Emergence

RADICAL FAERIES

For five years I had been largely isolated from the world, tucked away with my wonderful lover, dealing with a barrage of ailments, my attention largely absorbed in transcendent spirituality. Medicine said I was sick with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, but my inner being told me I was experiencing an Accelerated Individual Discovery of Self. My rebirth at the start of the new millennium was an invitation to step back into life and engage it, a time of EMERGENCE from the transformational cocoon as the newly reborn gay butterfly spirit.

I was excited to share my discoveries, but rather than try to convince people to ‘believe’ in a spiritual reality I had the notion to create spaces in which direct experience of our true multi-dimensional nature could happen. After all it was not only a shift in belief that had occurred for me, it was direct experience of and communication with Spirit that had resulted from opening my mind, from being willing to look at possibilities I had previously discounted. I had spent five years having many new experiences and researching deeply, studying the teachings of religion, philosophy, occult wisdom and modern teachers of consciousness. I now sought to share this ongoing journey with others, and find companions on the road of transformation.

Taking the faerie name Lovestar – the faerie name a symbol of our magical consciousness – I became a regular face at Eurofaerie gatherings in Terschelling every summer and at winter gatherings in Germany or the Netherlands. In faerie space a co-created, colourful and loving community experience is generated through heart circles, rituals, time in nature and good food, taking all present into a nurturing experience of the riches that life can offer. With minimal structure, and no dominating leaders, autonomous zones of compassionate anarchy emerge in Faerie gatherings, where souls can shine through free-form expression. Of course our slice of queer utopia was momentary, but I could see we were acting as ‘scouts of consciousness’ (one of the titles Christian de la Huerta gives gay people in his 1999 book ‘Coming Out Spiritually: The Next Step’), exploring new ways of relating and sharing as a queer tribe, that could ultimately influence the whole of humanity. In two ways I attempted to serve the further spread of faerie energy – by bringing the spirit of love and community back to London with me, and by joining forces with various other Faeries from around Europe to create a permanent land sanctuary for Faerie life, which led to the purchase of land and birth of Folleterre in the Vosges mountains of eastern France .

Radical refers to roots in the earth as well as being a political reference, and Faerie links us to the elemental animistic nature spirits of folklore, also working to redefine ‘fairy’ from an being used as a homophobic insult, as the LGBT community has done with queer. The first faerie gathering took place in a desert ashram in Arizona in 1979 – community was built by passing a talisman to give each person in the circle of 220 men the chance to speak and tell their stories. Common themes of seeking love and connection to nature emerged. In the decades since then Radical Faerie gatherings have spread across the USA and into Europe, Australia, Asia and (with the February 2020 Global Gathering) Africa. Permanent sanctuaries, homes of queer faerie spirit, have developed. The first gathering in Europe – on the Dutch island of Terschelling in the North Sea – took place in the summer of 1995, at the same time as I was deep in my shamanic transformation period. As I was having visions of colourful circles of people drumming and dancing ecstatically, something that had never been a feature of my life to this point, the Faeries were gathering and the template of my future existence was being drawn.

I believe it is natural for most gay people to foster joy, create celebrations and raise good energy: in our scenes we throw great parties, we appreciate the body, we love to look good, to dance and (judging by the spread of gay choirs) to sing; some of us enjoy altering our perception with substances that shift us out of the rational left brain and into heightened sensation, all of us, one way or another, love to let our souls fly. In faerie and queer pagan spaces this spirit of celebration is cultivated to create connections to earth and sky, to elemental forces and to the archetypal inner energy of spirits, archetypes and deities, which takes the experience potentially much deeper than parties on the commercial scene. Some of the hunger and addiction present in parts of our community might come from a natural instinct within us that we are just not getting enough out of our chem fuelled, sexually athletic adventures. A full on trip into ecstasy should be a healing journey of the soul, bringing light, insight, and the chance to grow and evolve into the nobility of humanity’s true spiritual nature – but without a good connection to place and to the people we are tripping with, we might just remain in the shallow end of the ecstatic experience.

In Faerie spaces the magic builds fast and powerfully because connection is where it all starts, and we discover that as queer souls we create magic when we connect from the heart. The great irony is that our city scenes and dating apps seem to encourage so much disconnect and objectification, the opposite of our deep nature. A key Faerie phrase is ‘subject:SUBJECT’ consciousness’, which Harry Hay used to describe the way our queer eye on life inclines gay men to love each other as brothers, recognising that I am another you and you are another me, deserving and desiring the same love and goodness that I do. In the shallow age of dating apps, where our minds get trained to judge people on appearance only, are gay men in danger of losing what Harry considered our natural empathic ability?

At the first Radical Faerie gathering in Arizona 1979, Harry Hay called on the men present to ‘throw off the ugly green frogskin of hetero-imitation to find the Faerie Prince beneath.’ Although many men go to Faerie gatherings to simply find some love and affection, or some brotherhood and community as an alternative to the cold energies of mainstream gay life, amongst the faeries I found many other shaman souls with a sense of coming together to serve spirit’s plan to help humanity evolve to the next level of consciousness. I also get to meet wonderful caring souls – gatherings attract beings of all genders (and none!) now – from all over the world – everyone unique and in their own way magical, using and developing their healing skills, kitchen magic, land skills, drag and make up, ritualistic, musical, creative and performance talents etc.

Faerie space was where I could relax and open up the energy fields I had been discovering in myself during my cocoon time. I needed these times of expansion because for several years after my rebirth moment in 2000 I was journeying almost daily into realms of bliss, and needed something to do with it. I felt the greatest joy when I got the chance to bring joy to others.

LOVE

I was soon in love again – with Philippe, another Frenchman, who came from Angers in Brittany and had lived for some time in London. We met on a Sunday night at Turnmills nightclub in London towards the end of the year 2000, he invited me back to his place, where, in his bedroom I was greeted by a picture by French artists Pierre et Giles of German punk goddess Nina Hagen dressed as Hindu Goddess Kali – I felt I was in the right place. We were the envy of many men at the first gatherings we went to together as we seemed to be an example of a spiritually informed love affair, something that they longed for. However there were conflicts going on between us, largely around my passion for community life versus his preference for a private existence, and the pull between deep attachment and the need for some independence. We parted after a few, mostly very happy, years, and a creative product of our time together was a website named the QueerLoveCall.net, where I put out ideas around gay spiritual evolution.

