THE AQUARIAN SHIFT
The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at Winter Solstice 2020 was 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 completed his year in Capricorn and Saturn 2.5 years in his home sign, meeting together at zero degrees of Aquarius on the 21st December 2020, commencing 200 years of conjunctions in air signs (the two meet every 20 years). 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 understand and 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 often 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.
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.
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.
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 particularly 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.
We humans are sexual beings, we are social beings and spiritual beings too. We are feeling beings as well as thinking ones. We are friends, we are lovers, we are families, sometimes more connected to others by the spirit we share with them than with the blood families we were born into….
We are also being itself….. consciousness…. able to perceive, reflect and react…. and just as the sexual part of us wants to grow and experience, just as we seek to experience more of life through increasing and diversifying our social interactions, so the spirit in us… the consciousness that we are…. also wants to grow and know more of itself… which is… as mystics across the world of whatever religion have long demonstrated… ultimately.. . the whole thing. ….. the pure source consciousness itself, undivided. God. The divine experiencing the universe as us.
I came out of the sexual closet at the age of 21, having struggled as a sexually repressed teenager. I can remember, as early as 7 years old, being fascinated by boys’ beautiful butt cheeks in the school playground but fear and shame kept me quiet about it until my last year at university. My story is one of personal and unlooked for spiritual growth through the life experiences that my gay inclination led me directly, and rapidly, into. By the age of 25 I was facing a journey into illness through HIV. told I had maybe 7 years to live. At 33 I was still alive, but with a t-cell count of 3, waiting at deaths door and taking a good look through that door while I was so close. By the age of 35 it was clear I was going to live for a while yet, and I left my hermit, cocoon years and found myself reborn in a changing world with a new awareness of the spiritual nature of existence – and of myself, of my purpose – that I had been blind to before.
I now see my HIV story as a rite of passage that opened my mind to the multi-dimensional nature of life. It forced me to grow out of the blinkered, limited ego-mind and accept I am a child, a divine child, in the great scheme of the universe. I have noticed that many people don’t want to grow up into responsible adults, let alone wake up to spiritual reality… when our sights are low and we are under the illusion that the ego is in control we don’t wish in general to have that fantasy shattered. It often takes illness or some kind of breakdown to make us acknowledge that we are part of something much bigger. Then we get the opportunity to build a relationship with that something, and make way for that something to manifest in us. As time goes by it is becoming more widely appreciated that a healing crisis is a doorway to transformation and growth.
With the shock of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, for sure a symptom of the climate change that is placing everything we take for granted under threat, the whole world is being presented with this chance to evolve,
I feel that as an atheistically minded young man I lost touch with my soul, became absorbed in a shallow world of sexuality and had no ambition or drive to achieve anything much in life. My soul was not expanding, not getting to express its many wonderful talents, so it became increasingly hard for it to stay on the planet. Since I opened my (inner) eyes and found the motivation within to bring light, love and joy into my life and to the planet my health has returned and my life has utterly transformed. My time wasn’t up, but it took the healing crisis of nearly dying with AIDS to get me in touch with just how deeply we are involved in spiritual experience here on planet Earth, and how blind humanity has become to that.
Travelling the planet in the early 21st century we can find many confident manifestations of gay/queer life, few of which existed just a few decades years ago. From London to Bangkok, San Francisco to Sydney, wherever we go there are many similarities…. bar scenes, saunas, camp, cabaret, discos, leather, pornography, lifestyle shops, cruising grounds, sex clubs… online dating. A gay subculture connects our kind across the planet, though of course there are many parts of the world yet to enjoy this sexually open playground.
The cause of Gay Liberation has achieved much in some parts of the world, but it can only save us and change the world’s understanding of us, if it goes all the way and we recognise that gay liberation is human liberation – and is part of the path to collective human enlightenment. Gay liberation is about removing the chains from everybody’s self-expression around gender, sexuality, companionship, love, creativity and vision. It is about all people being free to be who they are, to answer the call of their own soul, and being free to love whom they choose. It is about recognising that we are one humanity who are united in our need to love and be loved. This is the message gay people bring to the world through simply existing, and our presence challenges religious types to live up to their holy ideals of love and compassion and to extinguish the cruel flames of intolerant laws drawn up in a time when heterosexual males were setting themselves up as the leaders of society, when they were dismantling the power long held by females in the tribal groupings, and so attacking all traces of feminine energy in men too.
