50 faeries gathered at Featherstone Castle in the northern border lands of England, close to Hadrian’s Wall and near to many ancient stone circle sites, to make ritual at the Spring Equinox, making the transition from the inward, water energy of Pisces to the active, outer, fire energy of Aries. This was an experiment – faerie gatherings often happen in high summer (when the spirit is inviting us to kick back, relax and play) or mid winter (when we get cosy and enjoy sleepy, nurturing time together). What would this transition from the cosmic connection of the sign of the fishes to the very individuated energy of the ram bring? Perhaps there is a good reason faerie gatherings do not generally happen at this time of the year! Would the Aries fire overload the gathering with EGO? Would our sense of community withstand the heat?
The journey was a powerful one for all involved, but especially so for the 20+ of us who stayed the course of the whole ten days, and as a result serves as a powerful reminder of why it is worth to make the commitment to a whole gathering. That way the transformation and awakening in our souls can really take root.
The last days of the Pisces Sun brought a sense of cosmic connection to the group pretty much instantly. People arrived in good spirits, knowing the winter was about to end. Discovering how much warmer the castle was than what we are used to from our Imbolc gatherings was exciting too. Sunset around 6pm instead of 4pm made a huge difference. The land around was waking to Spring, daffodils in abundance and recently born lambs in the fields emitting an energy of playful joy and curiosity. On the last day of winter a large group of us went to visit the stone circles known as Long Meg and Little Meg, sensing ancestor spirits who left their mark a very long time ago, connecting us to the magical history of old Albion.
It was very energizing to be in the company of so many faeries who were excited to be making tribal ritual to mark this turning point of the year, and significant step in the process of transition from the astrological age of Pisces to that of Aquarius. We sat in stillness together for the moment of balance as the equinox arrived, then attuned to the fire energy by entering a ritual space with drums, bells, rattles and voices raised calling to the divine feminine in the form of Artemis/Diana, the goddess of the hunt, to enter our gathering and bring us into the energies of the new year just beginning. She came with advice and guidance, and at the same time the Sun broke through the clouds and lit up the end of the day.
For the rest of the gathering we were journeying in the energy of fire. Sun in Aries was joined by Moon in Sagittarius and there were sparks, conflicts and a bit of drama. All part of the rich journey we were on and a useful reminder that faerie space is not a utopia where difficult emotions do not enter – however it is a queertopia where our response to those emotions can be an evolved one. To my psychic sight it seemed that while the unified tribal energy of the group remained in place, within it we were all suddenly very self contained in our independent Arien energy fields. The experience became individualised – where were we going, what were we achieving, how did we see things – but held within the whole. Aries is the sign of the child, especially in its early stages and there was suddenly a degree of childlike/childish behaviour on show – but also (generally) the ability to own it, process it and if necessary remove it from the gathering, for the greater good of all.
Gathering as nature wakes up to Spring is a call to consciousness, to self responsibility and focus. This was the first albion gathering to feature daily ‘faerie fitness’ sessions for 90 minutes each morning, which were well attended, and set a spiritual energy of stillness, focus and connection in place for the day ahead. The intention was that the energy of a Spring gathering would not only bring us all vital sense of connection and community but would also help us to empower ourselves in whichever ways we sought, to help us shift out of winter dreamtime and into the energy of growth. Faerie space offers the opportunity to find focus, heal destructive attitudes and behaviours while being held in deep love and compassion. We transform through JOY, expressed through play, touch, music, drag, art, dance… and great feasts in our castle banqueting hall.
Disconnection from media, internet and mobiles frees up space in our energy fields, into which the nourishing vibes of nature and faerie love can flow. This facilitates a quietening of the mind, a deepening of feeling and expansion in the heart. We remember we are healers, opening and expanding our connection to spirit.
I am curious how the presence of atheists affects this energy flow. The original call for the very first faerie gathering in 1979 was an invitation to share and explore the spiritual dimensions of gay consciousness, and this purpose remains crucial to our time together. We all experience ‘altered states’ of being resulting from living closely together and allowing our hearts to soften and open. At this gathering we were remembering dearly beloved faerie Brian/Barbarella who passed out of his body in January, and who had been a regular visitor to the castle for several years. Yet while we made offerings and created spaces in which to remember him, I found it harder to pick up the presence of his spirit at the gathering than I had been doing in London since he died. I wonder if this is because there are people in our circle who keep their mind closed to spirit. Spirit does not interfere where it is not welcomed in my experience. There is of course an essential place for scepticism and doubt in our spiritual conversations as we shake off the Piscean shackles of religion, but I believe one of the fundamental things we are doing as a queer tribe is exploring our part in a complex multi-dimensional reality, forming a post religious but spiritually awake sensibility that will serve to bring us home to ourselves, revealing the innate perfection of our journey here on planet earth and the wondrous immortality of our souls.
Our gathering ended just two days before same sex couples became legally able to marry in the UK. We marked this significant moment in our own way with a colourful, bouncy handfasting ceremony held outside around a fire under glorious warm spring sunshine. At this moment when the wider society is making this acceptance that we queers are here to form love relationships and not be simply homo-‘sexual’, in our faerie space we are pushing the frontiers further – to reveal that love and compassion can be the root and grounding of all our interactions, the founding stones of our tribe. As such we stand as an example to the rest of queer and non-queer society, we are scouts exploring a new way of being. Maybe it will take a century or more before the world wants to take notice, but that is not going to stop us. The world needs us to create these healing spaces and discover that we are perhaps part of a much longer tradition than we realise, one which writer E.M. Forster described thus:
“An aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky are to be found in all nations and classes, and through all the ages. And there is a secret undertanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one queer victory of our race over cruelty and chaos.” We Faeries truly belong in castles.