Originally posted on rainbow messenger: Once up on a time, and for vast eons of it, there were just a few shamans born in each human tribe -they performed the tasks of serving people and spirit for the benefit of all. They lived slightly apart from the rest of the people, their principal relationship being…
Life on planet Earth is changing fast. Humanity and our planet are facing a crisis of apocalyptic proportions. As an AIDS survivor I know what that can feel like at times -as the encroaching dis-ease worsens and we scurry around for anything that might help, we may even find ourselves getting very angry at this horrifying road humans seem hell bent on pursuing. This could get very nasty and very scary – but it can also be a turning point in our civilisation, where we face the big questions of life head on.
AIDS triggered me to pursue the spiritual search – so intense was my longing for answers in the face of death that even in my darkest hours I became attuned to the love-presence of the divine within me – I went on to recover and to re-enter life as a transformed being, who now seeks to assist the growth of spiritual intelligence, compassion and liberation in the world. Like many who have a Near Death Experience (a slow motion one in my case, lasting a couple of years), I returned to life with a sense of purpose that previously had been absent.
AIDS brought me an Accelerated Individual Discovery of Self – looking at the crises rocking the world today it seems to me we are all being pushed to the edge of destruction, a place where we might finally face ourselves and heal our separation from the planet, from spirit and each other. We may be, one way or another, heading for an Accelerated Collective Discovery of Consciousness (ACDC) – the underlying unity of life will eventually demand to be known and will push us kicking and screaming to that point –
OR WE COULD LISTEN TO THE MYSTICAL VOICES THROUGHOUT TIME THAT LEFT THEIR TEACHINGS OF UNITY
AND TO THE EXPERIENCES OF AIDS, CANCER, NDE AND OTHER SURVIVORS
WHO ARE GETTING ACCELERATED UPGRADES IN AWARENESS, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING IN THIS LIFETIME
AND CUT THE FIGHTING, CUT THE GREED, CUT THE ABUSE, CUT THE ALIENATION, CUT THE DESTRUCTION
From AIDS to Eternity …offering a radical vision of the link between queer people and the spiritual dimensions, one that breaks down the barriers of both religious and rational thought to take you to a place of presence, discovery and remembrance: available as ebook or paperback…
+++ 3 books of my poetry, which also include visuals and inspiration from queer ancestors, teachers and prophets:
Diagnosed HIV+ in 1990, aged 25, by 1995 I was preparing myself to die – and opening myself to a spiritual reality i had, since the age of 12, not believed in. A complete transformation of my being began, and since recovering from AIDS I have been exploring ritual magic and conscious community that connects both to the earth and to spirit with other queers in the global Radical Faerie community and as an organiser of Queer Spirit Festival in the UK.
HIV was for me a trigger to a deep awakening in my soul. AIDS was for me a ‘classical’ shamanic awakening – stripping away everything i believed, all my dreams and fears – until the raw, conscious, multidimensional soul was released. It is my belief that many gay men, lesbians and trans people are shaman souls, and that HIV is still today a call from the soul to question our assumptions about life and face, accept, our mortality – and find our home in eternity.
In the years 1995-2000 I underwent a transformation of my being – due to sickness I was motivated to explore the metaphysical layers of existence and quickly worked out that:
THERE ARE TWO LAYERS TO OUR HUMAN REALITY
THE MATERIAL (PHYSICAL BODY) AND THE NON-MATERIAL (MIND, SPIRIT)
The Western culture lost this understanding at some point in its history, and began to see the mind as a feature or function of the physical brain, but in the Eastern world the exploration of Mind (which in the East includes thought, imagination, memory, emotion and spirit) took central place in the philosophical and religious sectors.
In the West all our incredible scientific and medical advances in understanding are missing awareness of this fundamental nature of reality, and will ultimately all one day be revised, when the nature of consciousness is better understood. For example I have learnt through my studies and experience that how we think, what we believe and imagine are always creating frequencies that generate well-being or dis-ease in our bodies.
Regarding GENDER, both body and mind/spirit express through gender and the gender of each part of us may be differently aligned. The rise in TRANS VISIBILITY, especially since 2014, is happening in the West where this basic metaphysical reality is not understood. The inner gender may well not align with the body gender, and this is normal, as traditional cultures once understood. We may feel we are both genders on the inner planes, or that we are a medley of frequencies that need no gender label at all.
“Among the Dagara people, gender has very little to do with anatomy. It is purely energetic. In that context, a male who is physically male can vibrate female energy, and vice versa. That is where the real gender is.” Malidoma Some of the Dagara people of West Africa, http://www.menweb.org/somegay.htm
(This was once widely accepted in the pre-Christian and pre-Islamic pagan cultures of Europe and the Middle East where TRANS PEOPLE FULFILLED SACRED ROLES, a vestige of which is still present in the Hijra people of India).
This accepted, we can then see how it is possible to transform one’s gender in two ways. It might be that a person feels motivated to embrace and expand their inner gender, but not necessarily wish to change the body. Every single personality is formed through an interplay of gender, awareness and belief, and we can all expand our life experience in each area.
