World AIDS Day

In the early 1980s sex suddenly became scary – the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s took a very dark turn. At first known as Gay Cancer or GRID (gay-related-immune-defiency), the world eventually settled on HIV and AIDS as the terms for this deadly manifestation. A brief decade of sexual ‘innocence’, where play was plentiful for those who dared risk the social taboos, dissolved. It soon emerged that it was not only gay men affected – the hiv test revealed the virus to be widespread in Africa too, leading to notions that the virus had somehow spread to humans from monkeys. Some believed the virus had been cooked up in a laboratory specifically to target, and wipe out, black people and gay men. Others were sure there was no virus at all, that the whole thing was made up, perhaps thinking our immune systems were suffering the overload of toxic modern culture.

Mostly overlooked, there is a link between gay men and black Africans – it is that our very nature, our spirit and our self-expression, was denigrated and suppressed by the dominant straight, macho, white male culture of recent centuries. We are two groups carrying a dark and heavy ancestral load in our soul energy. Some ‘new age’ teachers have been much criticised for saying that AIDS is a manifestation of self-hatred, but what the critics are missing is that shame and guilt are deeply programmed into the subconscious culturally, historically and socially. AIDS was, in my direct experience, more than a physical illness – it was a soul crisis, resulting from lack of internal self-belief, balance and yes, self-love, from accumulated mental, emotional and spiritual injuries and blocks.

In the western world AIDS was a spur that got the lesbian and gay movement moving. Activism was stepped up, coming out became a big thing, our pride celebrations grew rapidly. We knew we had to fight for our rights or risk being pushed back into the millennium of relentless repression we were emerging from. The LGBT community gained a lot of political influence and social acceptance through its passionate and compassionate response to the AIDS crisis.

Those of us on the front line of the epidemic, the People With AIDS (PWAs), had to work out our own methods to cope with a terminal diagnosis and crippling infections. Community meeting points opened up such as the Lighthouse in west and the Landmark in south London. Here we could access complementary therapies and learn things from each other. We caught on to the notion of positive thinking, engaging the power of the mind to lighten the tough experience of encroaching sickness and impending death.

Some of us took this even further. I was 30 years old when AIDS started to hit me hard, and I was hit by a surge of anger at my fate. I had become an atheist at the age of 12 but now I needed somewhere to direct my anger, so I decided to ask the fundamental questions about life that the modern, rational, scientific, entertainment-driven world had kept me distracted from until this point.

Like many reasonable people I had looked at religion as a teenager and found it lacking. I rejected notions of God and just got on with my life. Now I needed answers – why are we born in the first place if just to die from disease? A graduate in History from Cambridge University, I knew how to tackle this subject. I went to the source materials – ancient teachings from all the world’s religions, magical paths and mystical teachers, plus modern new age writers and psychedelic gurus. I started to meditate and make my own simple rituals. As my mind opened up I saw that all the world’s holy teachings were basically saying the same thing, acknowledging an underlying reality of consciousness – unity – love and bliss that gives rise to all creation, a reality that most of the world is completely asleep to. I saw that giving this divine dimension a gender and a personality was not necessary at all, but that doing so might help us to form an emotional relationship with it. I discovered devotional practice, and through opening my heart to the spirit world I received massive waves of inspirational, healing, revelatory energies.

My understanding of life changed and through that my experience of it shifted too. My inner perspective moved from that of the little me-self, to a broader soul consciousness that embraces our eternal nature as manifestations of the divine Self in creation – just like the whole universe is. We humans are uniting the material, mental, emotional and energetic (spirit) dimensions of Creation – this is such an awesome, divine, undertaking, one that deserves some conscious attention, to be widely understood and discussed, yet I had been brought up to believe none of this.

Now the world is teetering like never before. 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 – 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 that even in my darkest hours I was 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 was previously lacking.

AIDS brought me a 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 Self – the underlying unity of life will eventually demand to be know 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

AND CHANGE LIFE ON EARTH RIGHT NOW.

In 2017 I published AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening, a collection of my mystical poetry and drawings plus quotations from gay ancestors and spiritual teachers.

And just published:

AIDS Shaman 2: Through the Veils is now also available, in print or e book from

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

AIDS Shaman 2: LiveLaunch

Monday 28 October, 2030 GMT https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCLMTE-IGM_8s54NUJTcWZw?view=

Launching at the 2019 Scorpio New Moon

MONDAY OCTOBER 28TH, 2030 GMT. Queer Spirit Channel on YouTube.

My intention with AIDS Shaman 2: Through the Veils is threefold

  • To encourage more conversation about CONSCIOUSNESS, the thing that we all have in common, the thing that we are – also the thing that the collective belief system of the modern world – science – has so little to say about. Although quantum physics is revealing the same truths proposed by mystics since long ages past, there are some scientists who try to prove consciousness is a by product of the material evolution, ignoring the millennia of research into the deep, true nature of existence by the many proud and profound spiritual traditions of the world.
  • To expand awareness of the role that same sex erotic love and gender-variance has played in the spiritual life of the species – among shamanic tribal peoples, the ancient pagan faiths of the Middle East and Europe, and also in the sexually repressed father religions too – and so encourage conversation about the roles of queer people in the world today, as we stand up for our rights and grow to discover the power in our queer spirit.
  • To inspire more communion with the dead, our ancestors (who are so much closer than we think), to celebrate them, and through knowing them finding the strength to release our fears about dying and open to a bigger, brighter understanding of our own being and the joy of being alive.

My hope is to get people thinking, talking and growing.

The mysteries of consciousness are ours to explore:

we are each the inheritors of everything that has gone before.

ONCE UPON A TIME

all the worlds lived together

there was no separation between matter and spirit

humans talked daily to the dead

to the trees, the plants, the animals

and remembered to honour the faerie elementals

who kept nature in balance.

It was the Roman Emperor, not the Church

who eradicated reincarnation from the Christian worldview

male priests seized the spiritual power that had long belonged to the women, transgender and queer peoples,

male priests claimed to hold the keys to heaven:

instead of ecstatic rites that brought people in touch

with divine presence,

they went to church to hear the preacher

tell them God could only be known after death

and only if they obeyed the Church’s rules in life…

The biggest threat to the military industrial complex

is the people remembering that I am another You

and You are another Me:

Seeing through the lies, all the way to infinity.

.

Everything we think we know will change –

we can live multidimensionally

enter the dance of synchronicity

unravel the knots and blocks in our souls

make the remembrance of ONENESS our greatest goal

restore again the holy Whole

each one of us has a role.

HIV CAME TO US TO BE

THE END OF DISEASE

A GATEWAY TO ETERNITY

this is my message and I will say it over and over

THERE IS NO DEATH

THERE IS NO SEPARATION

the time has come to break down the old paradigms

and defeat the darkness that grips the world

the time has come to birth a new humanity

that puts love, cooperation and peace at the centre of the play

the world is gripped by darkness and fear

but the solution to all our woes has always been here

in our hearts.

