The Third Principle: Self-Esteem

Bridge of Light, Yellow Candle

A winter cultural tradition originating from the LGBT community.

Short ritual: On New Year’s Eve, light a yellow candle, the third of seven, and let it burn through New Year’s Day.

Long ritual: Light a yellow candle each evening between December 28 and New Year’s Eve, the third of seven, and keep the last candle lit through the New Year.

Honor the Core of Spirit, the third chakra. Celebrate the evolution of Spirit in love and eroticism that first appeared in the era defined by the rise of the world religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism), beginning about 500 BCE and continuing to the present day.

The Second Principle: Eros

Bridge of Light, Orange Candle

A winter cultural tradition originating from the LGBT community.

Short ritual: On New Year’s Eve, light an orange candle as the second of seven, and let it burn through the New Year.

Long ritual: Light an orange candle, the second of seven, each evening between December 27 and New Year’s Eve, and keep the candle lit until New Year’s Day.

Honor the Fire of Spirit, the second chakra, the principle of Eros. Celebrate the evolution of Spirit in love and eroticism that first appeared in the era defined by the rise of the great divine and mortal heroes of the ancient world, celebrated in song and myths: Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Horus and Seth, Jonathan and David, Naomi and Ruth, and many more, beginning about 5,000 BCE.

The First Principle: Community

Bridge of Light, Red Candle

A winter cultural tradition originating from the LGBT community.

Short ritual: On New Year’s Eve, light a red candle, the first of seven, and let it burn until New Year’s Day.

Long ritual: Light a red candle each evening between December 26 and New Year’s Eve, the first of seven, and keep the candle lit through New Year’s Day.

Honor the Root of Spirit, the first chakra. Celebrate the evolution of Spirit in love and eroticism defined as it first arose in ancient spiritualities, including Wicca, paganism, and Goddess/pre-patriarchal religions (approximately 10,000 BCE and continuing to the present day).

Notes on Evolution of Bridge of Light Tradition

There have been several changes to the Bridge of Light holiday since it was first celebrated in 2004 (the first gathering used the name Yuletide). While much of this information is technical of interest to a few, some of you may find the historical details of interest.

I originally derived the meanings of the colors from principles in Integral philosophy (a nonsectarian philosophy based on the principles of spiritual evolution and the mystical thread connecting all the great world’s religions). I still find my inspiration for the holiday as fundamentally “Integral,” but I apply the principles differently.

In the 2004 version of the ritual, the colors represented main stages of evolutionary spiritual development, with each color aligned to a specific vMeme of Spiral Dynamics theory of cultural evolution. In subsequent years, this narrow inspiration proved problematic on several levels: first, I have never really adopted the color scheme of Spiral Dynamics into my spiritual practice; second, I have begun to place more emphasis on the modes or lines of development than stages, and now use the chakra system as a convenient traditional way of describing these modes; third, the ordering and naming of the principles was overly esoteric and this probably hindered more widespread adoption of the ritual.

There is wisdom in favoring simple principles that are easily communicated to others based on traditional associations that are already widely in use and need not be reinvented. The color associations of the charkas are an excellent way of communicating basic principles of evolutionary spirituality without being too heavy handed or rigid.

As a side note, I will add that new color scheme and ordering is compatible (if not a direct match) to the eight-mode developmental model that I have begun to use in my 2009 writings on the Kalendar, my vision of sacred time, so all in all I believe the modifications help to bring the ritual into line with my best and most contemporary insights into the spiritual significance of homophilia.

I fully credit Kittredge Cherry for originally suggesting use of the charkas for defining the principles. Her meditation on the chakra meanings and their specific application for LGBT spirituality have been quite valuable. I have more or less adopted her ordering and descriptions of six of the seven principles with only minor modifications. (Just as I have fully credited Toby Johnson for originally suggesting that the holiday be held on the New Year rather than the winter solistice, an idea that has improved the ritual considerably.)