This was my path. In the mid 90s, as I faced living and dying with AIDS, my inner feminine took over and led me on a path of soul transformation. I love my male body and have no wish to change it, but I had never felt fully at home in all male company, often even in gay male venues. In the Radical Faerie tribe I have met men who naturally and joyfully embrace and express their inner feminine. These are the kind of men I can be around, assuming they also get that female and trans-identified faeries are also part of this mix of gender fluidity that has within it the potential to transform not only individuals but the understanding, behaviour and attitude of the whole human race.
Rock icon Debbie Harry said in an interview a few years ago, in her nonchalant manner – like ‘why doesn’t everyone get it?’ – that she has always just felt the point was to embrace both male and female spirit and power within ourselves, I’m sure that’s her secret to still rocking on in her 70s.
The flow of feminine and masculine in the body and the mind makes me whole.
The modern emergence of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people has happened in a western world somewhat lost in a spiritual void, but if voices of the traditional cultures are listened to, and our own western history revisited, we could find out much more about who we are why we are here.
The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at Winter Solstice 2020 is being hailed by many astrologers around the world as a major step in the gradual dawning of the Age of Aquarius. We’ve had several of these over the past 50 years, the two headliners being the 1987 Harmonic Convergence and the 2012 Winter Solstice which coincided with the ‘end’ of the Mayan Calendar. I’m not sure what the big astrological story of 1995 was, but that was the year that I underwent a total transformation of my understanding and experience of existence, a shamanic rebirth brought on by HIV/AIDS, the year I became aware of what the Age of Aquarius actually means, and aware that I as a gay man might have some part to play in birthing it.
The reason for this blog site is that a crucial aspect of Aquarian energy, which is acknowledged but generally underplayed by astrologers, and largely lost to the many of the people it most affects, is revealed in the mythology behind the sign, the story of Zeus and Ganymede, a fact that deserves a lot more exposure.
The emergence of gay people into society, accepted and embraced as never before since only half a century, and only in some parts of the world, is already changing the world, and the Queer Age of Aquarius is only just beginning.
On this new site I will present my Aquarian story of awakening to spirit and the mystery of consciousness, and offer perspectives on life, and the part Queer people play in it gained during 25 years of walking on my soul path. I offer words that I hope will assist in the evolution of a more compassionate world of enhanced understanding, well being and joy. I hope it will help people to overcome negative attitudes around spirit and faith as we realise we can find our own answers through direct experience, and that it will assist queerkind to appreciate that we have a long hidden spiritual history to be uncovered and reclaimed.
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 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 in 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 most recently 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, as I underwent a complete realignment in my own 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 complete 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.
My aids shaman books are not intended to explain everything that I want to share (that will come in a prose work later), they are intended to inspire your own thoughts, your own remembrances, your own soul to come forth and guide you. With quotations to make you think and a poetic stroll through past, present and future realities and potentialities. My words are here to help re-align the subconscious mind towards an outlook of compassionate interconnection with all of life, towards holistic creativity and simple acceptance and enjoyment of who we are, and why we are alive at this time. And perhaps move you to explore some of the fantastic written works on the theme of queer spirit and mysticism in general that have emerged in the past decades.
“Many shamans were homosexual; many of the worshippers of the Goddess under her various names and in her various cults all over the world … openly avowed their homosexuality and were accepted and even specially revered as priests, oracles, healers and diviners. Homosexuals, far from being rejected, were seen as sacred – people who, by virtue of a mysterious fusion of feminine and masculine traits, participated with particular intensity in the life of the Source. The Source of Godhead is, after all, both masculine and feminine, and exists in a unity that transcends both…
“Allowing the wisdom of the third and fourth sexes to be fully vocal in our culture would dissolve the false, rigid categorization of “male” and “female”, and the male-centred, male-dominated, competitive, war-and-power obsessed mentality that it keeps alive.”Andrew Harvey, Gay Mystics
“We look forward to creating a genuine Gay culture, one that is free from exploitation by bars, baths, and gay business owners. We look forward to re-establishing women’s mysteries and men’s mysteries as the highest expression of collective Gay culture and sexuality. 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.”Arthur Evans, Witchcraft and the Gay Counter-Culture
“The position that gay people take in society, the function we so often choose, is that of mediator between worlds….. In a tribal environment, this means shape shifting into wolves, birds, stones, wind and translating their wisdoms for the benefit of the people of the tribe… in the long patriarchal history that has gradually enveloped the world’s people, the gay function has been to make crossover journeys between gender-worlds, translating, identifying and bringing back the information ……..gay culture is always on the cusp of each intersecting world or way of life, on the path between one world and another.”
“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.”Judith Grahn, Another Mother Tongue
and finally, here’s an excerpt from
AIDS SHAMAN 3: DIMENSIONAL SHIFT –
Spirituality is the Aquarian way of Self-discovery, of liberation, understanding and loving community.
