|The Aquarian shift is underway, so much to be revealed about being gay! |
This is the time of Ganymede, the time for a revolution in belief….
THE AQUARIAN SHIFT
The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at Winter Solstice 2020 is being hailed by many astrologers around the world as a major step in the gradual dawning of the Age of Aquarius. We’ve had several of these over the past 50 years, the two headliners being the 1987 Harmonic Convergence and the 2012 Winter Solstice which coincided with the ‘end’ of the Mayan Calendar. I’m not sure what the big astrological story of 1995 was, but that was the year that I underwent a total transformation of my understanding and experience of existence, a shamanic rebirth brought on by HIV/AIDS, the year I became aware of what the Age of Aquarius actually means, and aware that I as a gay man might have some part to play in birthing it.
2020 was making astrological headlines even before it got here. Those who follow the clues of heaven by interpreting the dance of the solar system in the zodiac were well aware that in January 2020 the Saturn-Pluto conjunction was going to bring a huge challenge. Pluto has been transiting Capricorn since 2008, the year of the financial crash. His job here is to shake up the system and institutions that are running the show, to clear out old outmoded ways of operating in preparation for the Aquarian surge. He will be in the sign until 2023, and in 2020 has been making mischief with the help of both Saturn and Jupiter, which, due to its retrograde period, has been conjunct with Pluto three times. Pluto is the Lord of the Underworld, Hades, also known to ancient Celtic peoples as Dis Pater, who considered him the unified source of all creation. When he is in the show, things are passing away. In this case, the COVID-19 pandemic, our entire global civilisation is shaking.
Jupiter has completed his year in Capricorn and Saturn 2.5 years in his home sign. Together they meet at zero degrees of Aquarius on the 21st December, commencing 200 years of conjunctions (the two meet every 20 years) in air signs. For the last two centuries the conjunctions have been taking place in earth element signs, and it is easy to see that in this period humanity has made absolutely astounding advances in relation to how we manipulate matter. The mind comes next, an equivalently massive journey is about to begin on the mental plane, affecting how we understand ourselves, how we communicate and relate to each other, what we know about our place in the grand scheme of existence. We had a little taste of what is to come back in the 1981 conjunction: I was 16 that year, and I can remember the year had a special energy of new possibilities about it. After the grim and grungy 70s a shiny new future beckoned. This was encapsulated in the explosion of synthesiser music in that year, the arrival of the New Romantic youth culture.
Surely this conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius is the most widely publicised astrological event yet, due to the vast expansion of astrological teaching online since 2012. YouTube astrologers and astrology courses abound. Mainstream media still avoids the topic, or mocks it when it can’t avoid it, but a browse of social media paints a very different picture. Astrology is older than religion, was developed in the ancient Goddess temples of the Middle East, at the same time in China, India and the Americas, and indeed in prehistoric Europe, where the Druids of the Celtic peoples (whose culture was much older than the Greek and Roman) were masters of the art, which had likely already been developed during the late Neolithic Stone Age culture of the British Isles. Despite all the centuries of religion trying to suppress it and of scientific rationalism denying it any validity, interest in astrology is expanding. This is because astrology is a wisdom tradition, a spiritual framework, just as much as any religion, but it helps us to grasp the many energies affecting us on subtle levels all the time, it does not tell you what to do, it does not have gods setting down rules, nor do you need to consult a priest to get in touch with it, it’s available for all to study. It is a tool of empowerment, that engages both the rational and intuitive sides of our nature.
Astrology helps us to have a view of the ‘bigger picture’ both of our own lives and of human evolution, one that nurtures a sense of connection and belonging within us, and through revealing what underlying energies are at play at any time, helps us make informed choices and decisions. It also helps us to respect the impermanence of life and the many transformations we undergo while living it, plus the endless cycle of death and rebirth, making living in the here and now a richer, less fearful experience.
Thanks largely to the hit musical Hair from the hippy 1960s probably everyone on the planet knows that the planet is entering the Age of Aquarius. This is a long process, and the enthusiasm for it birthed in the 60s has been waning and waxing ever since. But after the dark trial of a global pandemic it seems likely to me that more people than ever will be hungry for some Aquarian light.
Which brings me to the reason for this blog site. A crucial aspect of Aquarian energy, which is acknowledged but generally underplayed by astrologers, and largely lost to the many of the people it most affects, is revealed in the mythology behind the sign.
