THE QUEST FOR QUEER COMMUNITY

Together we can create magical spaces and events which transform both us and our wider world.”
EDWARD CARPENTER COMMUNITY WEBSITE

The EuroFaeries is a movement of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gendered people and their supporters, who believe that all gay people have a unique identity and cultural heritage within humanity.” EUROFAERIES WEBSITE

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common themes in queer community spaces:
playfulness *** creativity *** connection with nature
gender fluidity *** heart sharing *** physical touch and intimacy
co-creation *** cooperation *** support and affection
consensus *** drumming and dancing *** good food

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Away from the bright city lights and the commercial drive of the gay scene, some queers have been exploring alternative ways of living in community since the 1970s, when, early into our political liberation story, there were already many who felt that the tendency to assimilation, consumerism and hedonism amongst gay people was restricting our exploration of who we are, our authentic self expression and the quality of what we share with each other.

‘There’s no difference between us and straights other than what we do in bed’ is a belief quite widely held amongst us. Harry Hay, one of the original Radical Faeries, felt that the reverse to be true. He said that when it comes to sex we are just like the heteros… it’s everything else about us that is different! He went so far as to call queers ‘a separate people whose time has come’ and he encouraged guys to slough off the ‘ugly green frogskin of heteroconformity’ to reveal the faerie prince/princess beneath.

Radical Faeries 1979 Gathering

The Radical Faeries first gathered in the desert in the USA in 1979: billed as ‘a spiritual conference…. exploring breakthroughs in gay consciousness’, 200 men sat in a circle, passed a talisman and talked about their lives and their beliefs. A new style of queer community was born…. where meeting from the heart, listening non-judgementally to each other, loving large numbers of people at once, and honouring our connection with the earth, creates safe space where the emotional load of growing up queer in a hostile world can be discharged and the talents of the playful, sexy, creative soul in us can emerge. The first Faerie circle ended up as a mud covered mass of dancing naked bodies celebrating finding each other. ‘Radical’ refers to getting to the root of who we are as well as its modern sense of being ‘out there’. ‘Faerie’ invokes the magical, and mischievous, elemental creatures of myth and folklore – the ‘Little People’ who weave mysterious energies in their dancing and their play, whose powers are such that the humans best show them respect.

The American Faeries soon earned their reputation for being ‘out there’ – colonies of shamans, witches, healers and hippy queers formed in the US (the first being Short Mountain in Tennessee which hosts the largest gathering on the faerie calender every year in May: the Beltane gathering where 600 queers go wild in the country), while the equivalent strand in UK life produced a more genteel manifestation of this radical spirit – the more formally titled Edward Carpenter Community, formed 30 years ago in 1985 just as the lgbt community was entering the dark years of HIV/AIDS. The ECC defines itself as ‘a network of gay men committed to principles of caring, trusting, personal growth, sharing and creativity.’ Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was an English philosopher who wrote extensively about ‘the intermediate sex’. His study of homosexuality amongst native populations of the world highlighted how natural and commonly occurring the so-called deviance has always been, and also documented spiritual/shamanic role of genderqueer individuals in indigenous tribes. He formed a belief that gay men and women have certain perspectives and knowledge that society needs. He believed us to be the vanguard of a new humanity, bringing a time where longheld taboos and fears around the body and sex would be cleared away, to make way for love and affection to take their rightful place at the centre of human life, instead of money and commerce.

Meeting in youth hostels and land based community settlements in the UK, the ECC has not established a permanent residential home but has continued to offer retreats for gay men through three decades. Exploring specific themes or simply coming together to live as community in beautiful places in nature, ECC weeks are focussed on building brotherhood, sharing affection and becoming more aware of the gifts and talents we bring to the world. In 2015 the ECC is offering four retreats, with the week at Laurieston Hall in south west Scotland 15-22 August specifically focussed on the 30 year journey of the community.