There is nothing but human minds holding back the progress to unity…. What we conceive we create, we need a new global story that recognises our Oneness and the many routes to Glory.
Earth centred traditions once derided, are now respected For their wisdom and knowledge Of the body, of the stars, of other worlds, of the soul. The Union of all paths is the goal. We’ve tried living without God – God knows we’ve tried – But faith is something that we have deeply invested inside. Until the separate self unites with its deep core,
the divine place in us that knows we are a part of so much more…. Humanity continues to create more and more Drama, discord and disease…
In our struggles we’ve raped and pillaged the earth. 2020s is the decade where we become ready to give birth To an enlightened humanity and change our world.
The elemental structure of Nature Shows us the way to heal, to wholeness, balance, peace. Nature will find a new harmony When the madness in humanity has ceased.
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i am shokti, lovestar of the eurofaeries, aka marco queer magician of london town. i explore the links between our sexual-physical nature and our spirits, running gatherings, rituals and Queer Spirit Festival. i woke up to my part in the accelerating awakening of light love and awareness on planet earth during a shamanic death-and-rebirth process lasting from January 1995 to the year 2000, and offer here my insights and observations on the ongoing transformation of human consciousness, how to navigate the waves of change, and especially focusing on the role of queer people at this time. View more posts
Sunday night was always my favourite day of the week to be on a dance floor. From the start of my London clubbing days in 1986 I noticed there was always an interesting vibe around on a Sunday. Friday was a night of people letting off steam after work, Saturday one of high expectations, intensive preparation and sometimes maximum pretension. But Sunday was the chill night of the week, where the Monday to Friday working crew were less in evidence, the collective rush to get high or wasted was exhausted, and so the real music lovers had room on the dance floor for our uninhibited revelry.
From ’86 I was to be found at the Bell in Kings Cross on a Sunday night, sporting a bleached blond flat top, checked shirt and denim. I was a new romantic / clone crossbreed, there letting myself spin and fly to Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, the Smiths, Siouxsie and the Banshees…. By the late ’80s my weekend nights were often spent in super-club Heaven, where I rode happily on the Garage sounds of Friday but often struggled with the hi-nrg and machismo of Saturday. Sunday at the Bell was always like coming back home.
In the early 1990s the Market Tavern in Vauxhall was my home for a Sunday afternoon, usually lsd-assisted, rave up, probably after tripping through Saturday night at Troll and Heaven. I’d arrive 3pm for the free lunch (by serving food they got round the licensing laws which kept pubs shut between lunch and evening sessions). I was a Market regular for 5 years, visiting several nights a week, getting to experience there the gradual dying out of the ’80s clone scene along with its hi-nrg soundtrack and the shift to house music, smiley face t-shirts, acid, ecstasy and raving.
After a 4 hour sociable dance in the Market a line of queers trotted through Vauxhall Cross for evening at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (and sometimes back to the Market for their late session) where i can recall seeing Adrella and Lily Savage on stage drunk, punk and anarchic, I loved it.
By the mid ’90s the RVT had replaced its Sunday drag show with a hard house rave, that had pilled up lads in trackies bouncing around on the furniture. This was the birth of the ‘Institution’, the legendary, and a lot softer ‘happy house’ Sunday dance sessions, that have been joy filled days of gay dance classics since the early 2000s. It was also the precursor to the much larger dance clubs that came to Vauxhall and the intense Sunday raving, indeed 24 hour parties, that became so popular in the 2000s. Crash. Action. Fire. Area. The disco room out the back at Bar Code used to be one of the craziest, most intense medleys of diverse guys on a variety of substances, pumped up with desire, dreams, testosterone and the wish to see and be seen.
Sunday nights in the late 90s I wasn’t going out , I was on a journey with HIV through the tunnel of AIDS. I took all the inspirations that I remembered from my ecstatic nights on dance floors, and rediscovered that sense of elation through an inner search for spiritual awakening. As I retreated from the scene ecstasy was really hitting the masses. Clubbing was no longer the intimate experience I had known, it was about mass elation, large numbers of people finding a higher level of connecting themselves and to each other. The love was flowing, and I felt I had become a student of love and wisdom in the background, this totally inspired by the visions and feelings I had known while dancing to music i loved and could become One with.
When I dipped back in to the London dance scene around 2000 I arrived at the dying end of the phenomenon that was Turnmills nightclub in Farringdon. I had missed the whole Sunday morning rush that was the groundbreaking club Trade, which so many of my friends still reminisce about, and also the Sunday night Warriors club, where dying men went to dance, because I’d been too sick to go. But I got to The Well (which went on to hold a few wonderfully weird Sunday nights at the Prince of Orange in Rotherhithe) and to Melt, where I fell in love with a beautiful punky Frenchman called Philippe (and we danced together for 4 years, on tropical beaches and in Radical Faerie sanctuaries).