Kittredge advocated differentiating between the first and second chakras (red and orange) because these principles are of particular importance for the LGBT community and I couldn’t agree more. Also, her color scheme lends itself well to ordering the candle lighting in a more straightforward evolutionary scheme than my original ritual: (1) red, (2) orange, (3) yellow, (4) green, (5) blue, and (6) purple. I think that these are developments for the better.

Kittredge also recommended combining the eye and crown charkas into one in order to fit the six-color scheme of the rainbow flag with the seven-color scheme of the traditional chakra symbolism. Upon further meditation, I have opted instead for a different solution that retains all seven charkas. I achieved this by adding a seventh principle (depicted by two candles, one black and the other white) for New Year’s Day.

By adding a seventh candle on New Year’s Day just for the crown chakra, then we can retain a celebration of the third eye chakra. It’s my conviction that the Third Eye, representing holistic understandings, integral models of development, and “Right Understanding” (to use a Buddhist term) in the service of enlightenment is somewhat neglected in LGBT spirituality. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity to reinforce the principle’s importance.

Kittredge adds, “I see this as a work in progress, and am open to ongoing dialogue about it.” And that is my own opinion as well. I’m publishing these recommendations now, a couple days in advance of Dec. 26, when some individuals will begin their own Bridge of Light rituals, and encourage feedback from the community.

I intend to light seven candles for my own celebration of the Bridge of Light. I expect my celebration will look like this:

Evening of Dec. 26. Light a red candle in honor of the Root of Spirit, the Principle of Community.

Evening of Dec. 27. Light a second candle, orange, in honor of the Passion of Spirit, the Principle of Creativity and Eros.

Evening of Dec. 28. Light a third candle, yellow, in honor of the Core of Spirit, the Principle of Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization.

Evening of Dec. 29. Light a fourth candle, green, in honor of the Heart of Spirit, the Principle of Love and Compassion.

Evening of Dec. 30. Light a fifth candle, blue, in honor of the Voice of Spirit, the Principle of Self-Expression and Justice.

Evening of Dec. 31. Light the sixth candle, violet, in honor of the Eye of Spirit, the principle of Integration and Wisdom.

Morning of Jan. 1. Light the seventh and eighth candles, black and white, in honor of the Crown of Spirit, the principle of Spirituality and Universal Consciousness.

How will you embrace the Bridge of Light?

Revisions to the Bridge of Light

Bridge of Light is an interfaith and omni-denominational cultural and spiritual tradition originating in 2004 and connected in its inspiration and organization to the Gay Spirit Culture Summit held that year, a gathering of 100+ spiritual leaders and change agents in the gay community.

Since then, the annual winter ritual (now in its fifth year) has helped to draw attention to the positive contributions made by members of the LGBT community in the areas of spiritual growth, inner transformation, and religious leadership.

The core of the tradition is a simple ritual of lighting candles, one for each color of the rainbow flag, on New Year’s Eve (or from Dec. 26 to New Year’s, one candle for each day). Each color corresponds to a universal spiritual principle as well as the specific ways that this principle has found expression in the course of LGBT history and in our contemporary situation.

These are the principles of the Bridge of Light in their current (2009) form:

The First Principle
Color: Red
Meaning: The Root of Spirit (Community)
Order: Dec. 26 or first candle of New Year’s Eve
Correspondence in LGBT History: We celebrate the evolution of Spirit in same-sex love and eroticism defined as it first arose in ancient spiritualities, including Wicca, paganism, and Goddess/pre-patriarchal religions (approximately 10,000 BCE and continuing to the present day).
Suggested Practice: Meditations on the first chakra.

The Second Principle
Color: Orange
Meaning: The Fire of Spirit (Eros)
Order: Dec. 27 or second candle of New Year’s Eve
Correspondence in LGBT History: We celebrate the evolution of Spirit in same-sex love and eroticism that first appeared in the era defined by the rise of the great divine and mortal heroes of the ancient world, celebrated in song and myths: Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Horus and Seth, Jonathan and David, Naomi and Ruth, and many more, beginning about 5,000 BCE.
Suggested Practice: Meditations on the second chakra.

