From 2000 onwards I’ve met hundreds of people in transformation, practitioners of alchemy, soul healers and channels of spirit. Men, women, trans folk, queers, straights, faeries … when we reach a certain point of the path of growth all labels are seen as temporary, as changeable. We are all made up of energies, drives and desires that change over time. At the core we are all the same: a manifestation of conscious loving awareness. You are another Me, I am another You. Through what we have in common we learn much more than through what is different in us. And yet the diversity, the many colours of life, is what we celebrate. Through diversity we illuminate unity. At summer festivals, spiritual retreats, queer gatherings I started to connect with a new culture of exploration, understanding, creativity and light. This is the emerging energy of the Age of Aquarius. I am an Aquarian – born with a no-nonsense Capricorn Moon. Helping others to take the step out of the old age with its conflicts and divisions into a new age of understanding and light is what brings joy to my soul.
We are spirits of light. We have lived many times and achieved greatness in many areas. We are born again and enter the game of coming home to know ourselves once again. We have lived in times of clearer vibration when more of our fullness was able to be present on the earth. We have come into this life at a time when it is difficult to incarnate with much of our totality, in order to lead a revolution in consciousness where the people of the earth discover-recover-uncover more of their spirit nature. To do this we must get there first. We have to take the risks that bring us the initiations we need in order to pass through the levels of emotional-mental development that prepare us for the surge of light and energy that will herald the advent of the new age. (May 2002)
From 2005 I poured my spiritual passions into projects. I visited Folleterre Radical Faerie sanctuary in France, usually twice a year, organising gatherings and holding stewardship roles until 2012. With a team of collaborators I set off to some UK summer festivals, such as Sunrise, the Big Green Gathering and Buddhafield, with the Queer Dome, a project to create heart-centred, community space for LGBTQ+ people to meet up, have heart circles, attend workshops. The full moon meets of the London Queer Spirit Circle got under way and a group of us got together to plan Faerie gatherings in the UK.
The spirit of the Connections conferences that had taken place in the late ’90s in London returned in the form of LOVESPIRIT FESTIVAL, a one day event attracting over a hundred people for an exploration and affirmation of LGBTQ+ spirituality. There were four LOVESPIRITs from 2011-2014, three of which were blessed to have a prominent American writer on gay spirituality present. Christian de la Huerta, author of Coming Out Spiritually was at the first event, international gay mystic Andrew Harvey and writer Toby Johnson (Gay Spirituality) came in subsequent years. This was a great delight for me to meet some of my gay spirit heroes in the flesh, and I was happy when Toby visited my Stockwell home and on walking in through the garden door declared ‘it’s like stepping back into early ’70s San Francisco!’
The Albion Faeries are part of a global network of queer healers and agents of change and transformation. The London circles that were emerging in the mid 2000s brought together enough creative energy from Queer Pagan, Rad Fae and Edward Carpenter Community backgrounds to launch the Radical Faeries of Albion with a gathering at Featherstone Castle in Northumberland at Imbolc (late January) 2006. A mixed gender organising team set the tone for the Albions from the word go, our doors were open to all genders, and the tribe has prominent female and trans activists. There is surely something significant about the Radical Faerie spirit, which across the world organises around the Celtic pagan calendar, finally finding a home in the pagan homeland Albion, reaching here via the gatherings and sanctuaries in the United States and Europe. The Faeries are exploring the crucial link between the ancient world and now as well as the connections between our sexuality, consciousness and nature, we are part of the birthing of the Age of Aquarius. We are also a crucial beacon for lost, confused and abused queers who are not finding their place in the soulless modern world, nor in the shallower ends of gay life. Faeries offer a plunge into the radical depths and happy heights of being, and a lot of fun while plunging.
At a political demo in London in 2016 I met a Radical Faerie from Atlanta, where the city Faerie clan in Georgia’s capital has a reputation for being one of the most active and fertile Faerie groups in the USA. He told me that he had heard that the Albion Faeries are ‘very spiritual’. By this I don’t think he meant that we go to church on time, or that we all line up dutifully for morning practice, nor even that we are super nice to each other (and compared to some of what I have seen in American sanctuaries, we actually are). He may have been referring to the way we meet regularly to honour the moon cycles, for the London full moon circles were generally known as the Faerie Drum Circle by 2011, with numbers attending growing dramatically from 2012. Albions also time and theme our gatherings to consciously make the most of the energies of the seasonal festivals of the wheel of the year. Often a 10 days long immersion in an altered ‘between the worlds’ reality, gatherings are a very effective way of discovering the gifts and subtleties of a season’s energy.
