Marc Almond: Rebel with an OBE

 

1981.  Marc Almond’s first appearance on Top of the Pops was a watershed moment that opened up a musical journey and love affair for many queer souls that continues nearly 4 decades later: some of us would go on to become Willing Sinners and Gutter Hearts, Marc’s songs always the soundtrack to the highs and the dives in our lives.  This 16 year old, confused about his sexuality and identity, ran out to buy Soft Cell’s first album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, hooked on Dave Ball’s haunting electronic sound, and had his mind opened to an underworld of sexuality, sleaze, clubbing and kink.

And not only that – from the very first track of Erotic Cabaret, Marc sent a message right into the core of my consciousness – he told my generation, on the verge of leaving the education system, to  beware the traps of ‘normal’ life.

The video for opening track Frustration begins with a gravedigger patting down the turf on top of a fresh burial.  The message is simple – there’s got to be more to life: “I was born/ One day I’ll die/ There was something in between/ I, I don’t know what/ Or why/ I’m a man/ I want to break a rule/ I am a no, no, no, no, no, no, nobody/ Everybody’s fool….”

In Chips On My Shoulder Marc screams about first world decadence: “Chips on my shoulder/ More as I grow older/ Feel I owe a debt/ For the things I don’t get/ I only miss out/ Well I was there before/ I sit in a corner/ Sit on the floor…/ Misery, Complaints, Self Pity, Injustice/ Chips on my shoulder/ There’s no time for fun time/ It’s sit and complain time/ I’ll talk about famine/ While cooking the dinner/ Don’t you feel guilty/ Don’t you feel pity [No]/ While my head gets fatter/ And the starving get thinner…”

Soft Cell’s second album, The Art of Falling Apart,  starts with the same warning as Frustration offered, in the track Forever The Same: “He cries, he lies/ He’s cool, he’s kind/ He heads out on a Friday night/ He gets drunk and he starts a fight/ And he loses his mind/ And he loses his sight/ Because times are hard/ And money is tight/ Because he has the pressure/ He has the blame/ Life never changes/ Forever the same….”

The album B-side delivers the same message from a bored housewife’s perspective in Kitchen Sink Drama: “She’s in a fantasy/ It’s not so hard to see/ That she is living a lie/ She’ll never be the same/ She shuts her eyes again/ Waves all her worries goodbye…”

Soft Cell’s three albums in the early 1980s charted the path to self-destruction that the sudden arrival of fame, money and drugs brought our two heroes.  The band’s insistent, iconoclastic non-commercialism had them upsetting the record company and the media, their songs were angry and they smashed their gold discs on live TV.  The epic number Soul Inside revealed the torment of the artist thrust onto the world stage, challenged about his looks/voice/sexuality at every turn. “The wind in my hair/ And the black in my eyes/ I was holding back tears/ As I reeled with surprise/ There was no one to phone/ I just chewed at the time/ I was waving goodbye/ To control of my mind/ And the beat of my heart/ Marks the passing of time/ And I just wanna scream to the sky/ There are times when my mind is an explosion of feelings/ I’m trying to hold on to the soul inside…”

Marc and Dave called the third Soft Cell album This Last Night In Sodom and the opening song, Mr Self Destruct, delivered the familiar message:

“You couldn’t escape from this fact of life
That existing makes you a mess
That every decision or feeling or reason
Causes some sort of mental distress
You could look in their eyes, you perfected a lie
Never gave them the chance to question why
If they hit on you then you hit right back
Never keeping their cool it was up and attack
Building your life up and smashing it down
Building your life up and smashing it down
Yeah, building your life up and smashing it down”
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The album track The Best Way to Kill, hits the message home with a relentless rocking synth soundtrack: “Life is one long play for today/ The one that uses all the four-letter words/ The one that everybody pretends/ They’ve never never heard/ Oh yeah/ And it gets in my skin/ And I find myself fitting a form/ That is worn like a badge on a blazer at school/ Tear it off rip it up/ Stick your two fingers up at the world/ And the lying little worms/ That would take you for a fool/ For your life has to be this way/ And you can’t say this/ And you can’t watch that/ It’ll darken your mind little child/ A moral straight-jacket to stop you running completely wild…”

When Soft Cell reunited in 2002 to create the album Cruelty without Beauty, the opening track resounded with another critique of the mainstream: “No change/ The world’s gone insane/ Monoculture…same/ ordinary/ boring/ Monoculture

 

This homage to Marc’s rebel status, that shook the nation’s sensibilities about sexuality (and through tracks like Secret Life and Seedy Films highlighted the sleazy hypocrisies of the age at a time everybody else was looking the other way), but which also planted important warnings in the minds of some of us that the ‘system’ will stifle your life if you let it, wouldn’t be complete without a mention of a few incredible B-sides from the early Soft Cell days.

Those of us that rushed out to buy the mesmerising 12″ vinyl of Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go, were quite surprised to find Persuasion a withering electronic punk critique of supermarket culture on the flip side.