‘Discover the power of queer love

our history as shamans, magicians and healers

dip into the potential of queer spirit.

We are magical beings

who walk between the worlds

if our hearts are opened

our minds healed

and our sexuality honoured

we are agents of change

catalysts for a brighter future.

Welcome to the queer love call.’ (2004)

Like me, Philippe was HIV+ and recovering from AIDS, and also was open to the idea of a Divine Mother guiding us through the Universe. He and I visited Amma together in Kerala and spent some time in Goa soaking up the Mother’s love through sunshine, sandy beaches and the sea. We took a trip inland to the state of Karnataka while we were there to visit Hampi, a mystical land of temple ruins and deep, ancient magic, where we encountered the Goddess in a very different form. We met Haneli, a Swiss lady in her 60s, former devotee of controversial guru Osho, with her band of followers living in the jungle and holding high vibrational circle spaces of intense transformation. She declared herself to be the Axewoman of Consciousness, to whom people on the spiritual path were drawn when they were ready to have their last vestiges of ego chopped off. Over the course of three days and nights Philippe and I underwent a trial that at first delighted us then challenged us to the core. Two nights in, after I had spent some hours high in a trance while the energy flowed wildly around me, Haneli told me that I was ready to completely walk away from my life until this point and join their band to become a completely empty, unattached, pure vessel of consciousness living entirely in the moment and serving the divine. Philippe did not take this idea well, became angry and afraid, and very vocal about it. My task became to work out what i was supposed to do, which in the end I realised was not to leave him, not to join her, but simply to deliver energy to her circle and to learn from how they lived, the work they were doing. Back in London a clairvoyant at the College of Psychic Studies saw this episode in my energy field and told me that I had been shown an example of the kind of communal, magical, multi-dimensional living coming more in my future.

It was in Hampi that I was first called Shokti – by Haneli herself, who told me that the whole group was shocked by my personal shakti. Shakti is the sanskrit word for the sacred feminine energy of the soul and of God – unlike in the west the Hindu culture retained its veneration of the female spirit and honoured her role in creation, and there is an understanding that it takes both Shiva and Shakti to bring Creation into manifestation. The mystical adventurers were frequently engaging their chakra energies, their Shakti, through opening and playing as the inner child. This I joined in with, but they could see in our auras that Philippe and I also enjoyed opening the chakras sexually, and that we had a lively, comfortable and erotic interplay of femininity and masculinity going on within and between us. Being a group of people of mixed gender, ages and cultures, operating on the fringes but still connected to the conventional realm of spiritual community, sexuality was not on the agenda for this jungle crew, so our arrival was, literally, a shock to them. A couple of years later I changed my faerie name from Lovestar (this name had been whispered in my ear by a disincarnate entity one day in my bedroom in 2001) to Shokti, proud to make the association with the divine feminine spirit and when asked about it I like to say that I am here to deliver the shock of the return of the Goddess into human experience.

In 2003 Philippe and I opened our wings and traveled to Faerie gatherings in Asia and the USA. The first ever Asian gathering took place on the beach of a remote, commercially undeveloped Thai island which we reached by boat from Phuket. A number of faeries from Europe and the USA made the pilgrimage to join local queers in order to birth a faerie circle there. In the Spring we went to the mothership of the global Faerie community – Short Mountain Sanctuary in Tennessee, a home of the tribe since the early 1980s, to attend the Beltane Gathering, which is the largest faerie gathering in the world, attracting 600 people for an ecstatic pagan feast of delights. On May Day we danced around the MayPole in an orgiastic frenzy of flesh, drumbeats and voices, quite a contrasting experience to the May Poles of my primary school days in Suffolk!

As the magic deepened day by day at the Short Mountain Beltane gathering the community entered into ever ‘lighter’ spaces. A medley of sexual, playful, practical (it takes good planning to feed and keep that many people happy) and devotional energies convinced me I was experiencing the future right here and now. Here there was no shame about sex and the body, only celebration and an understanding that the flesh is the vehicle with which we bring the spirit to earth. Here there was no judgement and attitude, instead an openness to and rejoicing in each other. Here were hundreds of people living in an atmosphere of sharing, supporting, encouraging and celebrating, it was incredible, life-changing. The excitement on the faces of the hundreds of queers arriving from their city homes for a festival of freedom, love and transcendental magic in their secret sanctuary home, tucked away in the mountains, was amazing to behold. I became determined to help such spaces manifest in Europe.

QUEER SPIRIT CIRCLE

In London small groups of us, people I had met through Faerie or Queer Pagan events, started to come together to hold circles. One of our first was on Hampstead Heath for 2004 summer solstice – we decided to enjoy some pagan spirit in the cruising woodland of the area by Jack Straws Castle, an ancient queer stomping ground. We put out the word and over 30 people came along for an afternoon of ritual and picnic, followed by a full night around the fire. We were situated at the far end of the cruising area, close to the infamous ‘leather tree’. Some cruisers came to visit us at the fire, one or two looking fabulous in full biker gear. They collected and brought along a firewood offering, enjoyed our sociability. It was a very queer, playful, musical and sexy night.

Early in 2005, with a lesbian friend called Anna, I set up the Queer Spirit Circle and our meetings became more frequent. Often we met in Stockwell at a former maternity hospital, which was at this time a squatted community of artists, where we were able to put on evenings of shamanic journeying, drumming, dancing or simply talking from the heart about our spiritual journeys. The idea was to offer space for queer spiritual beings of any faith or background to come share energy of spirit together and talk about our discoveries on the path.

Tuning into the energy of the moon, plus equinoxes, solstices and cross quarter points of the year is a recipe for bringing balance and health to mind, body and spirit – only by doing it do we find out that it works. With each turning of the wheel of the year I feel myself growing a bit more, knowing when is the time to create, act and manifest… and when the time to turn inwards, explore, reflect and heal. Each of the full moons and of the eight festival points has a different energy – by attuning to them we bring balance, healing, light and growth into our lives, and learn more about who we are. Queer Spirit Circle moved to Old Street when Lambeth Council evicted the squatters and since 2012 it has met in Vauxhall at a large, airy Victorian community hall, where by 2020 each month around 70 people were gathering. Over time these circles have become celebratory, ritual spaces where a diverse group get together to mark full moons and the seasonal turning points of the year through simple ceremony and a few hours of drumming and dancing that take us out of regular mental and emotional patterns and into the rhythm of the ecstatic moment.

