This is what happens when two of the Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence attempt to recreate famous photo shoots:
Sister Krissy Fiction doing her best impersonation of the Janet Jackson Rolling Stone cover.
This is what happens when two of the Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence attempt to recreate famous photo shoots:
Sister Krissy Fiction doing her best impersonation of the Janet Jackson Rolling Stone cover.
Look, mom, I’m on a podcast! This Week in Heresy interviewed me last week and the podcast was posted today, just in time for Pantheacon. Here’s a description of the podcast:
In this bonus TWIH episode, we welcome Sister Krissy Fiction, a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence from Portland, OR. We talk about what it takes to be a Sister, what the sisters do, and how Sister Krissy Fiction came to be. We also delve into gender non-conformance, theology, and how the pagan community is evolving.
This is second in a series of interviews that coincide with Pantheacon.
Sister Krissy Fiction, the nun that got nailed, is a Gnostic, Pagan, drag clown nun. In the past she has been a minister in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church and in the United Church of Christ. These days she is a practicing Gnostic, a devotee of Antinous and a member of an Alexandrian Witchcraft coven. She has been a fully professed member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for 8 years and is the Prioress of the Order of Benevolent Bliss in Portland, OR.
I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to my friend P. Sufenas Virius Lupus. During our conversation, we talked very briefly about my involvement in the Ekklesia Antinoou, and I mentioned PSVL in passing. In that mention I misgendered em. PSVL is a metagender person and requests that others not use conventional binary gender pronouns when referring to em. I strongly support the right of all people to self-identify and to be referenced in the fashion that they choose. PSVL is a personal friend. I have been aware of eir gender and eir preferred pronouns for quite some time now. As such, I should have known better, and I sincerely apologize for my lapse.
The following page has information on PSVL’s preferred pronouns as well as some worthwhile link to read more about metagender matters: https://aediculaantinoi.wordpress.com/a-note-on-pronouns/
Please feel free to comment if the conversation has sparked any thoughts or feedback!
Yesterday, I made this announcement on Facebook: “A couple times a year I always say I’m going to start blogging again. And then I don’t. But I really really really mean it this time. So, for the 382nd time, guys, I’m going to start blogging again. Soon. Very soon. No, really.”
Consider this my first step back out onto the dance floor.
But with the relaunch of this blog, I suppose that I should reintroduce myself. Here’s the quick and dirty rundown from the “About” section:
Sister Krissy Fiction, the nun that got nailed, is a former conservative Christian and participant in the “Ex-gay” movement for over a decade, but currently an out gay man, a drag clown nun, a devotee of Antinous, a Gnostic, and a Witch living in the hippy haven of Portland, Oregon.
Sister Krissy is a fully professed Sister of Perpetual Indulgence and Prioress of the Order of Benevolent Bliss in Portland. Her varied background includes education and work as a minister in a conservative Christian denomination, initiation into an Alexandrian Witchcraft coven with which she is still active, and initiation into the Antinoan mysteries through the Ekklesia Antinoou. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Staff Ministry and has done graduate coursework towards a Masters of Applied Theology.
The following was an introduction that I wrote a few years ago for another blog, but it’s still mostly accurate:
I’ve been a spiritual seeker the majority of my adult life. For most of that time I’ve struggled with labels. To many, I’m sure it looks like I’m all over the place. Am I just some weird drag clown nun? a Pagan? Christian Gnostic? Devotional Polytheist? Something else? Some people look at me and get the impression that I jump from religion to religion to religion, never really settling on one path or another. I can certainly understand why others might get this impression, and for years I struggled with how to define myself. While I still don’t have a good answer on having a singular label that defines my path, there are a few different labels that one could stick on me: Sister, Witch, Devotee, Gnostic.
Sister of Perpetual Indulgence – Yep, that’s me. I’m Sister Krissy Fiction, the nun that got nailed, a Fully Professed Sister of Perpetual Indulgence. Being a Sister is not technically a spiritual path. It certainly has no religious component. The Sisters have no religious affiliation, and for some Sisters being a part of the organization is a way to serve the queer community, but it’s not spiritual for them. Other Sisters have a strong background in Christianity, with the Radical Faeries, some other form of Paganism, or just consider themselves spiritual in general. The description on the page for the San Francisco Sisters states:
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.