B-side to Where the Heart Is, a track called It’s A Mug’s Game, a teenager’s angst is perfectly penned into a rocking song:

“Oh god it’s another disease
And you just got rid of the last
You were beginning to feel OK
And the friends you gave it to
Were speaking to you again.
And you find yourself having sex
In the back of a car
And the girl underneath
Doesn’t care who you are
And you’re nearly there
And she still doesn’t care
And her chewing gum
Is getting stuck in your hair
And there’s something wrong
Something that you forgot
Oh Shit, you’ve forgotten the rubber
And you don’t want a kid
Well, deny it was you
If your dad finds out
Then he’ll make you stay in
And do your homework
And cut your hair
And wear your school uniform
Out in the street
Oh what a fate worse than death…”

Then there’s Fun City.  A little known song that shares the theme of Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy, but cuts much closer to the bone… “I left my home/ With a pain in my heart/ Not a word of goodbye/ To the ones that I loved/ I’m taking a train/ Away from the rain/ To the lights and the smoke/ I’ve got to find my own way now… … … I’m all alone/ And I’m lost in this city/ Being paraded/ Feeling degraded/ I wanted love/ And I thought this was the way/ But I’m only young/ And I’m often this wrong/ Have no feelings/ Have no sex/ Wonder who to pick up next/ I have no morals/ Have no innocence/ I’m quite straight/ Just playing for rent…”

Marc Almond’s career has been a symphony dedicated to emotional traumas (he is after all a Cancerian) more than political statements, but the messages in these songs struck home for me and many at the time.  They seem as relevant today as they were then.

Marc has also given us many excellent albums of classic covers, of Russian and French songs as well as so many emanating from his own imagination.  While heartbreak and tragedy often feature strongly, every now and again Marc also lets us know he’s had glimpses of a brighter future for humanity.   To get there we still got a lot of work to do, in particular overcoming taboos around sexuality, and escaping the pressure to conform and serve the capitalist system, which we now know is strangling life on earth to death with its never ending need for new resources.  I conclude this homage to Marc with this prophetic duet with Beth Ditto, When the Comet Comes, from his 2015 album, The Velvet Trail:

“When the comet comes it will show us why
That all we’ve ever known has been a lie
On a song bird circle information in the sky
When the comet comes psychedelic technicolor
It’ll be intense, bacchanalia will commence
When the comet comes it’ll all make sense…”

 

2018: The rebel has been awarded an OBE.  When he receives it no doubt the press coverage will look at the ‘scandalous’ sexual imagery of his early career.  But just as Marc shook the nation’s sensibilities, and up-tightness, around sex, he also sent a crucial message that many of us were longing to hear – Beware of Being Normal, It’s Dull as Fuck.

 

 

 

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AIDS SHAMAN POETRY

Excerpts from my first published book….

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AIDS SHAMAN: Queer Spirit Awakening.  Available on Lulu.com, Amazon and other retailers.  Ebook or print. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shokti

 

THE GAY BOYS ALL LEFT FOR THE CITY

The gay boys all left for the city

Leaving no-one who sings to the trees

The gay boys all left for the city

And got trapped by desire and disease.

They went to seek out love and sex

But they forgot their other needs.

 

The gay boys all left the village

And left the wisdom of seasons behind

They chase after constant pleasures

So happy to have found their kind

They chase after so much ecstasy

They believe they are living free

But when we forget the cycles of nature

Mind and body succumb to disease.

 

The gay boys all left for the city

To get high as the sun and the breeze

But the gay boys became good capitalists

And got caught by desire and disease.

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RETURN OF THE SHAMANS

and the time must come
after all the parties
all the drugs
after the dying years
and a decade of decadence
the time comes, can only come
when the gay phoenix rises
after centuries of death
across the planet
the rainbow serpent
unicorn lion and bear
the return of the shamans
awakening everywhere

in every culture, every race and faith
rainbow children awakening
to the power and the light
liberation of the spirit
free to be ourselves
queer magic calls us to our wealth

earth are we
fire are we
air are we
water are we

beyond gods and without creed
we fulfil a fundamental need
opening the gates as we find our place
the shamans of the human race

the world is lost in delusions
of fame, glamour, money and hate
since the men of war closed the faerie gate

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HIV IS THE KEY

HIV is the key

That humanity has yet to see

A key that when turned can set us free

A key that gay men urgently need to turn

There’s a vital lesson to be learned

Healing Is Vital

For me HIV was the key

That revealed the spirit flowing through life

That opened the gates to eternity:

Facing mortality is the quickest way to see through life’s illusions

Befriending death the key to escaping confusion

About why we find our selves here

Why we find our selves queer

And just what is Self anyway?

Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans know

Mystical Christians Jews and Muslims know

That this is the real question to ask

But the modern world doesn’t want to know

It keeps us obsessed with the trivial and inane

It prefers to medicate away all pain

Gay life doesn’t want to ask the question

Of why we born this way on this rock hurtling through space

it’s simpler to take more drugs

Have more sex parties

Devour more flesh

Desire more men

For some this leads to addictions and breakdowns

Has a second plague come upon our kind

But this time the sickness in the heart and mind?

In the 80s and 90s we met death up close

We learnt to face our fears

That way some of us saw there’s more to the mystery of life

Than the modern world wants us to believe

Now we take pills to stem the virus

Now we can take one to prevent it getting a hold in the first place

And we self medicate to hold off hard feelings and fears

It’s so long since the dying days ended

What has happened to us in these years?