I have also focussed over the years on making my home in Stockwell into a Faerie oasis, where the healing love frequencies of Radical Faerie space are always present. This has drawn many people to the flat from around the world, love flows, light enters and many wonderful mystical times have been shared at Chateau Shokti since the turn of the millennium.

FOLLETERRE

A group of Faerie men from Germany, Netherlands and France spent much of their holiday time during a few years searching for a location for our permanent faerie sanctuary. Eventually land was found in the Vosges mountains of north eastern France, close to Switzerland – a farm high on a mountain side above the village of Ternuay. At the autumn equinox in 2005 I attended the Opening Ceremony Weekend of FOLLETERRE and became a steward of the new sanctuary. My contribution to the project was to rally the faeries, spread the word to get people along to the land, and organise gatherings there. There was a predominance of UK queers at some of the early events, largely because there was a more established network of pagan and community-minded folk in the UK, where projects such as Edward Carpenter Community and Queer Pagan Camp had already brought together quite a large number of queers seeking communal experience and a shared home in nature. I loved to bring people together and enjoyed the challenge of bringing us all into an intimate, connected space. Although this was entirely new in my life I felt completely at home in this role. Unlike my early adult life when I had little drive or ambition to achieve anything in the world, I had finally found what brings joy to my heart. Having our own piece of land in the mountains was very exciting, and people were drawn to the land from all over the world to see this queer lighthouse start to shine.

A piece of woodland close to our farmland had been known as ‘Folleterre’ since olden times, and this became the name of the sanctuary. Folle has a double meaning of both ‘queer’ and ‘crazy’, so Folleterre was the perfect name for a permanent faerie home. Conditions were primitive – sleeping in the barn on mattresses, showering outside with water heated over a fire and poured out from a watering can by a friend – and there was much work to do to keep the place running day by day as well as to improve comfort levels and living conditions. Situated in the wettest region of France, and high up a mountain, the weather can be unpredictable, but as well as stormy or cloudy days Folleterre also gets plenty of hot sunshine, and is an ideal hideaway where Faerie folk can be naked and free in nature, reflecting our freedom in sanctuary to express, enjoy and be the fullness of our true selves.

Folleterre was the first European faerie sanctuary, with close connections to sister sanctuaries situated in the United States and Australia. Gatherings take place from spring until late autumn, and a few brave faerie souls have stayed at the place during winter when the snow is piled high and it is impossible to drive up the mountain. We gather to celebrate Beltane in May, enacting a maypole ceremony – this ancient Celtic fertility ritual that has become a central feature of Faerie life internationally; also for a 10 day summer celebration and for themed gatherings, eg around activism, meditation, art, tantra, hair! There are female faeries and trans faeries as well as male-bodied, and how could there not be since we are recognising and honouring the two-spirited nature, the interplay of feminine and masculine energies within each of us. I was struck at my first gatherings by the strong embrace of the inner child and inner feminine amongst the eurofaeries. Our contribution to debates around trans nature should be clear enough – gay faerie men in particular should be owning their inner feminine and their own gender fluidity, proclaiming loudly about the interplay of genders within the self. Those men who think gay is simply about being masculine are entirely missing the point of the magic in their own nature.

“Know the masculine,

but keep to the feminine.

Be a valley under heaven.

If you embrace the world,

the Tao will never leave you

and you will become as a little child.” Tao Te Ching

In Radical Faerie space we are exploring territories of emotion and spirituality that mainstream gay life struggles to accommodate. Sitting in heart circle can be one of the most revealing ways of discovering the power of the compassion within us and the powerful connected energy of community. I believe that faeries shine a light on the potential of queer people to become guides on how to take life to a heart-centred, exciting, magically connected level, revealing how our relationship with nature can empower and heal us, and that a relationship with the sacred dimension of life does not have to preclude having a good time.

HARRY HAY

Harry Hay, the first Radical Faerie read the books of Carpenter, met Native American elders, set up the first gay rights organisation in the USA (the Mattachine Society in the 1950s) and went on to be one of the men calling the first Rad Fae gathering into being in the late 1970s .

“We have been a SEPARATE PEOPLE…. Drifting together in a parallel existence, not always conscious of each other.. yet recognising one another by eyelock when we did meet… here and there as outcasts… Spirit people… in service to the Great Mother.. Shamans.. mimes and rhapsodes, poets and playwrights, healers and nurturers… VISIONARIES… REBELS”

“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.”

“Out of the mists of our long oppression,

We bring love for ourselves and each other,

And love for the gifts we bear,

So heavy and so painful the fashioning of them,

So long the road given us to travel them. A separate people,

We bring a gift to celebrate each other,

‘Tis a gift to be gay!

Feel the pride of it!”

ECC

Another group providing holistic spaces for gay men in the UK is the Edward Carpenter Community. Set up in the 1980s and named after the English philosopher and pioneer of gay activism, who lived 1844-1929, much of that time in a stable relationship with his male partner, the ECC has no permanent base but instead hires space within other communities, or at youth hostels, for week long retreats. Some of these retreats are built around themes, and from 2001 I was a regular attendee on spirituality retreats held at Laurieston Hall in south west Scotland, after a couple of years joining the organising team, so getting the chance to develop facilitation skills and to run workshops. Each group that gathered for one of these weeks went on a collective journey into realms of discovery and healing, and while the ECC had a reputation for being more ‘safe’: middle class, middle aged and mellow than anarchic faerie freeflow energy, these weeks were always rewarding as men visibly dropped years of anxiety, fear or emotional wounding and entered into a glowing sense of self and self in community. Themes for the weeks I was part of running included ‘The Wounded Healer’, ‘Healing Spirit’ and ‘The Dance between Power and Intimacy’. Using the facilities of the hall and the stunning woodland and lochs around it, we generated powerful healing journeys for many men which confirmed for me the crucial role of soul healing in gay, in human, life. Once the wounds we inevitably gain in life are soothed and the soul in us given permission to shine, heightened states of love and awareness are waiting for us.

