Writing this in the Autumn of 2018, I am witnessing around me, amongst my friends and in the world, a striking and rapid acceleration of transformation and awakening. I see people breaking through the outworn paradigms of separation and division, of power and control, of religion vs science etc, and opening to co-operation, co-creation, community and direct communion with the many levels of our existence. I observe too how this produces intense crisis for some as well as epiphanies.
The parallels with my personal journey 20 years ago are striking home in me. In the course of 1998 my journey with HIV and AIDS turned the corner. After 7 years of preparing myself to leave the body, I now began to return to health, having gone on to the new protease inhibitor medications. My CD4 count had reached a low of 3, leading to gruelling experiences such as PCP (pneumonia) and KS (Karposi’s Sarcoma). I had sat for some time on the edge of life, with an expectation of the end, but now had to turn that expectation around. 9 months into taking the new meds I suddenly found myself entering a period of rapid internal change, opening up to spirit again as I had already done in 1995, when the shamanic aspects of my soul woke up. This time though I was not preparing for death, I was re-entering life.
The acceleration kicked off at the Connections Conference at ULU (University of London Union), an event put on London’s Gay Spiritual Group, and new gay charity Kairos. A couple of hundred queers met for a day of workshops and discussions. I took along a bag of mystic tricks – poetry that I’d written, mandalas, incense and set them up in a broom cupboard that had been set aside as a shrine room, but which nobody had bothered to do much in. After a day of fascinating meetings and workshops I went on to have a high energy, world-connecting interaction with a brother in that space. Our chakras opened and the light came in, we shared our stories and I learnt that he had just come out of hospital, having been sectioned for being too way out ‘mystical’. At the conference I experienced a powerful shamanic journey led by Daniel Stone (in which I saw myself in another life amongst Native Americans), a heated debate around the role of gurus and divine mothers (where I was struck by the hostility to gurus coming from the queer witches in the room – people I would go on to meet properly the following year at my first visit to Queer Pagan Camp), and met an ‘avatar’ soul, Dr Carl Shapley, an 80 year old American wizard, with whom in the following months I would go on to do much mystical channelling and energy work.
Shifting from a path toward death back into life, with a brand new outlook on the magical, mystery school that we inhabit, produced an incredible rush of excitement in me. After the conference I dived into mystical study and practice, creating ceremonies in my home in Stockwell to commune with other worlds. At this time I received chemotherapy as an experimental treatment for the Karposi’s Sarcoma, which had spread as purple lesions all over by body, plus internally too. I believe it was my gradually strengthening immune system that sorted the purple spots eventually – the main effect of the chemo seemed to be to set the molecules of my body on fire, and my mind as well as a result. I recall spending weeks ‘flying’ on my sofa, on a magic purple/white blanket that served as my portal to the other worlds, drawing my journeys in my notebooks as I went. I was often awake all night, deeply enjoying the quieter vibrations of the city, feeling that at 3-4 am the holiest energies were active and accessible. I spent many nights studying the Kabbalah, feeling the presence of discarnate entities guiding me, helping me create rituals that opened gates of energy. Sometimes Carl Shapley would join me, we would spend the night together in Kali’s cave, channel the words of the Ascended Masters, and enter into a glittering, hyper-aware zone that I remember he called ‘Crystal Consciousness’.
By November I was taking this magic out into the city, sometimes with Carl, and a witch friend from Earlsfield named Serena, whom I had met at a Full Moon ceremony in an old pub in Victoria. We three mystics met in Piccadilly Circus one night, with the spirit wild, high and open in us. I could feel the invisible energy pouring through me and sensed portals opening around Eros. London, as the mystical ‘Jerusalem’, was singing to me. I hung out with homeless people on the streets of Soho, shared conversations about Jesus and spirit, felt they had a role in anchoring the light into the planet. ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’. I went into a Jesus Army bus parked up near St Martin in the Fields, where my presence sparked an African lady to fall into trance and start screaming over and over ‘the blood of our lord Jesus Christ’. The Jesus soldiers soon ushered me out of the place, suspecting me of witchcraft…
Ah yes, the BLOOD. Her words struck home in me. The BLOOD. HIV in the blood had killed my friends, but it had given me life. The journey to death’s door had woken up the Soul in me, and the Soul was now teaching me who and what I am, and why I was here. The BLOOD had woken the Christ Consciousness in me – by which I mean mystical awareness of the interconnecting dance of life. I could now see the interplay of all life as one infinite, holy event – it was suddenly so OBVIOUS. How could anyone believe anything else? I felt that the gates to eternity must be about to open for the whole human race. There I was, awoken by spirit, meeting avatars, making ceremony in central London, and feeling part of a long history of magical work over centuries, preparing this city to be the receptacle for the divine light and the beacon to the world.
In January 1999 Carl invited me to a meeting at the House of Lords. Surely this was it. A spiritual meeting about changing life on earth, I thought. I had a poem in my pocket, but I wasn’t there to speak. I sat through a long and verbose meeting covering many topics, but it never quite reached the mystical moment of breakthrough I had imagined. I was soon walking home along the Thames to Stockwell, my head overloaded suddenly with confusion and loud angry voices. Getting home I smoked with my partner and something in me exploded. All the tension, all the pain, all the stress of the intense AIDS journey of the last 4 years overwhelmed me. What was I doing, going to the House of Lords thinking I was about to witness something akin to the Second Coming? I felt suddenly very wounded and very small. Suddenly aware of the enormity of the task ahead – in terms of the global shift in consciousness and to bring myself to a point of health and strength where I could even meet the energies of other people, and not be damaged – I felt myself dissolving into a non-physical realm, the room disappeared, and I panicked. Had I survived AIDS now to dissolve into nothingness? I fought to come back into my body, but I arrived back in pieces, shattered by this rush of experiences over the few months since I had stopped ‘dying’.
In 2018 I have friends going through mental and emotional challenges and breakdowns, I know lovely people who are sectioned because their transformation was getting out of control. Some of those people are aware they are on a magical path and have studied it deeply, others are less aware, less committed to such a concept. Whether consciously pursuing the path or not, we all may need help sometimes. In January 1999 the shock of coming back to life hit me so hard that I fell into the deepest hole possible…
Overstimulated by everything, with a myriad of voices screaming inside, I spent three months mostly in a darkened room, only getting up in that quietest time in the middle of the night, when I could hear and feel spirit, let their presence in to do energy work on my shattered mind and body. I sought and found help from spiritual healers and psychiatrists. One German psychiatrist seemed to grasp the transformation I had been through, advising me to do yoga and spend time with trees. Having opened up this magical part of my soul, i now had to learn how to look after it, nurture it and protect it. The true healing of this breakdown came the following year, summer 2000, at my second visit to Queer Pagan Camp – here, in the company of 100 queer magical folk, the spirits of nature got through to me and showed that it is through nature, through living in tune and awareness of her cycles, seasons and shifts that I would be able to live, heal and thrive as a shamanic soul.
In 2018, twenty years on from that intensely mystical autumn, I still live in Stockwell and still make ceremonies in the city that connect matter and spirit. I still spend my time making connections with other queers – from all over the world – who are in some way called to raise their awareness, their vibration, their spirit. I still believe that humanity is ready for a quantum leap in understanding of our nature, but I now accept that these kind of leaps take decades to complete. So in service to spirit I create spaces in which awakening queers can find each other, practice and expand our magic, re-write the story of what queerness is, and play our role in the fulfilment of the divine plan for human consciousness.