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.” JUDITH GRAHN

Sex can open the gates to heaven,

the multidimensional Self:

that’s part of what gay sex is actually for

in the grand scheme of creation –

it’s what we were honoured for

in pagan temples around the world,

the phallus was the symbol of God,

the body was holy in the age of the Goddess –

the temple of the spirit divine

and the task in the 21st century

is to renew this understanding for this time.

AIDS Shaman Books 1 and 2 are available in print and ebook versions from

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

The Soul is Trans

trans pride rainbow

In a small town pub in Suffolk I spoke to a lad about the inner feminine – he took great offence to the idea that he might have a feminine part to himself, almost to the point of aggression. What in heaven’s name are they teaching kids at school?

The Soul is Trans, we manifest as bodies through the interplay of various spiritual energies, male and female being a key polarity through which our physical forms and personalities find expression. This basic fact of our human existence was obvious to all the indigenous, ancient peoples of the planet and led to those people who manifested both masculinity and femininity strongly often regarded as special, holy beings.  The Hijras of India are a surviving remnant of what was once a vibrant queer spiritual/magical culture that manifested in some form on every continent.

The early modern European explorers found cross-dressing, gender-fluid shamans, witches and monks in every corner of the globe. This is how it once was in Europe and the Middle East too, until the rise of the monotheistic religions, with their all-powerful, male god. Assinnu, Kurgurru, Qedesha, Gallae are among our ancient names. As religion gradually became a tool of the political state, its teachings adapted to bring structure and discipline to society (mainly through fear, though calling it love), in contrast to the liberating, anarchic, sexualised rituals of the ancient Goddess – so those who sought the teachings of soul liberation joined mystery schools, covens and heretical sects in which over the centuries, magical wisdom was passed on.

Flower of Life with rainbow gradients

Kabbalists, Astrologers, Alchemists all found insights into the nature of reality through their practices, which are now openly available for us in the modern world if we seek them. But we are still emerging from the spirit-denying 20th century, still stuck in the domination of consumerism, fame and finance. Since the 1960’s there have been many who have made or are making the shift to a different way of being, one of compassion, seeking, healing and loving, but the mainstream culture is very slow to catch up.

trans symbol (2)

Trans people are emerging in the world in ever greater numbers quite probably because their souls have decided to to do their bit to hasten the evolution of the species, as we move beyond the materialist paradigm into a multi-dimensional reality, where we learn to unite the genders within in order to enter the higher dimensions of spirit, called the kingdom of heaven by Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas:

“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner as the outer, and the upper as the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male shall not be male, and the female shall not be female: . . . then you will enter [the kingdom].” Jesus in The Gnostic Apostle Thomas:Chapter 24, Saying 22

kabbalah

Reincarnation featured in all the ancient worldviews, was pushed out of the Christian agenda to suit the Roman emperors, and of course is ridiculed by the scientifically minded cultural leaders of the modern secular world.  The mass cultural paradigm is stuck in a tragic ‘one lifetime’ paradigm, and the transcendental nature of the soul not generally discussed, it’s highly possible that a person who feels they ‘were born in the wrong body’ is remembering something of their previous incarnation.

….And since the mystical goal of realisation of the Self involves the unification and integration of the inner genders (and other aspects), it’s highly likely that many trans people are evolved souls who have come into their current body to attain that integration and gain higher understanding of consciousness.

Since the western culture does not teach trans people who they are, trans people will have to teach the culture.

In fact all the queer tribes – the lesbians, gay men, bi and non-binary folk are in the process of unpicking centuries of being hated and misunderstood, of being seen as evil, dirty, sick… as sinners, outcasts, or as criminals.  We all are on the path of redefining who we are, on our terms, in our own ways.  Radical Faeries have been doing this since 1979.  500 magical, bright and creative queers just gathered this summer for the third QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL in the UK, celebrating the emergence of queers as a healing tribe within the human whole. 

The call is building for a SECOND COMING OUT – this time reclaiming and proclaiming our magical nature, our soul nature, our holy queer spirit.

north american Trans Shaman RAVEN KALDERA:

“Transgendered people have long been robbed of their own spiritual history, not knowing that there were once times and places where ours was considered a spiritual path in and of itself… We are all sacred and it is time that the world knew it.”

WHY CHECHNYA?

Chechnya is a focus of so much angst for queer people the world over, time we knew that it was once the centre of a culture that held queer shamanic priest/esses in high esteem

The murderous homophobia running rife in Chechnya since 2017 was in the news again recently. After the horrific tales of torturous treatment of gay men, this time we found out more about the situation for lesbians and trans women, as a woman who escaped the purge told her story to a news agency: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/lesbians-are-also-being-killed-in-chechnya-and-no-one-seems-to-care/#gs.lahdzc

I wanted to know why Chechnya, which is a pretty small area of the former Russian superstate, has become such a global focus in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality – and here is what I found in the history that I believe gives insight into the roots of the violent homophobia being enacted today:

Chechnya is located between the Black and Caspian Seas surrounded by Russia on 3 sides and Georgia on one, with Armenia and Azerbaijan close by: this area was once the central zone of the massive and long lived Scythian empire, which was founded by migrants from the Persian region as early as the 9th century BCE and lasted until the 2nd BCE. The Scythians had a complex, developed culture and became over time a very fierce, patriarchal tribe, but retained the ancient transgender enarees serving as the priest/esses of the Great Goddess, who had been around even longer. 5th century BCE Greek writer Herodotus described the enaree priest/esses as androgynous and recorded their skill in divination, saying they considered that to be a gift of Aphrodite. Hippocrates recorded that the Scythians considered the effeminacy of the enarees to be a divine blessing (though he tried to argue it was because of too much horse riding leading to impotence.)

The term enaree is said to mean ‘unmanly’ and came from the Greeks and Romans who disapproved of the queer shamanic and ecstatic ways, much like ‘berdache‘ was an abusive term (meaning the ‘bottom’ in the act of buggery) that was given to the Native American shamans by the shocked and disapproving Christian Europeans in the 16th century. We do not know what the Scythian transgender shamans called themselves, but we do know that they engaged in ritualistic same-sex eroticism, wore feminine clothes, undertook tasks traditionally assigned to women, performed divination and led ecstatic worship – as did transgender and gay/queer priest/esses of the Goddess throughout the ancient world, such as the Gallae servants of Cybele, the kelabim of Astarte and the megabyzoi of Artemis.

The homo and transphobia that is having devastating effects in the world today, such as for the queers of Chechnya, has roots in the rise of aggressive patriarchal masculinity, and is also intimately tied in with the arrival of a male deity on the religious scene who pushed out the Great Goddess and would stand no competition. The Christian and Muslim religions set out to distance themselves from the often wildly lustful and ecstatic Goddess worshippers by attacking homosexual practices and wiping out the widespread and ancient view that transexuals were closer to the divine. This is what queers of the world today need to grasp – not simply the history, but also to work out how this knowledge might inform how we act in the world.