The Third Principle
Color: Yellow
Meaning: The Core of Spirit (Self-Esteem)
Order: Dec. 28 or third candle of New Year’s Eve
Correspondence in LGBT History: We celebrate the evolution of Spirit in same-sex love and eroticism that first appeared in the era defined by the rise of the world religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism), beginning about 500 BCE and continuing to the present day.
Suggested Practice: Meditations on the third chakra.

The Fourth Principle
Color: Green
Meaning: The Heart of Spirit (Love and Compassion)
Order: Dec. 29 or fourth candle of New Year’s Eve
Correspondence in LGBT History: We celebrate the evolution of Spirit in same-sex love, eroticism, and traditional gender role defiance in the era defined by the rise of the modernity in the industrial age (approximately 1,500 CE and continuing to the present day), e.g., secular philosophies, inventors, business and scientific leaders, pioneers in democratic societies, early developments in the abolition of slavery and women’s sufferage.
Suggested Practice: Meditations on the fourth chakra.

The Fifth Principle
Color: Blue
Meaning: The Voice of Spirit (Self-Expression and Justice)
Order: Dec. 30 or fifth candle of New Year’s Eve
Correspondence in LGBT History: We celebrate the evolution of Spirit in same-sex love and gender role evolution in the era defined by the rise of Romanticism, Transcendentialism, late modernism, and early postmodern artists and pioneers (approximately 1,800 CE to the present day).
Suggested Practice: Meditations on the fifth chakra.

The Sixth Principle
Color: Purple
Meaning: The Eye of Spirit (Integration and Wisdom)
Order: Dec. 31 or sixth and final candle of New Year’s Eve
Correspondence in LGBT History: We celebrate the evolution of Spirit in pluralistic expressions of sexuality and gender in the era defined by the rise of the feminist, homophile movement, gay liberation, queer, and LGBTQ identities in the past 60 years.
Suggested Practice: Meditations on the sixth chakra.

The Seventh Principle
Colors: Black and White (light two candles)
Meaning: The Crown of Spirit (Contemplative Spirituality and Unitive Consciousness)
Order: Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day)
Correspondence in LGBT History: We celebrate the evolution of Spirit in the contemporary period and future generations to come, and the emerging connections between the struggle for gay liberation with the struggles for justice and dignity of all peoples throughout the world, the healing of the natural world, and the amelioration of suffering of all sentient beings.
Suggested Practice: Meditations on the seventh chakra.

These seven principles are slightly evolved in their meaning, order, and associations since the first draft of my article “Proposing a New Queer Winter Holiday” was published in LGBT newspapers throughout the country in 2004 and later published in Soulfully Gay.

Note: In the following post, I will describe some of the inspirations for the changes, invite additional suggestions for future changes, and encourage readers to plan their own Bridge of Light parties and rituals this holiday season. If you are interested in celebrating your own ritual, why not join the Bridge of Light group on Facebook to share your ideas?

On God’s Gayness

“God made some men gay, because He made them in His image. God made gay men to love in gay ways, because God loves in gay ways. The beauty of gay men reflects the beauty of God. The beauty of gay ways of loving reflects the beauty of God’s gay ways of loving. When someone fears and hates a gay man, he or she fears and hates God. When someone denigrates, despises, loathes, and harms a gay man, he or she denigrates, despises, loathes, and harms God.” — Joe Perez, Soulfully Gay

On Christianity and Homophilia

“I adore Christianity for its most maligned and misunderstood essence: it’s the most homophilic of all religions, and therefore the most true.” — Joe Perez, Aug. 31, 2006 (Until)

“Christianity is the gayest religion. Its core commandment to men is to form a deep lifelong partnership with ANOTHER MAN. It demands real man-on-man, man-on-Jesus love action, no holds barred. It’s the most homophilic religion in the universe.” — Joe Perez, 2006 (Until)

Advice to Young Gays, Queers, and Homophiles


Source: samm4mrox on Flickr

Note: During this BETA period of the blog, I will occasionally be offering selections from my recent writings. This selection is reprinted from Soulfully Gay (Integral Books/Shambhala). All Rights Reserved.

