemingly queer deity or hero, or showing the brutal treatment of LGBT+ peoples throughout history, Prower is committed to tell the unfettered truth. While we in USA can live in relative safety (depending on your gender, race, class, religion) this is certainly not the case in other countries, cultures, or times. This book is a reminder the fight for equality isn’t over, even with the gains many of us have seen recently. Reading this book shows just how far we have come, how far we have to go, and how, as global spiritual community, strong and beautiful we are.
I’m over the moon that a book on queer spiritualities is now easily accessible, well researched, and contains a multitude of diverse voices. Three cheers to Tomas Prower for writing a book that is sure to entertain, educate, and inspire generations to come.
Review by Markus K. Ironwood
Motherwort herb has been dedicated first and foremost to mothers for centuries. It is traditionally used to help mothers expel afterbirth and recuperate from giving birth, even being featured in a chicken dish for new mothers in some parts of southeast Asia. However, it does have other uses.