Eight times the Albion Faeries gathered at the enchanted Featherstone, our Faerie Hogwarts, during the cold Winter months…. Twice over Christmas and SIX times at Imbolc. These were thermal fashion, finding-divinity-through-the-duvet gatherings, with lots of cosiness around fires, intimate, slow heart circles held at sunset in the blue room (which most people attended) and freezing ballroom discos – divas dancing around the tall radiator heaters not their handbags.
The Imbolc gatherings were slow paced, cosy and for the most part mellow. There was a lot of deep sharing and healing going on, also of course an element of high spirited partying, which for some occasionally seemed to become more central to the experience than the healing journey. Whether related to that or not, we experienced a lot of physical sickness at the last few castle winter gatherings. I suggest that if we do not attend effectively to the soul healing that spirit calls us together to address, it is easy for sickness to manifest in our bodies. The Faeries gather to form a healing tribe, not another version of gay hedonistic indulgence.
I also feel that the deep healing work that many of us did engage in for ourselves… and for the collective… during those deep and magical winter retreats (there was one stunning year that it snowed deeply before we arrived and didn’t melt until we left… we were outside doing naked photo shoots in glistening sunshine, we also built a Snowhenge) was now done. Spirit was pushing us out of our winter dream time space to explore new territories. The conditions at Featherstone in February were proving too tough, but the wish to continue meeting to savour the sparkling energies of Imbolc, and each other as a respite from the dark winter period, was strong – so gatherings shifted to Paddington Farm in Glastonbury, where space is limited and we have to be cosy with and considerate of each other.
At Imbolc the season is inviting us to look within and heal, preparing ourselves for the busier time of year ahead. Imbolc has an exciting energy of potential and promise, but it’s still winter, it’s not a highly active period. The Featherstone winter gatherings gave us attendees a powerful experience of deep stillness – because the land holding us was itself so cold and still, while in Glastonbury the earth energy is much lighter and livelier. It does not offer the same kind of deep winter spirit experience that many of us got to know in the Northumberland wilderness but it does bring us exposure to the wyrd and wonderful mystical goings on of the area. When the Albions gather in Glastonbury we are recognised by the locals as a spirit tribe, not simply as a gay group.
Imbolc is also a time to come together for warmth and reassurance in the dark months of the year – the faeries of Albion have probably explored this season’s energy more than most other clans around the world although Imbolc is also a much celebrated faerie festival in southern United States – an annual Brigit Ball is held in New Orleans, in a very different climate to our northern retreat. So maybe that’s where the spirit of the British maiden goddess emigrated to after her people forgot about her here, somewhere much warmer!
In 2014 we gathered back at the castle for the first Albion Spring Gathering, held over the Equinox shift from winter Pisces water month to spring Aries fire energy, discovering powerful magic through consciously making that shift within ourselves in sync with the planet. Featherstone was our home for this and subsequent early Spring gatherings, taking huge delight in the warmer temperatures both outside and within the castle, in the longer hours of daylight, the lambs in the fields and the bright Spring sunshine. A good step forward from the midwinter mysteries.
From 2013 AlbionFaeries also started to meet for Summer Solstice Gathering at Paddington Farm under Glastonbury Tor. Here we prepare ourselves for hot and sizzling Solstice fire ceremonies in the woods. Many a faerie’s deep rooted dreams of passion and play in nature can be fulfilled on a good solstice night ending hopefully with a glorious sunrise on the top of Glastonbury Tor. We arrive there at dawn, a very merry band of kissing, cuddling queers livening up the atmosphere amongst the local hippies and characters of Avalon.
Of course there is more to the AlbionFae than gatherings in magical places, this is about forming meaningful and heartfelt connections (many of them) that continue outside gathering time and building a supportive network of evolving, sensitive, sensual and sincere friendships, where it is possible to turn up a complete stranger in a new place and be welcomed home by the local clan. Faerie space travels with us. Nature’s sacred locations help us conjure, discover and deepen it but the essence comes from within.