Today, a friend forwarded me a link to a blog by a young man in his early twenties who describes himself as a Christian and says he’s “turning away from homosexuality and toward God.” What can I say to a young Christian, when I myself have chosen a path outside the institutional religion?

The first thing that comes to mind for me to say to a young man in this situation is that I will not preach to you. I will not tell you that once you learn to accept your gayness you will be happier. I will not encourage you to join a gay Christian church or give any other sort of unsolicited advice. There are plenty of well-intentioned folks who are sure to try to fix the way you are. I don’t think you need to hear another voice encouraging you to just keep your chin up and be happy.

The second thing that comes to mind is to tell you that whatever choices you make about how to express or not express your sexuality, you are a wonderful, beautiful, precious gift to the world. Be the gift that you are. Nobody else can bring that gift to the world except you.

Don’t just think about homosexuality. Feel what comes up for you around your sexuality. Be with your feelings, whatever they are. You can do no good by denying them. You may not know what those feelings are, and some of your deepest feelings may be so deeply buried that they are a mystery to you. Get help to be with your feelings from a therapist you are comfortable with and from friends with different points of view.

A word about friends: you are likely to change your opinions about God, the Bible, Christianity, homosexuality, sex, George W. Bush, and a whole host of other things many, many times. Your true friends will stick with you whether you are conservative or liberal, Christian or ex-Christian, gay or ex-gay. It’s a cliché, but your true friends will accept you for you.

You are on a difficult path—bringing together your spirituality and sexuality—and you don’t have to have all the answers. It’s okay to be frightened, confused, and unsure where to turn. It’s okay to question those who seem totally confident in their beliefs about homosexuality or Christianity. It’s okay to doubt the dogmas of gay activists. It’s okay to question the dogmas of the people in your Bible study group.

It’s okay to flip-flop in your attitudes toward homosexuality—one moment thinking it’s awesome with a hot man’s body pressed against yours and the next praying to God to make you straight. It’s okay to wonder if your faith (whether in God or the dogmas of gay community) is genuine or if you’re just kidding yourself.

What’s not okay is to latch on to certainties that promise to make your life easier if you will only deny a little bit of reality. What’s not okay is to just keep repeating something over and over again to yourself, figuring that if you just keep with it, you will eventually start to believe it.

It’s okay to not know what to think about your homosexuality or God or the Universe. I heard Thomas Moore say recently that he doesn’t know if everything in life happens for a reason. He said, “What I don’t know, I don’t know.” I liked the sound of that. Enter deeply into the profound mysteries of life. Don’t deny them. It’s not always necessary to try to figure them out. Just try to accept the state of unknowing.

The Integral Christian and the Four Quadrants


Source: Integral Life

Note: Re-post from my now-defunct blog, Until, on April 21, 2007. Updated final paragraphs on the Quadrants and sacred time.

Whether we are talking about the vicissitudes of our emotional life, the history of our country, words in the Bible, sacraments at the altar, or any other thing, there are four fundamental perspectives we can take. They encompass everything we want to talk about.

Four Prime Perspectives

The integral Christian embraces four primary angles, called the Four Quadrants, as primordial or foundational. These angles are the “A” in the acronym “STEAM”, which is useful for remembering the essential ingredients of an integral approach (S = structures, T = types, E = experiences, A = angles, M = modes).

As Christians, we can choose to symbolize the quadrants as the sections of a whole divided by the Cross. This way of looking gives our traditional religious symbol a new spin. The symbol of the brokenness of the world, the location upon which God’s ambassador is crucified, also denotes the brokenness of ordinary reality into fragmented perspective. Nothing in the world as we commonly know it is wholly whole.

Of course, there are many more perspectives we could take, not just four–an infinite number! (Not to mention that taking a perspective is just part of recognizing what it means to be a human being. It is not a specifically Christian affair.) But the four perspectives that are called the upper-left, upper-right, lower-left, and lower-right describe human nature and destiny in a satisfyingly comprehensive quadratic embrace that resonates with our Christian symbolism.

