Sacred Relationships and the Third Gender

The theme of sacred relationships is an inevitable source of interest, especially in these times of transition, when many human beings on the path are awakening their multidimensional nature and moving beyond the confinement of close relationships.

The notion that the original human being had a multidimensional nature, incorporating male, female and a mysterious third polarity (Third Gender) is found in most ancient traditions and mythologies. This is described by terms such as androgynous (from the Greek andros, “man”, and gynos “woman”) and hermaphrodite (from the Greek god Hermaphroditus, embodying the sexual features of both his-her parents, Aphrodite and Hermes, together with the capacity of keeping them together, i.e. the Third Gender).

The original human being was generally depicted has having most powerful qualities. For example, in the Symposium, a controversial dialogue by Plato upon the nature of love, the author narrates an ancient myth about the first human beings through the speech of a character (Aristophanes).

The original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman, and the union of the two, of which the name survives but nothing else. Once it was a distinct kind, with a bodily shape and a name of its own, constituted by the union of the male and the female: but now only the word ‘androgynous’ is preserved, and that as a term of reproach.

In the second place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a circle; and he had four hands and the same number of feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond. He could walk upright as men now do, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his four hands and four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run fast.

Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them; because the sun, moon, and earth are three; and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and moved round and round because they resembled their parents.

These humans had such extraordinary qualities and intelligence that the gods became envious and fearful. Hence they decided to cut the human spherical body in two halves and get rid of the Third Gender (“the union of the two” or “man-woman”bit). Since then, the two separated parts have been trying to join up. “And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.”

The song “The Origin of Love” from the stage show Hedwig and the Angry Inch is based on the above story.

Franco Santoro