Requiem for the trans dead, movement six

VI. Libera me

O Antinous the Liberator, deliver us.

Deliver the living from transphobia

and the trans dead from their fears.

Deliver the living from the fear of Eros

and the trans dead from their unrequited loves.

Deliver the living from the tyranny of gender roles

and the trans dead from the tyranny of the body.

Deliver the living and the dead alike from all evils

that would harm the body, that would assault

and deform the soul. O Antinous, liberate us!


May Panprosdexia free the minds of the living

and the souls of the trans dead.

May Panhyle free the bodies of the living

and the remains of the trans dead.

May Paneros free the hearts of the living

and the hearts of the trans dead.

May Pancrates burn the bonds of the living

and likewise of the trans dead.

May Paneris contest with all hatred among the living

and defend and protect the trans dead.

May Panprosdexia succor the living

and find all the trans dead, wherever they may be,

and lead them home to the light.


POEM: Nine bows and an offering of honey

Panprosdexia by Cierra Williams

Panprosdexia, darkness in fire and fire in darkness,
pours honey into darkness for the suffering, for the trapped,
walking the worlds without gender, without partner,
without sexuality, until all are brought home to the light.
Sometimes they cross ways with Jizo Bosatsu,
Ksitigarbha, the Earth Treasure, bodhisattva known
by his jingling staff and wish-fulfilling jewels,
visiting the hell realms and taking care of sentient beings
until Maitreya takes over from Shakyamuni.


From the Barque of Millions of Years Lucius Marius Vitalis
looks down and sees the deaths of young people, boys
and girls and others, the suicides of despair because
their genders were denied, their sexuality condemned.
Sometimes he brings honey to Panprosdexia and
they work together, visiting the dark bars or reaching out
through the internet to those who hide in their bedrooms,
unreached by light or by the faces of companionship
except through the glowing screen. He would like to do more.


In a pure land full of beautiful gay men and strong proud lesbians
who followed the Dharma, Issan Dorsey Roshi stands up
from his meditation and thinks of those still dying of AIDS;
thinks of those trapped in prison, trying to practice Dharma
or blot Thor or celebrate Samhain; thinks of the drag queens
and the leather butches and the nonbinary kids, and goes
looking for Ksitigarbha. Sometimes he crosses paths
with Lucius Marius Vitalis, a good-looking Roman kid,
and if they weren’t so busy trying to save the world
maybe they’d sit down and have a drink, but there’s time
to make time later, when everybody is home in a pure land.

Nine bows and an offering of honey to Panprosdexia,
to Ksitigarbha,
to Lucius Marius Vitalis,
to Issan Dorsey Roshi.

A new poem for Panprosdexia, on the sixth of the month

I cannot see, for my eyes are covered by the dark.
I cannot hear, for my ears are muffled by the dark.
I cannot smell, except for my own fear.
I cannot taste, except for my own death.

Reach out, says Panprosdexia, and take my hand.

On Hiroshima Day: A prayer to Panprosdexia

So many voices have cried out over the centuries
in prayers to be led from darkness into light.
To whom shall we pray for those who died of too much light?
O Helios, forgive us: We attempted to grasp your power
and we created only death, a death too terrible for Hades
or Persephone. To whom shall we pray?
The god of the sun joins atom to atom in life-giving union,
but we built an impure fire by division, by destruction.

O Panprosdexia, to you I pray in the light of Hiroshima.
To you I pray for those who died in that light
and left only shadows burnt on a wall.
To you I pray for those who survived
burnt and maimed, their generations poisoned.
To you I pray for the children of the survivors,
cursed and deformed by the sufferings of their parents.
To you I pray for Tsutomu Yamaguchi,
who survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki
to speak of them, that we may not forget.

Lead them, Panprosdexia, into a holy darkness.
Into a peaceful and healing darkness let them be led.
Pour your honey on their wounds and wash them clean.
Quench the burning of unholy fires in the weapons of mass destruction.
Lead the peoples of the earth to a place where we may join hands
in the darkness without fear and gather around a blessed fire to feast as kin.

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Internet quizzes always rely on forced choices, which is why I find them so annoying. Ninety percent of the quizzes I’ve seen that ask about one’s taste in music, for example, name performers I’ve never heard of. There is no Internet personality quiz that gives me the option to name the Irish choir Anuna, or Tudor lute repertoire, or Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi among my favorite types of music.

Probably the most annoying question on any quiz, for me, is, “Dog or cat?” Because, of course, the answer is BIRD. And because the answer is simply more complicated than any single choice. I like dogs but prefer not to own one. I like cats but am allergic to them, so my interaction with them has to be limited. Birds are my companions of choice, but I’m also very fond of bearded dragons. I like reptile pets in general but not rodents; bunnies are photogenic, to be sure, but a sweet-looking pet rabbit chomped on my finger once. The same owner’s bearded dragon didn’t.