But the enaree spirit never disappeared completely – a spiritual rebellion in 17th century Russia of the ‘Old Believers‘ saw pagan-christian cults the Khlysty (Flagellants) and Skoptsy (Castrators/Eunuchs) enacting ecstatic dance (radeniia ‘joyful whirling’) and sexual (including homosexual) rituals to attain altered states of consciousness, in which they would channel the prophecies of the Great Mother or Christ (whom they saw as her consort). These cults rejected marriage and revered women; the castration rituals, which men underwent to further their spiritual growth by becoming closer to the Goddess, connect them back in time to the Gallae priests of Cybele, the Magna Mater of the Roman Empire, whose roots go back to 6000 BCE in Anatolia, Turkey. These cults, and the practice of ritual castration, were still active in 20th century, pre-revolutionary Russia.

radeniia dance

Historians point out that the militaristic Scythians both respected/feared and at the same time ridiculed the enarees. Much the same happened to the ergi – queer/trans practitioners of the Seidr magic of the Germanic and Norse people. As patriarchy strengthened its grip, effeminacy in men became an issue in European cultures, but in earlier times transgender people were in many places highly regarded for their magical and spiritual qualities, an association that in fact took centuries to eradicate.

It seems to me the old battle between the macho, controlling male culture and that of the effeminate/genderqueer people of the Goddess is still raging today (even if it is presented differently and the goddess forgotten), with Chechnya a central battleground holding a long history of homophobia, but an even longer one of association between same-sexuality, transsexuality and the sacred. The gay men, lesbians and transexuals of the area today probably do not even know this history, yet it seems their recent ancestors were keeping this strand of queer magical culture alive up until only a century ago – so perhaps this awareness, this experience, this memory, is just beneath the surface, waiting to reemerge, as part of a global surge of queer spirit as LGBTQ+ people the world claim our human rights and reclaim the powers in us that connect the worlds of spirit and humanity.

www.queerspirit.net

Queer Spirit(ualists) with Attitude!

ATTITUDE 4 (2)

Attitude magazine this month has a colourful, somewhat teasing and intriguing, feature about some of the team behind this summer’s Queer Spirit Festival.  The piece is appropriately enough entitled ‘Free Spirits’, making the point that here are queers finding our spiritual expression outside of formal religion. For some reason however the front page headline they chose to highlight the piece is ‘Meet the Queer Spiritualists’…..

Well spiritualism is generally associated with channelling the messages, wisdom and grace of the spirit world, with mediumship and sometimes trance possession. At first I was inclined to take some umbrage at the use of this word, after all a glance at the promotion for the festival will show that our focus is very much about this world – about healing, creativity, self-expression, love – about queer community, liberated from crippling religious structures, where our spirits can soar free.  But of course what makes this experience so powerful and liberating, I believe, is that we include the trees, plants, animals, insects and invisible worlds in our expansive queer community cosmos.

I remembered how much we love to invoke the ancestors into our circles, how important it is to us to call in the power of the elemental beings, how much we love to invoke the unifying presence of our shamanic forebears in the indigenous peoples of the whole planet,  and of the Goddess, of Pan.

Often we dance once the spirits are invoked, enjoying a space where it can come naturally to drop the chattering, questioning of the mind and move into synchronous rhythm with each other: rising gradually to peaks of ecstatic togetherness when the drumming takes off, when our dancing hits a frenzy, our voices open and the shouts reach to the heavens.

ATTITUDE 5 (2)

Attitude also used the term ‘HIGHER RAINBOWS’ – which I consider a peculiar choice of front page headline for the piece about us queer free spirits:

To me queer spirituality is about dropping the old patriarchal ways of hierarchy, of higher and lower, inferior and superior – and entering instead into the holoarchy of life, where every aspect of being has an integral part to play in the whole cosmic jigsaw of life. Astrology is one tool I use to understand that every part of who we are, that all of life and creation, is holy and has its own purpose, from the carnal and the banal to the  cosmic and the blissful. Without one there cannot be the other, duality only exists to help us navigate the third dimension. So Queer Spirituality is not about getting to a higher, or better, place, than other parts of the lgbtq+ universe, it is about bringing in the missing element, the essential piece of the puzzle, that completes the whole. 

I have written many blogs about the lost, forgotten or overlooked links between queerness and the sacred dimensions.. some links below.

Early May 2019 we are between the calendar Beltane MayDay and the approaching Beltane Full Moon in Scorpio on May 17th. The veils are thin.

We are between the worlds.

lotus

This morning the moon is in Cancer, water element, sign of the Divine Mother. So this queer spiritualist thought instead of being agitated by the label he would live up to it:

This is what I believe the energy of the Divine Mother that I feel within me is saying to us this Beltane:

From the heart of the Mother

from our ancestors enlightened

worlds connect and the message comes through

you are another me and I am another you:

we are not these bodies

not the ego-mind

not the turbulent emotions:

when we drop identification with form and thought and feeling

there’s much, much more to find

.

the dance of spirit on the earth

is reflected in patterns in the sky

and once we get that we are the dance

we can stretch our wings and fly:

to attune to the seasons, moon and planets

IS to find the way home –

is the way out of delusion, disconnection, disaffection –

it’s time for humanity to renew the pact with life Herself

.

love and spirit connect us all

through prayer and compassion

we answer the call, build webs of love, cones of power

invoking the return of Her magicians

bringing humanity back to the Way

in these dark 21st century days

.

The truth is within and it’s out there too

Christian gnostics and heretics, Kabbalists and Sufi mystics have long taught the way

Buddhist and Hindu sages were bringing the light of non-duality to the west since the 19th century

but the last thing the desire-driven, power-hungry west wanted to hear

was that the ego was controlling the show and out of control –

our own european earth wisdom so long suppressed

we’d long forgotten our intrinsic belonging –

yet now as Mother Earth shakes and and fear spreads round the world

soon everyone on the planet may scream out to be whole

and the people of the Goddess

will step forward – and take up once again their roles.

qs-logo2019-long edit

Queer Spiritualism WHY NOT?

To conclude, I offer this….

MAY THE SPIRIT RETURN TO THE PEOPLE

From whom She was ripped apart

May the Spirit return to the people

As the Queer Healers remember their Art

.

The Warrior swords of the Crucified Christ from the 4th century CE

Closed down our temples and slaughtered

Trans priestesses, women witches, genderfluid shamans and male sodomites.

Persecution of gay men and women witches intensified from the 11th century.

The political state took over this persecution from the 16th century.

The death penalty was in place for sodomy in the UK until 1861.

But the climate of fear, of arrests and blackmail hit another peak for gay men in the 20th century

And while the change over the past 50 years has been incredible –

No wonder we are a segment of humanity with health issues

Of course we are a people with emotional baggage that needs to be addressed

the issues arising from both HIV and CHEMSEX are the clear symptom of this wound

.