The mythology of Aquarius is the story of Zeus, king of the gods, falling for shepherd Ganymede, transforming himself into an eagle to swoop down and whisk the young man to the heavens where he became cup-bearer to the gods. When the goddess Hera became jealous Ganymede was forced to move on, but Zeus placed him in the sky forever as the water bearer constellation Aquarius. Planet Earth is currently on the zodiacal cusp transitioning from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. The rise of human rights, gender equality, digital technology and gay liberation are all signs of this shift beginning in the second half of the 20th century.
Aquarius is also the sign of group consciousness. The ancient pagan urge to gather, dance and liberate the ecstatic spirit in the body never went away despite the religious suppression of pagan rites, and in fact it found a new way to burst forth in the 20th century through rock and dance music – raves in the 1990s were for many participants the most religious experiences of their lives. The arriving age of Aquarius is both an age of individual spirituality and collective experience that takes us into ecstatic loving communion, which liberate the soul energy within us. The controlling powers of the past are crumbling, but as yet little has appeared to take their place. We have to find our own light at this time on planet earth, but then be sure to shine it on and with others, for together we ascend, together we make the nightmare end, together we step through the astrological portals into the New (Still Dawning) Age.
This applies to everybody on the planet, but especially to LGBT – Queer people, because we are the ones whose roots, whose spirit, whose history and nature have been the most denied and suppressed. We need spirituality in our lives desperately, or we risk our spirit being consumed by the consumer culture, being moulded into copies of heterosexuals, when in fact our job here is to wake up, then wake the whole world up to the true meaning of liberation, to the fact that human beings are in reality so much more than they think are.
MY AQUARIAN STORY
I was a smalltown boy who arrived in London in 1986, coming out of the closet and embarking on an exploration of life and love that was to be threatened very early on by an HIV diagnosis and prediction of death. As I prepared myself for that end I dove into the mysteries of religion, occult magic, mysticism and new age teachings, seeking for some answers as to why I had been born in the first place.
AIDS took me to the twilight world between life and death, a place where realities merged and spirit entered. As my consciousness went into altered states I journeyed with spirit guides, gurus, dead brothers, star beings, angels and elemental spirits. My awareness opened up to a complex multi-layered reality in which human life is simply a component part, and the vehicle I used to make this journey was my own mind. Surviving a year with a cd4 count of less than 10, with lowest result of 3 t cells, I stubbornly held onto living and went on to recover thanks to advances in medical treatments, beginning a new life in which I seek to combine awareness of spiritual reality with a fully embraced and embodied physical experience here on Planet Earth, through celebrating and exploring our nature as sexual, social and spiritual beings.
In the early 2000s I became involved in the global Radical Faerie community and was part of the team giving birth to Folleterre Sanctuary in France and to Albion Faerie gatherings in the UK. In the following decade I was one of the founders of Queer Spirit Festival, a 5 day camping summer event dedicated to celebration of the creative, loving spirit of LGBTQ+ people.
About a decade after coming out I finally heard that what we call ‘queer’ people were often the shamans and healers of traditional tribal societies across the globe. Although there had been gay writers and visionaries telling this story since the 1970s (who developed a thread that had actually been woven already in the 19th century by early gay pioneers) I had not come across them. Nor would I have been open to their words since I had accepted the science-based material depiction of reality that secular society has adopted.
Facing imminent illness and predicted death from AIDS, I started to ask questions that I had left unvoiced before, about life and about sex – and before long I felt I was finding a crucial secret hiding in my sexuality, and the reason gay sex had been made a taboo. I began to wonder if the modern move towards political and social acceptance of queer people would ultimately result in the return of the powers and priestcraft our kind once knew. One thing was sure for me – the rationalist atheistic view on life I had taken on board while in the education system, was simply not an adequate description of the complex existence I was experiencing. Nowhere near.
When I came out in 1986 the few books that had been written about the spirituality of gay-lesbian-bi-trans, ‘queer”, people were far from my radar. Nor was I looking for, or open to, any spiritual meaning in my sexuality, I just wanted to have fun, to free my repressed nature, which of course was a completely spiritual goal, I simply didn’t know it.
In the three and a half decades since I found the courage to be true to myself and come out in a world that I knew would judge, even hate, me, many books have been published on the theme of our queer spirit that seek to expand the understanding of what being attracted to people of the same gender is all about. The first I came across was Gay Soul, Mark Thompson’s 1994 compilation of interviews with gay pioneers, bringing names such as Harry Hay, Will Roscoe, Ram Dass and Joseph Kramer into my awareness. This opened up the doors for me to start exploring the possibility that, far from being unnatural and abominable, my gay sexuality might be a holy gift. I soon discovered Mark’s other works Gay Spirit and Gay Body and the mystical writings of Andrew Harvey, whose work Gay Mystics draws out the hidden heritage of queer spiritual voices throughout time and in every corner of the world.