With the demand of Gay liberation to freely love another person of the same gender has come an explosion of sexual energy, commercial enterprise and ecstatic behaviours. There is nothing new in same sex action, it is as old as humanity, but the suppression of it in Europe from medieval times until very recently was extreme, and that homophobic attitude was exported to much of the world. The recent reduction in fear and shame associated with homosexuality has made it much easier for us to meet each other, wherever we go. Our keen sexual appetite suits the capitalist hegemony, which needs people to always want more, more, more – and to spend to get it. Gay men in particular are good consumers who will spend money in search of the perfect body, perfect lover and high times.
In a secular age ecstasy is considered to be just a chemical, a chemical reaction in the brain, but ecstatic experience is nothing new, and is not only about chemicals… humans have been dancing, fucking and medicating themselves into ecstasy since the dawn of our time on the planet – in all cultures until the modern age the ecstatic experience was considered to be a communion with the greater spirit of creation. Despite the efforts of the war on drugs, use of substances is widespread, but people chase after states of blissful intensity often without the lack of a clear spiritual grounding in their lives, so this can become very dangerous. Wise, experienced medicine women and men are not allowed to openly offer their guidance to others about responsible, safe use of substances because of repressive laws, the like of which never existed in any civilisation of the past.
The gay scene is a place to go to explore our nature… up to a point. It is where we can express our selves and our affections freely, where we can party and meet in safety. But as is well told, it can be place of bad attitudes, addictions, loneliness and disease. If we are looking for qualities of kindness, acceptance, compassion – for spaces where all people are accepted as they are, whatever their body shape and interests, spaces where we are encouraged to express all our heart’s desires and not just the sexually motivated ones, we might find the experiences offered on the ‘scene’ lacking something.
Coming Out is not the end of the journey. We come out because we hear a deep call from the soul to be our true selves. We need to keep listening to the soul. We need to complete the journey. Sexuality is only part of who we are. Sexual liberation – political liberation – social and spiritual liberation must all go together. That way we will see the Wholeness, we will be the Wholeness and the Wholeness will be us. We are already famous for teaching the world how to dress and how to party. We spread good vibrations of tolerance and peace in areas where we are free to be ourselves. One day we will also be teaching the world how to be One.
“Homosexuality is a manifestation of consciousness aware of itself. Both practically and metaphorically homosexuality is self-reflexive. It is about the unity of the cosmos, rather than the duality.” Toby Johnson, author of ‘Gay Spirituality’ ‘Gay Perspective’ ‘Finding Your Own True Myth’ and other works.
In every gay part of the world there are many men chasing after high, horny times with other guys, keeping fit and pumping up their muscles to make the body the perfect conduit for the bliss they love, to attract a mate or mates who will really take them there. Opening the senses sometimes through drug use to find the ecstasy that sex promises. Falling in love with much the same purpose. Gays like joy, bliss, heightened feelings of love.. ’tis not news… but the energy of bliss is little understood in our mechanistic civilisation. Bliss is more than a passing state of pleasantness – bliss is nothing less than the vibration that mystics have associated with the feelings of the soul, the nature of the divine. God is love, ananda – the great sanskrit word for the blissful loving nature of the universe. Mystics since forever have used sexual and sacramental means to commune with the ecstatic levels of the cosmos. This can be felt as both an internal event – moving out of the noisy monkey mind into deeper feeling places within – and external – feelings of expansion, light and communication with other planes of reality. Gays, who continue to be condemned by fanatical religions because of how we make love, may in fact have a special relationship with the source of bliss, we are often reaching into the very heart of the creator force and receiving it from that source being who in theory, if we believe the pleasure-denying homophobes, hates us.
If bliss is the nature of the divine, feeling it gets us in touch with some part of ourselves that is extremely, ultimately, nourishing and powerful – then it is maybe no surprise that once we have found ways to access this awesome feeling we just want more… opening the door to repetitive habits. Many mystics over the centuries have been drunk on god, using devotional practices to reach their desired bliss state. The sheer bliss exuding through all creation can also be entered into through stillness and closeness with nature, a relationship which has inspired much of humanity’s great works of art, music and literature over the centuries. The intensity of modern city life leads some to clamour for ecstatic escape – we have no time to enter bliss through contemplation or communion with nature, we need a quick fix. We can find it, but it will leave us quickly too. If we shift our understanding and open our emotional selves to more refined, sacred, vibrations, can we hope to gain a lasting access to bliss. Many religions have held out this nirvana as a carrot to be gained if we follow their rules and dictates, but just as coming out is an act of self-actualisation, so in spiritual terms many queers are not so easily persuaded by the religious realities that humans have previously accepted. We are here with the ability, and if we are fortunate also the drive, to question, to search, to think for ourselves.