Still in the world today so many of our queerkind still have to live secret lives

have to live with fear, and the danger of arrest, violence, death

THE HISTORICAL PERSECUTION OF QUEER PEOPLE NEEDS TO BE UNDERSTOOD AND ADDRESSED.

OUR QUEER SPIRIT – REPRESSED FOR SO LONG – NEEDS ROOM TO BREATHE, ROOM TO HEAL, ROOM TO BECOME WHAT IT TRULY IS.

I applaud Attitude magazine for taking this important step in displaying through mainstream media that there are exciting developments going on in the world of queer spirituality.  Thanks Guys!

read more…

https://queerspirit.net/blog/211-the-queer-spiritual-frontier

https://queerspirit.net/blog/248-out-of-the-mists-of-our-long-oppression

https://shokti.blog/2019/04/28/gays-are-the-natural-priests-of-humanity/

https://rainbowmessengerblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/the-rites-of-queer-spirit/

Gays are the natural priests of humanity

The last few thousand years of human history might be called the Age of Patriarchy, when heterosexual men aggressively established their power over others. For this to happen they first had to destroy the spiritual power held by women and queers – at the time of Jesus Christ, religious life around the whole of the Mediterranean Sea had long been led by women and effeminate priests – the next few centuries would see straight men gradually imposing their desire for order, structure and control via the destruction of pagan temples and eradication of the memory of the sacred roles of same-sex loving and gender-variant individuals.

The men of war shut down our temples, rounded up the pagans and slaughtered them. The sexual practices of the pagans were seen as a justification for doing this. This pattern had begun in fact a millennium previously under the Hebrew kings, some of whom took great offence to the continuing tradition of Goddess worship, led by the sodomising, genderfluid Qedesha in the temples of Asherah. Qedesha means Anointed or Holy Ones, but was translated into the King James Bible as ‘sodomites’ and appears in modern translations as ‘male shrine prostitutes’. The idea that temples were where prostitution took place was planted early in the first millennium by Christians in order to discredit the pagan faiths – until that time sexual congress with deities, through the medium of a priest/ess, had been a respected practice dating back maybe 10000 years in the temples of Ishtar/Inanna/Cybele throughout the lands of the Middle East. Some have argued that Mary Magdalene was part of this tradition and see her as being the conduit for Jesus’s mystical revelations and growth.

The oldest term on the planet for priesthood is the ‘Gala’ priests of Inanna, whose name in the ‘cunieform’ writing of the time was a combination of the symbols for penis and anus. Similarly named, and extremely queer and flamboyant, Gallae priests served Cybele – considered the Mother of the Gods, her worship originated in Anatolia in the Asian part of Turkey and became the official religion of the Roman Empire around 200 BCE. The Gallae’s camp and loud behaviour upset many Christians, and, especially as Roman emperors converted to the new faith, emphasising the prohibition of sodomy became a way of setting Christianity apart from the pagan past.

The Hebrew persecution of the gay temple priests lasted, on and off, for four centuries from 1000BCE to 600BCE, it seems that after that the atmosphere became more relaxed again. Historian Randy P. Connor goes as far as to say that the period from 2nd century BCE to 4th century CE was the high point of queer-led religion, with the ArchGallus playing a leading role in Roman life. The ArchGallus wore a tall mitre hat, something that was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and still worn by Popes today. The Gallae priests led the early Spring ceremonies which were focussed on the death of their god Attis, the lover of Goddess Cybele, who self-castrated in order to avoid marriage to a human woman. He died from the wound but was resurrected and became in the older stories Cybele’s daughter, in the later versions he became, like Jesus, the heavenly avatar linking humanity to heaven. The Christian Easter festival was timed to replace this older rite.

When Europeans set out to explore and conquer the rest of the world they came across gender-bending, sodomising, shamans and priests on every continent. There are many examples from Africa of queerness being associated with spiritual power – eg among the lesbians of the Azande people of ……. or the Quimbanda wizards of Angola. When African politicians complain that homosexuality was brought to the continent by the white man they have a point – until the Europeans came sexuality was not associated with the taboos it is now, and the spiritual role of same-sex loving or trans individuals was recognised. The Native American shamans were given the name ‘berdache’ by the Europeans (the name basically means a bottom in sodomy), which stuck until the 1990s when the American shamans chose the name ‘Two-Spirit’ to replace it, a term much more resonant with the many original names that the tribes used for us. In China and Japan homosexuality was regarded as a privilege of the monastic class, this view fully supported by the populace, and in India the surviving example of the Hijras point to a time when the spiritual power of queers was better recognised. Examples exist also from Australasia, Polynesia, Hawaii….

Gay men and women have always been drawn to the religious life in the Christian west as well, despite the homophobic atmosphere. Medieval monastic life saw a flowering of same sex love, and the Buggery Act was brought in by Henry VIII to destroy the power of the Catholic monasteries. To this day gays are drawn to service in the Church, and the arguments about us go on and on. But even the Christian notion of a celibate priesthood is a hark back to the ancient days when the gays ran religion. Celibacy had to be brought in once straight men got involved, to control them. Islam, for most of its history, has been less bothered about sexual expression, with a long tradition of mystical poetry in which god is known through same-sex erotic imagery. The savagery with which some Islamic states treat queer people now has more to do with the homophobia spread by Europeans over recent centuries than with Islamic traditions.

So the straight men kicked us out of the temples and monasteries and took our jobs, but what does this piece of the historical queer jigsaw mean for us today?

While some spiritually motivated queers choose to be active in established religious circles, there are many of us who are drawn to self-exploration in ways of our own choosing. Many of us are drawn to witchcraft, shamanism etc because these magical practices do not dictate a belief system – they instead provide tools we can use for our own self-discovery, and to build a relationship with the subtle energy fields all around us.

Coming Out is a spiritual process of self-affirmation, but it’s not the end of the story. In the 1980s I was a young atheist seeking nothing from life but good times, but who was quickly facing an HIV diagnosis and the onset of AIDS. This experience awoke in me the wish to understand life, and the roles of queers in the bigger picture, and kicked off a mystical journey that continues to this day – a journey that includes uncovering the forgotten or hidden history of the relationship between queerness and spirituality. Until this history is understood, ignorant religious preachers will continue to attack us, and spread their hate around the world, providing justification to those who would persecute, imprison or kill our kind. My journey since AIDS in queer spiritual circles such as the Radical Faerie community convinces me that we queers do have ‘magical’ powers – they come from our internal fluidity and creativity, they relate to the heart and spirit, to our relationship with nature and the unseen world.

I am one of the organisers of this summer’s QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL in Northamptonshire, UK, August 14-18th 2019. This third outing of the festival brings together a few hundred questing, evolving, seeking queers in a melting pot of play, creativity, sexuality, spirituality and magic for five days of magic and discovery, changing the story of who we are, remembering a hidden past, and creating a new, vibrant and more conscious future. www.queerspirit.net

London Rebels

Easter Weekend in London saw massive mobilisation of the British people. In sharp contrast to the childishness, bickering and arrogance of our political classes in recent years, the past week has given us a peaceful yet powerful expression of the true spirit of the Brits – focussed on respectful discourse, tolerance, collaboration, non-violent action and compassion. Just as with the massive pro-EU demonstration recently, the people took to the streets and showed the world how so many of us really feel.