I survived the first plague

I turned the key

And now I wonder

When will gay life stop living in the shallow end?

 

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shokti

WINTER: PART 2

Imbolc

The second half of Winter has begun. Imbolc on Feb 1st was the turning point, the magical moment where the Goddess drops her ancient Crone aspect and becomes again the Maiden, symbolising the potent energy growing in the land as Nature prepares to spring back into life.

Winter is the Earth season. It is when we are asked by nature to slow down, to turn within, to reflect and to recharge. During the Winter we probably need to take some time off from other people, from duties and work, and allow our own inner processes some time to move. If we don’t do this willingly, colds and flu come along to push us into this state of inner focus. Then Imbolc comes along and gives us the moment to stick our heads out of our caves, connect with other people and review our intentions for the coming year. Goddess ceremonies at this time can help us to find our place in the whole, feel how we are held by the universe and guided on a path of self-discovery. They help to affirm what we wish to put in place, to heal what it is we are working on internally, and to boost our emotional and spiritual strength ready for the last blast of winter, for after the bright illumination of the Imbolc Full Moon, the planetary energies will now take us into a deep healing place.

2018 saw a Full Supermoon Eclipse at Imbolc, activating the Aquarius-Leo axis of the zodiac, which is about the balance between the personal (Leo) and impersonal (Aquarius), between romance and friendship, between the individual and the group. The eclipse makes this a particularly potent full moon, whose effects will be felt for months, giving us a cosmic push to make the changes we need in our lives to be more fulfilled, expressive and creative.

The Imbolc energies were a time of heightened experience and enthusiasm, of outward connections and confident expression. A week later the moon has reached its Last Quarter and we are diving fast towards the deep healing period of the waning, dark then new moon around February 15th. This will be the second deep dark moon dip of this winter, the first came in mid January, two weeks before Imbolc. Dark Moons always take us into our inner worlds, into feelings, fears and frustrations – giving us a chance to release difficult emotions, or at least honour them, so that we can enjoy the expanding energy again once New Moon comes. In the Winter season the dark moons can be very intense for some people. We can blame the lack of light, the weather etc but the fact is we have to journey into the darker, deeper, sadder parts of our emotional bodies in order to heal what is there and prepare ourselves for the growth energies of Spring and Summer. If things get really tough, it pays to recall that the lower we can go the more healing we can do, and consequently the higher and happier we can potentially be in the year ahead.

Aquarius gives the gift of impersonality – it enables us to stand back from our issues and sufferings, observe them, forgive them, change them. Invoking the Aquarian power within us can help to shift the inner vision to a broader perspective, so illuminating ways out of our quagmires, our ‘stuff’, once we remember that we are not helpless victims in a cruel universe – quite the opposite, we are divine co-creators of everything we experience in our lives. Every thought, every emotion we carry around in our energy field, attract energy and experiences into our lives.

It is entirely in our hands to work out how to use our minds to create the joy, the love, the experience we want in life. Winter is the time to go within, be with ourselves, and sort out our inner worlds. We might try being grateful for the dark moon dips, for the strong pull to isolation and retreat – time with Self, time to study, dream, write, draw etc, can be seen as a powerful gift which we can gladly receive. The time to reconnect, to get out in the world, will come again. The heavens suggest we are in for an incredible year of positive shift and expansive growth – taking time to pull in, to rest, to recharge, to dream, to reprogramme our inner processes, during the dark Winter months is the best way to prepare ourselves for it.

earth dog new year

The New Moon on February 15th brings the Chinese New Year.  We leave two years of FIRE based energy, the years of the Fire Monkey and Fire Rooster and enter two years of EARTH led vibrations, starting with the year of the Dog.  After the intensities of the last two years we can anticipate and look forward to a more balanced, gentler and more ‘sane’ time, globally, communally, individually.  A time of overcoming conflicts and seeking solutions.

If we are working on ourselves, embracing the soul within and the unity of life, these seasonal turning points become moments to relax and breathe, to gain perspective and to reaffirm our place in the whole.  For those people resistant to the flow of Spirit in their lives, who insist on clinging to the materialist paradigm of separation, lack and fear, things will not get easier.  We exist in a magical universe where the beliefs in our minds attract experiences that confirm those beliefs.  To really break free of the cycle of suffering and confusion we need to make a simple magical act – affirm our unity with all creation, then continue to affirm it at every seasonal festival, every dark moon and full moon, and indeed, every moment we are awake and aware.  It’s not that all issues and challenges will then fade away, but their power over us will wane as we become conscious co-creators with the powers of the universe open and flowing within us.

These human bodies are miracles of creation.  Within these frail forms exists the infinite power and light of the divine source, compacted into bodies and here to have fun, to know love, to make mistakes, burn, dive and rise again, until we are transfigured by life’s thrills and spills and know ourselves as divine souls on an eternal quest.  In the game of life, there is everything to play for in 2018.