The turn of the millennium brought forth many new works on gay spirit, of course largely unnoticed by the commercially driven mainstream gay world. It’s clear to me that this flowering from mainly gay male writers was part of our response to the devastating challenge of the AIDS years. These books were truly ground breaking and covered all bases – such as offerings from
Andrew Ramer (Two Flutes Playing)
Toby Johnson (Gay Spirituality, Gay Perspective)
Christian de la Huerta (Coming Out Spiritually)
David Nimmons (Soul Beneath the Skin)
John Stowe (Gay Spirit Warrior)
Winston Leyland (Queer Dharma)
Will Roscoe (Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love)
Christopher Penczak (Gay Witchcraft)
Michael Thomas Ford (The Path of the Green Man)
These works, all published 1997-2005, were signs of the gradual opening up of the story around the spirituality of LGBTQ+ people the world over, which was also happening at increasing numbers of gay spiritual retreats, queer pagan and radical faerie gatherings at this time, a turning away from the tame and humble words of some gay people defending us within religious institutions and instead proclaiming the innate and ancient power in our sexuality, as well a manifestation of the longing for deeper meaning in their lives and love relationships than the often shallow immediacy of the mainstream gay scene.
These works built on the inspired writings of the earlier pioneers of this path –
Arthur Evans (Witchcraft and the Gay Counter Culture, 1978),
Larry Mitchell (The Faggots and their Friends Between Revolutions, 1977),
Judy Grahn (Another Mother Tongue, 1984),
Randy P. Connor (Blossom of Bone 1993).
Since 2005 more books have appeared as more authors share their own liberating insights, such as Salvatore Sapienza (Gay is a Gift, 2009) and Caffyn Jesse (Orientation, 2015). Some focus on de-colonising the notion of sexuality from the binary, western, psychological model developed in the late 19th century – when we look at diverse cultures around the globe it certainly becomes very apparent that homo and trans sexualities have a deep association with spirituality, long ago denied in the monotheistic religions. Thomas Prower takes a world tour on this theme in Queer Magic (2018). Raven Kaldera highlights the sacred history and power of gender-variance in Hermaphrodeities, while books such as Arcane Perfection (2017), a second Queer Magic (subtitled Power Beyond Boundaries, 2018), and The Book of Queer Prophets (2020) are compilations of writings by queer individuals each telling something of their personal tale and sharing their unique eye on the world.
My personal journey into magic and consciousness began in 1995, as this wave of queer spiritual energy was building. I explored esoteric schools, eastern spiritual teachings, celtic paganism and shamanism, but most crucially I surrendered to the internal process of awakening and transformation of being, undergoing a complete realignment of my own mind, heart and soul.
My journey with AIDS was a modern version of a very ancient experience of ego destruction and shamanic rebirth, one that would have been recognised as such in a traditional tribal setting, but which the modern medical world does not comprehend. I survived this annihilation and rebirth through finding a determination I had not known before, a devotion to the path of awakening and service, offered to the gay community that we might reclaim our holy queer spirit, discovering and proclaiming who we are, no longer allowing ourselves to be defined as ‘other’ by others; and I offer my work to the whole of humanity as a missing piece of the puzzle that, when put back into its place, will suddenly make the whole picture much clearer to see.
My contribution to the gradual remembrance of humanity’s cosmic nature is not simply intellectual and book bound, it is an engaged practice, a way of life since 25 years, the first five of those in my aids cocoon guided by the loving presence of the goddess and spirit friends, since then in lively, spirited, colourful, exploratory community with other questing queers who seek to release our creativity, passion, power and holiness, and be of service to the world. The gatherings of the early 2000s brought only a few dozen people together each time, Queer Spirit Festival, which had its first outing in 2016, was drawing in 500 people by its third in 2019. The queer spiritual web, which also consists of tantra, yoga, dance, sacred medicine and other workshops, festivals and events is evolving and growing, and our ancestor pioneers are looking forward to many more of us shining our magical, empowered, spiritual light strongly.
The 5th Dimensional Aquarian Awakening is coming to the planet – watch this space – follow this blog – for more.