In awe of it’s destruction and with the voice of alarm
Hold each others hands or face extinction
Have love in your heart always
It will bring satisfaction
Share if you can, don’t worry if you can’t
Others will carry the flag between them
Have faith and hope, never doubt your connection
Life holds fulfilment as well as disappointment.
Dreamtime 2020 by Shokti
The shift of gear and climate from Summer to Autumn was sudden this year. Mid-October and it’s looking like it might be a long winter ahead of pandemic regulations and a lot of solo time for many! The personal retreat energy that many of us felt in the Spring is on again!
We had planned to hold our regular October Samhain Gathering at Featherstone Castle this month, but alas, for the first time since we started meeting there in 2006, this year we will not gather anywhere at all. As we enter the time of inward focus during the Autumn and Winter seasons I would like to encourage every faerie to release any sadness that this situation is causing and turn our thoughts to the potential in this collective downtime, this Dreamtime.
Let’s Dream of future gatherings, heart circles, drum circles and more. In Dreamtime we can turn some of our mental energies to creative visualisation, to imagining future events and, crucially, the emotional energy of those occasions, that we wish to see manifest in the coming years. The magic works when we Dream from the place of abundance and joy, not of lack, and not only see the vision – feel it, hear it, smell it, internally touch it too.
The world is going through a massive transformation. Much pain is coming up for healing, many people are going through huge shifts. We are healers, and we are needed. Our circles will meet again. Let’s Dream them into being.
At our Samhain gatherings we honour the ancestors, celebrate the summer just passed and prepare ourselves for the inner healing journey of winter. We return home from the gathering with our hearts full, knowing we have the support of tribe behind us and the love of tribe within us. Even this year we can conjure this spirit, this connection, this comfort. We do not have to feel alone. The internet connects us, but so do the subtle vibrational fields of love, compassion, joy and magic. When we cannot assemble for collective ceremony, we can spot that the Goddess may be calling us to do personal ritual during the Samhain season, to expand our own magical practice and sense of connection to other worlds, and to all the beautiful places within ourselves,
Radical Faeries may not have held physical gatherings this year, but our cyberspace efforts have been groundbreaking. Through Heart Circles, No-Talent Shows, even online Gatherings, we have been communicating as a tribe at a global level. Our presence in the world as a community of creatives, healers, magicians and lovers has a real, positive impact on many lives and shines as an example of queer love-in-action to the rest of the world.
The dark half of the year is here, but when there is darkness outside it’s the time to turn up the light on the inside, and Dream.
Gong Bath reflections on climate change by Earth Spirit
We are all equal whatever you think
We are of one creation and one unity
The thirst that you feel is only a reflection
Of life held too tight and full of restrictions
You feel trapped and frustrated
But this is only the beginning
There will be much more in your inner being
In case you have fear, please believe in divine intervention
You are not alone in this situation
Because this is a global institution
Hold out your hands for the gifts that will come
Answers to questions and reasons for discussion
They are not blind, they just need you to see
Beyond today and this mission
Life will go on, whatever you think
This planet and world are not ready to sink
They have plans and contingencies inbuilt in their systems
The world is made of magic, this you must believe
It can hold and heal itself, beyond your imagination
At the Winter Solstice 2012, one month short of seven years since our first gathering at Featherstone Castle, the Albion Faeries threw an ….
END OF THE WORLD PARTY in London to mark the ending of the Mayan Calendar. We drummed, danced, enjoyed poetry and an erotic fire show, then we made a ritualistic dance that led to us all stepping through a large, wooden picture frame to symbolise our entry into a new era.
For eight years that frame portal sat in the garden at Chateau Shokti, exposed to the elements, until early Summer of this very transformational year, 2020, when it broke apart into several pieces. To me it seems to be saying that after 8 years the portal we opened is now fully operational, no longer needs any physical symbol – WE ARE THE PORTAL – and when we gather we open the magical doors to multi-dimensional connections through our very nature.
The years 2012-20 seem to be the ‘second chapter’ of our AlbionFae Community, for after the first six years of steadily building our energy with heart and drum circles and one, then two, gatherings per year, suddenly after 2012 an acceleration in our spirit energies set in and there was no looking back.
