Wolf Mode (secular explanation)

On some of my other blogs, I have a tag called #Wolf mode, and after running across a comment from someone wondering why Dominant leaning people tend to do the wolf thing, I thought I’d write a bit on how I’m approaching this.

I’ve tried to rephrase this opening to not sound Like That, but really, I can’t avoid the werewolf lit in my younger years. When I hadn’t realized I was trans yet, the physical strength of the women characters (on par with or stronger than the men) and capacity for the women to ‘outrank’ men was appealing. These weren’t women who were fragile damsels in distress who needed a strong man to rescue them, you know? Though problematic in some areas about how the roles were still gendered, the Alpha/subordinate dynamic did make some allowances for w/w and m/m ships, and the fledgling queer that I was, I needed some place to look for that.

Lunar transformation as metaphor for menstruation also provided a way to alter how I viewed my relationship to being a menstruator. These were often big women (not dainty) and often hairier than the smooth, practically prepubescent images of conventional media and porn. As someone trying to deal with social messages about what was appropriately ‘womanly’ (and hated shaving), I found a little relief in a character who didn’t have to get rid of their body hair. Add in lycanthropy as metaphor for HIV (most well known example is Remus Lupin), and I was pretty solidly in the werewolf camp. Being turned and experiencing a second puberty of sorts that seemed awfully similar in some ways to transitioning? Cherry on top.

(But wait, a reader may be thinking, you’ve also got vampire shit in #Wolf mode? That’s not being in the werewolf camp?) Despite what some franchises would like you think, you don’t have to split yourself solely among vampires or werewolves. Especially when you start browsing romance or erotica, they’re often shelved in close proximity to each other, in a manner of speaking. I view the animalistic, feral, and more Predator aligned aspects with both groups, but depending on what you’re trying to read, some stories focus on that more in the vampire category.

True, it depends on where you’re getting your romance and erotica stories from, but some writers can split kink distribution differently between the two categories. I attribute blood, knives, scratching, biting, leaving bruises, Marking, Claiming, and quite frankly a lot of sadism with either, but for example, a fair number of people default to vampires for biting and blood. (Maybe I’ve gotten a little jaded from a segment of fanfiction, but you don’t have to turn the character into a vampire in order to have blood play. Really.)

(So you’ve got a thing for sadism. How is this any different from other dominants connecting to their inner Predator in this way?) Keeping in mind that I’m not a wolf expert, I’d say pack dynamics and how they are commonly portrayed in werewolf and wolf-shifter stories. Ah yes, the Alpha route that takes inspiration from outdated wolf pack dynamics (notably, Alpha Men™ looking for their submissive mate, who is commonly a woman). Now, it does work for some people in terms of Dominant/submissive and top/bottom, or I imagine it wouldn’t still linger in storytelling and irl roleplay. There can be something satisfying about clearly defined hierarchies and group dynamics, but sometimes, the determination of who falls where leaves something to be desired. (At the person opening with “looking for bitches / females to breed”: Yikes.)

(Not everyone does Alpha/beta like that. You just have to look past the posturing.) My gateway was wolf related fiction (and research for fic), not preexisting D/s or top/bottom roleplay. Packs where humans don’t throw random wolves together in captivity are mostly family units, which means the alpha pair are typically the main breeding pair (mother and father, if you will). In the smaller, one family packs with only one breeding pair, the ‘betas’ and ‘omegas’ are different generations of siblings. Alpha starts to seem like a moot descriptor, since “calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent or a doe deer as an alpha. Any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so alpha adds no information” (source). And honestly, after exposure to A/B/O aka Omegaverse in fanfic, bringing out ‘beta’ and ‘omega’ doesn’t have a wolf / pack dynamic aspect to me.

(I think you might be overcomplicating this. I just want to be a Dom referred to as an Alpha, and I want to call my sub a beta.) You do you. When someone starts bringing in wolf stuff, I have to cycle through what they don’t mean: Wolf/human, Tamer/wolf, Alpha/Alpha (top/bottom/switch factoring, but not necessarily involving D/s), and wolf/wolf (related to puppy play, more or less, with both participants being pack members). One person’s pack is a D/s couple, but another person’s pack can be an Alpha/Alpha pair with each Alpha having at least a sub, cub, pup, etc. Den Mother/Father may not be involved if Cg/l isn’t combined with puppy play, it’s entirely possible to have non-sexual puppy play, the submissives don’t have to be “shared” by the Alphas, etc.