When they elevate to the status of Fully Professed Sister, almost every Sister takes a vow to “promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt.” Those are big words that I boil down to: You are not defined by the labels (stigma) that others place on you. Rather, you are loved and worth loving just the way you are, no exceptions. Period. Exclamation point. The Sisters are here to remind you of this every chance we get. I list being a Sister as part of my personal spiritual path because I believe the vows I just shared are spiritual principles, and for me, being a Sister provides the most direct way to put my personal theology into action in the wider community. My identity as a Sister is a core part of my spiritual identity.
Devotee of Antinous – I am a Mystes Antínoou and was initiated into the Antinoan Mysteries in Spring of 2011. I experience interaction with the gods primarily through my devotion to the god Antinous. There are other gods I also interact with and have an important relationship with (Hekate, Dionysos, Pan, Aphrodite, the Wiccan Goddess and God, the Gods and Goddesses of the Unnamed Path), but my relationship with Antinous is one of my main focuses of devotion. Antinoan devotional practices are a part of my regular spiritual practice.
The blessings of Antinous are many. He is a god of love, beauty, harmony and poetry. He is a god of hunting and athletic competition. A god of profound mysteries who helps the soul transition from this world to the next, and a god of the mysteries of apotheosis. He is a god of ecstasy and freedom. Antinous is not just “a gay god” or a god for gay men or a god of being gay. He was and is available to anyone who prays to him, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Antinous was a young man from Bythinia who was the companion and lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. In October 130 – around the time of the festival of Osiris – Antinous drowned in the Nile river. The Nile was considered a sacred river by the Egyptians. Anyone who drowned in it was deified. Antinous was proclaimed a god by virtue of his death in the sacred river. For the Romans the erastes-eremenos relationship was not unusual, but the intensity with which Hadrian mourned Antinous’ premature death and encouraged his cultus in the eastern empire was without precedent. Temples were built for his worship in Bithynia, Mantineia in Arcadia, and Athens, festivals celebrated in his honor and oracles delivered in his name. The city of Antinopolis was founded on the site nearby where he died. After deification, Antinous was syncretized with and depicted as the god Osiris, Dionysos, Hermes, as well as many others. (The information in the last 2 paragraphs is a description from Ave Vive Antinoe – A Place of Devotion to Antinous, a group that I maintain on Facebook. It’s a mish mash of information and sentences from Wikipedia, info written by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, a sentence or two from Antinous for Everybody, sifted through my own words and editing.)
There are still those who are devoted to the worship of Antinous today.
The Ekklesia Antinoou (“Citizenry of Antinous”) is a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist form of mystical religion. The community is mostly online right now. There is a Yahoo Group for anyone interested in Antinous to gather and discuss, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus provides great commentary and resources over on his blog, Aedicula Antinoi, and there’s a handful of us hanging out on Facebook in the Ave Vive Antinoe group.
Gnostic – I am a modern Gnostic and the Gnostic worldview provides an essential philosophy and ideology, although I admit that I approach it from more of a polytheistic paradigm than a monotheistic one. Father Jordan Stratford’s Gnosticism 101 post on his blog is still my favorite place to send people when they ask me, “What is Gnosticism?” (This is right after they say, “Oh, you’re a Gnostic? I’m agnostic too.”) Some of his definition:
Gnosis means “knowledge”; a specific kind of intimate knowledge, the way lovers know one another… At the core of Gnosticism is gnosis, and the idea that enlightenment is a necessary and natural step of human experience. Early Gnostic texts are identified by [these] principal characteristics:
that it is gnosis, not faith, that saves us from deception…
that the universe “flows out of” God, the way ripples emanate from a stone dropped in water…
that the “Spark” of Divinity is immediately present in the world and constantly available to us, even if it is obscured by illusion and ignorance…
Contemporary Gnostics would add a further point; that the system or daily world of our experience – one of deadlines, “spun” media, spilled coffee, parking tickets, and traffic jams – is an artificial construct, and we have a responsibility to wake up from this illusion into a real, spiritual world outside of “the powers that be”.
I still have a great fondness for liberal, progressive Christianity, especially the United Church of Christ, but even when moving in Christian circles, I tend to experience Christianity through a Gnostic and polytheistic lens.