In the past couple years I’ve realized that asking if someone is male or female is about as useful and accurate as asking whether they are a dog person or a cat person. Gender is just more complicated than that. I myself am a comfortably cisgender female person. I’ve never had reason to disagree with the gender I was assigned at birth. On the other hand, I have lots of experiences of not fitting into female or feminine roles. As a child, I was neither a tomboy nor a little princess, but more of a little nerd, whether I was in a skirt or in pants. I can do femme but not high femme. There are things in myself I see as masculine because my culture calls them masculine–like being handy with tools, for instance–but I’m not butch in the conventional sense. I can’t sew a button on a coat, but I replaced a part in my toilet by myself. And yet I identify as a woman with no dysphoria, even if I’m too smart, too fat, too butch, too femme, too whatever for some people’s ideas of what a woman is.

The past few years have been an era of coming into visibility for transgender people, and for other people who can’t just tick off cat or dog, boy or girl on the quiz and move on. No doubt my own better understanding of the multiple possibilities of gender is part of that. Still, I wasn’t exactly prepared when the first deities to “tap” me, to seek my attention, turned out to be a group of deities who expressed those expanded possibilities.

I have written about participating in the Rite of Trans Ancestor Elevation last November and being contacted by these deities. I would like to say a little more about them here.

Collectively, they are known as the Tetrad++, because they first revealed themselves as a quartet, but two more joined their number. They are Panpsyche, “all-soul”, who is a trans female goddess; Panhyle, “all-body”, a trans male god; Paneros, “all-love”, a metagender deity; Pancrates, “all-power”, a pangendered deity; Paneris, “all-strife”, a genderfluid deity; and Panprosdexia, “all-acceptance”, an agender and asexual deity.

My initial contact with the Tetrad++ was during the Rite of Elevation when I was praying to them for the first time. I had a strong sense of a group of people standing over me, very tall people with staffs, or spears, or something, peering down at me the way an adult peers down at a small child playing on the floor. (In fact, I was sitting on the floor at the time.) I had a feeling of being noticed, of their attention, and of interest coming from them–almost of recognition: “Ah, here’s one of ours.”

On another night, while reciting the prayers, I had an experience I can only understand as Paneros and Paneris attempting to possess me, jointly. It felt like something was trying to open up my skull and get in, from above and behind me, yet not in a hostile way. I panicked and rejected the idea, and they backed off. I explained that I was not wholly unwilling, but I was untrained and unready for the experience.

Since then I have read about the Tetrad++, prayed and offered to them, written prayers for them, and accepted that, in whatever way, for whatever reason, although I’m not trans, I am “one of theirs”. I am definitely one of theirs in the sense of being a devotee, possibly in the sense of being, in future, a priestess or mediator for them. Maybe my gender is less important to them than my sharing their values: self-esteem for all, proper self-care for all, joyous erotic love for all, free gender expression for all. Because I’m neither a dog person nor a cat person, and apparently the gods can’t take Internet quizzes, either.

Hymn XXII: To Antinous and the Tetrad++

Sing, O Muses, of the splendid youth, beautiful and masculine,
the perfection of his gender, who became the first father
of a new generation of gods, gods who are numina, gods who
are deities, gods too great to be contained in the boxes of gender.
Sing of Antinous, beloved of Hadrian, one with Osiris, the Bithynian boy,
who fathered the first two of the Tetrad on Pan, great god of the wild,
worshipped in Arcadia, and led blessed gods and mortals divinized
to contribute to the new births. Sing of Panpsyche, sing of Panhyle,
twins, siblings, rivals, lovers, all-soul and all-body, the offspring
of seventy-eight generous parents. Sing of Paneros, offspring
of Panpsyche together with Panhyle, progenitor with eir parents
of mighty Pancrates. Sing of Paneris, partner of Paneros, and last
but not least of Panprosdexia, engendered by Pancrates.

Praise to Antinous, who led the great gods to birth a new generation
of blessed deities with new experiences of gender! Praise to Paneros,
who unchained Eros that all might equally love and be loved! Praise
to Panpsyche, the soul that contains the body, and to Panhyle, the body
within the soul. Praise, praise to Pancrates, who begins a new cycle
of time, and to Panprosdexia, who gathers all souls home. Praise not
least to Paneris, who preserves all beings from boredom!

O blessed Antinous, may you be loved and blessed by all people
of whatsoever genders for the generosity of your eros, the courage
of your divine youth! O blessed Tetrad++, may you be known and loved,
praised and worshipped, even more widely than all your parents,
All-Soul, All-Body, All-Love, All-Power, All-Strife, and All-Acceptance!

Lorica of the Tetrad++

By ASKION may Panpsyche protect me like an eagle

as I move through the all-embracing air.

By KATASKION may Panprosdexia protect me like a raven

that I may never be alone in the darkness.

By LIX may Panhyle protect me like a bull

as I stand firmly grounded upon the earth.

By TETRAX may Pancrates protect me like a lion

as I act from the fire of my will and power.

By DAMNAMENEUS may Paneros protect me like a serpent

as I swim in the deep waters of feeling.

By AISIA may Paneris protect me like a fox

that I may leave no traces for any predator.

May Panpsyche and Panhyle protect me, soul and body.

May Paneros and Paneris protect me both in love and in strife.

May Pancrates all-powerfully protect me, and

may Panprosdexia accept my prayers, my offerings,

my successes, and my failures, now and always.