From the mid 2000s to this very day the best Sunday night out for me was to be had at Horse Meat Disco at the Vauxhall Eagle. This pub with its marvellous beer garden and dance floor managed to revive something of the old Market Tavern spirit, and Horse Meat’s goal of invoking the heavenly vibrations of the legendary New York club Paradise Garage works. Disco was the soundtrack of our liberation days, of our innocent days before the ravages of AIDS to come in the 1980s. Sunday at the Eagle brings together all kinds of folks at the end of the weekend, but all share a laidback, positive, openness and generally take a ride into collective elation.
Well not this year. COVID-19 has stopped us dancing.
Most Friday or Saturday nights i’m not too bothered, but sometimes on a Sunday the magical delight of Sunday Gay Abandon arises from my memory and I think, what is not dancing together doing to us?
August 2000 at the third Queer Pagan Camp in the rolling fields of Dorset, UK, my five year AIDS trial of shadow and light, of spiritual renewal, physical collapse and resurrection came to its culmination point. At a peak moment of communion a gap in the sky opened for me, loving voices came through reassuring me that here in Britain, in the nature and with the people of the land I was born into, lay my path: my confusion about how to re-enter and engage with the world post AIDS, where to direct my energy having experienced such a profound transformation of my being – having come to know the eternal part of my soul, to regard myself as a spirit visiting the Earth – was cast away. In the magic circle with fellow queer witches, druids, shamans, faerie workers, in the arms of the elements, ancestors and the goddess, I felt a divine wellness and wholeness sweep through my being, I felt my spirit expand in joy from deep in the earth to the sun and the moon. The desperately sick years were behind me, the mental anguish about facing life again, having become so comfortable with the idea of death, fell away in that Dorset field.
Five years earlier in 1995 I had made a profound shift in my mind, which led me into a total inner transformation, by dropping the atheism I had adopted – or I might say I believe I had been brainwashed into – by the age of 12. Impending death can focus the mind like that, and five years since my HIV+ diagnosis, I wanted some answers as to why I existed in the first place. So, being a rationally minded graduate in history from Cambridge University, I applied some logical thought to this situation, and started to study. It dawned on me that the question of the ‘meaning of life’ had been humanity’s obsession for thousands of years, but somehow the education I had received and the culture I had been exposed to, had not encouraged me to think about this, quite the opposite – growing up in the 1970s, the backlash against the hippy culture was a big influence on me, religion was in decline and materialist science was the new god.
The search for my true self did in fact start in my early 20s when I came out of the sexuality closet, but it took the crisis of HIV/AIDS to push me to take that search deeper. Once I realised just how much effort humanity had put into this already, I approached the question as a historian – reading source materials, studying mystical teachings from throughout history and from across the world. The idea of just approaching the mystery of our existence through only one religious or spiritual path seemed illogical as we came to the turn of the millennium when for the first time in history all of humanity’s explorations of the spiritual are accessible to us and so the opportunity is there for an intelligent modern human seeking answers to obtain a broader view and understanding, if they put the effort in.
This was not a simply intellectual exercise of course. This was practical too. I learnt about the different forms of meditation – passive, dynamic, visualisation, mantra… I caught onto the idea that to know the divine reality we need knowledge, but also experience – so I practised creating ritual spaces, learning to open my heart as well as my mind to the spirit through devotional practice. Inner guides appeared and led me on totally unexpected, exciting pathways of discovery through my own imagination. At a time when I was expecting to be sad about impending death, I found myself on the most exhilarating soul journey, unlike anything I had ever known before. Not knowing if there was any chance at all that I might survive AIDS I kept hope in my heart and dived into spiritual practice and study, somehow sensing right away that I was on a five year path, but to death or life at the end I knew not.
My turn around from ‘dying’ to ‘living’ came early 1998. I was part of the Lazarus phenomenon at that time, as skeletal men, often, like me, with leopard like Karposi Sarcoma spots on our bodies, suddenly turned the corner. I had refused to take AZT as I had seen friends who were on it pass away, tried ‘alternative’ therapies and only took medication once the protease inhibitors were available. In ’97 my CD4 count was down to 3, in June I was hospitalised with PCP, but responded to treatment and spent most of the year home in my cosy south London flat with my French partner, we each taking care of each other through various states of sickness. The love between us kept us alive, of that I am quite sure.
Excited at the prospect of survival, by the end of 1998 I was riding high on my first attempts to combine my new inner magical discoveries with other people. There was a gay spiritual event in London called Connections, at which I met an American called Carl Shapley who was a channel for the Ascended Masters. I shared my story with him and we spent a lot of time together, he seeing me as a servant of the Divine Mother, as a person who had awoken to his purpose on this planet through a classic shamanic death-rebirth ordeal, and a sign that many more magical folk would soon be waking up too – especially amongst the LGBT community.
With Carl I took part in a few ceremonies around London, including a night where we opened cosmic gates at Piccadilly Circus. He took me to a meeting at the House of Lords, for even there at that time a buzz around spiritual change was in the air, and, along with places like the UN, these were the kind of circles Carl was working in to bring light.
