Two spirits, better than one?

Winte Lakotas

The young man confessed, “I’m a two spirit.  I haven’t acted upon it yet, but I am always tempted.”  WinkteOur more primitive relatives, the Native Americans of Turtle Island, used this very interesting expression, “two spirit”, to characterize an important duality of personality.  The normal way of expressing our sexual orientation is by way of our obvious gender.  Men identify with their male relatives.  Women identify with their female relatives.  They have, according to indigenous ways of talking, one spirit.  But there are exceptions to every rule, especially when Creator has a Trickster streak.  Sometimes he makes people with two spirits, what we Europeans would call gays and lesbians.  The Native consciousness is more naïve and descriptive, also more respectful of Creator’s ways.  The advantage of having two spirits is that such people are bridges to the opposite sex and to the spirit world.  A feminine man can understand his sisters as if he were one of them.  A masculine woman can understand her brothers as if she were one of them.  It makes perfect sense.  Two spirited men were a great advantage in pre-colonial times.  They were much stronger than women and they didn’t have menstrual cycles.  They were always part of the work force.  And in times of war they provided sexual partners and healers for the warriors, whom they accompanied as cooks and helpers. two spirit feathers Many a two spirit carried the wounded off the battlefield and away to safety and recovery.  It is no wonder they were highly regarded and wealthy people in Native society.  But not so today, at least not where European values have prevailed.

Europeans suffer from a concrete, literal interpretation of Judaeo-Christian morality.  The colonists and their missionaries forced the Natives of our beautiful land to adapt to Christian forms of speech and behavior.  Those who would not conform were brutally murdered, a necessary evil and an incentive to give up their pagan ways, to embrace the European “truth.”  Oddly enough the Native American way of seeing things reflects the esoteric traditions of European thought.  Carl Jung brought these ancient ways of talking to the surface of consciousness when he showed us how we are deeply imbedded in our personal as well as the collective Unconscious.  Every man has his dark, shadow side, as does every woman.  These are repressed qualities associated with the same sex.  But we also have the opposite sex within us as well.  When the feminine in men remains unconscious, we express our feminine traits by projecting them onto the women around us and/or unconsciously acting out our love of clothes, ornamentation, beauty, art, music, and moods.  Here the Native American two spirit is far more advanced.  He or she is conscious of this human characteristic and allows its expression without judgment.  The European must work very hard to achieve the same end, perhaps a life-time, while the Native American acceptance of childhood inclinations has made the path easy for the two spirits.  Perhaps we should give up the rigid interpretation of the Law of Moses and its interpretation in Christianity and Islam to allow for a real Monotheism, the kind the Turtle Islanders have practiced for a thousand or more years.  We are after all, children of the Creator, who made us this way, evidently for a reason, so why not accept it?  A two spirit is just a man with his anima showing, nothing new or weird about that, is there?

two spirit

About Michael J. Melville

People describe me as a Spiritual Catalyst because their spiritual evolution speeds up when they share their process with me. Discussing dreams, addictions, sacred medicines, family histories, or personal relationships moves one closer to the core, where the inner child dwells. Once contact with her/him is made, growth resumes.
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