And that’s why the ‘you’re just another ~Alpha Wolf~ dom’ thing feels like we’re on different pages. I’m not necessarily an Alpha looking for a beta, and inhabiting Wolf mode doesn’t always mean I’m a Dominant looking for a submissive. Sometimes I need to let my inner sadist and Predator out to play, but other times I have a strong caretaking urge to be Den Leader taking care of a cub.

Menstruation Does Not Equal Feminine

[At least half of my response is critiquing part of the caption, which has been edited in order to not sound angry, passive-aggressive, or salty. Like, I don’t particularly care if no one reads my personal responses to the questions, but please take away that menstruation =/= feminine. You can just call someone a menstruator, which doesn’t presume anything about their gender.]

No # post: Menstruation & Hormones

Source. Captioned: These questions were suggested by bugsdaffy4401duck. We sincerely hope that our male followers will forgive us for delving into a uniquely feminine area.

Part of the caption: “We sincerely hope that our male followers will forgive us for delving into a uniquely feminine area” (emphasis mine).

One hand: Yes, working on breaking down US culture around the taboo of talking about menstruation is important. Depending on where you live and your access to sex ed without Christian overtones (that often tie into purity culture), there are adults who need accurate information about what their bodies are doing and how to effectively manage their menstruation experience (ex. the difference between ‘everything is normal’ and ‘something is wrong’ period pain). Cis women do need places where they can talk about this sort of stuff, and I’m not trying to silence anyone.

Other hand: There are trans men and transmasculine people who also menstruate. [Example #1, #2, #3, and not every trans man experiences dysphoria around menstruation (#4).] Objectively, you can repeat to yourself that menstruation is not an inherently feminine act, but you also can’t wave a magic wand and make a lifetime of socialization disappear (menarche is a sign that “you’re a woman now”, menstrual products are marketed and shelved as “feminine products”, menstrual product dispensers and those little bins in the stalls are in women’s restrooms, the way some women frame insertable products (tampons, cups) as better than pads even though transmasculine people may find pads better for their dysphoria, etc.).

Third hand: I’ve only ever come across anecdotal stories, but some trans women who are on HRT may experience cramping and other PMS symptoms on a cyclical basis. This isn’t to say that their experiences with period pain/discomfort are exactly the same as a cis woman’s, but there are women who do not menstruate [Yes, Trans Women Can Get Period Symptoms]. “There is no singular universal definition of womanhood. We cannot be reduced to vaginas alone, nor periods, nor motherhood” [I’ve Never Had a Period But I’m Still a Woman].

Fourth hand: There’s not really a singular, all encompassing way that a nonbinary person relates to menstruation because it will depend on their particular dysphoria and any specific labels. [What Trans & Non-Binary Menstruators Should Know About Periods; that writer’s perspective.] Personally, it is not a newsflash to me that my body is doing something in line with the average cis woman’s body because I was assigned female at birth and haven’t taken medical steps to alter my body, but I don’t feel comfortable with describing this bodily function as feminine. I try to avoid female = feminine because people can wind up going female (sex) = woman (gender) = feminine; even though they may mean well, “females” becomes a substitute for “women” instead of meaning those AFAB. I am a menstruator, a person who menstruates.

Hormones

Menstruation and the hormonal fluctuations that tag along are something about my body that I cannot control. I can’t submit to someone when I’m dealing with PMS and menstruation; I need to exert control over something and that is more likely to come out as Dominance instead of submission. If I were in an established dynamic with a Dominant who didn’t have any switch tendencies and didn’t want to offer submission, even in a slight way (no scenes or play, but perhaps a change in titles, f’ex), I’d honestly need a break from the dynamic.