It was walking home along the Thames from that meeting at Parliament that a sense of enormity at the challenge of re-entering the world as a mystical channel hit me hard, and that night back at my flat I experienced a complete overwhelm in the form of a loss of individuality, a merging into a non-physical reality that terrified me. I felt myself on the knife edge between life and death, felt my physical survival was far from assured. I went through an internal mental collapse, and had to spend the next few months lying mostly in a darkened room, slowly putting myself back together.
Most of 1999 for me was a time of nervous anxiety as I tentatively met the world again. That summer saw my first time at Queer Pagan Camp, and the effect of meeting experienced gay, lesbian bi and trans pagans was utterly inspiring. My study of the religious paths to the divine had left me challenged by questions around sexuality as I returned to life. But here were happy, spiritual queers who embraced sex and all life’s pleasures with passion. I learned the Goddess creed “All Acts of Love and Pleasure are My Rituals” and I took it to heart. My internal opening to the spirit realms had brought me first to the presence of the Divine Mother and her angels -at that time I had no idea of the rich and ancient, global, history of queer people as servants to the Goddess, but in that Dorset field over the next few summers I was to get many direct and powerful experiences of what it actually means to be that, and how queer people reclaiming our natural spirituality, which religions have spent so many centuries suppressing, is a crucial part of the global shift in consciousness that humanity is undergoing.
In 2000 I made two pilgrimages, the first to the ashram of the Mother of Immortal Bliss, Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma the Hugging Mother, in Kerala, and the second back to the English fields with the Queer Pagans. At the ashram I received powerful healing, and being in the company of other spiritual seekers was incredibly affirming. I came back to the UK feeling much stronger and more confident, but before I left India, a few days in the stunning nature and free spirited atmosphere of the Goa beaches brought me even more sense of belonging and ‘home’ than had the ashram. Then a few months later at the Dorset Camp I found that HOME in the English countryside amongst the most inspiring, talented, unique and magical queers I had ever met.
I have spent the last 20 years seeking to meet other queers on their own path of self-discovery and awakening, joining the global Radical Faerie community, where in sanctuaries and gatherings we reclaim the sacred power inherent in queerness, explore our gifts as healers, transformational artists, midwives to the dying, walkers between the worlds. In London I set up the Queer Spirit Circle in 2005 with a lesbian friend named Anna, offering the space as a meeting point for queers of any spiritual persuasion, which continues 15 years later as a Full Moon Drum Circle, a non-commercial event where sometimes up to 100 people gather for spiritual and social interaction. The rapid growth of the network in the UK led to the birth of Queer Spirit Festival in 2016 – five day camping festival of queer magic, the third of which took place in 2019.
I have also spent the last 2 decades living my life in tune with the planet’s natural cycles and with ever growing understanding of the interplay between the cosmic forces of the solar system and our human experience. Paganism gives us the tools to live in a state of self-acceptance and harmony – the four elements give us a map of the human being that is expansive and health-giving, helping us to engage all the parts of our nature (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) as equally important; the solstices and equinoxes are natural planetary turning points that occur within our bodies and minds also; the zodiac year maps out the journey of the soul in symbolic language (showing us the way home); the moon guides and influences our emotional fields all the time. By giving these aspects of life our attention, eg by making ceremony to align ourselves with the divine rhythms of existence such as full moons etc, we bring our personal energy fields into harmony and alignment with life itself.
When faced with death I turned to the world’s great religions for answers to the meaning of life. I found that at their core they all said the same thing, about the unity of consciousness, how its nature is love, that it emerges through nature and becomes us. But religion in the world was not teaching these things, not spreading this simple divine perspective, certainly not living up to it. Eastern religions taught me much, particularly the complex and fascinating philosophies of Hinduism – which, we had been told at school, is a ‘pagan’ faith, where many gods are worshipped just as the old ‘primitive, foolish, ignorant’ people of Europe had once done before the arrival of glorious Christianity – what a lot of lies we were told back in those Religious Education lessons. Pagans were mocked for worshipping the Sun and Moon, rocks and trees, and I’m not sure the fact that paganism was reviving in the UK rapidly since the 1950s was mentioned.
When, during my AIDS study years I discovered the glorious, universal light contained in Hinduism I figured out that our own European paganism must come from the same ancient source, contain the same wisdom and joy (features that seemed so lacking in the patriarchal monotheistic religions), and when I got to meet Queer Pagans and as I have celebrated with Radical Faeries I have found this to be true. As I have walked the Wheel of the Year and found a relationship with the spirit of the land in which I began this lifetime, I find that Celtic paganism gives the tools to create our own lives as a well-rounded, love filled, adventure – plus the tools to heal ourselves from the wounds we have gained and the belief in separation we have had to endure in a world that is in a serious, soul-numbing state of mental madness.
Once the whole world was ‘pagan’. The word implies attunement to nature and the planetary cycles, a recognition that we are part of those too, not separate from or above them. Pagan reminds us we know within ourselves how to talk and commune with trees, plants, animals and ancestors, that deities are there to reflect to us and help us discover the divine power in ourselves, that divinity is feminine and non-binary as well as masculine, and that the body is holy, with pleasure its natural way to worship existence itself. Religion taught me a lot about humanity’s long search for Self but Paganism is about embracing, being and manifesting that Self, about becoming an individualised, independent, self-actualised divine entity within the greater whole, not better than any part of it in any way, but simply and perfectly, eternally AT HOME in it.