Witch – I am an initiated member of an Alexandrian Witchcraft coven in Portland Oregon. Alexandrian Witchcraft is a Wiccan tradition that is part of British Traditional Witchcraft (BTW). There are probably as many definitions of Wicca as there are people who claim to follow it, but I actually think the standard dictionary definition provided by Merriam-Webster provides a decent, generalized definition: “A religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs and practices of western Europe that affirms the existence of supernatural power (as magic) and of both male and female deities who inhere in nature and that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles.” BTW is the high church, Episcopagan version of that definition focusing on the Craft as an initiatory, mystery tradition that preserves core orthopraxy. Alexandrian Witchcraft also tends to include more ceremonial magic and Qabalistic practices.
And there you have it. This gay drag nun Antinoan mystery initiate gnostic witch queerdo is blogging again. What’s that mean? A few times a week I’ll be using this space to write and muse on the spiritual life, LGBT issues and queer culture, devotion to Antinous, Occultism, thoughts on politics and humor, observations on modern Neopaganism and the Craft, Gnosticism and Esoteric Christianity, promulgating universal joy and expiating stigmatic guilt, being a queer nun, and whatever else tickles my fancy (I am quite ticklish).
Sit down, buckle up, and hold on!
Time to get back out on the dance floor! One of my intentions this year is to do more writing. I’ve committed to do one poem or devotional writing related to Antinous a month, and I’d like to do more writing on spirituality, queer issues, and culture in general. As Pantheacon is approaching, now seems like as good a time as any to use this space to post my queer and quirky musings. Watch this space in the coming days!
T. Thorn Coyle recently posted a blog entry where she talked about a dream she had where the phrase “Love > Fear” was tattooed on her and others around her as a reminder that, “Love is greater than our fears. All of them. Even the very real fears. Even the imagined fears. Love is greater.” It’s a simple but profound sentiment.
I’ve felt an affinity for the Love > Fear phrase ever since I saw it on a bumper sticker several years ago. I bought that sticker and had it on my car for several years (you can too!). Since then I’ve kind of adopted it as my personal slogan. I listed it under the “Rules by which I live” section on my “about” page for the Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence website. I’ve also used it anytime I have to sign my name as a Sister. Many of the Sisters have personal tag lines. Mine is, “the nun that got nailed.” But I’ve unofficially added Love > Fear to that because I resonate with it so much.
Yeah, it’s short enough to fit on a bumper sticker, but when you get down to it, the phrase has some deep meaning. When we think about love, many of us think about the emotion of love. We think about how love feels – warm, fuzzy, affectionate. However, when I say that love is greater than fear, I’m not speaking about the emotion of love. Emotions come and go. Love, I believe, is an action. Or, as DC Talk says, love is a verb. It’s something you do.
When I was a conservative Christian I remember hearing the story about a Christian minister (the story might have been about Billy Graham) who was asked what would happen if they fell out of love with their wife. Their reply was that they would get on their knees and start to pray and that they wouldn’t get up until they could act lovingly toward their wife.
I no longer share a common theology with Billy Graham (believe it or not, I used to), and I no longer believe that all relationships are meant to last “’til death,” but I do think the story illustrates a couple powerful points. First, that sometimes relationships are as much about commitments than they are about emotions, and second, that sometimes love is a behavior we choose to engage in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we should stay in bad relationships out of some sense of obligation. I’m not saying that it’s all about commitment and that emotions don’t matter. But ALL relationships require some effort and compromise, regardless of whether we’re talking about a marriage, a friendship, or even a work relationship. All relationships have those moments where you don’t feel the emotion of love. Instead, in that moment, you may feel frustration, resentment, anger, bitterness, or whatever else is going on. Those are all fear based emotions. Choosing to love is stronger than fear.
Love is a choice. When I am in a moment of anger, I can still choose to act lovingly. It’s hard. It’s much easier to be tossed around and let our behavior be dictated by whatever emotion is on the surface of our being at the moment. Love becomes stronger than fear when we choose, in those moments, to let our actions reflect our own Divine spark and respect the Divine spark that we know is present in those that are angering us. The question isn’t how can I feel love in this situation, but rather, how can I *be* love in this situation? How would love behave?