We started meeting twice a year at Paddington Farm in Glastonbury for Imbolc and Summer Solstice or Beltane gatherings – to discover that in Avalon the locals recognise and respect us a magical tribe, not simply a queer group. During the solstice gathering in 2016 we manifested as queer magicians on Glastonbury High Street and at Chalice Well making commemorative ritual for the dead of the Orlando killings.
There have been smaller themed events such as the Magic Gathering and Coming Home retreats, our relationship with Featherstone has continued with Spring and Samhain celebrations, plus we hosted Radical Faeries from around the world at the second ever ‘Global Gathering’ in August 2017, in preparation for which a group of around a dozen faeries even went along for a week to give our beloved enchanted castle playground a fresh lick of paint.
Three other Rad Fae tribes joined us Albions at the Featherstone Global Gathering – the Euro, American and Canaan Faeries, plus we welcomed queers from Singapore, Russia, South America and Africa, though British immigration did not permit many of those we wished to invite from African countries to enter the country. This led to a decision to manifest the third Global Gathering on that continent, so that more Africans could come along, a project that some Albion Fae got very involved in, and which a dozen of us attended when it happened in February 2020, just before the Pandemic crisis hit the planet.
2013 brought an influx of new people and energy into our Albion tribe, and so did 2016 after the first ever Queer Spirit Festival – over 5 days at the August Full Moon in the Wiltshire countryside 400 queers from a wide variety of spiritual backgrounds came along to play – the event was packed with magical rituals, performance, djs, workshops, healing spaces and a ground-breaking sacred sexuality temple – and full credit must be given to the Albion Faeries, whose collective, joyful, free-spirited, open-hearted light were a living and truly shining example of queer spirited community in action. So many faeries gave their time and energy to help make the festival into something spectacular, and did so again for the second outing of Queer Spirit in 2017 and the third in 2019, when numbers rose to 500, this time held at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire.
As well as larger events, local clans of the Albions have been developing during the decade. Alongside the London and Brighton crews, there is now an active NORTH WEST FAERIE GROUP and a SUFFOLK CLAN with its own special meeting place, Limelight.
In London the Faerie Drum Circle, that began as Queer Spirit Circle in 2005, has grown in numbers and pulsating, ecstatic vibrations since the 2012 End of the World Party. When I first dreamed the circle into being I hoped it would become a uniquely magical addition to the London gay scene. I imagined gays in bars whispering about the queer full moon drumming ritual, the place where healing and connection could be found, where magic was afoot – a non-commercial, community space where you are greeted with smiles and get to experience one of humanity’s oldest rituals – drumming and dancing into heightened states of awareness and connection, where the issues of the mind are transcended and seen from another perspective, giving emotions a chance to flow and release, until a state of ecstasy is touched – bringing us to places of healing, growth and inspiration.
Drumming is one of humanity’s ancient, core ritual healing practices. Among the oldest cave paintings on the planet there are images of groups of people dancing in circles, some with erections, some with animal masks. The drum has been used to open up access to the inner worlds in cultures across the planet since ancient prehistoric times – the tribal drumming of the Native American and African tribes terrified the Europeans, for they had long ago lost touch with that element of their own cultures during the 1000 years it had taken to impose Christianity on the many peoples of Europe. One of the most popular deities invoked in those ancient European dance ceremonies was the queer god Dionysus, who opened to door to pathways of collective spiritual liberation, to the mysteries of sexuality, gender fluidity, intoxication and ecstasy. Also popular was Cybele the ancient Great Mother, whose lover Attis had died while self-castrating and been reborn as her daughter, and whose genderqueer priestesses the Gallae led the often wild and frenzied rituals and spread her worship to the far borders of the Roman Empire. There is a gravesite of a Galli priest at Hadrian’s Wall, close to Featherstone.
From our history to our future: Chapter 2 of our Albion Faerie story has seen the community expand creatively, welcome many people into the energy we are exploring and has put us on the map of LGBTQ life, albeit still on an outer fringe! But what’s next?
Astrologers are predicting that the second half of 2020 will be an ongoing, dramatic time of change, eg the presence of Mars in its home sign Aries from June until December and the arrival of both Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius at the Winter Solstice. The events of this year are expanding and accelerating the awakening process on the planet. I personally experienced a first rapid acceleration in my own mind and spirit over a period of 6 months in 1995, that’s when I became aware of the ‘bigger picture’, and had a sense at the time that this kind of transformation would be coming to many more people in due course. My aim became to find my tribe and create sanctuary, and 25 years later here we are.