In our hearts, the peoples of Europe are pagans. Our native culture was formed after the end of the Ice Ages during what is known as the Neolithic (New Stone) Age and the Bronze Age, a period of several thousand years years. Our most ancient sacred sites are elaborate tombs and stone circles, some older than the pyramids of Egypt, and found especially in Ireland and the British Isles, showing that the spirituality of our ancestors honoured the dead and nature’s seasonal cycles.
The Iron Age brought a time of scarcity and conflict in Britain as the population grew and resources dwindled, which made it perhaps easy for the Roman Empire to invade and take over….though only as far as Hadrian’s Wall, the Picts of the north were unconquerable. Romans were known for absorbing local deities and religious festivals into their own pagan worldview, but the Druids of Britain were an exceptionally stubborn bunch. Resistance to Roman rule included the burning down of both Colchester and London by Iceni queen Boudicca, while the Roman army was engaged fighting the druids in their last outpost, Anglesea.
The retreat of the Roman Empire and the arrival of Christianity saw, at least at times, a continuing tradition of the ancient Celtic faith blending to some extent with Christianity, as evidenced by Celtic crosses which combined both the crucifix and the circle. The conversion of European leaders to Christianity was a gradual process that took several centuries, and of the populace took even longer. The Church and State worked hand in hand to build churches and cathedrals in the Middle Ages, and to destroy the last vestiges of pagan practice through the Inquisition and the witch trials. Yet even so, in the 17th century a Maypole of over 100 feet height still stood in a prominent location near the Thames, and was restored as a sign of British sovereign spirit at the Restoration of the Monarch in 1688. The natural pagan magic of Summer Solstice has never been forgotten throughout the centuries of Christian domination, as Shakespeare assured us in A Midsummers Night’s Dream.
The Witchcraft Act brought in by Henry VIII and his successors forced pagan practices underground. They survived in secret family traditions and occultist societies, before coming out of the closet when the Act was repealed in the mid 20th century. This has led to the spread of Wicca around the world, a formulation of pagan witchcraft created in the UK, and the dawning realisation that the white man, the european, also once had an indigenous shamanic culture that was about reverence of nature, of the dead and the cosmic cycles, that honoured the body and sexuality and ecstatic states of reverence and reverie – just like every other race on the planet once had, until the monotheistic religions spread their ‘love’ by killing those who would not convert to it. And who did they focus their hatred on in order to destroy the power of the pagan faiths?
Among their victims were the genderqueer Gallae priesthood of Cybele, Great Mother of the Roman Empire with roots going back to at least 6000 BCE, the lesbian priestesses and eunuchs of the temples of Artemis/Diana and Isis/Ishtar, the sex-positive gnostic, heretical and free spirit groups of the Middle Ages (that also gave equal power to women as men), the wise women and fairy men of the countryside, the two-spirit shamans of the American continent (whom the Europeans called berdache, a French word for a bottom or ‘kept boy’), and their kin on all other continents. The Christian Europeans were so successful at eradicating the ancient profound associations between gender-fluidity, same-sex love and the sacred realms, that the modern gay movement has very little idea about this rich and illustrious past that exists in our ancestry. Until this is known and understood, the sometimes frightening position of trans and all queer people in this world will is unlikely to improve. But Summer Solstice opens the season of GAY PRIDE, through which, across the globe, queer visibility and presence has soared over the past few decades. And in certain places, unseen by most, our ancient connections to the spirit worlds are gradually being reclaimed also. The merging of queer and pagan spirit brings an acceleration of human consciousness, opens the portals to awakening – for all: because, from the Qedesha of ancient Canaan to the Quimbanda and Bori-Bori of Africa and the Mahu of Polynesia, TRANS AND GAY/QUEER PEOPLE – ie those who embody masculine and feminine spirit strongly in their one being – this is what we have always done.
This SUMMER SOLSTICE 2020 coincides with the NEW MOON IN CANCER and a SOLAR ECLIPSE, which happens on a 19 year cycle, last time in 2001. Due to PANDEMIC CONDITIONS people are not welcome at STONEHENGE this year – instead there is a LIVESTREAM broadcast available online – for the first time in the history of the planet the ancient stone spirits of the Henge are speaking to the whole world!
2020 is bringing so much change. So many assumptions about our culture, history and destiny are beginning to fall, to transform. This includes our collective understanding of spirituality, of who we are, living as humans on planet earth.
As we do this, we in Europe and across most of the world might reflect on the fact that Christianity is an invader, an interloper from another land – but one that came with a divine purpose. What that purpose was is HISTORY. It, like Judaism and Islam, came to bring something that is ultimately intended to form a harmony with the natural ancient shamanic wisdom of the planet.
