|The Aquarian shift is underway, so much to be revealed about being gay! |
This is the time of Ganymede, the time for a revolution in belief….
A BOOK THAT TELLS A STORY OF AWAKENING, HEALING AND EXPLORATION….
FROM AIDS TO ETERNITY
by Shokti (Mark Whiting)
From the Foreword to the book by Toby Johnson (author of Gay Spirituality, Gay Perspective and Find Your Own Myth):
Early in his exploration of gay life and love in mid-80s London, Mark Whiting is going to tell us in this autobiographical portrayal of his gay spiritual hero journey AIDS to Eternity, he was faced with an HIV diagnosis and prediction of imminent death. As he prepared himself for the end, he dove into the mysteries of religion, occult magic, mysticism and new age teachings, seeking answers to why he had been born in the first place.
AIDS, he says, took him into the twilight world between life and death, a place where realities merged and spirit entered, where spirit pointed to a way to change and healing, where—by transforming acronyms—HIV could reveal that Healing Is Vital and AIDS could act as an Accelerated Individual Discovery of Self.
He describes his journey with AIDS—the symptoms, the sufferings, the despair, the hope when new successful treatments arrived—as a rite of passage into the multi-dimensional nature of life. It forced him to grow out of the blinkered, limited ego-mind and discover himself as a ‘divine child’ with a rightful place in the great scheme of the universe. And after he opened his inner eyes, he found the motivation within to bring light, love and joy into life and to the planet. And subsequently his health returned and his life utterly transformed. The healing crisis of nearly dying with AIDS allowed him to get in touch with his soul, his true self, and to see just how deeply we human beings—and we gay/queer men—are involved in a spiritual, not simply physical, experience here on planet Earth, and how blind humanity—and so much of the gay/queer world—has been to that. But things were changing…
It was as he prepared to die, he says, in the mid ’90s, just a decade after coming out, that he learnt, not least from reading the 19th C. British philosopher and precocious sexologist, Edward Carpenter, that what we call ‘queer’ people were often the shamans and healers of traditional tribal societies across the globe. Gender-diversity and healing go together…
MY AQUARIAN STORY
I was a smalltown boy who arrived in London in 1986, coming out of the closet and embarking on an exploration of life and love that was to be threatened very early on by an HIV diagnosis and prediction of death. As I prepared myself for that end I dove into the mysteries of religion, occult magic, mysticism and new age teachings, seeking for some answers as to why I had been born in the first place.
AIDS took me to the twilight world between life and death, a place where realities merged and spirit entered. As my consciousness went into altered states I journeyed with spirit guides, gurus, dead brothers, star beings, angels and elemental spirits. My awareness opened up to a complex multi-layered reality in which human life is simply a component part, and the vehicle I used to make this journey was my own mind. Surviving a year with a cd4 count of less than 10, with lowest result of 3 t cells, I stubbornly held onto living and went on to recover thanks to advances in medical treatments, beginning a new life in which I seek to combine awareness of spiritual reality with a fully embraced and embodied physical experience here on Planet Earth, through celebrating and exploring our nature as sexual, social and spiritual beings.
In the early 2000s I became involved in the global Radical Faerie community and was part of the team giving birth to Folleterre Sanctuary in France and to Albion Faerie gatherings in the UK. In the following decade I was one of the founders of Queer Spirit Festival, a 5 day camping summer event dedicated to celebration of the creative, loving spirit of LGBTQ+ people.
About a decade after coming out I finally heard that what we call ‘queer’ people were often the shamans and healers of traditional tribal societies across the globe. Although there had been gay writers and visionaries telling this story since the 1970s (who developed a thread that had actually been woven already in the 19th century by early gay pioneers) I had not come across them. Nor would I have been open to their words since I had accepted the science-based material depiction of reality that secular society has adopted.
Facing imminent illness and predicted death from AIDS, I started to ask questions that I had left unvoiced before, about life and about sex – and before long I felt I was finding a crucial secret hiding in my sexuality, and the reason gay sex had been made a taboo. I began to wonder if the modern move towards political and social acceptance of queer people would ultimately result in the return of the powers and priestcraft our kind once knew. One thing was sure for me – the rationalist atheistic view on life I had taken on board while in the education system, was simply not an adequate description of the complex existence I was experiencing. Nowhere near.
When I came out in 1986 the few books that had been written about the spirituality of gay-lesbian-bi-trans, ‘queer”, people were far from my radar. Nor was I looking for, or open to, any spiritual meaning in my sexuality, I just wanted to have fun, to free my repressed nature, which of course was a completely spiritual goal, I simply didn’t know it.