The integral Christian strives to take into account, at the very least, four fundamental perspectives, in order to better operate in the world and understand God’s will. These points of view do not need to always be consciously recognized in every act (that would be absurd). But over the course of time, we can’t afford to leave any of these vantage points out.

The upper-left quadrant: our physiological sensations, emotional states, the sense of who we are, our memories, and states of spiritual awareness. This is the perspective in which the person encounters the soul, and through the soul, our personal relationship with God.

We look inward and ask, “Who am I in body, mind, soul, and spirit?” The answer is found through the discoveries of our conscious awareness, the preconscious shadow, and that which is beyond any individual person’s awareness.

Introspection, meditation such as centering prayer, and individual prayer and shadow work is useful for exploring this territory. Freud’s dreamwork, Teresa of Avila’s mysticism, and Saint Augustine’s confessions do not share the same understanding of sex and spirituality! But each of these persons, and many more, have navigated the inner domains of knowing and being.

The upper-right quadrant: look at detached, objective data about yourself, the brain, and the entire organism. This is the perspective in which the person looks for objective information about the individual self or any other individual thing.

We look at the world and ask, “What facts do I know about the nature of a human being?” The answer is found through objectivity, especially the scientific method by means of the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Also included in the answer are data found by expanding the reach of the senses with microscopes, telescopes, and such.

Biology (including the neurosciences) is one useful methodology for exploring this territory about human beings. Cognitive science and neuropsychology take two different roads into researching consciousness. But their investigations into subjectivity each offer an approach to the territory of without.

The lower-left quadrant: look at the impact on others and how the boundaries of your decision are determined by interpersonal and cultural contexts beyond your control; cultural constructs; theologies, philosophies, and world views that we are not entirely aware of.

We look at the world and ask, “How do I know anything at all about myself, the world, and God? How shall I live?” The answer is encountered via intersubjective inquiries and responses (that is, relationships to others and our art, literature, and worldviews). Ultimately, the question is answered by our I-Thou relationship with God.

Hermeneutics (the science of interpretation), structuralism, poststructuralism, philosophy, and theology, are the major disciplines of knowledge used for investigating this domain. In Carl Jung’s psychology, for example, his understanding of mythic archetypes in the collective unconscious is probably best located in this area. Another view of the lower-left is Michel Foucault’s understanding that culture dictates power relationships through a complex system of controls for defining “normal” and “abnormal”.

The lower-right quadrant: look at your functioning as an agent in a wider system of concrete interlocking, social forces, economic structures, police and military institutions.

We look at the world and ask, “How do we all relate to each other objectively and to nature?” The answer is encountered via social scientific research into human societies, religions, and economic forces that attempts to be grounded in an objective science.

Anthropology and sociology are the major ways of investigating problems in this area. Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Talcott Parsons take widely divergent looks into religion and society, but each were making maps of this domain. More contemporary sociological researchers including Peter Berger and Robert Bellah have also looked at this part of life.

Within each quadrant, there are fascinating and sometimes radical and disturbing differences of opinion. But the main point remains unobscured: there are four fundamental perspectives for traversing the roads to everywhere, and integral philosophers seek to map the terrain.

Philosopher and psychological theorist Ken Wilber has made a profound contribution to the theoretical study of the four quadrants in his many books such as Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World (Integral Books/Shambhala, 2006).

Thinkers and researchers in a wide variety of disciplines have applied the four quadrants to their areas of expertise. Many of these thinkers (and their essays and books) can be found at Integral Institute, Integrative Spirituality, or ARINA.

The integral Christian is committed to the outlook that all four quadrants offer important insights into human nature and destiny. We cannot understand ourselves adequately without taking, at least, these four basic perspectives. At the very least, our worldviews are enriched and made more comprehensive by including perspectives that we would otherwise ignore. And our view of God must also accomodate each of these domains.