Imbolc2

 

Across the Aeons the Ancients Call

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across the aeons the ancients

call out with their messages

planted long ago

remember remember the mystery

the Self they call us to know

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we live in the age of action

humanity so much busier than before

we’re doers not be-ers

doubters not believers

the ancestors call, “there’s much more…”

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we come to earth to find

the soul inside, the spirit free

the divinity that resides in humanity

the gates of love are ours to open

we have inner eyes with which to see

that I am You and You are Me

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in Oneness we change the game of life

return to the Source and know all things anew

it’s a subject:SUBJECT situation

you and me are One not Two

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religion kept us all asleep

science also divides and separates

if we free the mind, heart and sexuality

we can open our inner gates

and let the Light flood in

Oneness, Love, Holiness, Joy

are all found on the inside

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across the aeons the ancients

call out with their messages

planted long ago

remember remember the mystery

the Self they call us to know

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A Tribe of Hearts

hearts

Radical Faeries gather around the world, creating zones of heart based communication, where we can retune our bodies, minds and spirits to the rhythms of nature, where we support, nourish and love each other, and find healing, purpose and inspiration. We are groups of Queers discovering the spiritual power hidden in sexuality, and learning to live in a new paradigm of co-operation, creativity, expansive love, consensus and Oneness.

Embracing subject:SUBJECT consciousness we overcome the hurdles within ourselves that prevent us meeting each other with love. We practice active listening in our heart circles, listening without judgement or reaction, growing in compassion and presence as we do so. This heart presence then inspires all our other activities, from cooking and washing up, to transformational workshops and ceremonies, to dancing and lovemaking. We honour the holiness of sexuality in our Love Temples and the healing touch of nature’s spirits, ancestor souls and queer deities, gradually shifting our understanding of life from the divide-and-conquer, materialist paradigm towards the full embrace of the divine dance of consciousness, co-created, expressed and shared through love, light and laughter.

Joy is the gift of spirit that we receive and develop in ourselves and that we bring to the wider world. Joy is a powerful vibration similar to love, but a more constant one – unlike love it has no shadow side. Joy is simply joy, coming from the soul and enjoyed in the body, heart and mind, it is the vibration of who we are as living spirit, fearless and adventurous, expressive and accepting, knowing and trusting, vulnerable yet strong, loving and praying. It’s what arises in us once we get the falsehoods of the ego, the fears and judgements etc of the mind, out of the way, and let who we really are shine through.

The faerie drums call out to all who are ready to hear and feel – the times are changing and queers have an important role to play in this change. For centuries our queer light and power has been denied and repressed, but in a few decades our presence in the world has undergone an incredible, mind-blowing shift. Our journey to sexual, social and political liberation has advanced in some parts of the world, and our next journey – of spiritual discovery (or re-discovery of who we have always been) and mystical emergence, which has been getting underway for some decades already in faerie groves and tantric playgrounds (mostly hidden from or ignored by mainstream gay life) is reaching a new level. What we go through, in this rapid journey from darkness to light, is forming a template for humanity as whole. Because of our long standing exclusion from the rituals of the rest of society, the hunger in some of us for tribe, for liberation, is very strong, and is fuelling our growth. We are fulfilling our archetypal role as scouts of consciousness, and if we can consolidate, strengthen and develop our tribe of hearts we will be a beacon for the rest of the lgbtiq+ cosmos and the whole world.

Rad Fae communities are one of the key places that we Queers are exploring new ways of relating and communicating. We are circles of people exploring what it can be to live in the presence of love, with trust, respect and in safety, in the sacred connection of souls having a multi-dimensional experience. We are emerging as a global force, a tribe of hearts.

People come to faeries from all kinds of backgrounds and spiritual/religious experience. We are a melting pot of ideas, vibrations and potential. Whether we have spiritual beliefs/practices or not, in faerie community we can get a direct experience of love-in-action, of heightened frequencies, of deep intimacy (with each other and all creation (on a good day)), of life as a cosmic dance. In mystical language, it could be said we open the gates to the goddess – to the shakti presence in us and all creation – which the queer interplay of gender energies within us enable us to attune to and be aware of. This shakti presence uplifts, transforms and changes the game of life. Queers work and play with this magic all the time, in faerie space we get to turn the volume UP.

This is why it works – in the realm of the Goddess there is no search for enlightenment, only the experience that it is already there, connecting us, feeding us, enabling us, blessing us, encouraging us. When we are feeling free, bright and joyful we do not seek anything, we are experiencing ourselves in our natural state. The search for answers, the need to address our issues, the fear of the future, disappear and we live as love. Once open, this shakti gate just keeps on giving, and when our issues and fears resurface we will find new ways to address them. Faerie gatherings are held within sacred circles, where the unconditional love of the divine channelled through the elements that give us life meets our aspirational heart energies to reveal the way to healing, magic and splendour.

At some point we might find the abundance of emotion and experience overflows and overwhelms us. Then we may feel inclined to run away from faeries, and perhaps need to for a while – but where else in the world will we find such a pioneering, queer, eccentric and ecstatic tribe of playful, sexy, warrior souls? Faerie space is not perfect – it’s not designed to be a utopia escaping reality – it’s a transformational playground pointing the way to better quality of life experience, the like of which has never existed on planet earth before. The ride will not always be smooth, but there is no ride quite like it. For queers seeking deeper connection, both internally and externally, greater intimacy and meaning in life, Faerie space is providing a glimpse into what might be possible.

