Issue 21: Selkies & Shape-Shifters

Fixities break. And they lacerate. That is evident in this winter’s toxic political drama across the West. Right or left wing, a fixed ideology sharpens hatreds.

The virtue of queering culture, as we see it at The Demented Goddess, is to melt the hardened categories foisted on us, whatever our sexuality. Flowing beyond fixed roles erodes the soil beneath tyrannical structures. Even if you’re comfortable with your given social identity, this is the power of the shape-shifter.

This Solstice and New Year, we draw fire from shape-shifting idols.  Since the Roman feast of Saturnalia, the cusp time of Solstice has been ruled by gods of inversion. In the Northern Hemisphere, as the sun’s decline is overturned, spiritual retreat meets sensual excess. The kissing bough and mistletoe are ghosts urging the mingling of bodies. It’s a time of silence in chapel and the loosening of girdles. According to magick traditions, the pine, that tree of goddess groves and Dionysus and Pan, cleanses our homes and fortifies our spirit.

We long for good news. This remains the beauty of the Virgin birth, dangerous and undertaken by an unconventional couple, in temporary shelter, in a time of Empire and tribal hostilities. Christ was a Jew and a heretic, a shape-shifter who defied category like a queer. In his original sayings, found in ‘The Logia of Yeshua’, translated by Guy Davenport & Benjamin Urrutia, he’s recorded as saying, “Lift up a stone, you’ll find me there; split wood, I’m there.” Christ’s love transcends physical form. As for tribes, well, his gang all abandoned him, except for Mary the ex-whore and Mary his mother.

So, at this time of ongoing turmoil, we turn once more to those cultural lodestars who will not be reduced to a single-gendered body or a rigid political tribe.

In this issue, the negative connotations of black are transmuted in a new poem by Kandace Walker. Porn art maker Vex Ashley immerses herself in fluids. Selkie-like apparitions shed their skins over the  industrial landscape of photographer Laura Kimmel. Punk artist icon and goth mermaid Dame Darcy reveals her magick-assisted struggles to smash limits. Hanif Kureishi reclaims racist caricatures and sexual aggression. And music’s most heart-rocking shape-shifter, Ezra Furman, talks about being a punk and a Jew, and a girl and a boy, in one person.

Our resident DJ Caoimhe’s Lavelle’s lets loose with an enchanting, techno-disco-surf-rock mix. And enjoy our lil’ Readers Quiz to win signed copies of books by  Ocean Vuong, Hanif Kureishi and Lida Taddeo!

Solstice and New Year love on ya,



Soma Ghosh


Twitter @calcourtesan

The Demented Goddess has joined Twitter @GoddessDemented.


Main photo is ‘Ghost – Summon’ by Laura Kimmel, created with her collaborator and featured model, The Oracle.

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