Extinction Rebellion played their hand skilfully, clearly having learnt the hard lessons of past actions such as Occupy. The authorities have been spending money preparing for post-Brexit riots, but instead found themselves faced with truly peaceful protesters, who had no intention to cause harm to property or persons – instead they sought simply to disrupt the normal flow of city life to bring attention to the cause – to the Climate Emergency that is reported daily in the news but which our governments have no idea how, nor it seems the motivation, to tackle. The activities of the past week have brought to the fore voices such as George Monbiot that dare to say that the whole capitalist, monetary, economic system has to be dismantled. The Tory environment minister has been forced to admit they are not doing enough in regard to climate change, and the opposition Labour party have offered to sit down and listen to the campaigners.

Even more than this – at a time when crime, homelessness, poverty are all on the rise, when teenagers are murdering each other and terrorists lurk round every corner – the headline news should be that here is a mobilisation of people who sincerely believe life can be lived differently, we just have to get together, listen to each other and work out how.

Here is a mobilisation of people who come together peacefully, to explore and deepen connection, with each other and the planet we live on. The right wing tries desperately to pick holes in the movement, to attack it in any way it can – eg for taking up police resources which are needed to keep down the rioting hoards, and the islamic, irish and fascist terrorists. But it seems the dark forces were all taking a quiet Easter. We should not underestimate the effect that a few thousand determined individuals making a clear and determined message, that so many others are waiting to hear, can have on the collective spirit and consciousness of the whole nation. After all, we have seen how the horrific acts of lone individuals can unite us in grief – whatever the critics of Extinction Rebellion might say, this is not a movement spreading doom and gloom, this is part of a much larger and longer trend in human society – towards greater awareness and connection.

These words I found from an XR participant in a Facebook comment put it so well:

Fundamentally our movement, not limited to Extinction Rebellion… is about creating a society based on connection, awe and love for all beings. You feel it, I feel it, it feels right…. but we are rarely given permission to express it.

There’s been a steady shift in human consciousness for many years now and it is finally bubbling up to an explosion. Too many people are tired of wasting our lives in a society based on separation, fear, exploitation and depletion.”

But of course the opponents of XR, and probably the politicians too, believe it’s only a matter of time before the movement fractures and collapses, as other protests have done in the past. There are even signs of this happening already. The group’s Facebook page reveals that militant vegans, who like to insist everyone has to follow their example, are causing some to leave the movement. But also – the wonder of social media – we can see there how the overwhelming response from others, including other vegans, is to explain few things to the misguided but well-intentioned militants. Any movement for social, political, environmental justice doubles up as an intensive space of personal growth for all who get involved. The complex organisational co-creation that manifested as XR’s actions at Marble Arch, Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus, or the mass die-in at the Natural History Museum, show that this is a collective with experience, talent, originality and the power to persevere. XR has staying power because all generations are involved here. Over 1000 people were arrested for obstruction, yet nobody was hurt, there was no criminal damage, no violence.

Natural History Museum die-in

The same spirit of openness, tolerance and freedom was celebrated in Hyde Park on Saturday 20th April at the 4:20 Cannabis Rally. Now in its 8th year, the warm sunshine brought out thousands – people of all ages, all races and backgrounds were openly smoking across the park, and at 4.20pm we all stood up and lit up together – the diversity of the modern British nation celebrated in smoke. What an incredible mass ritual, honouring the healing herb that has been used as medicine and sacred tool in cultures the world over, but which the men in power in the 20th century made illegal, something they had no moral right to do. Crucially, we were also standing up for freedom of the individual, in mind, body and soul. The days of the state dictating what we can or cannot do with our own bodies need to end. I’m a gay man, I get this deeply. But as we move towards liberalisation of attitudes towards cannabis in the UK it is crucial that the cannabis campaigners are listened to – for the money-grabbing eyes of big business are already excited at this huge future market. Cannabis cultivation and dealing has been in the hands of the people during this time of prohibition, taking risks with our own liberty to do so, and it should remain the people’s plant.

Nobody was arrested at the Cannabis Rally. The atmosphere was positive and upbeat. The only violence in the park that day was unrelated.

My personal journey through this liberating weekend began at the Queer Spirit Full Moon Drum Circle in Vauxhall, where about 70 radical faeries, questing queers and magical souls gathered to dance and raise energy. We do this regularly– an opportunity for emotional release and ecstatic expression at the peak of the full moon. This time we dedicated our dance towards empowering the message being put out by Extinction Rebellion.

At Heaven nightclub on Sunday evening my weekend peaked as the 24 year old me was resurrected on the very dance floor where he dropped his first tab of acid – thirty years ago at Gay Pride 1989. For 3 or 4 years I was a Heaven regular, spending my nights in ecstatic rapture, finding in house music (and lsd) a doorway into myself that led me to an absolute sense of freedom, love and connection. After 6 years of trips (and facing the impending doom of full-blown aids) I was motivated to dive into a mystical education in order to understand this freedom and connection I had felt when high in Heaven. 24 years on from that, aids survivor, queer pagan and radical faerie witch/shaman that I have become, I got to go back to my playground – where in my 20s I used to lose myself in music and light, become the dance, become pure spirit. This time no lsd taken. Acid opened up in me the idea that we are pure consciousness, free, eternal and powerful, and I have used the intervening years to explore and deepen this within me – 30 years after my first trip I was dancing back in the temple of Heaven, feeling my 24 year old self inside me glowing with joy, being my 54 year old self beaming in gratitude for this journey called life, and for the keys to mystery that the acid house wave of the late 80s, that Heaven the nightclub and the amazing DJs who played there, gave to me.

easter sunday 2019 acid boy resurrected

House music arrived as a soul-infused development of disco and hi-nrg. It celebrated liberation, as disco had done before – but perhaps while 70s disco revelled in individual freedom and joy, 80s house held a vision of collective liberation. Queers were at the forefront of disco – when disco got tired and too commercial, we then held the pure dance spirit in our hi-nrg tunes until it evolved into house. Heaven, London’s original gay super-club now celebrating its 40th birthday, held nights such as Spectrum, Garage and Troll that nurtured the uplifting house vibe.