“I say that I think perhaps of all the services the Uranian may render to society it will be found some day that in this direction of solving the problems of affection and of the heart he will do the greatest service. If the day is coming as we have suggested – when Love is at last to take its rightful place as the binding and directing force of society (instead of the Cash-nexus), and society is to be transmuted in consequence to a higher form, then undoubtedly the superior types of Uranians – prepared for this service by long experience and devotion, as well as by much suffering – will have an important part to play in the transformation. For that the Urnings in their own lives put Love before everything else – postponing to it the other motives like money-making, business success, fame, which occupy so much space in most people’s careers – is a fact which is patent to everyone who knows them. This may be saying little or nothing in favour of those of this class whose conception of love is only a poor and frivolous sort; but in the case of those others who see the god in his true light, the fact that they serve him in singleness of heart and so unremittingly raises them at once into the position of the natural leaders of mankind.”

Edward Carpenter

‘Uranian’ was first used to refer to same sex love by Karl Ulrichs in mid 19th century Germany – he derived the term from the goddess Aphrodite Urania, the patron of spiritual love, to highlight the spirituality and nobility of same sex love, distinguishing it from reproductive Dionian love, named after Aphrodite Dionea. The term was taken up by English advocates of homosexual emancipation, such as Edward Carpenter and John Addington-Symonds, imagining a comradely love that would bring about true democracy by breaking down class and gender barriers. Oscar Wilde wrote in a letter in 1898, “To have altered my life would have been to have admitted that Uranian love is ignoble. I hold it to be noble—more noble than other forms.”

Carpenter published the results of his anthropological research as ‘Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk’ in 1914, exploring examples from America and feudal Japan, the cross-dressing, sodomising Qedesha goddess priests of the Middle East so hated by the ancient Hebrews, and also same sex Christian unions in the Balkans. Carpenter dared to write about the link between same-sex love and the shamanic practitioners in tribal cultures – in fact this link had not been lost on the European explorers arriving in the New World from the 15th century onwards: discovering that the spiritual power in the tribes was held by gender-bending, same sex loving individuals they set about destroying that power by spreading their Christian judgement of effeminacy and sodomy. They called Native American shamans ‘berdache’, meaning a bottom in gay sex, a term which stuck until the late 20th century.

Carpenter wrote in 1889,-

“The meaning of the old religions will come back to him. On the high tops once more gathering he will celebrate with naked dances the glory of the human form and the great processions of the stars, or greet the bright horn of the young moon which now after a hundred centuries comes back laden with such wondrous associations – all the yearnings and the dreams and the wonderment of the generations of mankind – the worship of Astarte and of Diana, of Isis or the Virgin Mary; once more in sacred groves will he reunite the passion and the delight of human love with his deepest feelings of the sanctity and beauty of Nature; or in the open, standing uncovered to the Sun, will adore the emblem of the everlasting splendour which shines within”

Edward Carpenter, Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure, 57), 1889

I was in complete agreement with Edward that, –

“we are arriving at one of the most fruitful and important turning points in the history of the race. the Self is entering into relation with the Body. for, that the individual should conceive and know himself, not a toy and a chance-product of his own bodily heredity, but as identified and continuous with the Eternal Self of which his body is a manifestation, is indeed to begin a new life and to enter a hitherto undreamed world of possibilities….this transformation, whilst the greatest and most wonderful, is also of course the most difficult in Man’s evolution, for him to effect. it may roughly be said that the whole of the civilisation-period in Man’s history is the preparation for it.”

Passion

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!’

ALBION FAERIES

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.

TURNING POINT

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.

QUEER SPIRIT

LIBERATION

Spiritual liberation is the missing element in the modern journey of LGBTQ+ people around the world. Coming out about our sexuality or gender identity results from the need to be true to ourselves, we listen to our souls and from the soul comes the courage to be who we are. The same principle applies to spirituality – it comes from inside us.

External forms of spirituality, i.e. religions, are cultural manifestations of collective spirituality, but they are also controlling, often repressive forces, set up to bring order and cohesion to society, but often crippling creativity, self-expression and spontaneity. The fact that certain religions have got so caught up in their dark fascination with hatred of queer people should tell us something – perhaps that we have some power, some magic, in our souls – that they are very afraid of.

I have come to regard the development of Queer Spiritual Consciousness as being about the LGBTQ+ people of the planet becoming conscious of our crucial queer role in re-establishing the Unity of all Life: it’s not that we humans have ONE LIFE, it’s that there is ONE LIFE and we are it. What’s more our queer eye on the universe makes us highly suited to be ambassadors of this truth. We can use religious terms and imagery to describe this, but we can also find our own forms of expression. By being outside the mainstream norms of society queers are perfectly placed to work out our own answers, this applies to spirituality as much as to our sexual expression, the relationships and cultures that we create. Coming Out is an act of self-actualisation, and it should not be limited to our sex lives!

British biologist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964) famously said “My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” He was not talking about sexuality as such, but it’s a quotation I love: Life is a queer journey of constant discovery, most enjoyed when lived with passion. Everyone on earth is an incarnation of the Oneness, and deserving of the right to self-expression, to be who they truly are and to love whom they wish to love. This is the message Queer Spirit brings to the world, continuing that of the movement of Gay Liberation that began in the early 1970s, which from the start had the principle that there is no gay liberation until everyone is liberated – sexually, politically, spiritually.

FESTIVAL

Most coverage of LGBTQ+ spiritual matters in the media over the years has focussed on the religious debates about us, and the efforts some valiant queers are making to improve matters within faith groups. But there is another story – that of questing queers pursuing their own personal growth/evolution/enlightenment – and of them finding each other to explore what queer community could become with a major dose of spiritual awareness injected into it:

Queer Spirit Festival is such a gathering, the first of which in August 2016 brought together 400 queers from all parts of our rainbow tribe at a beautiful site in Wiltshire. The second festival took place at the end of July 2017 and the third, which 500 attended, in August 2019 – here we explored community, consciousness, group ritual and soul sharing with a packed programme of performance, workshops and activities over five days. The festival seeks to highlight the passion and creative spirit of LGBTQ+ people, and be a space where we can explore embodied, heartfelt, playful queer spirituality free from religious constrictions.