We don’t have to ‘become’ a faerie – to take on another label in any fierce or dogmatic fashion. In fact to do so would be so un-faerie. Faerie gives us the chance to embrace ultimate flexibility/fluidity, shapeshifters that we are – here is a space where queers who are called to explore the magical, mystical power within the human soul can gather with others and have the necessary, frequently ecstatic, fun to release it. Call it what we like, here we are scouts of consciousness taking and tackling the ‘essentialist’ route towards fulfilment of our queerness (ie exploring what makes us unique in the human panoply), as opposed to the ‘assimilationist’ path of the mainstream gay culture. We get to discover that we are witches, shamans, fools, that we are healers, artists and agents of transformation. For queers who already feel this or know this in themselves, and for all queers who have this in them, faerie space is a true homecoming – but not the end of the journey, it is in face a beginning.

***

Some humans are born with a sense of the numinous, the worlds beyond the physical, already built into their awareness, but many of us experience some kind of ‘revelation’ moment when the bigger picture of the creation opens up for us. This is often called an Awakening, and can come to us through all sorts of situations, both pleasant and unpleasant. It might be that we are ‘programmed’ to wake up to more levels of existence as we get older and ready to deal with what they bring to us. As the mainstream culture of our times does not recognise this process it is very common for the symptoms of awakening to be misunderstood and medicated away. It is possible that a lot of mental illness is due to this fundamental denial in the culture of our evolving, emerging, soul natures. Life conspires to bring us direct experiences of that nature, then leaving it in our hands as to when and how we adapt our lives to harmonise with it. If we are resistant we are to doing that, life will continue to try to push us into it, quite possibly through crises, illnesses etc.

Once we have seen the light, we need to find our own way to walk in it. Every part of us that is in darkness, in shadow, will be illuminated. The path of light, of conscious growth, means facing, embracing and healing the shadow in ourselves, and ultimately in all things.  It helps to remember we are on a path of healing – and not fall back into believing in pathological labels given to us by the materialist paradigm when things get tough.  Taking the time to focus and mark the seasonal shifts (equinoxes, solstices etc) and moon cycles can keep us on track, keep the deeper purpose high in our minds.  This can have very powerful effects, hastening our healing and evolution, when shared with others.

The religious paths of the Father, with their written treatises, rules and disciplines of yoga, meditation etc – and their promises of enlightenment and salvation (usually considered out of reach, at least in this lifetime) can provide us with vital tools to ground and centre ourselves in the changeable and challenging moments in community and in life in general.

The paths of the Mother Goddess are found in the cycles and rhythms and beings of nature, of the sun and moon, the planets and stars.  They stem from the fact that all this Creation around us is ONE DANCE constantly in a state of communion and communication. The power of the heavenly bodies and nature’s cycles is often revealed to us through direct experience of faerie ritual and community living. Through observing, honouring and studying the seasonal shifts, the moon cycles etc we discover that the shakti presence and wisdom is always there on offer to us, to help us open our minds and heal our souls. The ‘brainwashing’ we received from the rationalist, materialist school of thought that likely dominated our education makes many of us resistant to embrace the intuitive arts of astrology, tarot, kabbalah, shamanism etc, but these arts, that require the interplay of our left and right brains in order to be mastered, hold the keys to our souls. Whether we are actively ‘spiritual’ in a conventional sense or not, they can reveal the dance of spirit in matter, remind us that we are in fact That, release us from the cage of separation and existential angst that science may have dropped us in, however well meaning it’s efforts, and reveal to us just how magical, marvellous and divine our existence, both individually and collectively as a tribe of hearts, truly is.

Once awake we have to HEAL

in order to HEAL we have to FEEL

open our HEARTS and walk with COURAGE

distinguish between what is FALSE and what REAL

The Cosmos is calling us HOME

to CONSCIOUS LOVE-IN-ACTION

to the true nature of the HUMAN SOUL

AND TO THE QUEERS TO REMEMBER OUR ROLE

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Queer Deity, Sacred Slut by Al Head

.queer deity sacred slut

Maybe it’s the magical casting in the Prologue, or simply the good, conversational narrative style, but once begun reading, this book totally absorbed my attention and interest, and very quickly I found myself at the Epilogue, opening the circle the author had so gently moved me to cast around the act of reading it.

Al Head’s first book in print is a testament to changing times, evolving consciousness and the emergence of awakening souls. Thirty years a pagan worker of magic and energy, in Queer Deity Sacred Slut Al gives us colourful glimpses into scenes where a new world is being born – from the actions at Greenham Common to Co-Counselling, Queer Pagan, Radical Faerie and Sex Magic retreats. Al’s story affirms that as humans we can change and evolve along with the times we live in – we hear of their journeys with sexuality, gender, motherhood, magical practice and healing, exploring the many transitions we can go through while in the body. Al’s words, offered as ‘Thoughts in Process’, prompt us to contemplate subjects dear to many queer hearts – identity, love, ecology, sex, sustainability: it is the testimony of someone who has recovered for themselves what humanity as a whole has lost – a sacred, loving and active relationship with the planet itself – and who sees in this part of the solution to the many crises affecting us all. But Al is not here telling us they have all the answers – what they present is a template for further conversation and process, a model that calls to all of us to fulfil our individual parts in order to realise our unified wholeness as part of planet Earth herself.