Since 2015 the Albion Faeries have filled in the last remaining gap in the seasonal calendar with Autumn gatherings at Featherstone. The castle providing the most perfect setting for 9 days of Samhain sorcery and spooky delight. Within a decade we have held gatherings in each of the four seasons of the year, this seeming to me like a very significant statement from our collective to the cosmos that we are not messing around, the Albion Faeries are a spiritual tribe and we mean business. There have also been smaller themed gatherings and retreats, and a gradual development of local faerie clans around the country. In Summer 2017 the Albions hosted the second Global Gathering at our Northumberland castle, welcoming Faerie kin from Euro, Israeli, north American tribes, plus pioneer fae from other parts of the world too, including Singapore, Russia and Africa.
LOVE AND PAIN
After the AIDS journey and the close encounter with death I was ready to live life with passion, at times extreme passion. After Philippe came a long term love story with Spyda deSade, a tattooed, body-mod punk who had been aware of spirit and practising witchcraft since childhood, and who manifested in my life I believe because of my desire to learn about life’s extremes. The relationship with Spyda, 14 years younger than me, an angry, wounded yet deeply loving soul, heroin user since he was a teenager, took me into some territories physical/mental/emotional that I had no previous idea existed, and into occasionally terrifying dark situations fuelled often by drugs, fetish sexuality and extreme emotions. Things got very intense for me and I discovered that the ecstasies of joy and love that had been a regular feature of my life for the first six or so years after the rebirth could turn into overwhelming ‘ecstasies’ of anger and despair. I entered into some of life’s crazier fetishistic scenes believing myself to be indestructible, protected and safe. After all I had faced death itself and banished fear from my life. I survived the experience but came out battered, bruised and on some levels feeling pretty broken. I eventually worked out that I was catching up on some much needed life experiences – I can see that time as the teenage rebellion I had missed out on in sleepy Suffolk – learning about shadow, the darkness in the world, and through doing so expanding the reach and power in my emotional body, so that I was not simply attuned to light but able to withstand and handle the heavier, darker vibrations of life too.
For several years post AIDS my life had felt like a continuous expansion into light, but I was not so well grounded in physical reality… now my emotional body became stronger through enduring darkness and I became a more ‘solid’ person. Uncontrollable jealousy, grief, rage – and fear – crept, or sometimes burst, into my life, which was not what I had been expecting. Somehow these experiences were giving me the experience of teenage rebellion that I had been too ‘good’, ie too repressed, to engage in my teens, and were necessary to make me grow up, make a man of me, bring me wisdom and increasing strength, though that was a perspective I could only see after some time suffering along the way.
I observe that it is possible to fill oneself with light and become a force for transformation in the world, but that does not mean that one’s own transformation is over, that the journey is finished. In fact the more light we generate within ourselves the greater and darker the challenges we are likely to face. If we wish to be a warrior we must expect to get broken occasionally, just as if we wish to be a lover we better embrace and accept heartbreak. I was an awakened lightworker but I was not very ‘solid’. In the early 2000s I spent a lot of time flying, but was too much of an ‘airy-fairy’ to have much impact on the world. By the end of the decade I was understanding that it is through trials and traumas, through challenge and suffering, that our true strengths are accessed. It takes the experience of meeting the darkness and facing our own shadow in order to grow the emotional muscles that are required to strengthen the will, the mind and the aura.
From my resurrection in 2000 post-AIDS until the cosmic year of change, 2012, I lived a life of intense passion and love. I ran around pulling groups of people together to attempt to ascend through joy into greater levels of connection and communion. I jumped enthusiastically into love affairs, and struggled to maintain my balance and light within them, to hang onto my self. By the winter of 2011-12 I could see how wounded I had become and longed to heal and start to shine again – I felt my light was almost lost under a swathe of dark emotions that seemed next to impossible to shift. Early in 2012 I fell in love again, persuading myself that the energetic, outgoing, Cancerian Firesnake I had met was the antidote to the moody, reclusive energy of Spyda, and that being in love would be the way to heal the damage I had sustained. It didn’t take long to discover that I was still lacking appropriate boundaries – had still not learned to put my own needs first – and I became once again whisked up into intense emotions and melodramas that overwhelmed me. This love affair grew like a rapidly expanding balloon then burst nastily in the spring, leaving me shattered.