Much debate between people of faith and atheists can seem to be at the level of cavemen bashing each other over the head with sticks. Intelligent understanding of spirituality realises that the stories and teachings of beings such as Buddha or Christ exist to show us the divine potential within each of us. Our human cravings for blissful experience also reveal to us just how magnificent the feelings in our souls can be. Humanity is at a stage of evolution where religion is no longer guiding our way as it used to, and secular rationalism as a way of running the world has shown its limitations – but the call of spirit will not go away, because we are more than flesh and blood. The question is, as old ways crumble, have we evolved enough to find the light of divinity for, and within, ourselves?
It is only a few decades since the movement of Gay Liberation in the west opened up the OUTward journey for gay people. In our queer subcultures we are still discovering how we like to do things, and gay men have already survived a devastating pandemic that seemed to threaten it might destroy all the political and social progress that had been made. A generation of queers has now grown up who do not have direct experience of the dying times. Not fully understanding that we have been living through the hedonistic aftermath of a plague for the past two decades, it might be that the gay male culture is getting sucked into a uncaring cul-de-sac of superficial connections and shallow experience. But queer people are deeper than that, and somehow our spirit will fight through the blandness. Gradually the light dawns that as well as the outward journey of political and social liberation, we have to take the INward path to freeing the spirit that we are.
Since the 1970s some queers have been actively searching for deeper answers to who we are as deviants within a dominant culture, seeking how we best can express our true nature, while most have been satisfied with, or bought off by perhaps, the assimilationist drive of the mainstream gay culture and politics. Since gay scenes began to emerge in the 1970s there have always been a few who found the commercialism and the drive to imitate hetero behaviour models in our professional and intimate lives to be distasteful. These explorers can be found gathering in wild natural places such as the Radical Faerie sanctuaries around the world, though they appear in cities too. They may be pursuing a solitary spiritual path, – many gay people are drawn for example to nature-loving pagan explorations but don’t necessarily share their practice – or moved to delve into one of the more open minded religions… and some gather collectively and create communal tribal celebrations where the many sided reality of queer being shines forth.
Radical Faerie gatherings are the perfect example of queers creating autonomous space and rewriting the rules. Queeruption, a d-i-y anarchist gathering that popped up around the world from the late 90s into the 2000s, was another. Edward Carpenter Community, Queer Spirit and Quintasensual Festivals in the UK, Gay Spirit Visions in the US, Gaylovespirit in Germany are more examples of gay people making the space to explore who we are and how we create conscious community with others, as are gay yoga retreats etc.
But for those stuck in ‘normal’ life, with religion discarded or disregarded, the pursuit of pleasure can become an obsession, a situation more and more common across the world. Something is needed that explains more clearly – more holistically – why we are so driven to get close and get high. Too often this is simply associated with primal instincts or with what is deemed to be wrong with us… our wounds and our maladies….. and the need to escape them…. but there are also spiritual roots to the urge in us that drives the desire towards heightened experiences, towards sensations of limitlessness. By keeping this perspective out of the public picture, refusing to let it be part of common understanding, we humans are doing ourselves a huge disservice. We can pretend the world is a random event, and simply be amused by the patterns and synchronicities we find daily within it…. we can deny thousands of years of deep devotional religious, astrological and alchemical research and pin all existence down to a set of physics laws with no soul…. But the underlying reality will always be there waiting to get our attention.
HIV was the wake up call that got my attention and led me to begin a search into the mysteries of life – a search that continues to bring daily revelations, discoveries and times of bliss into my life.
“All of our addictions, to chemicals and to behaviours, mask our ancient shaman powers.” Andrew Ramer, Two Flutes Playing.
What is crucial is how we know ourselves – what we believe ourselves to be – and how we view our sexual drive – a selfish, biological imperative; a playful sharing of love and joy; or a spiritual energy bursting forth to bring us to enlightenment – perhaps it can be all of these things.
Homosexuality and transexuality have a long, mostly hidden and very spiritual history. For most of humanity’s evolution all sex was just sex, but cultures across the world often assigned special roles to gay and genderfluid people. The combination of male and female spirit in one person was seen as special, often as holy, and the same sex eroticism was seen as having magical potential.