Some people write like they hate the idea of taking a break from a dynamic and having days where someone says, ‘I’m not feeling it today’, but I’m not incorporating managing menstruation into a dynamic where I’m a sub. You can be the most loving, caring, understanding, well meaning Dominant, and you can come up with The Best Self Care Plan, but I can’t ‘give’ you my body at a time like that. I can’t be your property, you can’t own my body, you can’t talk about my body possessively, and there’s no marking, claiming, MINE stuff. Doesn’t matter if you’re a menstruator or a non-menstruator; I need to manage my own self care because this is my body.

There are people who will think this is a bit absolute and very unsubmissive. I might find that I can have a dynamic where I just need to have a different level of protocol, rules, and technically not take a break with a *particular* Dominant. Personally, I would rather set large boundaries on this in the beginning and discover where I’m comfortable adjusting them later after my partner experiences a few cycles. Just sharing that it’s happening can be nerve-wracking enough because I’ve grown up trying to hide that I menstruate to avoid ‘time of the month’ teasing (of course you cried at that picture of a cute puppy, a variety of cat noises or bitch comments if I snap or get short with someone, it’s no wonder you’re eating like that, etc.).

Period Pain

I’ve never done pain play while menstruating, but I know from my past experiences with activity that would be considered self-injurious that it would be safer for me not to mix these activities. I’m not equating pain play and self-injury, but sometimes, the lines can get blurry, especially all the mental stuff going on inside the bottom’s head. I can see myself wanting to be hurt in some way so I can escape what else is going on with my body (as opposed to using pain to ground). Punishing my body in the short-term might feel alright (neurotransmitters, adrenaline, and stuff), but long-term I can’t build up that habit without firmly entrenching the connection between ‘body is menstruating’ and ‘body needs punished’.

Emotional Fluctuations

Not to be too glib, but everyone is always hormonal. In theory, those AMAB experience a daily cycle of fluctuating testosterone and those AFAB experience a monthly cycle of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone (AMAB people also have estrogen, and there are activities that can cause hormonal fluctuations outside of these rough cycles, but this isn’t a full breakdown of endocrinology). Have I ever gotten into an argument solely due to monthly hormonal fluctuations? No, but I’ve certainly found myself with a shorter rope that makes it harder to ignore other stressors I may experience (for the cis: misgendering is a stressor), which tends to get eaten up by pretending to everyone outside my living space that nothing is amiss. Inside the living space, there’s a lot of biting my tongue because I actually don’t want to come across like That Bitch who bites everyone’s heads off. (Will this reduce when I can shift around the closets I’m in and reduce overall misgendering and dysphoria? Possibly.)

Lent (viii)

LGBT Stations of the Cross shows struggle for equality [Link]

Original date of this post: March 9, 2013

Context: It was during the time of oral arguments for United States v Windsor, which lead to a June 26, 2013 ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) restriction of marriage/spouse to heterosexual marriages was unconstitutional.

“Stations of the Cross: The Struggle for LGBT Equality” is a new set of 14 paintings that link the crucifixion of Jesus with the history of LGBT people.

“In the sacrifices of martyrs of the LGBT movement, we can come to a new understanding of the cross, and of what it means to be part of the body of Christ,” explains Tennessee artist Mary Button in her official artist statement.

Button painted the LGBT Stations series for Believe Out Loud, an online network empowering Christians to work for LGBT equality. They invite churches and faith groups to download and use the images for free.

[Note about sharing the series on the Jesus in Love Blog. The overview can be found at the bottom of the page of this post.] The original paintings will be displayed in Washington DC during Holy Week, which coincides with Supreme Court oral arguments on same-sex marriage.

Button matches each traditional Station of the Cross with a milestone from the past 100 years of LGBT history, including Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the Stonewall Rebellion, the assassination of gay politician Harvey Milk, the AIDS pandemic, ex-gay conversion therapy, the murder of transgender Rita Hester, the ban on same-sex marriage, and LGBT teen suicides.

The Stations of the Cross are a set of artistic images traditionally used for meditation on the Passion of Christ. They tell the story of his crucifixion from his sentencing until his body is laid in the tomb.

After Easter Button plans to paint Station 15 showing the resurrection. “I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule DOMA unconstitutional and I’ll be able to create a Resurrection piece about the ruling!” she told the Jesus in Love Blog.

Update:Station 15: The Resurrection Of Christ” was completed soon after the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling for marriage equality.