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With the ECC pursuing the creation of community spaces in the UK, it was on the European mainland that the Radical Faeries landed in Europe – in fact on the North Sea island Terschelling, off the Dutch coast – in 1995. Called into being by guys who had experienced the high magic and community spirit of the American Faeries, the Eurofaeries were born at a 10 day celebration of all things queer, camp and wonderful. Before long there were both summer and winter gatherings, with men from many countries and a broad range of backgrounds coming together to share their stories, their emotions and their dreams. English became the communal language as it was the one most could speak, but the need to honour the different languages and cultural backgrounds of the group produced a very intimate, caring environment that brought powerful healing into men’s lives. So successful were these gatherings that within a decade enough money had been donated by participants to enable the purchase of a piece of land in northern France and the first Eurofaerie sanctuary, Folleterre, was born in 2005. Tucked away in the forest, in the Vosges mountains, Folleterre hosts gatherings from March to October, and is a location where we can disappear from the madness of modern life into a simpler, enchanted, reality. Women and Trans people are also part of the tribe now, though predominantly the faerie spirit still attracts gay men. This year the Eurofaeries are celebrating 20 years of gatherings and 10 of sanctuary with ‘a string of pearls’ – gatherings with various themes happening all summer on the sanctuary land. There is a farmhouse with large barn where many can sleep, camping spaces and lots of magical forest, lakes and glorious nature to explore. The numbers at gatherings varies from intimate affairs to maximum numbers around 70. Looking after the land as well as each other has become part of the Eurofaerie journey, and Folleterre is thriving as a pink lighthouse open to all queers who want to experience a different kind of connection to what our city scenes can offer.

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“Folleterre aims to be a pink lighthouse where queers expand our special gifts and nature, explore the relationship between sexuality and spirit, and aims to provide a place of safety, homecoming, inspiration – a home for an ever-growing family of kindred souls. Folleterre is a sanctuary from the materialism and consumerism of much of gay life, a place for respite and healing in the beauty of nature. This is a home where we can be gentle and intimate together and also as wild and creative as our spirits move us to be. Much skill sharing happens here, learning from each other in areas such as massage, building, cooking, gardening, make-up, performance……”
FOLLETERRE WEBSITE

Also 10 years ago a number of British participants in the Eurofaerie gatherings decided to pull together and create Faerie space in the UK. There was a desire to create community that was welcoming to queers of all genders, unlike the ECC, and so the Albion Faeries were born … at a gathering in Northumberland at Featherstone Castle, which has now become a regular meeting place for gatherings of up to 50/60 queers creating a zone of self-expression, tribal exploration and altered realities! The Albion Fae are heading to our enchanted castle twice this year, with our first ever Autumn Gathering coming up 20-29 October, plus holding a summer solstice camp at a farm situated just underneath Glastonbury Tor. While the ECC seems to attract predominantly white, middle aged (and older) men, with a comfortable fireside culture, the arrival in the UK of Faeries has opened up spaces where more radical explorations take place, this attracting guys aged from 20 to 80 who are interested in diving into their emotional and spiritual nature as well as their sexual, and attracting more women too. There is much crossover between the Albion Faeries and the ECC, and also with another community venture – Queer Pagan Camp, which holds 3 or 4 get togethers in the countryside each year, and in which women play a much bigger role and there is a more diversified mix of genders.

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All these groups share something crucial in common: they are all open to the discovery of the full range of our queer gifts and talents, which may be cultural, spiritual, emotional, educational ….. in these spaces we re-write the rules of what it means to be gay: in faerie space so much so that there are no rules! Faeries create community via consensus, without leaders, without dogmas and creeds. These spaces allow us to explore and expand our queer nature, to find out who we are and what we can be in the world. The love that opens and flows in these spaces suggests Edward Carpenter may have been onto something. Freed from societal expectations and gay scene pressures, when queers open their hearts to each other, reveal their vulnerability and rise in strength together, lives change, people transform, light expands and our true place in the human tribe becomes clearer. The energy in these spaces is rich, loving and joyful, and reveals how natural it is for us to become ecstatic and blissful together, removing the need for stimulants to open us to the heights of pleasure – getting there instead by simply being open with each other in love and trust.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of gay sex in the UK, and the soul searching that is inevitably going to prompt in our gay culture, the experiences and lessons learnt in these community spaces have much to reveal to the rest of gay life. Gay people do not have to be content with marriage as the ultimate goal of our liberation – we have much to discover in ourselves and can take life’s journey further, into collective, mystical, healing places, if we find and develop the gifts and powers our particular perspective on life can bring us.