From the naivety of my reawoken inner child I had fallen in love with life during the transformation of my journey with AIDS. Since then I had expected the pure love I felt to be reflected back to me by my lovers, as indeed I felt it had been with Pierre. Finally in 2012 I accepted that this might never happen. I had to learn to properly put my relationship with my Self first, find my healing and peace within. The wounds of the love trials I had been through were so deep they were written into my body. In October 2012 I was admitted into the Royal Brompton Hospital needing a triple heart bypass operation. This was brought on at a relatively young age by several years on a particularly toxic HIV medication named Kaletra, also by smoking weed, taking drugs as well as perhaps being influenced by my unknown biological heredity. I believe the disappointments, love trials and heartbreaks I had endured in the past few years played a hugely significant part too. The slowdown and reflection that this medical procedure brought me gave some perspective on just how amazing the 12 years of my life since the AIDS recovery had been.
The 21st December 2012 was the much heralded ‘end’ of the Mayan calendar. Just six weeks out of hospital post heart surgery I was in the right kind of space for an ‘end of the world’ party, which is how we billed the drum circle for that night.
This was the first appearance of Queer Spirit Circle at the Wheatsheaf Hall in Vauxhall – around 60 people attended for a mixture of ritual, performance, drumming and dance. We each stepped through a large wooden picture frame portal covered in shiny silver foil, to symbolise stepping from the old world into a new paradigm. I was very weak, and in bed all day before the circle, but the Goddess sent a lovely Italian angel friend from across the street to dive into it with me and give me some energy for the evening. I flew all night on a happy heart that I had survived another dance with death and that our Queer Spirit Faerie Circle was thriving and expanding nicely, 7 years after it had begun. That cosmic picture frame sat in my garden at Chateau Shokti until 2020, when, like many things, it fell apart. I took this as a sign that the energies opened up in 2012 are now moving into the next stage, and the acceleration of the evolution of human consciousness is underway.
From my studies I learnt that the Mayan calendar is really a chart of the evolution of consciousness on our planet. It consists of 9 creation cycles which begin one by one over aeons over time, running alongside each other, each one more rapid than the previous until all 9 cycles are operating together and reaching the climactic end of their cycles at the same point.
Carl Johan Calleman, a Swedish biochemist, developed a chart that identified the leaps in the evolution of consciousness that occurred as each new cycle of the calendar began. As he describes it
– the calendar begins 16.4 billion years ago with the creation of the earth and the eventual beginning of cellular life
– 820 million years ago the second level begins with the appearance of animals;
– 41 million years ago cycle 3 brings the first monkeys – he calls this the ‘familial’ cycle
– 2 million years ago humanoids come along and the ‘tribal’ cycle begins
– he then associates each level from level 5 with significant steps in development of human life – language, writing, and industrialisation, which is the manifestation of the ‘planetary’ cycle, the characteristic of which is power: From 1755 to 1999 in the ‘Planetary’ cycle the world was opened up, no corner left unexplored, and modern ways of thinking spread around it, culminating in the connectivity of the world wide web. The period prior to Planetary is called by Calleman the ‘Law and Punishment’ cycle, covering the centuries from 3115 BCE until 1755 CE – in this time nations were formed, laws and religions developed. In the ‘galactic’ cycle, running from 1999 there was a surge of spiritual awakening in the world, of which I had been an early adopter, with more and more people who are ready to be finished with old stories of conflict and competition between faiths seeking deeper truths and opening to the creative power of their own mind and spirit The trouble is, the old, more conflicted cycles are still running their stories too. 2012 was the climax point, with level 9 only due to last one year – since 2012 all 9 cycles are operating in our collective spirit and we can each live highly focused in one level and be completely oblivious to others. As more humans accelerate their own personal frequencies – ‘ascend’ to higher understanding and consciousness – gradually there will be less of us still playing out the old dramas of conflict, power and control and we may even achieve some peace on earth.
