Native Americans call gays, lesbians and transvestites “two-spirit”. To our shame, we have called them sick, perverted, godless, not normal, and have determine (still in many places) that they are not acceptable. I like the old American way better.

In the traditional tribal sense, these roles have often been ones associated with great respect and spiritual power. Rather than being viewed as an aberration, the role was seen as one, which bridged the gap between the temporal and spirit worlds. The spiritual aspect of the berdache role was emphasized far more than the homosexual or gender variant aspect. Because of this, berdaches were highly valued by the people of the tribe.

In most mythology we are two spirited, man and woman. In Asian and western mythology this is expressed as one longing for their other half through emotional and sexual union. We recognize this union as a source of power, as the force of life. We also think of life and death as opposite yet they are really one in the same. I like this idea of two-spirit because it acknowledges the whole person, not just the sexuality of the person. It exemplifies balance. It acknowledges the transcendence of opposites and confirms our unity without destroying our individuality.

Individuality and identity are interesting things. To identify ourselves or someone else by sexual preferences is a bit odd to me. We have all sorts of labels and definitions to describe our selves that could be more useful in providing real information about who we are. I just stumbled across a story last night that was about identity, although I’m not certain the author had that in mind. It is a perspective that we cannot transcend yet often cannot fully explain. I also listened to a show this morning on NPR about “latino” identity and it got me thinking about this movie:

It is a light and still thought provoking movie about the concept of  “us” and what we think of “others”. A great Thursday night movie with homemade chips and salsa.

Two-Spirit…we are all two spirit. We are many spirited. I think (not that you will be surprised) that in a global culture it might be better to describe ourselves by what we eat. Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescaterian, Carnivore. I think it says a lot about our fundamental beliefs and our daily actions. There are somethings, like gender, that almost never change and there are somethings like language, place, affiliations that change throughout our lives. Who are you?

Rum-Spiked Horchata (from all

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 2 quarts warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup rum, or to taste (optional)
  • 16 cubes ice

Mix the rice and warm water together in a bowl, and let stand for 1/2 hour. Reserving the water, drain, and place the rice in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cinnamon and process until a paste forms. Return the rice to the water and let stand at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally as the water turns milky white. Strain the rice through a fine sieve into a bowl or pitcher. Stir in the milk, condensed milk, vanilla, and rum, if desired, until evenly blended. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. To serve, divide the ice cubes between four glasses, and pour the chilled horchata over the ice.


There are certain moments in life when you can have insights that can go past the pair of opposites. It’s as though you can see in that moment a deeper truth, as if the opposites open and you can see into the unknown.

The separateness apparent in the world is secondary. Beyond that world of opposites is an unseen, but experienced, unity and identity in us all. – Joseph Campbell


3 thoughts on “Two-Spirit

  1. Love, Love, LOVE this post. Also love the rum Horchata recipe. My SO is always asking if we can stop and get some – Time to make up a batch and have a super cool discussion about two naturedness.

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