In the three and a half decades since I found the courage to be true to myself and come out in a world that I knew would judge, even hate, me, many books have been published on the theme of our queer spirit that seek to expand the understanding of what being attracted to people of the same gender is all about. The first I came across was Gay Soul, Mark Thompson’s 1994 compilation of interviews with gay pioneers, bringing names such as Harry Hay, Will Roscoe, Ram Dass and Joseph Kramer into my awareness. This opened up the doors for me to start exploring the possibility that, far from being unnatural and abominable, my gay sexuality might be a holy gift. I soon discovered Mark’s other works Gay Spirit and Gay Body and the mystical writings of Andrew Harvey, whose work Gay Mystics draws out the hidden heritage of queer spiritual voices throughout time and in every corner of the world.
The turn of the millennium brought forth many new works on gay spirit, of course largely unnoticed by the commercially driven mainstream gay world. It’s clear to me that this flowering from mainly gay male writers was part of our response to the devastating challenge of the AIDS years. These books were truly ground breaking and covered all bases – such as offerings from
Andrew Ramer (Two Flutes Playing)
Toby Johnson (Gay Spirituality, Gay Perspective)
Christian de la Huerta (Coming Out Spiritually)
David Nimmons (Soul Beneath the Skin)
John Stowe (Gay Spirit Warrior)
Winston Leyland (Queer Dharma)
Will Roscoe (Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love)
Christopher Penczak (Gay Witchcraft)
Michael Thomas Ford (The Path of the Green Man)
These works, all published 1997-2005, were signs of the gradual opening up of the story around the spirituality of LGBTQ+ people the world over, which was also happening at increasing numbers of gay spiritual retreats, queer pagan and radical faerie gatherings at this time, a turning away from the tame and humble words of some gay people defending us within religious institutions and instead proclaiming the innate and ancient power in our sexuality, as well a manifestation of the longing for deeper meaning in their lives and love relationships than the often shallow immediacy of the mainstream gay scene.
These works built on the inspired writings of the earlier pioneers of this path –
Arthur Evans (Witchcraft and the Gay Counter Culture, 1978),
Larry Mitchell (The Faggots and their Friends Between Revolutions, 1977),
Judy Grahn (Another Mother Tongue, 1984),
Randy P. Connor (Blossom of Bone 1993).
Since 2005 more books have appeared as more authors share their own liberating insights, such as Salvatore Sapienza (Gay is a Gift, 2009) and Caffyn Jesse (Orientation, 2015). Some focus on de-colonising the notion of sexuality from the binary, western, psychological model developed in the late 19th century – when we look at diverse cultures around the globe it certainly becomes very apparent that homo and trans sexualities have a deep association with spirituality, long ago denied in the monotheistic religions. Thomas Prower takes a world tour on this theme in Queer Magic (2018). Raven Kaldera highlights the sacred history and power of gender-variance in Hermaphrodeities, while books such as Arcane Perfection (2017), a second Queer Magic (subtitled Power Beyond Boundaries, 2018), and The Book of Queer Prophets (2020) are compilations of writings by queer individuals each telling something of their personal tale and sharing their unique eye on the world.
My personal journey into magic and consciousness began in 1995, as this wave of queer spiritual energy was building. I explored esoteric schools, eastern spiritual teachings, celtic paganism and shamanism, but most crucially I surrendered to the internal process of awakening and transformation of being, undergoing a complete realignment of my own mind, heart and soul.
My journey with AIDS was a modern version of a very ancient experience of ego destruction and shamanic rebirth, one that would have been recognised as such in a traditional tribal setting, but which the modern medical world does not comprehend. I survived this annihilation and rebirth through finding a determination I had not known before, a devotion to the path of awakening and service, offered to the gay community that we might reclaim our holy queer spirit, discovering and proclaiming who we are, no longer allowing ourselves to be defined as ‘other’ by others; and I offer my work to the whole of humanity as a missing piece of the puzzle that, when put back into its place, will suddenly make the whole picture much clearer to see.
My contribution to the gradual remembrance of humanity’s cosmic nature is not simply intellectual and book bound, it is an engaged practice, a way of life since 25 years, the first five of those in my aids cocoon guided by the loving presence of the goddess and spirit friends, since then in lively, spirited, colourful, exploratory community with other questing queers who seek to release our creativity, passion, power and holiness, and be of service to the world. The gatherings of the early 2000s brought only a few dozen people together each time, Queer Spirit Festival, which had its first outing in 2016, was drawing in 500 people by its third in 2019. The queer spiritual web, which also consists of tantra, yoga, dance, sacred medicine and other workshops, festivals and events is evolving and growing, and our ancestor pioneers are looking forward to many more of us shining our magical, empowered, spiritual light strongly.
The 5th Dimensional Aquarian Awakening is coming to the planet – watch this space – follow this blog – for more.