My suggestion about Level 9 is that it is where we get to see that all life’s delights, dramas and disasters as simply external events in the great cosmic drama, all designed to give us the life experiences that enable us to grow internally as souls – all are seen as opportunities to develop understanding and wisdom, to grow in emotional intelligence and power, mental strength and agility, and spiritual light. The material plane becomes one of nine levels of Creation, not the be all and end all that humanity has made it. It is the plane of experience leading to lessons that enable our spiritual growth and giving opportunities to enjoy and reveal who we are, while also contributing to the elevation of the human story to the next level. That is the level of conscious evolution – a species that recognises it is not in control, but also that the religions do not have all the answers they claim. A species ready to take the individual and collective journey into multi-dimensional divinity, to manifest the heaven which we know in spirit (but forget while in a body) here on the physical plane of Mother Earth.
It is among the Radical Faeries in the American sanctuaries that I have had my deepest experiences of beautiful, gentle, powerful souls engaged in this cosmic community work. This is not the work of structured spiritual honing like one finds in ashrams, this is about self-healing, conscious choices, embodiment of our spiritual core and embracing the spirit in all of life’s glorious manifestations, fucked up emotions, vibrant sensuality and delicate tenderness.
The first visit that I undertook to Short Mountain Sanctuary in Tennessee, at Beltane 2003 was so incredibly intense and otherworldly that I presumed I would go back for more, but it was some years before that happened. First I was fortunate to be taken on a trip to the west coast of the USA – in 2010 – which included a pilgrimage to Wolf Creek Faerie Sanctuary in Oregon for the Samhain gathering. The spirit here was very strong and ‘witchy’, this was a space of awesome radical faerie witchcraft where I got a good taste of what could develop over time in well established sanctuary space, and a sense I should be looking at the longer term, not burning myself out in the short.
2013 brought my return to Short Mountain for a second Beltane Gathering. No lover at my side to support me this time and I was only a few months post major heart surgery, but I had friends who lived there and were more than happy to help me out. Ten years on, I noticed changes – the most significant perhaps being a shift away from the powerful fire circles I had been part of in 2003, where the drumming was hot, high vibrational and sustained, keeping the large group energised and feeling sexy. When I arrived on the land for the second time I was sad to see the sanctuary drums all lying abandoned outside in the Pavilion space, exposed to the cold, damp air. There was little cohesion or resilience in the drummers at night, and most faeries preferred to slip to the kitchen disco than dance with the exterior elements. Many tales too reached my ears of the infiltration of crystal meth into the sanctuary, of conflicts and issues around gender and race. Yet i felt the core spirit was unaltered, as was amply demonstrated on the day of the Beltane Maypole ceremony, which was a full on, shroom boosted ritual and party, led by elder of the community Be WHITING. Yes, though unrelated, I had found a high priest bearing the same surname as me on the other side of the Atlantic. I was fortunate to be able to take Be, who was in his last years, along with my Short Mountain Aquarian brother Mountaine, on a tour of Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles in the UK the following year. The Faeries at Short Mountain Beltane were dressed to impress and express, it was thrilling to experience first hand the excitement present on the day and the vibrant enthusiasm in the community for ritual.
From my emergence out of the AIDS cocoon in 2000 until the great year of cosmic change, 2012, I lived out my life with passion and purpose, sometimes pushing myself way too hard to create amazing experiences when it might have been better to conserve my strength. For 2012 brought a cosmic turning point into the Age of Aquarius, a significant year because it was associated with the end of the Mayan Calendar and various prophecies. For me 2012 brought emotional and physical breakdown, a conclusion to the twelve years of creativity, play and growing in power. Alot had been achieved, but the efforts had taken a toll on me, and I could tell I was at another of life’s turning points. Lying in Brompton Hospital waiting for a triple heart bypass I easily let go of all the stress and anxiety that had built up in me. I remembered that when we die we feel utter peace, we forgive ourselves and we return to the source of love. I let those things happen to me in the three weeks I spent in hospital. I died in the parts of my ego that had been driving me so hard and leading me to self-destruction, I accepted it was time to let others take the reins, and for me to have a gentler life, and one focused on self-love and self-care.