I teamed up to produce Queer Spirit Festival with three fellow creativesMiqhael Kannemeyer, who had been serving the queer spiritual movement since his time with the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s; Al Head, whom I had met at Queer Pagan Camp in 2001, and whose activism stretches back to the Greenham Common anti-nuclear protests of the 1980s; and Buzzy Cnayl, tantric practitioner and founder of Quintasensual Festival. We four held the central vision and coordination roles for the festival, which also had the enthusiastic input of many radical faeries and other queer souls as volunteers. From the word go we wanted Queer Spirit Festival to be a place created equally by all parts of the queer rainbow community and not dominated by any one sub-group. This felt to us the natural next step to take in order to open wider the doors to cosmic, heart-centred community that Radical Faeries and Queer Pagans had been exploring in the UK for nearly two decades, and a fulfilment of powerful visions some of us had had back in the early 2000s when we first experienced the heightened rush of queer tribal energy in our gatherings. The energy flowed well for the festival, and the three events so far have been ground breaking, life changing, soul enriching experiences.

Testimonials written by festival attendees can be seen on the festival website.

Some examples:

“I have never in my life time (in this incarnation at least!) experienced a space where fellow humans and especially queer humans have felt so free to express themselves in all their beauty and magnificence, outside of what the matrix tells us this should look like. It was extremely moving to see our community reclaim our power and connect with each other from the heart.”

“I didn’t know what to expect when I came to Queer Spirit, Over the 5 days I experienced more love and acceptance than I have in my entire life and i felt like a flower slowly opening.
I loved the meditations, the singing the dance and the cabaret where all amazing.”

“I experienced a life changing 5 days at Queer Spirit Festival. I have never felt so accepted and loved in a space full of complete strangers. I loved running my own workshops and attending others. Both the food options were outstanding – I didn’t expect to be able to eat so well at a festival. So reasonably priced too! It was great that alcohol wasn’t for sale on site so that people were generally more conscious and consenting in what they involved themselves in.”

“What a magnificent event this was. I did have some trepidation in coming as I wasn’t sure how I would feel at ease in such a mix of people. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have removed lots of taboos I have held and am well on the way losing more as the full impact of my experience settled in.”

“Wonderful, glorious, fantastic, ecstatic, deep, personal, inimitable experience! Immense gratitude.
the most beautiful and nourishing space i have ever experienced! So many things about it were really amazing: the range and quality of workshops, the performances, the emphasis on consent and heartfelt connection, the gorgeous and friendly volunteers, the love and care put into the set-up, decoration of the site and beautiful spaces created, the food…”

“Being unintentionally misgendered, and knowing it comes from a place of honest unfamiliarity, quickly and lovingly corrected, and not a withholding of acceptance.
Being so beautifully overwhelmed with diversity that my anxieties, in hindsight, were irrelevant.
Coming ‘home’ changed, just as my circumstances and path-choices are about to go into freefall.
Hearing the voices of trans men, and finding connection and recognition, surprising overlaps, delightful mirroring.
Taking the entire festival, and the journey home, to appreciate that my dysphoria and other anxieties can impact on each other, but needn’t, that the stretching out, expressing, and relaxation of our authentic, intersectional selves is enough, and that this is a safe place to do that.”

“I thought I was going to queer spirit to find a safe space to explore my spirituality, since i felt so secure in my gender and sexuality. Instead I found that after initial anxiety passed, the spiritual side was easy, and the exploration became about my identity as much as my beliefs. I want to thank everyone who created this space, and everyone who filled it. This past week has been the closest that I’ve ever felt to being at home in my whole life.”

“Loved how intimate it was.”

At Queer Spirit Festival we celebrate queerkind as creative, loving beings – exploring our spirituality and our hidden history, opening our hearts, minds and bodies with a rich and diverse programme of ceremonies, performance, workshops and play spaces – here we honour and yet also play with and dissolve the perceived differences and divisions between trans people, lesbians, bisexuals, gay men, the non-binary and other queers who cannot be defined or confined to any such category. Timed at the Aquarian Full Moon, in a magically held atmosphere that encourages engagement, open heartedness, communication and compassion, the Festival was a liberating realm of freedom of self-expression, of self-exploration and community creation… of soul expansion and of finding the inner peace that comes from communing with nature, and being able to fully be ourselves in an atmosphere of celebration and summer fun under the Leo Sun.

QUEER AWAKENING

Lesbians, Gay Men and Trans people are the natural priests of humanity. Our bodies are not only temples, they are holy shrines at which to make offerings, they are sacred rituals in action! This is what we sexual and gender outlaws all have in common – our persecution since the rise of the patriarchal, monotheistic religions is rooted in the suppression of pagan faiths, where the Goddess and queer deities such as Dionysus reigned supreme, where sexuality was understood as a divine, sacred force within us, and ecstatic rituals kept the spirit connected, alive and real.

Will Roscoe wrote in ‘Priests of the Goddess: Gender Transgression in Ancient Religion (1996):

“At the time of the birth of Christ, cults of men devoted to a Goddess flourished throughout the broad region extending from the Mediterranean to south Asia.”

Raven Kaldera:

“Transgendered people have long been robbed of their own spiritual history, not knowing that there were once times and places where ours was considered a spiritual path in and of itself… We are all sacred and it is time that the world knew it.”

Malidoma Some, Dagara Tribe:

“The modern world was built by Christianity. They have taken the gods out of the earth sent them to heaven, wherever that is. And everyone who aspires to the gods must then negotiate with Christianity, so that the real priests and priestesses are out of a job.”

Sobonfu Some, Dagara Tribe in ‘The Spirit of Intimacy’:

“Gays and lesbians in the West are often very spiritual, but they have been taken away from their connection with spirit. My feeling is that without that outlet or that role in the culture, they have to find other ways of defining themselves. This could be one of the reasons why they would want to get married or make themselves look as though they do not have a unique purpose.”

Harry Hay, Radical Faerie:

“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.”

harry_hayquote

Judith Grahn, Another Mother Tongue:

“The tribal attitude said, and continues to say, that Gay people are especially empowered because we are able to identify with both sexes and can see into more than one world at once, having the capacity to see from more than one point of view at a time.”

in the confusion and conflict of the 21st century…..

WHAT DO WE DO WITH THIS KNOWLEDGE?

We bring healing…

Audre Lorde:

“The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.”

Andrew Ramer, Two Flutes Playing:

“The work of the past, the work of the spiritual teachers of the past, has been about love. But as we evolve it is time for us to explore who we are as beings of joy. Joy is the name for the single energy that we have seen as two distinct ones, as spiritual energy and sexual energy. The sharing of joy will be the major healing tool of the future. Dolphins and whales understand this, that free-flowing joy is the balance to love, the cross-weave in the fabric of life, able to hold all our pain and sorrow in its embrace. In our evolution as a species we have moved away from joy. In exploring our minds and the world we have divided, dissected, defined, and destroyed. But we are coming back to wholeness again, to Oneness, and to joy. Down through the dark ages of our history, it has been love that allowed us to survive. And in the next era of our history, it will be joy that heals us and renews us as a people.”