“Wherever faeries gather we create a circle of the heart in which souls can shine and healing can happen. We give to each other, learn from each other – finding a communion of love that includes the spirits of nature around us. Whatever our backgrounds, beliefs and practices we create community built on love, openness, joy and celebration of life itself.”
ALBIONFAERIE WEBSITE

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http://www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk
http://www.eurofaerie.eu
http://www.folleterre.org
http://www.albionfaeries.org.uk

QUEER SPIRIT RISING 2015

In 2015 there are more ways on offer to be in queer community outside the commercial mainstream than ever before.  There are activities and gatherings on offer that can bring some perspective and balance to the intensities of our city lives, plus take us on journeys that will expand and enlighten our hearts and minds in the company of other fabulous queer beings.

It is over a decade since the first gathering in London of the Queer Spirit Circle and 10 years since the establishment across the Channel in France of the first European Radical Faerie Sanctuary, Folleterre, two spaces dedicated to offering room for spiritual and emotional conversation to develop in gay life. It is 9 years since the first Eurofaerie gathering in the UK at Featherstone Castle in Northumberland, from which the Albion Faerie Tribe was born.

During the past decade the Faeries and other groups exploring our queer relationship with spirit and nature have been offering activities away from the commercialism and hedonism of our city scenes. A common feature of these queer spiritual activities is the deep loving connection that develops amongst the participants. Freed from the pressures to conform to either hetero or gay societal norms, queer spirit spaces are where our natural being can safely express, emerge and evolve. There is more to being queer than who we have sex with, who we want to marry, whether we can serve in the military etc. We are on a search for who we are from the moment we have our first thoughts of being ‘different’. Coming Out is just one step on the journey. Finding ourselves goes all the way from our physical and sexual nature through to how we think, what we feel, what kinds of relationships we want, and our connection to Source, however we perceive that. Thinking for ourselves is what coming out teaches us to do.  But once out on the scence we can so easily we get caught up in chasing love or substance induced highs that numb our thoughts, dampen our emotions and restrict rather than uplift us, give us an illusion of connection rather than the real thing.  Drug use can be great of course, but we need to remind each other that chemicals are pointers to what lies inside us, and not a long term option.  Becoming more conscious is the ultimate goal of our time here on earth, and as 2015 gets under way, an astounding stream of queer-conscious events lies ahead… some single gender, many open to the whole lgbt spectrum, recognising that we are all a unique balance of male and female on the inside…. offering spaces for reflection, healing, creativity and sharing emotions, ideas and physicality.

Our city scenes are exciting, creative spaces (with of course a looming shadow of loneliness, need, greed, dependency and spread of disease). Queer Spirit spaces offer a chance to balance the intensities of gay life with time in wonderful places in nature and exploring activities such as meditation, yoga, tantra, sex magic, shamanism, body painting, performance, nature walks, fire rituals, drumming, trance dancing etc. Gradually queer pioneers are developing environments where we queers can nourish our souls as well as our arseholes. Sexual activity is never taboo in queer spirit spaces, unlike traditional spiritual retreats. In fact our sexuality is honoured and explored for the graceful gift from the universe that it is. In these gatherings we explore our own feelings about life, the universe and everything… nobody is telling anybody else what to believe. In my experience queer spiritual folk are able to meet each other with open minds and hearts, prepared to listen to and learn from each other, and have a lot of fun while we do it.

Albion Faerie Gatherings http://www.albionfaeries.org.uk

Featherstone Castle Spring Gathering Friday 20th to Monday 30th March

Summer Solstice Glastonbury Saturday 13th to Monday 22nd June

Featherstone Castle Autumn Gathering Monday 19 – Thursday 29 October

Folleterre Faerie Gatherings Www.folleterre.org

Gatherings from May to October celebrating 10 years of queer sanctuary in Europe, situated in northern France in the Vosges mountains, Folleterre welcomes queers of all genders and hosts a variety of themed and community events

Austria Faerie Gathering:August 15-25. http://www.eurofaeries.eu/austria

Edward Carpenter Community edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk

Established in the 1980s, the ECC continues to offer retreats for men and have a full programme throughout the year.