Queers were central to the dance revolution and we also have a big role to play in the ongoing liberation of humanity from the delusions, the mind control and soul-numbness that afflicts the world, but we are still a deeply wounded segment of the whole, finding our power only gradually. 30 years ago I was dancing in nightclubs, this summer I will be dancing out in nature at QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL, where 500+ fabulous, magical queers will get the chance to deepen our experience of community, of connection, of personal and collective liberation. There will be workshops, performers, fire circles, drumming, cafes, discos – we will be celebrating the potential in our sexuality and our seeking for love to open us to the heavens, to multi-dimensional reality, plus celebrating our ability to connect to and care for each other and the earth. The festival, like XR, like the Cannabis Rally, is a manifestation of people taking power into their own hands. We queers will no longer let ourselves be bullied by religion or anyone else, we are redefining who we are, from within ourselves. Www.queerspirit.net

It was so good to be in Heaven dancing again to “Brothers, Sisters, we’ll make it to the Promised Land”, to feel tears running down my cheeks as Robert Owens performed live, to remember being in utter bliss in that place in my 20s – at a time when part of my mind was stuck in the new reality of a deadly HIV diagnosis, another part was experiencing the awesome, joyful wonder of existence.

return to heaven 21/4/2019

30 years on I celebrated my personal liberation on the dance floor where I first glimpsed it, during a weekend when the tide of liberation was riding high in London town. But let’s remember that Freedom is both an internal as well as external phenomenon. This summer I will be gathering with magical queers pulling together on the path to personal and collective liberation to our kind, and all humanity, through reconnection with nature, with the holiness of the body and sexuality, the transcendent potential of music and dance, with the ecstatic rites of Queer Spirit. Come play the liberation game with us.

London enjoyed a sunny and peaceful weekend, promoting the energy of communication, connection and harmony. Meanwhile terror did strike – in Sri Lanka, and we are left with this puzzling story that a number of affluent, educated, middle class Muslims went into Christian churches to blow up themselves and the Easter Sunday worshippers, showing how quickly and easily a country can be brought to horror, grief and fear. In our interconnected world the actions of hate affect all, but the forces and voices of tolerance and freedom do not get nearly enough of a look in – the media is always telling us the world is full of suffering and anger, but the hearts of the people of the world are drawn to hope, to peace and to love and liberation – as the activists of London have been showing loud and strong in the Easter sunshine.

Canaries in the Meth Mine

the second sexual revolution has been building since the turn of the millennium

once AIDS had disappeared from our hospitals and gay bars.

dating websites were the start of the cyber game, which gay men embraced with gusto

where drug deals and dates started to become a normal combination in some quarters

gaydar – gay romeo dominated

recon held the fetish market

moving to the darker zones of bbrts – bareback realtime sex

and eventually nastykinkpigs where the doings got deviant and dirty

.

meth was a rarity at first

but the examples of sydney and the usa could have shown us in London

that meth is a manifest curse

.

the smoking ban in clubs had an effect

dance floor flow was disrupted

outdoor smoking changed the night out

many guys started to prefer to party at home

where they could also consume sacraments in peace

grindr, scruff, tindr and the ilk

suddenly made partying from home that much easier and more fun

dates could be arranged and deals could be done

shopping for sex, for satisfaction

for adventure or distraction

bodies on the screen

for free or for sale

no love involved

so drugs are what we need

to free the mind, feel the high and find the connection

but there are sacrifices that can follow

like a fucked mind and no erection

an addiction quickly acquired that makes no sense

sex sacrificed to a game of pretence

.

20 years ago very few gay men injected drugs

in the second decade of the 21st century ‘slamming’ has become common

no need to repeat the horror stories here

gay men are not listening to them anyway

meth high continues to draw men in to the tinaverse

perhaps meth is a manifest curse

.

canaries in the meth mine

in the consumer age

use me, use you, take me, feed you

men use each other like commodities

and sex becomes a selfish fulfilling of need, a seeking of seed

to temporarily fulfill a deeply felt need:

a gay man ultimately seeks to feel and know the god inside him through the love of another man

.

canaries in the meth mine

men forget how to love, how to make love without the chem

lose empathy and the ability to care about others

as their own inner unacknowledged pain becomes immense

this manifest curse is a reversal of our humanity

it makes no sense

but is this the future for the human race?

slaves to the machine, manifest in our hands

everyone an object to be utilized at will

the deadly threat of aids kept at bay by a pill:

canaries in the meth mine

.

obsessed with economics, politics and war

in the post AIDS era

humanity is walking blindly through the open door

of liberated sexual behaviour:

we need to talk about the second sexual revolution

understand the pandora’s box we’ve opened

the canaries in the meth mine

are dying because sexuality is still not understood

.

a man’s body is a miracle

his love is a gateway to heaven

as loving brothers gay men could be changing the world

welcoming young men into a healthy, respectful, conscious scene:

we need to face our demons to free our minds and hearts

meet each man with love if we wish our sexual activities to nourish our souls

the shame was imposed on us, the guilt and the fear

it’s time we shook off these wounds

that led us into aids and lead into addiction

for we have the power to create a world built on love of man for man

it’s a simple and divine plan

.

the manifest curse is decimating us

as the manifest disease did before

but healing comes when we embrace every aspect of life as divine play

and drop the constant craving for more

the healing comes when we find queer family, queer friends

with whom our heart aligns and we share the best times

the healing comes when we remember love

is what drove us to come out in the first place

.

the healing comes when we remember we are spirit

here to live out a dream

we weren’t born for suffering 

we are GAY, we are lovers of life Herself

but we need to urgently attend to our own spiritual, emotional and mental health

in 50 years since Stonewall we have manifested a global revolution

but our community contains suffering, abuse and pain

as we are celebrating our massive achievements in just 5 decades

we must seek to change the narrative told in the world, the narrative about who we are

no longer the outcasts, the perverted, the sick

we are the wounded healers, we are artists and seekers:

it’s time for us to truly claim our worth

and see an end to the manifest curse

canaries in the meth mine:

scouts on the extreme edge of the second sexual revolution

and all of us

need to remember

a gay man ultimately seeks to feel and know the god inside him through the love of another man

Healing Power of the Drum

“A new study published in PLoS scientifically validates what so many drum circle participants have already experienced first hand: group drumming produces significant changes in well-being, including improvements in depression, anxiety and social resilience.” http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/group-drumming-better-prozac-study-suggests

It was round a queer pagan fire in a field in Dorset in the year 1999 that I first experienced the expansive joy of group energy united by the drumbeat – a circle of people all revelling in the feeling of being in union, connected by rhythm and emotion and something bigger, knowing that each is having their own experience of this, would describe it in their own unique way, and this fact is perfectly wonderful.

Each human is ultimately a mystic having a relationship with their own inner divinity – and when mystics merge their energy fields, in harmony with nature’s elements, magic is the word for what happens.

Other words might include healing, revealing, seeing, knowing

Uniting the human individuality with the spirit of the drum, the rhythm, the group can loosen blocked emotional energy, clear the mental frequencies, and liberate the spirit. It can rebalance the inner world, it’s good for our mental health.

samhain ancestor shrine at london radical faerie drum circle

Allowing the energy to rise and fall

Listening is the key to tuning in

The mind naturally takes a back seat

as the heart and spirit move into the dance with the drum

The body revealed as ecstatic vehicle

of the lightbeing you are and always have been

Step into eternity

Allow the elements to restore and renew you

All life is One Dance, One Power, One Strength

Flowing through you, me, space, time and mind

In the rhythm we find our way home

Humans have always communed this way.