Sobonfu Some, Dagara Tribe, The Spirit of Intimacy:

“Gatekeepers are people who live a life at the edge between two worlds—the world of the village and the world of spirit… . The gatekeepers stand on the threshold of the gender line. They are mediators between the two genders. They make sure that there is peace and balance between women and men…

“In the village, gatekeepers have an eye of both genders. They can help the genders to understand each other better than usual in their daily life. That’s why a group of women, for example, might gather and bring a male gatekeeper to help them understand certain village issues. The same things happens on the other side, with a female gatekeeper coming into the middle of the men’s circle.

Gatekeepers hold keys to other dimensions. They maintain a certain alignment between the spirit world and the world of the village. Without them, the gates to the other world would be shut.
On the other side of these gates lies the spirit world or other dimensions. Gatekeepers are in constant communication with beings who live there, who have the ability to teach us how to deal with ritual. And gatekeepers have the capacity to take other people to those places.

We seek understanding

Mitch Walker ‘Men Loving Men: Gay Sex Guide and Consciousness Book‘ 1977:

“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.”

Elsa Gidlow (1898-1986) Sapphic Poet

“What if we smashed the mirrors
And saw our true face?
What if we left the Sacred Books to the worms
And found our True Mind?
What if we burned the wooden Buddhas?
Gave the stone Buddhas back to the mountains?
Dispersed the gurus with a great laugh
And discovered the path we had always been on?”

Larry Mitchell, The Faggots and their Friends Between Revolutions (1977):

“The first revolutions destroyed the great cultures of the women. Once the men triumphed, all that was other from them was considered inferior and therefore worthy only of abuse and contempt and extinction. Stories told of these times are of heroic action and terrifying defeat and silent waiting. Stories told of these times make the faggots and their friends weep. The second revolutions made many of the people less poor and a small group of men without color very rich. With craftiness and with the faggots and their friends are able to live in this time, some in comfort and some in defiance. The men remain enchanted by plunder and destruction. The men are deceived easily and so the faggots and their friends have nearly enough to eat and more than enough time to think about what it means to be alive as the third revolutions are beginning.”

Sobonfu Some, Dagara Tribe, The Spirit of Intimacy:

“The life of gay people in the West is in many ways a reaction to pressure from a society that rejects them. This is partly because a culture that has forgotten so much about itself will displace certain groups of people, such as the gay community, from their true roles.

In the village they are not seen as the other. They are not forced to create a separate community in order to survive. People do not put a negative label on them, they are regarded no differently than any other child of the village. They are born gatekeepers, with specific purposes, and are encouraged to fulfill the role they’re born to in the interests of the community.

We look forward

Arthur Evans, Witchcraft and the Gay Counter-Culture: (1978)

“We look forward to regaining our ancient historical roles as medicine people, healers, prophets, shamans and sorcerers. We look forward to an endless and fathomless process of coming out – as gay people, as animals, as humans, as mysterious and powerful spirits that move through the life cycle of the cosmos….. Like butterflies we are emerging from the shells of our past restricted existence. We are re-discovering the ancient magic that was once the birth right of all human beings. We are re-learning how to talk to the worms and the stars. We are taking flight on the wings of self-determination. Come, blessed Lady of the Flowers, Queen of Heaven, creator and destroyer, Kali – we are dancing the dance of your coming.”

The Adventure Goes On Forever

QUEER

The scientific paradigm and dominant materialist outlook keeps most people’s attention away from the greatest adventure there is to have while alive – the spiritual quest to self-realisation: to reach for higher love, holy light and mystical understanding in our time is still to be a rebel outside the acceptable, majority-led agreed reality.

Science and reason have improved the lot of humanity immeasurably, but they have not been able to liberate the species from certain base fears and prejudice. To grow up to be a gay/lesbian/trans/queer person in the early 21st century also still requires us to challenge and be challenged by the attitudes coming from the majority.

Queer or straight is ultimately irrelevant, we are all on a journey of self-discovery, although the mainstream consensus puts limits on that. I believe the time has come to hold hands as One and leap into the next stage of human life, into the possibilities of the 21st century. We are light, we are spirit, we are souls. We can release the fear of death and suffering, become attuned to the eternal part of our nature and evolve. Life will offer us opportunities, doorways into this, but we have to make the conscious choice for ourselves to open the door – the choice to overcome the fearful mind, to heal the hurts we have endured, and to become part of the unity of life.

However, Queer people, judged often for our partying, fashion obsessions, for our love of drugs and sex, are actually pre-programmed to be part of the urgently needed dimension-busting exploration of consciousness and the ultimate collective species wide shift to a new, compassionate and life-affirming paradigm. Queers care, about other people and about the planet and her creatures.. Most of us already consciously or not approach life with the attitude of live and let live, love and be loved, create and enjoy. We tend to feel everybody deserves these basic rights. Though sometimes criticised for shallowness and bitchiness, kindness is the more commonly expressed quality amongst us. Those of us who lived through the AIDS years saw the active, compassionate love of queer people close up. When the governments and churches were ignoring our plight, it was the LGBT community that stood up and took action, caring for the sick, building a stronger community and becoming much more politically motivated than we had been previous to the epidemic.

Nobody would have believed in the 1990s that many countries of the world would have legalised same sex marriage within twenty years. This is a sign of the power in our queer hearts and minds. The old stories about us need to go, it is time that the Queers of the world were truly recognised for the good spirit, love, joy, healing, creativity, passion, colour, compassion and intelligence we bring to the human family.

The visible, collective presence of queer people, united in the cause of the human right to love, has already changed the world fundamentally. We are pioneers and freedom fighters. We know that nobody is free until everybody is free. There is much more for us to do.

Every gay kid deserves to know that the shamanic healers of the tribal peoples of the whole planet were often the genderbenders – and that these shamans are our ancestors. They did not build churches and create religions, they explored the natural connection to the non-physical, spirit realms of creation that they were born with, and used that special power to serve the wider community. We do not have to deny spirit because we are gay or queer, nor do we have to exist uncomfortably in archaic religious institutions – the inheritance of the shamanic peoples of planet earth is ours to receive and explore, in our own spaces, in our own ways. This is the kind of intelligent awareness that gay life needs NOW.