Queer Pagan Camp http://www.queerpagancamp.org

First gathering in 1998, this elemental zone for queer witches, shamans, druids and magicians now happens a few times each year… Beltane Camp in May, Summer Camp and Samhain Camp, plus a gathering devoted to drumming. Separately, Cernunnos Camp offers space to explore a deep rooted ancient male archetype of divinity, the Horned One, out in the wilds with other courageous, nature loving queers.

Tantra

The UK has given birth to TWO radical ground breaking Tantra festivals in the last two years. One is Tantra4GayMen Festival in Wales, on its third outing, taking 50 men on a journey into expanded awareness and love, dates this year 5 to 9 September. Quintasensual Festival welcomes and celebrates all genders and sexualities, and was attended last year by 80 explorers of the link between our sexuality and spirit

http://www.tantra4gaymen.com/     

www.quintasensual.org/

Yoga holidays

There are at least two yoga holiday retreats for gay men on offer in Europe this year, the first in May in Andalucia, connected to the London Naked Yoga group.

http://www.fincalamaroma.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83&Itemid=82

And in October Yoga4men is offering a combined yoga and meditation retreat in Greece

http://yoga4men.com/residential-retreats/

Plus: Loving Men, The Quest for Gay Men, and out in nature groups such as Outdoor Lads……. there is a rapid spread going on of queer spaces where we can get to know each other, and ourselves, without the pressures that we are often under in our city lives, which can help us to find balance in a hectic age. In spaces of Queer Spirit our souls can find refreshment and recharge, we are safe to open our hearts, be who we really are, then the gifts within our gayness can be discovered.

In 2015 Queer Spirit is Rising.

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Dear Faeries of Europe

Dear Euro Faerie Kin

our early gatherings were brave, pioneering and extremely blessed. When I found the tribe in 2001 on the island of Terschelling there was a deep anchored zone of trust, affection, glamour and play going on. The magic boy shone out in every faerie and I figured this was a home in which we guys could feel safe to let down the barriers and play with all the joy we had once known as an innocent child. This was a return to childhood to relive camaraderie and delight in the company of other boys but this time without the taboos around sexuality, camp and sharing affection that at some point had limited, or shattered, our childhood experience of this heavenly scenario.

 

I had been studying the world’s spiritual and mystical traditions for six years leading up to my arrival in faerieland, and immediately I saw that our childlike return to innocence was a gateway to the spiritual dimensions. Dropping our judgements and fears of each other allowed our souls to join in many magical ways, our gatherings became a dance seemingly coordinated invisibly from spirit. Closeness to nature and closeness to each other through heart centred sharing and living together made this miracle possible. We made our own rituals, honouring nature, remembering the goddess, celebrating love. I felt part of an Aquarian brotherhood and am super proud in the last decade to have been part of developing faerie space in the UK and getting our first european sanctuary, Folleterre, up and running in France (and now we have faerie home in Austria too)

 

Not every faerie was as delighted to see the spiritual promise of what we were doing together. Some have hang ups about god and goddess, about spirit, and cannot easily let go of the rational scientific outlook that has served us well during the decades of our queer emancipation. These faeries really just wanted to play, they wanted this dream of childhood to continue eternally. On the other hand, some of us found the emphasis on play, on drag and laughter a little relentless and were keen to acknowledge the spiritual potential in what we were doing by injecting more shamanism, more ritual, more light.