As more and more of us get in touch with our core pagan hearts and spirits, we re-enter the magic of connection, of being part of the dance with all other beings in Creation, instead of vaguely terrified souls, bouncing between the promises/threats of religion and the nihilism of scientific materialism. As we do this we influence the vibrations in the spaces we inhabit, our homes become sanctuaries of love, peace and healing comfort, our communities become sources of immense love and support. Pagan practice heals our wounds of disconnection, isolation and fear. We have to practice both alone and with others to get the full healing effect. Summer Solstice 2020 is a huge turning point on dear beloved planet Earth. Sun and moon aligned at zero degrees Cancer, the sign of the Mother, of the home and of love – the great Goddess is re-entering the playing field of life, change is here. LOVE IS COMING.
Diagnosed HIV+ in 1990, I lived with what we termed ‘full blown’ AIDS from 1995 to ’98, eventually turning the corner when my body responded to the new protease inhibitor drugs. As the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic shakes human societies across the planet to the core in Spring 2020, parallels and comparisons with the AIDS years are appearing on the internet. For some of us Long Term Survivors it does feel like we went through a training for the apocalypse, that we were some kind of ‘advance guard’, receiving important lessons in plague survival which can now be shared.
Writer Mark Matousek gets straight to the heart of the lessons we learnt on the AIDS front line in a piece entitled ‘Practice Dying: Waking Up in Perilous Times’:
“For the first time in recorded history, human beings around the world are confronting our mortality in real time together, fighting a common adversary that would like to put us all out of business.” He acknowledges the general thrust happening globally to find meaning in this crisis, also the “xenophobia; altruism, camaraderie, and gratitude for the smallest things”, but sees greater potential:
”The coronavirus has given humankind the chance to “practice dying” (as Socrates described the central mission of all philosophy) together as an endangered species. Besides the threat of personal illness, we have the unique opportunity to share this dread with everyone else we know, who are facing their own mortality. If we can acknowledge the truth of our plight, I believe, and heal ancient rifts in the human family, we have a chance to turn this catastrophe into a major boon for humanity’s future.
“I know that this is possible because I’ve lived it. At the height of the AIDS crisis, 30 years ago, I saw how death and dying could enlighten a whole community. For more than a decade, we waited for the guillotine to fall, surrounded by thousands of others on the same chopping block. Terrifying and painful as these years were, they were also the most transformative of my life. Emotional walls collapsed, compassion exploded across social lines, and spiritual values became the norm, as we waited in the shadows of another virus. Sick people took care of sick people. Nobody was completely safe, which brought us even closer together. Love showed up in guises we never expected.“https://shift.theshiftnetwork.com/practice-dying-waking-up-perilous-times
Mark says that “Without the threat of mortal loss, I would have never had had the conviction — the fuel — to become the person I wanted to be or to find my way through terrible dread to something stronger than my fear.”
This was also my experience – AIDS was an unexpected kind of spiritual grace for me, because through confronting my mortality I discovered parts of my soul that had been previously hidden, and as I recovered from sickness a new, much more engaged, emotionally and spiritually connected new life began for me.I call AIDS my ACCELERATED INDIVIDUAL DISCOVERY OF SELF, and I have often wondered if the unfolding revelation of the soul’s mysteries that I experienced might be at some point coming to the species en masse.
I came out of the AIDS years with a view that a virus has a job to do. My mind opened to the possibility of consciousness as a unified field of experience – with an eventual destination ahead of love-fuelled cosmic oneness in full glory on this planet – and I came to see HIV as an awakener to the fact that we are each individual embodiments of one divine wholeness, and that life and death are two versions of the same experience, just like day and night.
By facing death, losing the fear of it, even befriending it (and beings who live on that side of the veil!), we have the chance to release the potent creative powers in our bodies, minds and souls. So much of our human nature is veiled behind our fears. Love is the antidote that reveals the way. Love for our selves, our partners, friends and family, our tribes and all living things. This is the potential in the human heart – to rise above the conflicts and delusions of the ego, the part of us that believes itself separate from everything else – and form a culture of compassion and self-discovery that celebrates all forms of love, all forms of joyful sexuality, and the ecstatic mystery held within the human body, in nature, in life itself. It is through the heart that we can know directly our sacred oneness with each other and all existence.
In this mystical view, the Coronavirus is part of us and its name gives us a clue to its ultimate goal. The Crown Chakra at the top of our head opens our energy fields up to the spirit, to the multidimensional universe, to the ability of our soul to fly between worlds. Fear blocks access to this light. Surrendering fear and embracing love and trust brings internal connection to the powerful and subtle forces of the universe. We do not need science to tell us if these other dimensions exist or not -we have the perfect instrument, designed by Nature Herself, with which to explore them, our own bodies, minds and emotions.