Brocean & Night-Blooming Cereus

In mid-February of 2017, I sent an ask to Gef on tumblr for a FotN oracle reading, even though I do have the deck. (Sometimes, it’s interesting to see how other people will interpret a reading.) I got:

Night-Blooming Cereus (Understanding). A new perspective might be needed. Keep focused, avoid giving away your power. A question you may wish to ponder: What is going on right now that may help or hinder my path?

By my own divination, I was able to figure out that it was about this Njord / Poseidon ship I refer to as “brocean”. I had to process a certain amount of gentleness and emotional connection within this ship because two ‘men’ in a ship can still be gentle and emotional (I have mlm human ships to go off, but Deities technically don’t fit in human gender terms). I need to keep focused on the inevitable process of embodying my People instead of giving too much power to recon or revival polytheism / paganism (certain specifics of blending traditions aren’t relevant to me).

I am the ocean and the gentle lap of the waves against the sand. I am the give and take of the tide, knowing when to compromise and when to hold firm. I move around rather than trying to force my way through. I don’t have to be immovable, stoic, and emotionless. I feel, express emotions, am gentle. The ocean isn’t always calm, but that doesn’t mean I can only feel anger or a particular slice of the actual emotional spectrum. I can be the cool water and the warm sun.

Hindrances. Well, I didn’t exactly internalize problematic socialization from nowhere, so I need to uninstall and fix how I view and react to others and myself. Depending on the exact issue, it’s sometimes easier to change how I relate to others than how I relate to myself and vice versa. I may not want to feel certain emotions because it’s uncomfortable af, and I may disguise certain emotions because of reactions from others (their socialization or “Society”), for example. It’s almost a matter of creating myself as my own role model in some areas, since I’m not aware of major existing representation to look to.

A few days later, after opening my own deck (includes a guidebook), I added to my notes that while “sensual aspects of ships are highlighted” I shouldn’t “lose my purpose”, or in less direct quotes, a queer relationship — a queer identity — is more than the physical, sexual activity that may or may not happen. I don’t have to publicly share my personal point on the allosexual – asexual spectrum [irl] because my “sexual orientation” is more than answering who’d I fuck.

The guidebook also mentions that ‘sensitivities may be heightened’, so grounding may be beneficial. At the time, Nidhogg was more the one for grounding info, but brocean would like to obviously point out the benefits of grounding in fluidity (water). Also – controlled breathing; awareness of blood flow / heartbeat; and listening to a heartbeat, someone breathing, or something rhythmic (not limited to the ocean).

Lent (vii)

There was some absolute chatting with my QT dead during the summer of 2016 [and Tantrum Theatre] outside of our scheduled chats, especially after the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida. They wanted me to donate a pint of blood on their behalf in the memory of the victims and in solidarity with other QT people donating afterwards (even if we were located far enough away that our blood wasn’t guaranteed to be used in Florida). The following are from “T 2016” with minimal editing.

Prep – 6.28.16: Prayer to Flaquita

Hail Flaquita, Lady of the Streets, and the halfway home, and the homeless shelter, and the hotel, and the couch of a friend’s apartment. Hail the Lady of Uncertainty, and not knowing if your family will let you stay, or use your pronouns, or deadname you, or ignore you, or force you to live a lie. Hail to my Lady who knows what happens to the liminal ones, the ones who fall between the cracks, and the ones who slide under the radar. May your bony hand be a reassurance among this uncertainty and a comfort no matter where I live. Hail Flaquita.

Prep – 6.29.16: Logistics

In the wake of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, there was a need for blood in that immediate area. I saw it suggested in online places for other QT people – who can give – in other places to do so as a way to help out. There was a better timed drive last week, but the decision to give was spur of the moment and I couldn’t get there with [redacted]’s shuttle service like I had planned (they want 24 hours notice). It’s my first donation after my debt was eaten up by my previous six donations (part of the Burning negotiations), and I’m hoping that things go well. I feel like it’s the least I can try to do when I’m not automatically turned away for being a gay man / ‘MSM’ – something brought up in the aftermath when young queer men wanted to give.