For those shamans are here again. REBORN IN US. Waiting for us to liberate their power.

Coming out Spiritually will be the Second Coming for the global LGBTQ+ community. We stood up for ourselves. fought for our rights and declared the goodness in our sexuality. Now as we get bolder and learn to think more boldly for ourselves on the spiritual level it becomes increasingly apparent to many of us that we do not have to belong to religious institutions to express our spirituality. We can be signs to the whole of humanity that a direct relationship with spirit can be ours to enjoy, that spirituality is about finding out who we are on the most fundamental level, then bringing that joy filled soul essence into life.

Queer people, only so recently finding emancipation in some parts of the world, we need to renew our relationship with spirit and nature as much as any other part of the human family. Cities have served us well as places to find each other, build strength in numbers and develop community, but cities are also where we can lose balance, where life spins out of control, where drugs destroy our gay dreams. Nature can restore us, as many radical faeries the world over will testify. In our nature sanctuaries we find healing, love, sister and brotherhood, we find spirit; we recharge and find out more about who we are, bringing this light and power back into the world, becoming the change…

WE ARE A PART OF HUMANITY THAT HAS NO PROBLEM CELEBRATING THE BODY, CELEBRATING SEX, CELEBRATING ECSTATIC COMMUNION.

WE ARE GETTING READY FOR THE RECONNECTION, THE RECLAIMING, THE RE-UNION OF MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT, THE BLISS OF REVELATION, HUMANITY’S HOMECOMING

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HEALING

Diagnosed HIV+ in 1990 when aged 25, and Long Term Survivor of AIDS, I have lived most of my life with a deadly virus in my body. I have thought long and hard about what a virus is on a metaphysical level, why it affects some people and not others, why it has different effects on people. Inspired by the likelihood of death looming over me in the 1990s I dived into spiritual study and practice in order to get a better, deeper understanding of life and soon came to respect the HIV virus as being a profound catalyst for my personal evolution.

Author and Healer Misa Hopkins is on this same wavelength when she writes, –

“Viruses grab hold when we abandon the self. In other words, they come in and hang out when we are not attending to our bodies’ health or our emotional and mental well-being. We check-out, so-to-speak, by not attending to ourselves, and the viruses check in.

“Viruses are able to gain entry when you are depleting yourself through stress, poor diet, and not enough oxygenation of your cells. You could think of it as creating an internal environment better suited to the viruses than to your health.

“The question you might want to ask yourself to access the metaphysical meaning behind a viral illness is, “What causes you to abandon yourself?”

“Now consider that abandonment occurs when you feel defeated in some way or are pushing yourself because you don’t feel worthy. You’ve abandoned your ability to create a balanced, happy life, because somewhere deep inside, you don’t believe that is possible.”

I believe HIV/AIDS could take hold in my body because I was not feeling worthy, I was not pushing myself, I had no goals or direction, life was meaningless for me. But the journey I took with it opened my mind to a much vaster reality than my upbringing and fancy education had ever hinted at. My physical healing came through medication, but my soul healed at the same time, was born again with a brand new outlook and a firm intention to find healing, create well-being and BE LOVE in the world.

From my awakening in 1995 I have spent a quarter of a century attuning myself to Creation and well-being by studying and following the Celtic Pagan Wheel of the Year and the Lunar cycles, each year becoming more aware of the dance our souls are undertaking with nature and the cosmos. I have gone deeply into the interplay of the elemental forces in us as body-mind-emotion-spirit, and now experience them as constantly engaged with each other. Nothing exists on one plane only, a physical sickness is always directly related to what is going on in our mental and emotional levels. So how a virus affects us will depend on what needs healing, what needs addressing, in our lives. A virus, any illness, manifesting in the body can be a gateway to healing our psychological and emotional wounds and issues. For one thing, illness brings us very much into the present moment where healing can happen – often it is the over stretch going on within us (with mind too focussed on past or future, triggering emotions constantly as it does so, which eventually overstress the body) that weakens the immune system and lets illness in. This applies to all ailments from common colds to cancer. Ultimately all dis-ease comes from our belief in disconnection from Source, and the fear that generates. The whole point of spiritual or religious practice is to boost our faith in Source by giving us time in its embrace, feeling its presence within us and within our chosen community. For some of us, a virus comes to offer a ticket home, a quick way out of a life that, on a soul level we have chosen to end.

Many people in the modern world who have rejected religion find substitutes for it which give them an experience of heightened joy, pleasure, tribe, but they may not be getting enough inner strength of bliss-love and firm faith from their activities to be able to gracefully handle life’s challenges and existential crises, which is what spiritual practice and understanding hopefully gives us. In which case we humans, with an almighty survival instinct, generally push harder and search deeper. In the end we have the chance to understand that we are here on Earth to grow in the soul – it is the sum total of our personal achievements on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – that will count in the end, when we are leaving the body and giving ourselves our own life review, our own moment of judgement, which so likely leads to us saying “oh yeah, now I remember….. let’s go back and try harder….”

The two major Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Islam, deny the reality of reincarnation, but looking back at history we see this denial has more political than spiritual roots. Reincarnation was taken off the Christian agenda at a church council, called by the Roman Emperor Justinian in opposition to the wishes of the Pope (whom the emperor held prisoner at the time), in Constantinople in 553 AD, It did not serve the interests of the political state to have the populace believing in the transmigration of the soul (and in the 21st century it still doesn’t), nor at the time the political manoeuvrings of Theodora, wife of Emperor Justinian who had her sights on deification after death.

Other religions of the world often take reincarnation as a given. When challenged on this by scientist Carl Sagan, the Dalai Lama replied,“If science can disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation… but it’s going to be mighty hard to disprove reincarnation.”

The mythologies of the ancient Middle East and the Greek and Roman empires reveal that the land of the dead was viewed with some trepidation, in sharp contrast to the deeply ancient rooted Celtic culture of northern and central Europe. The ancient Sumerians believed in the Dark House of Death, and the mythology around their great Goddess Inanna involves her fateful visit to it. Greeks saw the Underworld as a fearsome place of darkness and silence, gloom and desolation, the Romans feared it was even worse.

