In 2015 there are more ways on offer to be in queer community outside the commercial mainstream than ever before. There are activities and gatherings on offer that can bring some perspective and balance to the intensities of our city lives, plus take us on journeys that will expand and enlighten our hearts and minds in the company of other fabulous queer beings.
It is over a decade since the first gathering in London of the Queer Spirit Circle and 10 years since the establishment across the Channel in France of the first European Radical Faerie Sanctuary, Folleterre, two spaces dedicated to offering room for spiritual and emotional conversation to develop in gay life. It is 9 years since the first Eurofaerie gathering in the UK at Featherstone Castle in Northumberland, from which the Albion Faerie Tribe was born.
During the past decade the Faeries and other groups exploring our queer relationship with spirit and nature have been offering activities away from the commercialism and hedonism of our city scenes. A common feature of these queer spiritual activities is the deep loving connection that develops amongst the participants. Freed from the pressures to conform to either hetero or gay societal norms, queer spirit spaces are where our natural being can safely express, emerge and evolve. There is more to being queer than who we have sex with, who we want to marry, whether we can serve in the military etc. We are on a search for who we are from the moment we have our first thoughts of being ‘different’. Coming Out is just one step on the journey. Finding ourselves goes all the way from our physical and sexual nature through to how we think, what we feel, what kinds of relationships we want, and our connection to Source, however we perceive that. Thinking for ourselves is what coming out teaches us to do. But once out on the scence we can so easily we get caught up in chasing love or substance induced highs that numb our thoughts, dampen our emotions and restrict rather than uplift us, give us an illusion of connection rather than the real thing. Drug use can be great of course, but we need to remind each other that chemicals are pointers to what lies inside us, and not a long term option. Becoming more conscious is the ultimate goal of our time here on earth, and as 2015 gets under way, an astounding stream of queer-conscious events lies ahead… some single gender, many open to the whole lgbt spectrum, recognising that we are all a unique balance of male and female on the inside…. offering spaces for reflection, healing, creativity and sharing emotions, ideas and physicality.
Our city scenes are exciting, creative spaces (with of course a looming shadow of loneliness, need, greed, dependency and spread of disease). Queer Spirit spaces offer a chance to balance the intensities of gay life with time in wonderful places in nature and exploring activities such as meditation, yoga, tantra, sex magic, shamanism, body painting, performance, nature walks, fire rituals, drumming, trance dancing etc. Gradually queer pioneers are developing environments where we queers can nourish our souls as well as our arseholes. Sexual activity is never taboo in queer spirit spaces, unlike traditional spiritual retreats. In fact our sexuality is honoured and explored for the graceful gift from the universe that it is. In these gatherings we explore our own feelings about life, the universe and everything… nobody is telling anybody else what to believe. In my experience queer spiritual folk are able to meet each other with open minds and hearts, prepared to listen to and learn from each other, and have a lot of fun while we do it.
Albion Faerie Gatherings http://www.albionfaeries.org.uk
Featherstone Castle Spring Gathering Friday 20th to Monday 30th March
Summer Solstice Glastonbury Saturday 13th to Monday 22nd June
Featherstone Castle Autumn Gathering Monday 19 – Thursday 29 October
Folleterre Faerie Gatherings Www.folleterre.org
Gatherings from May to October celebrating 10 years of queer sanctuary in Europe, situated in northern France in the Vosges mountains, Folleterre welcomes queers of all genders and hosts a variety of themed and community events
Austria Faerie Gathering:August 15-25. http://www.eurofaeries.eu/austria
Edward Carpenter Community edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk
Established in the 1980s, the ECC continues to offer retreats for men and have a full programme throughout the year.
Queer Pagan Camp http://www.queerpagancamp.org
First gathering in 1998, this elemental zone for queer witches, shamans, druids and magicians now happens a few times each year… Beltane Camp in May, Summer Camp and Samhain Camp, plus a gathering devoted to drumming. Separately, Cernunnos Camp offers space to explore a deep rooted ancient male archetype of divinity, the Horned One, out in the wilds with other courageous, nature loving queers.
The UK has given birth to TWO radical ground breaking Tantra festivals in the last two years. One is Tantra4GayMen Festival in Wales, on its third outing, taking 50 men on a journey into expanded awareness and love, dates this year 5 to 9 September. Quintasensual Festival welcomes and celebrates all genders and sexualities, and was attended last year by 80 explorers of the link between our sexuality and spirit
And in October Yoga4men is offering a combined yoga and meditation retreat in Greece
Plus: Loving Men, The Quest for Gay Men, and out in nature groups such as Outdoor Lads……. there is a rapid spread going on of queer spaces where we can get to know each other, and ourselves, without the pressures that we are often under in our city lives, which can help us to find balance in a hectic age. In spaces of Queer Spirit our souls can find refreshment and recharge, we are safe to open our hearts, be who we really are, then the gifts within our gayness can be discovered.
In 2015 Queer Spirit is Rising.