Prep – 6.30.16: A prayer for Flaquita

Hail Lady of Blood, of bruises and welts and injuries for existing, of the birth blood in the immediacy of our new lives, of the courage and desperation in our veins. Hail Lady of the bullied, troubled, abused, victimized, and killed. May our brothers, sisters, and kin find a peace with you that they may not have been able to find in life. May their spent blood be replenished by the donations of their consenting living kin; may their spilled blood be the fuel for vengeance against the bullies, abusers, rapists, killers, the oppressors. Hail Flaquita.

7.3.16: Feedback

I don’t know if it’s because I was relieved that I wasn’t deferred, relieved that despite our meal break being rescheduled [cutting it very close to affecting the donation time I signed up for during the initial meal break] I still had enough time, or the actual removal of blood, but I felt better emotionally after giving.

A part of me knows that it’s kind of not good to look forward to a pint of blood and some extra for testing to be removed from my body. On an energetic level, it’s not good to imbue the donation with ‘taking bad shit from me’ vibes because then that’s unnecessary shit for the donation receiver to deal with. Nidhogg handles this, as a cleansing, and neutralizes everything before the blood is used, though, because it’s “too much of an opportune time to not cleanse”.

I’ve never really been an energy feeler, so I haven’t been as aware of this aspect, but there’s something about the primal quality and the coping aspect. It’s a sterilized, more modern, and safer alternative to bloodletting and just bleeding out. When the brainweasels get too chatty, I can get rid of the pint because I don’t need it and this can actually be beneficial to someone else.

While I didn’t publicize that I was doing this with the Pulse shooting in mind, I could kind of feel that my dead were supporting me. Regardless of my reception / discernment, they were supportive of this being used in memory of the victims and in practical support of the need for blood for the survivors. My queer dead are quieter than my trans dead, but they’re happy that I did this.

Lent (vi)

Scrolling through my “T 2015” doc, I came across an applicable entry to share from 3.1.15 – Homelessness. My goal wasn’t to paint a doom and gloom picture, but I was wondering if I wanted to face the struggle of coming out to my family and having to be their teaching moment at that time, and I honestly looked at the odds and decided that I didn’t want to risk it.

{Reference to an old playlist for my QT dead where I had “The A Team” in different acoustic covers at that time of writing.} Statistically speaking, things don’t look good.

“One in five transgender people in the United States has been discriminated when seeking a home, and more than one in ten have been evicted from their homes, because of their gender identity.

[…] One in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Family rejection and discrimination and violence have contributed to a large number of transgender and other LGBQ-identified youth who are homeless in the United States – an estimated 20-40% of the more than 1.6 million homeless youth.” (Source.)

Discrimination at home, often linked to coming out to family, and discrimination and bullying at school are higher among LGBQ and trans homeless youth (62%, school percentages can be found at above source since it’s broken down). I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that a transgender person will be kicked out of their homes because they came out to their family, but the odds aren’t exactly in their favor.

Homeless shelters in the local area may be a better way to try to contribute to literal assistance with transgender youth, though general information doesn’t hurt. Overall, this idea points towards a concern that may be of more relevance to some than marriage equality, and it plays into why I call the line of candle inspiration The Home You [All] Never Had.

Personally, this is also why I have no intention of coming out as transgender to my family until I do not need to rely on them for shelter / food / monetary assistance. I don’t know how they will react, and I do not want to find out that they fall into the category of families that kick their children out when I still need assistance.

May prayer roll

While I am aware that this post is several years old by the time I’m reblogging it [for the April video], it’s easier to listen to Someone’s prodding.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

I’m preparing to record the video of Loki’s temple space for the month of May; with any luck, it will get taken care of the last week of the month. If you would like your name or a particular request added to the prayer roll that will be placed on the altar at that time, please email virtualtempleproject at gmail dot com. (Anonymous requests are also accepted; no one will see the prepared list except myself and I will respectfully dispose of it after the ritual is complete.)

This is an entirely free service though if you would like to support the activities of the virtual temple, donating $1 via PayPal to virtualtempleproject at gmail dot com would be very appreciated.

If you are interested in sponsoring any of the worship implements – incense, candles, flowers, and beverage offering – please send $10 via PayPal along with what item you…

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