And what of Queer Deities and Sacred Sluts perhaps you are asking?

“We need queer deities so we can write our new stories. We need them to provide us with models and with pictures of ourselves. We need them to remind us that we are part of history and of the ancient past, whatever we have been told about these things. And we need them to support and guide us into the future.”

In the book we meet several queer deities from various cultures, but this is no encyclopedic list – that can be found elsewhere. Instead this is a call to wake up to the divine energies within our own souls.

“The multiplicity and variety of queer deities affirm for us that diversity can be our strength. They show us that we can transform and change as the will, and as the need, takes us. And the fact they are returning into human consciousness at this time shows us that it is time for us, too, as queer people, to reclaim our power, to return to our spiritual and magical roots, to be all that we are.”

Exploring the archetype of the Sacred Slut, Al connects our emerging queer consciousness to the Goddess temples of the ancient world, to european witchcraft and to eastern tantric ritual. As we rediscover the secrets to be found within paganism, this book charts the return of spirituality to the bodily sphere. Al presents the Sacred Slut as “anyone, of any gender, who has sex in a sacred fashion and for a sacred reason…. a sexual healer or a sex worker who considers their work to be a sacred calling… someone who sees having sex with their regular partner or partners as a sacred act, not in a faraway, abstract, sense, but profoundly in the here and now… someone who practises sex magic, alone or with others. They may be someone who has sex with non-material beings… part of the growing movement of ‘eco-sexuality’… someone who invokes deity into themselves and invites others to have sex with them.” Al writes about how we can use sexual energy to re-connect ourselves to the land we live on as well as to connect deeply within ourselves and with others, about how sacred sluttery is “about reclaiming power, about realising potential, about remembering the positivity and glory of our sexual beings.”

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We live in a period of rapidly changing paradigms. Those of us on the path of self-discovery will recognise the topics this work explores, and I think will welcome this contribution to the ongoing discussions. Those new to queer spirituality will likely be challenged, and I hope intrigued by this window into a magical sub-culture that is exploring territories all humanity are touched by.

I’ve seen some works of queer theory that ponder and philosophise but here is something much more engaging – a story of real world, practical, active growth of an emerging queer healer, and of queer magical community that is pleasing to the eye (decent size clear font within a rather beautifully designed book cover) and to the heart and mind. By holding the book within a magical energy field – and inviting us to enter into that field, Al has spun a work to inspire, uplift and expand the story of what it is to be a 21st century queer on planet Earth.

AIDS SHAMAN

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http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shokti

Presenting my first book to the world… available now as ebook, print version coming…  my awakening to the spiritual realms began while sick with AIDS in the 1990s… Here is a collection of my poetry and prose to make you think about the role gay/queer people play in the human story, plus inspiration from queer ancestors, prophets and teachers.

Preview glimpse into the contents…..

HIV was the catalyst that led to my interest in spirituality: the threat of death led me to search for meaning in life. Given a positive diagnosis in 1990, by ’95 I was becoming symptomatic and was considered a PWA (Person With AIDS). I left my job, got my debts written off by telling the bank I was leaving the world, and turned my mind to the big question – why, I asked for the first time in my life, did I exist in the first place? I had held a firmly rational, materialist, atheistic view since the age of 12, but now, at 30, an understandably urgent need for spiritual answers arose in me. I plunged into a study of the worlds’ religions, into pagan magic and new age teachings, soon sensing a mystical core common to all. I began to open my mind and heart to the possibility of something more, to the possibility of a purpose behind our apparently random existence here on planet earth, to the idea of a beneficent divine presence giving rise to that existence.

 

All life’s crises hold an opportunity

nothing is ever only dark or light

HIV can awaken our spiritual sight.

Gays don’t like religion, thank goddess for that

we prefer to think for ourselves

and that’s where it’s at

we come out because we touch the truth inside

and that’s where we find our love and our pride

if we learn to listen to the soul, as we did as a child

all the answers we seek are there….

 

Calling to the Witch in every Queer

To the Priestess in every Lesbian

To the Shaman in every Gay barman

The Divine Mother in every Bear

The Abbot in every Faggot

The Deity in every Dyke

The Radical in every Faerie

It’s time for the QUEER PEOPLES OF PLANET EARTH TO COME HOME

 

,,,and the time must come
after all the parties
all the drugs
after the dying years
and a decade of decadence
the time comes, can only come
when the gay phoenix rises
after centuries of death
across the planet
the rainbow serpent
unicorn lion and bear
the return of the shamans
awakening everywhere…..

 

We’ve been hidden for so long in every race on earth

waiting for the globe to shrink so we can find each other

pathological said the shrinks

sinners said the church

we have to fight for equality

and in ourselves we have to search

for the answers to why we we’re here

for the secrets of being Queer.