 

A few years on, and both the play aspect and the shamanic spark of faerie space are going strong. We have a remarkable community in which our emotions and spirituality are honoured, in contrast to most of mainstream gay life. We have opened the doors and our hearts to women and trans faeries, and our spaces are evolving. Folleterre is running spring-autumn calendar of gatherings, there has been a (perhaps final) return to Terschelling, gatherings in Berlin and in 2013 for the first time one in Austria. The Albion branch of the euro-tribe now holds gatherings in Glastonbury, the UK centre of all things mystical, as well as Northumberland castle Featherstone. At every gathering some new faeries are welcomed into the magic, and experienced faeries gradually gain in confidence, bringing more joy and magic to the pot. Our spaces are all about what each bring to them. They are superbly aquarian in the way anybody can initiate, and nobody has to ‘lead’. We are exploring self-knowledge, relationship and community in truly radical ways – exploring who we are on every level. We are a spiritual force, because in our spaces we heal our spirits, and expand them… We heal our hearts and expand them. We open our minds and we shower each other’s bodies and whole beings with affection, touch and love. Stuff we all need.

 

Faerie space is not about finding the ‘right’ spiritual attitude, or joining any belief system. It is a space in which we can all follow our own spirit, get to know ourselves as spirit as well as flesh, where we can release limiting beliefs and inherited shame, guilt and fear, freeing ourselves from religious or atheistic mindsets that cripple the soul and entering into the rainbow age of aquarius. All we really have to do is open our hearts and it all starts to work.

 

But we do need to let the inner child come out and play. If we do not, then we become more reliant on other means to build connection – alcohol, drugs, exaggerated sexuality: the things the commercial scenes sell so well. At faeries we discovered there is a more fundamental and healthy route to the bliss of loving community – it requires honesty, openness, vulnerability, innocence and trust. Let’s not overlook these factors in our rush for joy and celebration. What makes us radical is how REAL we are. Life offers lots of ways to escape pain and suffering, faerie life offers the chance to pull those things out at the root as the divine child in us finds rebirth and the chance to revel in who he/she really is.

 

Please let us acknowledge too that faerie space is part of a bigger, global, energy of transformation. We are part of the rainbow movement of personal liberty and soul growth. We are bearers of light giving birth to the Aquarian age, scouts of consciousness exploring deep and real ways of being with each other, we are heart warriors and signs to both the lgbt community that spirituality can be lived joyfully, on our own terms, and to the wide world that queers are waking up to the light and discovering our special relationship with it.

 

Hoping to see you at a faerie gathering soon!

http://albionfaeries.co.uk/   FEATHERSTONE CASTLE GATHERING MARCH 17-27

http://www.folleterre.org/gather.htm   GATHERING DATES NOW AVAILABLE

http://www.eurofaeries.eu/austria/   DATES OF EVENTS AT NEW AUSTRIAN FAERIE HOME 

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EUROFAERIE SUMMER 2013

“Gay people have a function in this time of transition, a vital and necessary spiritual function….. To be gay is to have a different relationship to male and female. To be gay is to have a different relationship to young and old. To be gay is to transcend other groups, political, social, ethnic, religious. And the experiences gained from all these differences are useful to the whole of the human community.” Andrew Ramer, Two Flutes Playing

Nature is the playground, Love is the teacher. Faeries gather in forests, on mountains, in beautiful natural places where our spirits can expand and our overburdened souls can find rest and rediscover joy. We gather to heal, to reveal, to play and make love, to tell our stories and find out who we really are. We discover the play of masculine and feminine within ourselves, we find the ageless Self at the core of who we are, we transcend the limitations of identity and rebirth the sacred within our own being.

Shaking off the burdens and bugbears of life happens through connection to the elements. Peace comes to our minds – meditation just happens when we fall into the embrace of nature. We slow down, we heal. Guardian spirits flow around helping and nurturing us – away from the incessant noise of modern life, communing in our sacred groves, we feel and hear them more easily. The various parts of ourselves are all welcome at the feast, we no longer have to be anything other than our authentic self, and we support each other to be that.