God and the Four Quadrants

Where is God in the four quadrants? God is everywhere; God includes and transcends each of the domains. In Jesus Christ’s proclamation of the Kingdom of God (or the Reign of Heaven), we can also find the gospel message includes each of the four perspectives. According to The New Testament, the Reign of Heaven…

• Liberates eternally the renews the body, mind, soul, and spirit of every person who accepts the gospel. Salvation is offered for the whole person, not only one aspect of a person’s identity (upper-left and upper-right quadrants)

• Enfranchises and heals the poor, the meek, and the oppressed. All who suffer will find redemption from their suffering. In the end of days, God will create a new Heaven and a new Earth (lower-left and lower-right quadrants)

The integral Christian is committed to the gospel teaching of hope for the soul’s eternal realization, healing of body and mind for every member of the Body of Christ. Salvation is for the whole person; the whole world; the whole kosmos; or it is for nothing at all.

The integral Christian is committed to evangelizing the gospel in all four prime domains of human nature, and we take other perspectives as well. It’s true that there are many different ways of looking at the good news of the gospel proclamation, but the word of Christ is always good.

The Quadrants and The Kalendar

Each of the four quadrants are represented as days on the Kalendar, an integral map in which the Kosmic coordinates of spiritual evolution are described as sacred time. The first day of every week is Half Sun, representing the upper-left quadrant (subjective individual); the second day, Full Sun, representing the upper-right (objective individual); the fourth day, Half Moon, representing the lower-right (objective collective); the fifth day, Full Moon, representing the lower-left (subjective collective).

Sun Moon, third day of each week, is the holiest day of the week from an intrinsic perspective. This day represents the aspiration, possibility, and experience of aperspecitval nonduality: the view from nowhere and everywhere.

Four Core Psychological Types


Carl Jung

Note: Re-posted from my now-defunct Until blog, Jan. 5, 2007

Types are personality structures that are relatively enduring over the course of a life. They are usually based on relatively innate factors such as biological and early childhood conditioning. They are not easily subject to change. Generally, a person carries her personality type with her throughout life. (Although it’s possible to speak of cultural types, sociological types, and political types, we’re just looking at the types of individual psychology here.)

There are many ways to divide up the the personality into sets of types (and types always come in sets, for they are bestowed with meaning not only by virtue of their own qualities but in comparison and contrast to all the other types of the system). Commonly used types include the Signs of the Zodiac in popular horoscope astrology.

Actually, back in the day, astrologers never looked to the signs as indicators of personality because astrology was primarily an effort to tell the fortunes of great nations and their leaders, not to examine the interiors of individual subjects. But modern Western mythopoetic astrology is a very different animal than classical astrologies.

Carl Jung has done more for elaborating our contemporary understanding of personality types than just about anyone else. In Jung’s work, he wrestled with the task of adapting the wisdom of traditional insights into human nature (such as astrology and mythic archetypes) and making them acceptable to the modern world.

Out of astrology, Jung salvaged the notion of personality type in two ways. First, he and his followers sometimes assert that the signs of the Zodiac are themselves nothing more than personality types. Aries are aggressive, Taureans are stubborn, Cancers are emotional, Leos are arrogant, Virgos are picky, Libras are peacemakers, Scorpios are sexy, Sagittarians are highly opinionated, Capricons are ambitious, Aquarians are intellectuals, Pisceans are mystics. An entire complex tradition of astrological investigation into human nature and destiny has been thereby reduced to a most hollow and meager shell.

Secondly, Jung offered as the bulk of his work on types a fresh start with typological insights that were inspired by astrology but ultimately found a grounding in the scientific analysis of the personality. Jung made several very careful bipartite distinctions that are still in use in psychology today. Most famously, he distinguished between introverts and extraverts.

For introverts, reality is primary within them–their feelings, their thoughts, and “inner life.” For extroverts, reality is primary outside them–the playground of the universe, other people, and social interaction. For Jung, most people fall into one of these camps and there is very little movement between the two. Certainly, an introvert or extravert can learn to adapt their behavior to a new environment, but they will likely feel like a fish out of water.

Another interesting way of talking about introverts and extraverts has found expression in my book Soulfully Gay. Therein, I speak of homophilia and heterophilia as the two dominant drives of all Reality: the desire for reunion with Spirit by going within or towards the same is hemophilia.