This is the calling of the twenty first century queer: to learn to unite the sexual and the spiritual, and find the balancing, healing, role we play in the human family…. to remember, recover and renew our QUEER SPIRIT

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shokti

 

Autumnal Attunement

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GROWTH IS A MANY LEVELLED THING

When we remember and honour the sacred seasonal turning points of the Wheel of the Year we attune ourselves to the rhythms of Eternity. As the number of people attuning grows, the Collective Consciousness is changed. Each turn of the Wheel we become more of OurSelves, we see that

We human beings are multi-faceted creatures

We have Physical form

We have Instincts and Desires

We have Will, Ego and Personality

And powerful Emotions, blissful to raw and extreme

through emotional trials we gain emotional strength

The Cosmos have given us the gift of Self-Awareness and Self-Expression

We have Spirit, Intuition, Creativity

that can unlock the Divine Core of our Nature

We have the potential to love unconditionally

forgive irresistibly

and hasten the day when the species wakes up

to its Unity and Interdependence with All Creation.

The Soul incarnates to have experiences that enable growth in all these levels of its being

Autumn 2017: Experiences are coming hard and fast for those on the crest of the wave of change. A key to the Aquarian Age, to making the leap to higher understanding, is to engage compassion and to learn to accept experiences on an impersonal level. The Collective Consciousness is doing what it needs to do to bring about the transformation of life on Earth. Some experiences suck, but so do we when we label them ‘wrong’ or when we condemn the people involved. We assist or resist the growth of love through every thought and action. People will hurt us, will make us angry, we will be tested and we will find dark places in ourselves we would rather were not there. But we can also detach from their power, because those places must be there, we have created those places over many lifetimes.

IN THIS LIFETIME WE CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING

The Autumn Season invites us to harvest the produce of the good seeds we have sown and to let go of anything on any level that restrains our personal and communal growth – like trees we can drop our dead leaves and create compost for our future glories. With bonfires we can burn away the debris of times past, and while doing so remember and be with loved ones who have passed and attune ourselves to the rhythms of eternity.

 

UK Rad Fae and the Sexual Offences Act

“The first phase of Gay Liberation (1969-1990) created a small clearing in the forest of Heterosexual Supremacy where we could begin to find ourselves again with self-acceptance.
Now it is our historic responsibility to move beyond Gay Assimilation and Sexual
Orientation, the ideology of current gay leadership, to the next phase of Gay Liberation.  This work involves, with conscious awareness, existentially and historically reclaiming and discovering ourselves and roles we have played in society and continue to play, unconsciously. This work is, at a fundamental level, both political and spiritual.”

Radical Faerie pioneer and Queer Elder, Don Kilhefner

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In the UK 2017 has seen actions, celebrations, art shows and much discussion around the 50 year anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which partially decriminalised sex between men in England and Wales. The act made it legal for two men aged over 21 to have sex in private – in fact if anyone else was in the same house at the time the sex was still illegal – this was overturned by the European court in 2000, not long ago. (Scotland legalised gay male sex on the same basis in 1981 and Northern Ireland in 1982).  In fact persecution of gay men did not suddenly end – there were over 15000 prosecutions for indecent gay behaviour in the decades following the act.  Only once the Labour government came to power in 1997 did the atmosphere really change, with the age of consent equalised (in 2 stages), the vile Tory Clause 28 repealed, plus adoption rights and civil partnerships were granted too.

The Wolfenden Report, on which the Sexual Offences Act was based, had actually been written a decade earlier, but it took the societal shifts of the 1960s before any action was taken.  During those 10 years the British Empire shrank – many, especially African, countries became independent. Britain retreated, leaving behind its legacy of homophobic attitudes and legislation, as it had already done in India and elsewhere.  The British Empire did so much to damage indigenous attitudes to gender-fluid individuals and same-sex erotic activity around the world, and its current formulation, the Commonwealth, continues to turn a blind eye to virulent homophobic legislation.

  • In India it is an offence to “voluntarily [have] carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.
  • In Mauritius, it is a crime to commit “sodomy or bestiality”.
  • In Uganda, a law provides for a seven-year jail term for anyone who conducts a same-sex marriage ceremony.
  • The Singapore Penal Code prohibits “any act of gross indecency with another male person” in “public or private”, with a maximum penalty of two years in prison.
  • Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has previously said that:“Homosexuals are worse than dogs and pigs; dogs and pigs will never engage in homosexual madness,” and followed this up in 2013 by stating that LGBT people were “worse than pigs, goats and birds”.

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“The penalties for private, consensual sexual conduct between same sex adults remain harsh in a number of Commonwealth countries. They include 10 years imprisonment and hard labour in Jamaica, 14 years in Kenya, 20 years plus flogging in Malaysia, and 25 years in Trinidad and Tobago. Bangladesh, Barbados, Guyana, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda have a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while in the 12 northern states of Nigeria the maximum penalty for male homosexuality is death. In some countries such as Cameroon, arrests and imprisonment for acts that indicate homosexuality are frequently reported. In Uganda and Nigeria recent legislative proposals would significantly increase the penalties for homosexuality.

“Member states outlawing homosexuality include Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Malawi, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Kiribati and Tonga.” Wikipedia

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While mainstream Gay culture has pursued a largely Assimilationist approach – consumerism, gay marriage etc, the Radical Faeries are a tribe of Gay Essentialists who create spaces around the world where queer people can live on our own terms, not those of the dominant hetero culture.  We get to explore who we are in zones of creative, supportive, safety.  The downsides of the Assimilationist universe – body fascism, objectification, judgmental bitchiness, deadly drug abuse etc – hardly show up in Faerie spaces. When we are free to express the love, lust and joy in our souls without fear or restriction we discover that there is much more to being queer than what we do sexually.