And to go off on a another Christian tangent – I used to be a Lutheran minister, after all! I believe that this attempt to *be* love in every situation is one the core messages of the Jesus myth. The story of Jesus is, in part, the story of a man who was so at-one with the Divine that he was love in every moment. Even to the point where they were killing him, he was love. It’s not that he felt this overwhelming emotion of love towards them. But, I believe, that he was *being* love even in those moments. So the real question for a follower of the Christ is how can you be love in every moment?
(Yeah, I’m a Pagan, but I’m also a Nun. I gotta get my church on every now and then!)
To flip this around, if we are going to say that love is a verb, I believe the same is true of hate. I see lots and lots of anti-gay bullies out there who want to say, “love the sinner, hate the sin!” Or they want us to believe that they really don’t have an issue with me as a person. They truly love me. But they just don’t think I should have the same rights as every other American citizen. Since they don’t feel the emotion of hate when they think about me, or they aren’t wrapped up in hateful emotions, they think that their standing against my “lifestyle” is somehow made more legitimate. I call bullshit, honey. you can practice hate without feeling the emotion of hate, just like you can practice love without feeling the emotion of love. When you vote to deny someone their fundamental rights, or vote to enshrine discrimination into law, then you are practicing hate, simple as that. And when we act in any way that diminishes another human being, whether through words or actions, we are practicing hate.
I believe the mission of the Sisters to promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt is a way that we have chosen to state that love is greater than fear. The actions of love will win out against the actions of hate. Stigmatic guilt is the guilt and shame that has been placed on you by acts of hate from outside sources. We all get these messages from our families, church, school, government, or society in general. You’re a fag. You’re a dyke. You’re a tranny. Your marriage isn’t as real as mine. God doesn’t love you. You’re a whore. You’re not good enough for this family. And on and on. We’ve all heard the messages to some degree or another, and so we all have some stigmatic guilt. The Sisters are here to expiate that. Expiate is a fancy shmancy word for “fix” or “repair”. And how to we do that? By promulgating universal joy. For me, I see universal joy as something similar to the agape love that Christians speak about. It’s pure unconditional acceptance. It’s a radical acceptance. To break this all down into plain language. I’m here to tell you that you are not defined by the labels that other people have placed on you, or that you place on yourself. You are loved. You are worth loving. Period. No exceptions. And I’m here to remind you of that as often as I can.
In other words, love > fear.
In order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve come from. This then, is my origin story:
Sister Krissy Fiction was born from the tears of a god, although nobody is quite sure which one. Since it is a theological truth that glitter is eternal, it’s not a surprise that one day that particular god got a tiny speck of glitter in his (or her?) eye, which caused one single tear to flow down her (or his?) cheek. From that tear, a nunling was born.
Seeing the newborn clown nun the god’s tear had created, the deity bestowed on her a mission to bring glitter, joy, and radical acceptance wherever she went. However, the lingering glitter also caused the god to sneeze, which caught the newborn and expelled her down to the physical realm of earth, where Krissy landed with a thud in Livermore, California.
The force of the impact erased all memory of her true origin. Lost and confused, she was taken in by a family of fundamentalist tent revivalists and, forgetting her mission, settled down in San Antonio, Texas, where she got married and became the pastor of the First Lutheran Church of Jaysus.
One night, she had a dream that led her away from the life she had started and followed a voice beckoning her to the Pacific Northwest. For days on end she followed the voice, travelling 2,400 miles until she finally came to Portland, Oregon and the banks of the Willamette River. Overwhelmed with exhaustion, she fell into the river and drowned. Her body was discovered by a roving band of transdykes, muscles bears, and drag queens. As they hovered over her, imploring the local spirits to intervene, some glitter from one of the drag queens floated down and landed on Krissy’s nose. Immediately, her eyes opened and she began to remember the voice which called her to the City of Roses. She recognized it as the voice of Portlandia, the goddess of Portland, who had been calling her true name.
Donning her veil and white face, Sister Krissy Fiction, the nun that got nailed, regained full knowledge of her life’s mission of promulgating omniversal joy and expatiating stigmatic guilt. On that fateful day, Krissy regained her powers and continues to this day to service the community with glitter, joy, and radical acceptance.