Heterophilia is the desire for reunion with Spirit by going outside the self or towards the other. A homophilic personality type, like introvert, will tend to gravitate to relationships with persons and things that help to mirror back to him aspects of his own reality. A heterophilic personality type, like the extravert, will tend to seek out relationships with as widely varied and diverse relationships as possible to try to get far away from the self. Of course, nobody is purely hemophilic or purely heterophilic; these are just convenient ways of talking about universal tendencies among personality types.

Jung was also among the twentieth-century thinkers to promote the notion of masculine and feminine (or God or Goddess, or King and Queen archetypes) as a valid typology. Although the dichotomy between male and female modes of reality has been undermined by some forms of deconstructive postmodern analyses, and while this point is still controversial, I think it is safe to say that most psychological models have found valid differences between how average males and average females interpret and respond to the world around them.

These tendencies, traits, leanings may be deeply rooted biological truths or they may be the remnants of what’s left of premodern patriarchal ideologies that promoted a God-given role for The Man (dominant, active, ruler of the public realm and household) and The Woman (submissive, passive, excluded subject of the public realm and helper/caregiver in the household), or a combination.

The influence of these premodern notions of masculinity and feminity is still so strong in our culture, that many people today are allergic to talking at all about cross-culturally universal tendencies among the genders. However, the general consensus of the scientific and anthropological research in these areas in favor of the existence of generally orienting types is overwhelming and compelling.

From research into brain differentiation to the impact of hormones, from socialization, to cultural adaptation, the idea that we can talk about masculine and feminine personality types is just too useful to reject. The only thing we need to reject are simplistic, reductive attempts to reduce the notion of “type” (i.e., an essence or deep structure of the personality) to merely essentialist, old-fashioned ways of talking about gender.

Another important two-part distinction related to human beings is the notion of Ascent and Descent in Ken Wilber’s integral psychology. Wilber examined the various spiritual paths of the world religions in many of their variations, from esoteric to exoteric, from ancient to modern days. What he found is that it’s possible to divide these approaches into two camps: Ascenders and Descenders.

Ascending paths identify reality with something transcendent or beyond the manifest realm: God, Heaven, a Spirit-out-there, Emptiness, Atman. For spirituality, Ascent is the road of shedding the chains of the apparent and illusory world, or a world of sin and temporarily, in favor of a World more real and actual, or an eternal paradise. Most of the mainstream religions of the past 5,000 years in history have arisen out of a shared set of economic-structural agrarian bases.

Conventional religion has been so successful in uprooting unorthodox views of spirituality that sadly many people today believe that Ascent is all that spirituality is about. These souls have horrifically confused spirit with Spirit. No wonder many people want nothing to do with a Heaven or Nirvana or Paradise, when Gaia herself cries out for rejuvenation.

For Wilber, as for most in the integral spirituality movement, there is another type of spiritual path no less valid than Ascent: Descent. Descending paths identify reality with the here and now, this world, these relationships, this body, this mind, this soul. Descenders frequently tap into the primal root force of Existence–called Eros–and make the expression of Eros into a sacred activity of worship. Pre-agrarian religious traditions (often called Native American, indigenous, pagan, or goddess-centered worship) are examples of Descending paths. Paths of Descent may lead to prerational sentiments or transrational insights.

Out of these two primal typologies–Masculine/Feminine (on the horizontal plane), and Ascent/Descent or Self/Other (on the vertical plane)–we discover the primal cross at the heart of reality. When seen together as two intersecting lines, these two sets of two types each give rise to a more complex typology of four types. There are Masculine Ascenders, Feminine Ascenders, Masculine Descenders, and Feminine Descenders.

To put this typology in another form, as I do in Soulfully Gay, there are four core underlying types at the heart of all reality: Straight Men (other-directed masculinity), Straight Women (other-directed femininity), Gay Men (same-directed masculinity), and Lesbians (same-directed femininity). Bisexual and transgender represent various combinations of these types.

Of course, these typologies don’t really correspond exactly to socially-defined sexual identities, and persons of all genders and sexualities may actually be of any type. But as a generally valid orientation to get a discussion rolling along, it’s helpful to think about the four fundamental directions and forms of reality.