Radical Faerie tribes have emerged in the USA, UK, continental Europe, Israel and Australia since the 1970s, evolving on the sidelines of the queer universe, usually meeting far from cities in wild natural places.  This summer over 100 faeries from these tribes joined with representatives from countries where it is much, much harder to live out our lives at a GLOBAL FAERIE GATHERING held at Featherstone Castle in Northumberland, UK.  Queers from China, Russia, Pakistan, Singapore, Nigeria, Cameroon and Benin joined the gathering, the intention of which was to foster the emergence of Global Radical Faerie community, so that “queer people step up and claim our freedom and security and human rights, our meaningful and valuable place in society.”

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This Faerie of Albion believes the situation for gay/queer people on the planet could be dramatically improved if the Commonwealth owned up to the evil legacy left by the British Empire. I would like to see Queen Elizabeth II, who has never spoken about gay issues, to send out a positive message to her queer subjects across the world.  I would like her

– to speak out about the plight of lgbtiq+ people in the Commonwealth
– apologise for the evil legacy of homophobic legislation that the British Empire left in place around the world
– affirm that gay, lesbian, trans, bi, intersex, queer people have important roles to play in society, in fact without our cultural and spiritual input there can never be balance in the world.

While Londoners have had a summer full of ’50 years partial decrim’ activities to explore – art shows, demos, parties etc – the Faeries have mostly been out and about at festivals and gatherings.  London Fae hold full moon get togethers in the city during the year, but in the summer we scatter to the four directions to soak up the good energy and good times.  Now as we prepare for our Autumn programme of activities the Equinox is presenting us with an opportunity to make a contribution to the commemoration in our own unique style – one of the things that makes Faeries so distinct from mainstream gay life is our love of ritual.  A plan has emerged to gather at Equinox (22nd Sept) at the mystical circle of 13 trees on the eastern edge of Green Park, close to Buckingham Palace and make ritual on the theme of balance before popping along for a photo opportunity on the Mall – this will be backed up with letters to the Palace and Commonwealth Office outlining our polite request for some affirmative action.  Surely the 50 year anniversary of the ’67 act has been headlined enough for the Queen to publicly mention homosexuality – transexuality – bisexuality for the first time in her reign?

We are asking the Commonwealth to send a message to its queer citizens.  We know that pressure on governments can be deleterious to our cause.  What we seek instead is a grassroots rising of confident queer campaigners who feel empowered and emboldened to take on the hatred and misinformation that abounds in their countries.  I am asking Queen Elizabeth to send a message of affirmation to the world that gives these activists, lovers and dreamers a boost they so desperately need.

Dove with a rainbow

The work we do as Radical Faeries links the spiritual with the political because it is about queer people around the world redefining Who We Are and letting the world know about it.  The Radical Faeries are inclusive of people of all abilities and from all roots. At this Equinox Action there will not be huge amounts of walking and the surfaces we move across are mostly flat, once assembled.

To join in come find us at the Tree Circle, which is just off the path that leads from Green Park station (London W1) towards Buckingham Palace – look for the trees adorned with ribbon – at 6pm prompt on Friday 22nd September.

AND PLEASE DRESS TO EXPRESS YOUR QUEER SPIRIT AND FAERIE POWER, BRING RATTLES/BELLS, FAERIE LIGHTS…. PLACARDS AND BANNERS TOO…

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The Signs are There for Those Who Can See

 

aquarius moon

The Solar Eclipse in August brought a collective reset to human consciousness.  The energy of transformation and renewal has been intense since July, and we may well have been reeling from the effects.  Many have received some major energetic downloads from spirit and had experiences that are taking time to absorb.  The Moon has reached Aquarius (2nd/3rd September), the sign in which it was eclipsed a month ago, that eclipse being the opening of a magical portal of consciousness that peaked at the Leo Solar eclipse, bringing us now some fresh cosmic air, perspective and detachment into the equation.  This will help us make the internal shifts we have to make to integrate what’s come our way, and become more fully ourselves, better able to joyfully live out our part within the whole.

aquarius moon

Aquarius Moon Sunday Morning

Gentle Sunshine Outside

Air Is Still, Trees Green and Serene

Birdsong the sweet, sweet soundtrack.

Koo Koo sing the Wood Pigeons

Humanity is so Koo Koo

My heart sings with the birds

Humanity’s suffering is worse than absurd

Only we forget that we are the Dance

…. and all the dancers….

My Dragon wings been outstretched

This Summer as the Lion Sun brought rebirth

Life’s vibration shifting and lifting

My Heart sings with the birds

As old stories end and new tales begin

Could this be the time to reveal to the world

That the only thing that cuts us off from our love and our light

Is the despicable concept of Sin

Gentle Virgo Sunshine and Expansive Aquarian Moon

The Signs are There for Those Who Can See

It’s time we were singing a new tune

A huge change is coming soon

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