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    Ergi

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    Ergi flag.
    Argr flag.

    Ergi, also known as Argr, is a traditional third gender role from Northern-tradition Shamanism, most commonly within Siberian culture and Scandinavian culture, to describe an AMAB individual who takes up a female role, or an AFAB individual who takes up a male role, and live their lives as Shamans. It can be described with modern language as transgender Shamans.

    This term, however, is most commonly used to describe transfeminine Shamans, rather than transmasculine ones.

    History and culture

    If you look at the research on shamanism worldwide - especially that from Siberia to the Inuit - you find the frequent presence of spirit-workers who transgressed gender roles and indulged in 'unusual' sexual practices. In some cultures, just showing evidence of any of these behaviors from a young age was considered a sign that a child was bound to be a spirit-worker of some sort, and was respected.

    Interviews with these Ergi report that, according to their spirtual and religious experiences, the spirits informed the shamans in question that they were required to put on the clothing and take up the jobs of the opposite gender; in some cases, they lived their whole life in this way, including taking lovers appropriate to their role, and in some cases the male-to-female shamans would ritually mime childbirth.

    Some claimed that they picked up the traditional skills of their new role as quickly as they did due to the spirits helping them with it constantly. In some cases, the transformed shaman believed or was accepted that they had a spirit-husband or spirit-wife who had transformed them to be the "right" gender for that marriage as far as the spirit-spouse was concerned. Researchers tell of the troubles of being married to such a one, as the spirit-spouse was considered the "real" head of household, and the shaman's spouse had to obey the commands of the shaman's spirit-husband or be fatally punished.

    Even here, however, the special role of these shamans show obvious signs of being considered seperate to cisgender men and cisgender women. Interviews repeatedly would come across the fact that while these transformed shamans were not necessarily fully accepted or much liked by their tribesfolk, nobody gave them too much trouble due to their perceived power. While tribesfolk differed on whether male or female shamans were stronger, they were united in believing that the Ergi were the most powerful of all. In fact, the social respect allocated to them was used by researchers as an example of the power attributed to shamans in general; if an ordinary individual of the tribe decided to change their gender expression, they might be shunned, but if a shaman did it, it was a sacred thing done by the spirits to give them extra power.

    It's also been observed that when it comes to tribal gender-roles and the tasks and taboos differentiated between them, there are really three gender roles - men, women, and shamans. Regardless of the shaman's gender presentation, they are permitted to do what is not permitted, because their position sets them apart, and because doing so gives them power. Male ergi shamans could be around women in childbirth without harm to themselves; women ergi shamans could touch sacred objects usually restricted from female contact.

    Transfeminine Ergi/Argr

    Transfeminine Ergi are often deemed as a "soft man", which almost all Shamans dreaded to be told to do by the spirits. Still, some received the command anyway, and had to go along with it or be killed. Some AMAB individuals apparently preferred death to going through this transformation, and received it. Many who started this transition did not go all the way through to the end. The transition starts with a change of hairstyle to that of the female roles, and then progresses to a change of clothing. The final phase has them changing their job roles in the tribe, taking on the tasks of their new gender, and marrying partners appropriate to their new role.

    An Ergi wife did not typically have to conform to the taboos of women. Unlike cisgender women, they could accompany their husband to battle, and rather than taking their husband's name, sometimes the husband took theirs instead.

    Sometimes, you may also find reports of male-to-female Ergi shamans who took up the role of women later in life, after they were already married to another woman, but remained labeled 'husbands' to their wives and 'fathers' to their children, merely adopting female clothing and household jobs. This means, in technicality, they are in a sapphic relationship while using masculine labels. Some also merely donned women's clothing during ceremonies.

    Flag

    The Ergi flag is divided into three columns and three rows. The outer columns appear to depict the Russian flag, and the central column displays lighter versions of these colors, appearing to reflect the transgender pride flag. The origins of this flag are unknown.

    The Argr flag was coined by an unknown user at an unknown point. The flag is a combination of the non-binary and transfeminine flags with the Norse rune Thurisaz, representing masculinity.

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