Blog by Rainbow:
Just over six months ago, my life took a rather bizarre turn. A rather bonkers, unexpected, yet utterly fabulous turn that I still don’t know whether I should try to embrace or recover from. In short, I attended my very first Radical Faerie gathering.
What on god’s green Earth is a Radical Faerie (I hear you ask)? I had come across the term “radical faerie” a few years previously when it was included in an online list of Pagan traditions as a sort of alternative path for gay men. That was all I knew. Until February this year, when I happened to bump into a group of Faeries in a tent in Brighton on my way home from church. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this chance encounter was probably one of the most significant events in my life so far.
In the tent I had some amazing conversations about magic and spirituality and all things queer. It turns out that the Radical Faeries aren’t just a group for gay men, and neither are they exclusively Pagan. They encompass and celebrate a whole spectrum of queerness and spiritual expression. Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask the question “how does one become a Faerie?”. The answer I got was the answer I wanted to hear: “darling, you are a faerie!”. And that was that.
They told me about a gathering they were planning to have the following month and invited me to join. So cut forward a few weeks and I’m in a broken-down car at a petrol station just outside of Manchester with a rucksack, a sleeping bag, and couple of Faeries trying to get to a castle in Northumberland. My life has always been a bit weird, but it was only going to get weirder…
Of course, I was slightly timid at first, but I didn’t feel scared. I’d been in queer environments before having worked in a gay night club for a number of years, but that said, this was something entirely different. The atmosphere in the castle was uplifting and liberating rather than bitchy and judgemental, and I really got a sense that anything could happen at any moment. My inner-child was jumping for joy with the excitement and freedom of it all. I remember looking over to another first-timer in the dining room on hearing an announcement that a “shadow-pit ritual” was about to commence, and laughing at the confusion and intrigue in both of our faces!
The shadow-pit ritual lead us down some stairs into a darkened room where we were invited to throw our worries and fears into the darkness. We then emerged into another room in which a drum circle was taking place. I sat in the middle of the room as the rhythm took me deeper down the rabbit hole and told me that this was my home. I was in a trance, and felt extremely curious and inspired by all the wonders around me.
Over the course of the week I learnt about the various traditions of Radical Faerie gatherings. The first I adopted was the hissing sound that Faeries make when they agree with or appreciate something that is being said. Sort of like a variation of “hear, hear!” that doesn’t make you sound like a twat. Another tradition is that everyone chips in with the cooking and cleaning, which gives gatherings a strong community vibe. One of my favourite traditions is the kNow Talent show, where anyone can perform anything, and you have no idea what you’re going to see next. But by far, the most important Radical Faerie tradition is the Heart Circle.
A heart circle is a sacred thing. It is a space held among Faeries in which everyone is given the opportunity to speak from the heart and be listened to without judgement. This is such an important thing for the queer community as we so often face judgement from outside as well as from within the community itself. As well as being able to share my feelings in heart circles, I also learnt a lot from listening to what others had to say. As one of the youngest faeries at the gathering, I truly felt the sense that I was inheriting a tradition and a culture from the elders and survivors of LGBTQ+ history. This idea never even crossed my mind during my time working at the gay bar, but I now feel connected to a global tribe of queer warriors.
So within the space of a week I was given a new tribe, a new community, a new identity, a new culture… I found a new way to express gender fluidity and a new way of looking at my relationships. I was given a new name (Rainbow) and a new path to follow. It was a bit overwhelming, and it opened up so many doors in my mind that had been closed for a long time which forced me to face my own demons. Settling back into the muggle world after the gathering was extremely difficult, and I had so many new things to deal with and ask myself. Finding the Faeries was everything I’d been looking for, but I had no idea where to go next. I felt lost, even though I had been found.
So this is where I’m at now. Trying to process everything and give myself time on my own to explore my mental health. I’ve met so many amazing people, and shared love, friendship, sex, pain, and confusion with other faeries. I dived straight into the deep end of Faerie life and, if I’m honest, I started to drown. I needed to slow down and learn to know and love myself again before continuing on the Faerie path. So thank you faeries for leading me here and allowing me to grow. I’ll see you again soon I’m sure.
Blessed be x
Photos by: www.mikekear.com