2017-12-02 – London, UK : Albion Faeries Drum Circle and Al Head Book Launch

join the mailing list of the radical faeries of albion for news of drum circles in London and much more…. sign up at www.albionfaeries.org.uk

OUT OF THE MISTS OF OUR LONG OPPRESSION…..

At the Stonewall Riot in New York 1969 the Queers fought back. Enough of the persecution, enough of the shame and fear, enough of the denial of our Queer Spirit. We stepped into Pride and began a journey of self-acceptance that kicked off a global process, which, 50 years later, is in full swing. As our Pride gatherings around the world we declare loud and clear – we are a rainbow people who celebrate freedom, love and self-expression. A people rising from the ashes of a conflagration against our kind that has lasted for far too long and now has to end…


Stonewall

For gay men, 1969-1981 were the Gay Garden of Eden years, not that many on the planet actually got to enjoy them. Homophobia was deep-rooted in just about all the cultures of the planet by this time, having been spread by Christian European explorers seeking to break the spirit of the cultures they came into contact with – for as the world opened up, the shocked Europeans found cross-dressing, gender-bending, sodomising shamans, witches and priests everywhere. They did not know that in ancient times the religious life of Europe and the Middle East had been just as queer.

The 1970s tide of gay liberation was riding on the tailwind of hippy culture and the sexual revolution – so, while for many queers the new sexually free atmosphere was enough, for some this whirlwind of counter-cultural energies opened up a very radical vision of the role of gay, lesbian and trans/non-binary/genderqueer people in society. While many sought to fit in and be accepted by society at large, the radical edge of the queer community was seeking something more. Those on that edge found that the way into this exploration of our true, and long denied, nature was through our hidden spiritual history, and certain gay men were to push this search forwards.

Men loving men

San Franscisco was of course a hotbed of this essentialist wave – in 1975 the ‘Faery Circle’ was called into being there by Arthur Evans to explore the magical roots of queer consciousness. His 1978 book ‘Witchcraft and the Gay Counter-Culture’ (‘A Radical View of Western Civilization and Some of the People it Has Tried to Destroy’) opened up understanding of the connections between patriarchal religious control and the suppression of the feminine/mystical/magical pagan past. He argued that the role of gay men today is to re-establish our communication with nature and the Great Mother, to feeling the essential link between sex and the forces that hold the universe together.

Larry Michell‘s inspired piece of queer literature, also from ’78, ‘The Faggots and their Friends between Revolutions‘ spotted that the motives behind this suppression of the spirit were political,-

“The first revolutions destroyed the great cultures of the women. Once the men triumphed, all that was other from them was considered inferior and therefore worthy only of abuse and contempt and extinction. Stories told of these times are of heroic action and terrifying defeat and silent waiting. Stories told of these times make the faggots and their friends weep. The second revolutions made many of the people less poor and a small group of men without color very rich. With craftiness and wit the faggots and their friends are able to live in this time, some in comfort and some in defiance. The men remain enchanted by plunder and destruction. The men are deceived easily and so the faggots and their friends have nearly enough to eat and more than enough time to think about what it means to be alive as the third revolutions are beginning.”

Life-long activist Harry Hay founded the first gay rights group the Mattachine Society in the 1950s, but was edged out quickly as gay men who sought conventionality and assimilation into polite society took it over. In the ’60s he set up the ‘Circle of Loving Companions‘ and by the 1970s he was totally focussed on the unique gifts that queerkind bring to humanity. He had become convinced that our sexuality was intrinsically related to the spirit realms, –

“Our beautiful lovely sexuality is the gateway to spirit. Under all organised religions of the past, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, there has been a separation of carnality, or shall we say of flesh or earth or sex, and spirituality. As far as I am concerned they are all the same thing, and what we need to do as faeries is to tie it all back together again.”

These 1970s visionaries were getting bold. In Witchcraft and the Gay Counter-Culture, Evans declared, –

“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.”

Out of this swirling pool of potential was born the first Radical Faerie gathering, which took place in a desert sanctuary in Arizona in September 1979. It was billed as a ‘Spiritual Conference‘ aiming to explore “the spiritual dimensions of gayness” – 220 men got to this gathering, sat and listened to each other’s stories, found a common love of nature and the, now global, Radical Faerie Community was born. Arthur Evans described faeries as demonstrating a “gay sensibility, neo-paganism, and a sheer Whitmanesque celebration of the body and of sex.

The reference to Whitman refers to the person considered to be America’s greatest poet, Walt, who in the 19th century had dared to write down his vision of a future democracy living in peace due to the strong loving bonds between men. He wrote, –

“Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,

I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon,

I will make divine magnetic lands,

With the love of comrades,

With the life-long love of comrades.”

Whitman opened the doors to the celebration of the body as holy through works like ‘I sing the Body Electric’. As a gay man he saw that the denial of the pleasures of the flesh that religion imposed on society cut humanity off from its divine potential, –

“Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from, The scent of these armpits is aroma finer than prayer, This head more than churches, bibles and all the creeds… if I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body”

Mitch Walker carried this theme in the ’70s, publishing ‘Men Loving Men: Gay Sex Guide and Consciousness Book‘ in 1977, concluding it with a section on the mystical potential in gay love and sex to reveal to us the divine play of consciousness in the universe.

“When we fall in love with another man we’re getting in touch with an unconscious spirit-source, by evoking it in our beloved. We can follow this magic inside us back to its source, and use it to uncover our real nature.”

19th century European pioneers of queer consciousness also had grand visions of our role in society, and from the first stirrings of self-conscious gay sensibility proclaimed a link to the spiritual. Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in Germany and Edward Carpenter in England used the term ‘Uranian‘ to refer to gay men, lesbians and all, what they termed ‘intermediate types‘, seeking to connect us to the perceived nobility of ancient Greek culture – Urania being a form of the Goddess Aphrodite particularly concerned with spiritual love. Carpenter published the results of his research as ‘Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk’ in 1914, exploring examples from America, feudal Japan, the cross-dressing, sodomising Qedesha goddess priests of the Middle East so hated by the ancient Hebrews, and also same sex Christian unions in the Balkans. Carpenter dared to write about the link between same-sex love and the shamanic practitioners in tribal cultures – although this link had not been lost on the European explorers arriving in the New World from the 15th century onwards: discovering that the spiritual power in the tribes was held by gender-bending, same sex loving individuals they set about destroying that power by spreading their Christian judgement of effeminacy and sodomy – they called the holy shamans ‘berdache’, a French word for the passive partner in that act. This term stuck until the 1990s when the shamans chose the word ‘Two-Spirit‘ to replace it, this term having resonance with the some 500 words Native American cultures had once used.