Classical writers such as Posidonius recorded that the Celts held that “the souls of men are immortal, and that after a definite numbers of years they live a second life when the soul passes to another body”. Strabo wrote that the Druids believed that “men’s souls and the universe are indestructible, although at times fire and water may prevail.” (Yes the Druids foresaw climate change). Julius Caesar tells us of their belief that “souls do not suffer death, but after death pass from the one to the other”, which underpinned the Celtic warriors absolute lack of fear in battle.

Considering the bleak view of the afterlife that the Romans adopted, Christianity, with its promise of salvation and heaven, must have shone like a beacon of hope. But by removing reincarnation from its teachings, the religion made entry into heaven reliant on obeying the rules set down by its Church, condemning those it regarded as sinners to a nightmare hell.

The modern ‘faith’, science, removes the spirit world all together from the picture, and instead of judgement after death sending us to heaven or hell, we are told nothing awaits us but an obliteration of our very essence of being. In the ‘rational’ scientific age, we are still being mind-controlled, discouraged from seeking our own answers and manipulated into serving and upholding the status quo of the current politico-economic system.

Yet surveys show over and over that a third or more of people of the western world do accept reincarnation as a fact, and consistently this is the case whether people have a religious belief or not. The soul in us knows that we come here to grow – and maybe eventually reach the point of realisation of our own divinity. This is more than a one-lifetime experience we are involved in.

Shokti at Beltane 2013

There are many voices in the world today telling their tales of awakening, healing and growth through health crises. I am one of those people and this has been my tale.

HIV pushed me to drop my materialistic, atheistic beliefs about existence and explore mystical teachings. As I came closer to death (with Mary, Mungo and Midge, the names I gave my 3 t-cells at the lowest point in ’97) I surrendered my thoughts, my beliefs, my pain to the conscious universe and began a conversation with it that has never stopped since. I believe a combination of human and spiritual love alongside a positive mindset kept me alive until effective medication arrived to help, and I emerged from AIDS as a healer with a sense of purpose and a trust in the divine plan at work in the universe.

HIV affected certain groups in society more than others, and of course not everybody who lived with AIDS experienced the kind of apotheosis I am speaking of. Those of us who managed to find a state of transcendence over the darkness of our condition achieved it perhaps because we came to understand that we are all always creating our own experience of life in every moment, through our beliefs, thoughts and desires, but usually unconsciously, and too often swayed and battered by own emotional wounds and mental anxiety. I think we AIDS Survivors accepted that we had brought ourselves to this point of challenge and transformation, not blaming others for it and dropping any sense of being the ‘victim’. And we didn’t give up, we kept seeking answers, light, love.

Gay writer Mark Thompson in the 1990s described AIDS as a ‘training ground for the apocalypse’.

COVID-19 is a virus that affects every sector of society, nobody is excluded this time. Many people will find themselves contemplating death, either because confronted with or from the spread of fear about it. Despite the upheavals and inconveniences we are all experiencing now the mystic in me is excited to see the opportunity being offered to the whole world to break through the veils of illusion that keep us believing we are separate beings in a principally material universe. It is in fact the fear of death that often keeps our souls locked down and limited in their expression and experiences.

I dropped the belief in separation and allowed my own soul to reveal to me the unity and interdependence of all existence, the eternity of the soul and some insight into the changes coming to the world. It is only the human mind that keeps us firmly locked into the experience, the illusion, of individuality. It is designed to do that, so that consciousness – spirit – can explore itself through each of us. Humans love to use alcohol, drugs and sacred medicines because they all alter this sense of separation, they give us a taste of the deeper connected state, but only shifting the way we think can enable us to always be aware of and in tune with it

When we cease to identify with the stories and fears that our ego develops in order to maintain its apparent integrity, and shift instead to seeing the world with the eyes of the soul, life becomes a sacred dance, in which the fear of death changes into celebration of eternal life lived in the here and now, and disease becomes a teacher, a message from the soul, that we are in some way out of balance.

If we come to see existence as a unity, then we can no longer regard a virus as something separate to us. If all Creation is a dance of and within the Divine Mind then the virus, which exists somewhere in the liminal state between life and death (for it has no independent reality at all, it depends on living entities for its own existence), is a parcel of divine consciousness with its own part to the play in the bigger picture of the evolution of life on this planet. A virus brings different life lessons to different people, it can be seen as a messenger with both personal and collective insights to share. HIV brought some deep lessons to the LGBT community and to the other groups deeply affected. COVID-19 affects everybody and has come at a time when climate change threatens our entire global civilisation, and has important lessons to teach.

I wrote some years ago while deep in the transformational AIDS cocoon …..

HEALING IS VITAL:

HIV IS A CALLING TO KNOW OUR SOULS

TO FACE OUR MORTALITY

AND BREAK THROUGH THE CONFUSION AND LIES OF OUR TIME.

HIV IS AN INVITATION TO TURN INWARDS

TO FACE THE SELF

FIND ITS MOTIVATIONS, BLISS, DEEPEST DESIRES AND BRING THEM FORTH.

HIV IS A WAKE UP CALL

TO SEE WE NEED NOURISHING IN SOUL

AS WELL AS BODY.

HIV WANTS TO TEACH US TO OPEN TO THE POSSIBILITY THAT THERE IS NO DEATH, ONLY A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE

TO OVERCOME FEAR AND FACE THE SHADOW

TO EMBRACE THE LIGHT AND GROW.

HEALING IS VITAL

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This applies as much to COVID-19 as it does to HIV, Cancer or any healing crisis.

As the great healer Deepak Chopra has been teaching for some decades –

Spiritual well-being is alien to many people’s daily lives, and with the decline of organized religion, millions of people experience a sick soul, however you want to define it — weariness of heart, existential dread, a sinking feeling that nothing really matters — without finding a way out.

“Don’t spend more than a few minutes diagnosing these feelings; everyone is experiencing them.” Says Deepak

He recommends:

  • Having a sense of meaning and purpose.
  • Loving and being loved.
  • Self-esteem, a sense of your own worth.
  • Tapping into inner peace and joy.
  • Being of service to others.
  • Generosity of spirit.

This has been the story of my ACCELERATED INDIVIDUAL DISCOVERY OF SELF and what I have been doing with that discovery:

MAY HUMANITY’S JOURNEY THROUGH THE SHIFT OF THE AGES BRING PEACE AND ENLIGHTENMENT TO PLANET EARTH

May All Beings In All The Worlds Be Happy And At Peace

JAI MA!!!