In the UK we do not have a permanent land sanctuary yet but we do have a bright and expanding sanctuary of heart and spirit connections that we can each feed and strengthen in our own ways and draw support from when needed. Where we go from here is for us to collectively dream and manifest.
We are a cosmic tribe whose very nature connects the earth and the spirit worlds. Harry Hay said, –
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.
Our symbol for the Coming Home retreats is the 7 pointed Faery Star. As we enter the 2020s and the 3rd chapter of our Albionfaerie adventure, I would like to share an idea on the seven gateways through which we Rad Fae channel the energies of spirit into the world – I see us as gatekeepers to the
the Horned God and the
The role of queer sexuality in the ancient pagan religions of Europe has yet to be clearly seen and reclaimed – for more understanding of what it means to be a gatekeeper we can look to other cultures that have retained some connection to this, such as the Two-Spirits of the Native Americans, the Hijra in India, or the Dagara in Africa. This from Dagara teacher Sobonfu Some’s book ‘The Spirit of Intimacy’,-
Gatekeepers hold keys to other dimensions. They maintain a certain alignment between the spirit world and the world of the village. Without them, the gates to the other world would be shut.
On the other side of these gates lies the spirit world or other dimensions. Gatekeepers are in constant communication with beings who live there, who have the ability to teach us how to deal with ritual. And gatekeepers have the capacity to take other people to those places.
… a person doesn’t become a gatekeeper out of a desire for power or even because of sexual orientation. No. Gatekeeping is part of one’s life purpose, announced before birth and developed through rigorous initiatory training to ensure that its power is not misused. A gatekeeper is responsible for a whole village, a whole tribe. Gatekeeping is not a game.
Most people in the West define themselves and others by sexual orientation. This way of looking at gatekeepers will kill the spirit of the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers in the village are able to do their job simply because of strong spiritual connection, and also their ability to direct their sexual energy not to other people but to spirit…
The life of gay people in the West is in many ways a reaction to pressure from a society that rejects them. This is partly because a culture that has forgotten so much about itself will displace certain groups of people, such as the gay community, from their true roles.
In the village they are not seen as the other. They are not forced to create a separate community in order to survive. People do not put a negative label on them, they are regarded no differently than any other child of the village. They are born gatekeepers, with specific purposes, and are encouraged to fulfil the role they’re born to in the interests of the community.
In us the dance of sexuality and spirit
In us the play of gender fluidity, glamour, glitter and grit
At a political demo in London this summer I met a Radical Faerie from Atlanta, the city faerie clan in Georgia that currently has a reputation for being the most active and fertile group in the USA. He told me that he had heard that the Albion Faeries are ‘very spiritual’. By this I don’t think he meant that we go to church on time, or that we all line up dutifully for morning practice, nor even that we are super nice to each other (and compared to some of what I have seen in American sanctuaries, we actually are). He may have been referring to the way we meet regularly to honour the moon cycles, and also to the way our gatherings are built to consciously get the most out of the energies of the seasonal festivals of the wheel of the year. As I feel very fortunate to have discovered very early into my personal spiritual journey, our ultimate task while alive is to follow our spirit, not our given/chosen spiritual path. Fortunate also to have discovered how the cycles of the Sun and Moon, and the rhythms of Nature, give us all we need to liberate the spirit, to heal and awaken the soul, if we become conscious of them. Gatherings are a very effective way of discovering the gifts and subtleties of a season’s energy.
The Albion clan of the global Radical Faerie tribe are about to hold our 21st gathering since we first assembled at Featherstone Castle in Northumberland a decade ago at Imbolc 2006.
Eight times we gathered at the enchanted Featherstone, our Faerie Hogwarts, during the cold Winter months…. Twice over Christmas and SIX times at Imbolc. These were thermal fashion, finding-divinity-through-the-duvet gatherings, with lots of cosiness around fires, intimate, slow heart circles held at sunset in the blue room (which most people attended) and freezing ballroom discos – divas dancing around the tall radiator heaters not their handbags.