By 1990 of course the gay male community was deep in the middle of a crisis that threatened every gain we had made. AIDS ravaged our world, making the magical promises of the 1970s seem far away. “Come, blessed Lady of the Flowers, Queen of Heaven, creator and destroyer, Kali – we are dancing the dance of your coming” said the emerging queer witches of the Eden decade – and She came: dark, ferocious, deadly.  The Goddess came as darkness because she had been banished into darkness by patriarchal religion for a very long time.  We, her queer priests, servants, lovers and fools no longer knew who we were, we no longer knew what we could do with our sexuality, what it could bring to the world.  In a secular, religiously conflicted age, nobody seems to remember who the queer ones are.  Which is why we need time and space, in our own sacred groves and healing sanctuaries, to explore within ourselves, to find out.     

Harry Hay said, –

“Out of the mists of our long oppression,

We bring love for ourselves and each other,

And love for the gifts we bear,

So heavy and so painful the fashioning of them,

So long the road given us to travel them. A separate people,

We bring a gift to celebrate each other,

‘Tis a gift to be gay!

Feel the pride of it!”

In the 1980s and 90s our energies had to be channelled away from potential and into pure survival, and this period also revealed just how deep-rooted was societal homophobia and how much work there was to be done on political, legal and social levels before we, or the rest of the world, could really start to take on board the journey to spiritual liberation that is the logical and ultimately inevitable end place of the journey of sexual liberation that began in the 1960s. This political work has continued since the advent of effective medicine to treat HIV, with equal marriage rights spreading through the western world – and producing a backlash in Africa and other countries, which has served to put the question of our rights and our identity into a global focus.

The quest for queer spirited conscious community has been going on on the sidelines of gay life throughout this time. Two years after the first Radical Faerie gathering the first permanent Faerie sanctuary was founded, at Short Mountain in Tennessee, and in the four decades since there have been other sanctuaries established in the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe, plus gatherings in Israel, Thailand and China. As a group of mainly gay men, the Faeries have been one of the few outfits celebrating the feminine, cissy side of our nature, in contrast to the enduring machismo obsessed mainstream gay culture, and over the decades the Faeries have become more diverse, and how could they not, since themes of gender play and transcendence of limiting human beliefs are a big part of faerie magic.

In fact as we approach the 2020s there are way more gay men involved in the spiritual search than there were back in the 1970s, a fact that is reflected in the number of books on gay spirit that have been published since, by authors including Toby Johnson, Mark Thompson, Andrew Harvey, Christian de la Huerta. Men’s spirituality is growing up and there is perhaps now a chance for gay male spirituality to join with the other tributaries of queer spirituality to find their common ground.

In this essay I have had a lot to say about the gay male journey through these decades. The parallel stories to be told are those of the lesbians in the Goddess movement, of their radical history of protest and community building at Greenham Common and through Spiral Camp and Women’s Land etc, and of the emergence of the Trans/Non-binary identities, with the subsequent reclaiming of the spiritual power going on there also, via the work of Raven Kaldera, Bright Daffodil and other. The vision behind the brand new Queer Spirit Festival, which launched in 2016, is to bring together all the queer tribes under the rainbow of our united quest for spiritual knowledge and liberty. The joined prayers and healing that we experience when we come together are for ourselves and for all our kind across the planet.

Meanwhile the mainstream gay universe has not woken up to any sense of spiritual growth yet, it generally continues its flirtation with the commercially driven, marriage-approving, patriarchal military-industrial complex and doesn’t give attention to the magical paths of self-discovery that many queers choose to explore. Gay media over the years has looked at the efforts of gays in established religions to find acceptance, but little to the radical, nature-based pagan faerie celebrations or to gays who seek self-awareness through magical practices, yoga or meditation, or even psychedelics for that matter – the sacraments that our gay culture subtly promotes encourage us to self indulgence not self discovery. In London the Connections conferences of the late 1990s and LoveSpirit in the early 2010s brought hundreds of queers together to share their spiritual interests, but against the huge tide of intoxication and indulgence that continues to sit at the centre of gay culture they had little impact.

The trend was clear from the 1970s – an obsession with the physical aspect of who we are puts sex firmly in the centre of the picture for gay men, and things are not so different at the end of the second decade of the 21st century. For trans people also, the focus on the physical aspect of the process can mean the ancient, spiritual roots of trans nature are completely overlooked. But now the gay mainstream is increasingly aware that the superficial is not after all supreme and is looking for answers to the ongoing sense of crisis in gay life – some go so far as to say that the spread of drug use among men who have sex with men, with resultant addictions, crises and deaths is a second plague amongst us.

So many reasons underlie this drug using trend, and are much discussed elsewhere – but one underlying factor that isn’t yet properly grasped is that humanity has always used substances to open the inner being and commune with the spirit realms of existence. Gay men, liberated sexually in age that doesn’t recognise the spiritual reality within us, using Tina etc are turning their own gifts on themselves, cutting off their natural ability to commune and empathise with others soul to soul, using drugs that feed the ego (as opposed to those which open the heart or consciousness). The drugs enable some men to forget their minds, their issues, their fears and enjoy the moment of ecstatic connection, but they gradually lose the ability to find that natural bliss through empathic loving connection to others. Only nature can restore this gift to us once lost, and I believe that in our faerie sanctuaries, and our queer spirit enclaves wherever they may pop up, we offer the healing, the insight and understanding that is needed to bring the LGBTIQ+ community to a level of self-awareness that will change things, and that will reverberate strongly around the world, bringing a revolution in understanding and a new mythology about Who We Are on a global level.

It is in Chechnya, and Uganda, Nigeria and Egypt, in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and too many other places that our queer sisters and brothers are most in need of this change of consciousness, in places where the homophobia imposed and justified by religions is still having its evil effects. We in the west have our issues to sort out, but we also have a freedom to explore our queer spirit that was never there before – and this time round, unlike the 1970s, when the queer spirit was first attempting to burst forth, we are five decades into a journey of liberation. We survived the AIDS holocaust, and grew through the experiences of that time, we have had a chance to mature somewhat and accept this journey is a longer one than some at first thought.

Queer Spirituality is the next step for the global upsurge of difference that has for five decades been daring to proudly declare its name… but it is slow to make an impact on mainstream gay male life because MANY OF THE PIONEERING, RADICAL QUEER MEN WHO WOULD HAVE BEEN PART OF THIS REVOLUTION IN CONSCIOUSNESS DIED OF AIDS.

This was history repeating itself. The shamans were culled and as a result the people, ie the wider gay community, has become lost in an ocean of substance abuse, just as happened to the tribal peoples when the Europeans took over. But shamans are born in every generation, and some of us – just a crucial few – survived the plague, and we are here to tell some tales.

I am an one such AIDS survivor who used my sick years to question reality, to become aware of Kali, the Great Mother, shrouded in darkness for so many centuries, and to receive her visions of gay love, seeking to find fellow explorers of the Goddess mysteries and be ready for the next resurgence of the queer phoenix, of queer spirit, calling us to know, love and BE our true, liberated, horny, magical, queer Selves. As an organiser of Queer Spirit Festival I am excited to sounding this call, on behalf of queerkind of all genders, sexualities, races and nations.

Shokti