The oldest gay couple in recorded human history are Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, living in ancient Egypt around 2400 BCE, whose portrait has come through the ages to us showing the pair nose to nose (the most intimate pose in Egyptian art)
The oldest recorded story is that of GILGAMESH a tale of passion and live between two men.
PLATO testified to same sex love as the door to revelation
TWO-SPIRIT shamans served in Native American tribes, and they had their equivalent in indigenous tribes and shamanic cultures across the globe. Among the Siberian tribes from whom we derive the word shaman, the terms used translate directly as ‘soft-men’, or ‘similar to a woman’. In the pre-Christian world those with balanced male-female energy were respected for their ability to communicate between earth and spirit. This is still remembered to this day among the Dagara People of West Africa.
FEMININE MEN AND GENDERQUEER INDIVIDUALS served in the temples of the ancient world. Many Gods and Goddesses had queer priesthoods, including Cybele, Artemis/Diana, Isis, Hecate, Apollo and Antinous, the fallen lover of emperor Hadrian.
MEDIEVAL CHRISTIAN MONKS WROTE LOVE LETTERS TO EACH OTHER and monasteries/convents were safe havens for queer men and women.
SUFI MYSTICS knew the same sex lover as the shahid – witness to divine beauty. Rumi’s most famous mystical poetry was inspired by his love for another man, Shams.
MICHELANGELO and SHAKESPEARE wrote love sonnets to men
“And if the vulgar and malignant crowd
misunderstand the love with which we’re blessed,
its worth is not affected in the least
our faith and honest love can still feel proud.” Michelangelo
WALT WHITMAN celebrated men loving men as the way to bring peace to the world and holy sexuality as direct initiation into divine being.
“Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from, The scent of these armpits is aroma finer than prayer, This head more than churches, bibles and all the creeds… if I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body”
EDWARD CARPENTER described the healing role of homosexuals in the creation of new global sacred democracy, where love and relationships would supplant money and commerce as the central focus of society:
“If the day is coming when Love is to take its rightful place as the binding and directing force of society, and society is to be transmuted in consequence to a higher form, then undoubtedly… the Uranians will have have an important part to play in the transformation.”
HARRY HAY, one of the originators of Radical Faerie gatherings said
“our beautiful lovely sexuality is the gateway to spirit. Under all organised religions of the past, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, there has been a separation of carnality, or shall we say of flesh or earth or sex, and spirituality. As far as I am concerned they are all the same thing, and what we need to do as faeries is to tie it all back together again”
American author on gay spirituality, TOBY JOHNSON, sums up sexual orientation from the point of view of the Divine:
“The One divides into the Many in order to experience the Many as the One. Heterosexual attraction manifests the delight the Many experiencing its variety. Heterosexual union propagates the Many, from Two making many more.
“Homosexual attraction manifests the delight the One experiences in its Oneness.
Homosexual love witnesses to the One’s desire to return to Itself and to experience the multiplicity of the Many as a reflection of the Self of the One.”
In a fantastic, inspired piece of writing, ‘Two Flutes Playing’, author Andrew Ramer stated many simple truths about the nature of queer people that deserve repeating constantly:
“By nature we are a compassionate and non-judgemental people. But our historical oppression has separated us from our true power…….. Part of our strength is our fluidity, our capacity to change……. One of our powers is that we are able to walk between the genders…. As shamans, we may flourish in the healing arts… We are midwives for the dying…. and we are creators of beauty.”
On this site I offer my story of awakening to spiritual light, and offer perspectives on life, and our queer part in it, that I hope will assist in the evolution of a more compassionate world of enhanced understanding, well- being and joy. I hope it will help queer people especially to overcome negative attitudes around spirit and faith as we realise we can find our own answers through direct experience. Answers that will help all of humanity to overcome the fear of death, the ultimate illusion, and live a more fully divine life.
The emergence of gay people into society, accepted and embraced as never before, is changing the world, and the Queer Age of Aquarius is only just beginning.
Mitch Walker in the ’70s, included in ‘Men Loving Men: Gay Sex Guide and Consciousness Book’, published 1977, a section on the mystical potential in gay love and sex to reveal to us the divine play of consciousness in the universe:
“When we fall in love with another man we’re getting in touch with an unconscious spirit-source, by evoking it in our beloved. We can follow this magic inside us back to its source, and use it to uncover our real nature.“