Across the planet a network of radical faerie groups have established sanctuaries of queer spirit – places where anyone can go to be in nature, explore and play, creating community. Sometimes these are temporary spaces, sometimes they are permanent homes where our unique spirit can grow. At these sanctuaries we get the chance to reconnect to source, feel our oneness with the elements, know love as a primal energy that connects us all and recharge ourselves, fill up with good energy and boost the light that we bring to the world,

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IN AUSTRIA THIS SUMMER there are both temporary and a new permanent manifestation of faerie love. Europe is about to be home to a second faerie sanctuary, 8 years after the inauguration of Folleterre in the Vosges mountains of north eastern France, comes the Kissing Awake of Wienviertal Sanctuary (pictured), a new faerie home in Austria, generously opened up to us all by the landowner, El. Ceremonials to kiss awake the new land happen 15-16 August and will be followed by a faerie trek west across the country to the Sound of Music territory of Salzburg where around around 50 faeries will meet for the first full 10 day Austrian Gathering.

Read about all this at http://www.eurofaeries.eu/austria/

facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/289994031100535/?fref=ts

 

At Folleterre Sanctuary in France we move into August with a community week leading into our annual Great Circle weekend, where we discuss the ‘business’ as well as the visionary aspects of the sanctuary project. Then it is time to relax into the laid back harvest vibration of Lammas and journey through ten days of summer gathering – where we are invited to ‘Play – Love – Be: Bring your dance, song, music, fantasy, sexuality and healing’.

https://www.facebook.com/events/465537196849231/?fref=ts

At summer gatherings faeries from all over the world weave their magic together to create portals of pleasure and transformation. Folleterre hosts us and adds so much magic to the pot. In our love, in our play, and in our sincerity we are the scouts of the Aquarian Age – playing with energy, experimenting with spiritual community where our spirits, not our spiritual teachers, lead the way, and transforming through joy, saying goodbye to the conflict, pain-laden age of Pisces. Summer gatherings are open to faeries of all genders but most participants are in male bodies. The balance gets redressed later in the month…….

At the end of August the Luscious Pussy Collective Sensual Rescue takes over Folleterre for the second time, inviting pussies of any gender/identity/desire to a Rampant Summer Rumpus – queer diy space intended as a time of workshops, activities, mutual respect and love!

www.folleterre.org/lusciouspussy

Coming after Beltane, Quiet, Rheingold and Sex Magick gatherings, Folleterre is having a very full summer season.  What with new water supply in place and lots of new land opened up for use after the cutting of the pine plantation, these are exciting times!  Meanwhile, in the UK 50 faeries met to start the summer with a solstice weekend gatherette in the mystical isle of Avalon, on a farm underneath Glastonbury Tor. With over 50 going to both Folleterre and Austrian summer gatherings it seems the faeries are gaining in numbers, and in relevance, in a world gone crazy and a gay scene stuck in its own blinkered conformity, the light and hope we bring is urgently needed. We are the healers. The world needs radical love! The healing has begun, the exploration of joy awaits us.

 

Summer is the season for love, for self expression, for creativity. The inward healing journey will start again soon enough. Let’s get out into nature and let the faerie child within show us the way to wholeness. Nowhere that I know of on this planet other than faerie space encourages us queers to delve deeply into the sacred essence of who we are and really bring it out into the open, to connect our sexuality and spirituality and discover just what we can offer the world.

Hoping to see you at the sanctuaries!

 

“What is spiritual, what is sacred, is being redefined. It is being redefined in a fluid way. Gay people, by their very nature, exist in a state of internal fluidity that will make us vital in this time of planetary challenge. As we enter the age called Aquarius, it is useful to remember that the constellation Aquarius represents the youth Ganymede, who Zeus took up to Mount Olympus to be cupbearer to the gods, and his own lover. Gay people have a share in this coming transformation. To the ancient Egyptians, the water carrier was the source of the Nile, pictured as a man with breasts. When Jesus was preparing for his last Passover, it is recorded in Luke that he sent his disciples into the city to meet a man carrying a jar of water, in a culture where only women were supposed to carry water.

“Let us carry the water of love again, the water of life. This is our role in the community of human beings. This is our share in the world’s redefining of the sacred. When we remember our own sacredness, we help to heal the world. We bring together families. We bring together countries. We use our fluid natures to make change. We remember what is sacred in us, and we rejoice in it again.” Andrew Ramer, Two Flutes Playing