The Imbolc gatherings were slow paced, cosy and for the most part mellow. There was a lot of deep sharing and healing going on, also of course an element of high spirited partying, which for some occasionally seemed to become more central to the experience than the healing journey. Whether related to that or not, we experienced a lot of physical sickness at the last few castle winter gatherings. I suggest that if we do not attend effectively to the soul healing that spirit calls us together to address, it is easy for sickness to manifest in our bodies.
I also feel that the deep healing work that many of us did engage in for ourselves… and for the collective… during those deep and magical winter retreats (there was one stunning year that it snowed deeply before we arrived and didn’t melt until we left… we were outside doing naked photo shoots in glistening sunshine, we also built a snowhenge) was now done. Spirit was pushing us out of our winter dream time space to explore new territories. The conditions at Featherstone in February were proving too tough, but the wish to continue meeting to savour the sparkling energies of Imbolc, and each other as a respite from the dark winter period, was strong – so gatherings shifted to Paddington Farm in Glastonbury, where space is limited and we have to be cosy with each other.
Sometimes it is so exciting to escape the winter blues and arrive in faerie land it can be tempting to forget that the spirit at this time of year is asking us to light a small inner fire, not a conflagration… is inviting us to look within and heal, preparing ourselves for the busier time of year ahead. Imbolc has an exciting energy of potential and promise, but it’s still winter. The Featherstone winter gatherings gave us attendees a powerful experience of deep stillness – because the land holding us was itself so cold and still, while in Glastonbury the earth energy is much lighter and livelier. It does not offer us the kind of deep winter spirit experience that many of us got to know in the Northumberland wilderness.
Imbolc is a time to come together for warmth and reassurance in the dark months of the year – the faeries of Albion have explored this season’s energy more than most other clans around the world. Imbolc is also a much celebrated faerie festival in southern United States – an annual Brigit Ball is held in New Orleans, in a very different climate to our northern retreat. So maybe that’s where the spirit of the British maiden goddess emigrated to after her people forgot about her here, somewhere much warmer!
In 2014 we gathered for the first Albion Spring Gathering, held over the Equinox shift from winter Pisces water to spring Aries fire energy, discovering powerful magic through consciously making that shift within ourselves in sync with the planet. We returned to Featherstone for this and subsequent Spring gatherings, taking huge delight in the warmer temperatures both outside and within the castle, in the longer hours of daylight, the lambs in the fields and the bright Spring sunshine.
2014 was the year of our second Summer Solstice Gathering at Paddington Farm under the Tor, but the first year the magic really took off there for us. Powerful workshops releasing shame from our lives prepared the ground for a ritual rise into blissful communion around our hot and sizzling Solstice fire in the woods. Many a faerie’s deep rooted dreams of passion and play in nature were fulfilled that night, and our merry mystical dance with the woodland spirits has continued at the Solstice gatherings since. 2014 Solstice brought a glorious sunrise witnessed by many Fae up on the top of Glastonbury Tor. We arrived there at dawn, a very merry band of kissing, cuddling queers livening up the atmosphere amongst the local hippies and characters of Avalon.
2015 the Albion Faeries filled in the last remaining gap in the seasonal calendar with our first Autumn gathering, Featherstone providing the most perfect setting for 9 days of Samhain sorcery and spooky delight. Within a decade we have held gatherings in each of the four seasons of the year, this seeming to me like a very significant statement from our collective to the cosmos that we are not messing around, the Albion Faeries are a spiritual tribe and we mean business.
An issue that comes up for us, it seems every few years, is around substance use and abuse. The issue seems to arise when we have become accustomed to a venue and start to take the magic for granted. Or maybe we just get lazy about doing the work that opens the gates to it?
When we cosmic queers gather together and open the gates to the heart and spirit we are inviting the potent powers of the universe to come be part of the journey with us. Those powers answer the call gladly when they feel the sincerity behind it, and they bring the possibility of profound awakening and transformation to our conclaves. Having invited super powered cosmic guests to the feast it is silly to ignore them, and seek illusory transcendence through quick fixes. Sometimes of course suitably blessed and prepared sacraments are part of the exploration of our faerie nature that we undertake. As we are in community space and not a gay holiday camp it would seem vital. and natural that those using substances as part of their experience would aim to do so consciously, with awareness given to how their choices impact on others.