I replaced god with science and became a self declared atheist at the age of 12, when events at school brought home the shocking revelation that the teachers did not actually believe the religious platitudes they espoused daily in assembly – particularly in relation to death and the afterlife. I had proposed that a way to deal with overpopulation in the world would be to create places where people could choose to go and die when they had had enough of being here – in my innocent mind would simply return happily to heaven. I think even at that age I was aware of old people shut away in care homes, no longer engaging life actively and simply waiting to die. I could not understand why we tried so hard to keep them here in a state of suffering.
The teachers were of course horrified, I was taken aside for a very serious chat! Five decades later western culture faces ongoing crises in care provision for elderly people. Coronavirus erupts around the world and there is great outrage and shock expressed left, right and centre about old people in care homes dying from it – about 50% of the deaths across Europe so far we recently learned.
From where I am standing however this virus is offering souls who have completed their life mission here a chance to get out., so of course it’s finding willing hosts in care homes. Our death-phobic culture will not let people go peacefully with grace at a time of their own choosing, so the ‘Angel of Death’ has to intervene. I’m not saying there is no tragedy, or ‘accidental’ deaths along the way, but the Coronavirus is also delivering grace.
Of course this Angel of Death is doing a lot of things for us – offering us a chance to gain some perspective on our lives, individually and collectively, through this enforced time of quarantine for nearly half of the world’s population – to review how we are living on the planet, reconsider how we are treating her and each other, what we make our priorities. We are going through the most profound collective paradigm shift our species has ever experienced – it is happening quickly, and it is very difficult and challenging. Yet it is exactly what we have been waiting for, and what some of us have even been pre-trained by life to be ready for.
Hank Trout writes on aumag.org, that “We need to remember AIDS lessons learned.”
“We elders in the tribe who lived through the entirety of the AIDS pandemic, have learned we need to take care of our own. We know how to do it.” https://aumag.org/
Mark S. King, author of Myfabulousdisease has written of the Coronavirus prompting flashbacks to the AIDS wards of the 1980s, and while at first, like some others, resistant to drawing comparisons with our experience of AIDS – this time after all world governments acknowledge its existence and are applying resources, something we had to fight hard to get, (no need to remind you i’m sure of the virulent homophobia that erupted) – he too speaks of the grace that will be accessed through this time of trial: “We haven’t yet seen the best our humanity has to offer, It’s coming and you’ll know it when you see it.”https://marksking.com/
One commenter on Myfabulousdisease called COVID-19 “a walk in the park” compared to AIDS. Kevin Jennings on Them.us described the “level of attention and alarm for the coronarvirus versus the apathy that greeted HIV is life a slap in the face.” The New York Times reported that the pandemic is bringing “for HIV survivors, a feeling of weary Deja Vu.” (their caps)
Californian blogger Martina Clark says that compared to HIV, Coronavirus is a “supersonic bullet train” – HIV was for most of the population ‘somebody else’s disease’ but this virus “knows no borders and does not discriminate.” https://martina-clark.com/
Well – fair enough….. however, HIV didn’t infect everybody it could have, AIDS didn’t killeveryone it might have – me for example. The materialist paradigm puts us at war with nature – and this virus is nature, can be seen as nature’s response to the way we are treating the planet – and ultimately therefore at war with ourselves. Fear of death and ignorance of the multidimensional mysteries of the consciousness keep humanity gripped in a three dimensional drama of tragedy and torment. But facing the fear and seeking direct personal knowledge and understanding of our spiritual nature as conscious living beings, are what will reveal the deeper layers of what is going on to us a species and our own individual part within that.
There is no faster way to wake up to the soul
to escape the illusions that humanity has fallen into
and to rebirth yourself as a timeless entity
on a mystery adventure called life
than to face the end, and make it your friend
FOR THERE IS IN FACT NO END
you are eternal – stop fearing death
release each fear with an outbreath.
EMBRACE LOVE, EMBRACE LIFE
there has never been a more miraculous time to be alive.
The 2020s will be a DIVINE DECADE
Society will shake, there will be plagues and earthquakes
but humanity will finally be more AWAKE.
Interconnectedness plain for all to see
I’m another YOU, and You another ME
the journey we’ve been on is called History
now it’s time to evolve and be free.
Our species united, through love or through fear
A new way of being together is near
Advanced understanding of our creative gifts
Finding a new divine way to live.
All paths have been leading to this time
All paths become One
Divine Self online.
Since 2012 as the Mayans said:
the Old World is Dead!
But the new one barely yet born.
Some fear the End and read the signs
but others know there is more to these times:
Ancient hands still guide our way
There will be a brand new day…
Prophecies and predictions have long foretold
of a total break with ways now old:
Since 2012 the light of superconsciousness shines
but is only visible to those with 3 eyes,
Planet Earth has into two divided –
there are some in the light
but most dwell in the lies
espoused by religions, politicians and the unwise.
Everyone can have a voice in the internet age
but those who listen to their own inner sage
are the ones who are really turning the page.
in this time of trial there are many lessons to be learnt
just as there were in the time of AIDS.
We were vanguards, scouts on the edge
living and dying in the aids pandemic.
For 15+ years our trial did endure
and still there is no vaccine or cure –
we learned about community, compassion and care-giving