Our self-defined and self-declared community has grown rapidly in a decade. Is this the moment for us to take a collective breath and consider how, where, when and why… we do what we do. Our last two gatherings at Paddington have led to some disturbance and, it seems, division, amongst us. By contrast the last two Featherstone outings have been extremely well blessed on all counts. It is noticeable to me that while the castle gatherings have had several faeries stepping forward to be part of the organising team, there has been a shortage of new energy in the Glastonbury team. There even seems to be some element of ‘consumer’ culture seeping into Paddington. I also think we have been sticking to a tried and tested formula in our gathering spaces and not really adapting fully yet to the differing energies of each season. What works for a cosy Winter or lazy Lammas retreat may not be the best formula for the highly individuated energies of the Summer Solstice. These high energy gatherings, which have become very large very quickly, could perhaps be held more ‘lightly’, with less expectation of a tightly bonded faerie unit than at other times of the year. They could be more like a faerie ‘festival’ than a conventional gathering. It simply does not seem practical to expect large numbers of fae to achieve the type of bonding and intensity that we know so well when our numbers are so large and the space we are occupying is also used by other people, when we are so close to the attractions of Avalon and when the Sun energy is at its peak. But a less formal faerie festival that embraces these factors as gifts might manifest a lovely energy.
2017 looks like being a different kind of year for the Albion Faeries.
Featherstone Castle has been booked for a Global Gathering in August, to which we will invite a number of activist queers from countries in Africa/Middle East/South America/Eastern Europe/Asia to come tell their stories and have an experience of the kind of compassionate community the Faeries create. This gathering is being run in collaboration with the organisers of the first Global Gathering in California held two years ago. With a limit on the number of places the organising team is asking only faeries who feel passionate about the global rights of lgbtq people, and who wish to input into the creation of a global queer shamanic conscious community, to come along.
The castle has not been booked for a Spring gathering next year, Team Butterfly figuring that after 3 successful Spring events there a fallow year was appropriate. Dates have been booked for October.
Imbolc at Paddington Farm is booked for us but as yet I believe there is no organising team for a Summer Solstice gathering. I think we could consider also taking a year off from the Solstice gathering, giving time to reconsider how we gather in that space should we wish to continue using it.
This potentially would leave a huge gap between our Imbolc gathering and the August Global, and both of these two have restrictions on the numbers that can attend. Could this space be an opportunity for new initiatives to manifest? To perhaps try out smaller gatherings in new locations, perhaps built around themes that some people wish to explore? I would also like to encourage as many Albion Fae as possible get off our little island and go experience the spirit at American and Euro Faerie sanctuaries, to make connections with other parts of the tribe and learn from how they do things.
The Albion Faeries are part of a global network of queer healers and agents of change and transformation. There is surely something significant about the Radical Faerie spirit finding a home in the pagan homeland Albion, reaching here via the United States and European gatherings and sanctuaries. We are exploring the crucial link between our sexuality, nature and consciousness, we are birthing the Age of Aquarius. We are also a crucial beacon for lost, confused and abused queers who are not finding their place in the soulless modern world, nor in the shallow end of gay life. We offer a plunge into the radical depths of being, and a lot of fun while plunging. It is well worth us taking stock of what we have achieved and plotting a way forward with consciousness, compassion and care. The Albion Faeries are a ‘very spiritual’ clan of queer magicians, a fact that needs to be properly honoured and understood as we enter our second decade of community building.
A new season begins
a new circle forms
a tribal confluence
of butterfly souls
Fragile and fresh
at winter’s end
transitioning into the light of March
into Spring air, Aries fire
lifting us out of the inner realms
sharing our dreams and desires
we rediscover our Selves
The land gradually warming
cold castle stone slowly heats in the sun
Love in us awakening
Spring’s call to grow, to know, to fun
The faerie within calls us back to nature
to play, to laugh and dance
to birth the shamanic tribe of lovers
born to serve the divine romance
Transformers, Heart Warriors, Shamans and Scouts
the Healing Tribe is Coming Out
Faeries, Fools, Mollies and Mavericks
shaking off the darkness that makes people sick
Lightbearers, Explorers, Conduits of Spirit
renewing our contract with Life, Love and Magic
finding our Butterfly Wings