Radical Faeries have been gathering together and creating transient pop-up queer community for more than 40 years-ever since the very first call to gather in early September 1979.
These pre-Covid19 Gatherings (which until recently had become a regular global phenomenon) would often be held on the occasion of pagan earth-appreciating festivals as a way of tuning into natural seasonal rhythms. Some Faeries might say that the fundamental purpose of these gatherings was to enable an energy (which could be named as ‘The Queer’) to heal itself from the destructive attacks of those who felt threatened by it and who, for many and varied reasons, would wish to establish themselves as ‘Non-Queer’
By creating community-encouraging-of-Queerness, Faeries have been able to develop their consciousness around power dynamics and the mechanisms of persecution, seeing their positioning and roles in the complex intersectionality of oppression as it manifests in the various -isms (sexism/misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism). And to also appreciate the potential world-healing value of this natural-Faerie-propensity to engage in this particular kind of work!
I’ve been attending gatherings for over 10 years now, and during this time I’ve been able to acknowledge the homophobic inflicted pain and suffering I’ve had to endure as a same-sex-loving Human Being. However I also see that this horribleness of experience is just a ‘drop in the ocean’ of what it might have been had I not been identifiable as a member of the most privileged classes (i.e. white, educated, middle class, cis-seeming-male, and able-bodied/ able-minded).
This realisation hasn’t made my own pain and suffering any less and it hasn’t meant I’ve been able to avoid a whole lot of work to understand its far reaching effects on my personality (particularly the extent to which I’m hampered in my ability to engage in intimacy with others).
But I’m now tuned into the way homophobia is just one facet of the many-faced invisible oppressive forces constantly directed towards women, towards the undereducated, towards the non-white, towards the colonised, towards the differently abled and towards my dear queer trans siblings.
It’s interesting to see how, within our various Faerie communities, once the intention of creating a queer-nurturing environment and ethos is set, the forces which seem to oppose this intention begin to assemble. The microcosm begins to manifest elements of those oppressive forces from the macrocosm. Shock! Horror! A group of predominantly able-middle-class-cis-white-gay-men unintentionally/unthinkingly behave in ways which are uncomfortable for women, non-white, poor, disabled, trans etc. folk!
Thankfully Faerie Gatherings are becoming increasingly more inclusive and this has meant more work to do in understanding our relative privileges and the ways in which these might be contributing to the ongoing oppression of others, or alternatively, how they might be engaged with constructively to raise awareness and to work towards the redressing of unfairnesses and inequities.
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
The London Radical Faerie Drum Circle was at first known as the Queer Spirit Circle, offered from 2005 as a space for spiritually inclined LGBTQ+ people to find each other. The Circle manifested in a former Victorian maternity hospital in Stockwell, which was then squatted by an artist’s collective, who held it as a creative community hub (now the space has been converted by Lambeth Council into luxury flats).
After the hospital the circle found a home in a private rooftop apartment in Old Street for some years, during which a core group of people nurtured its development, before arriving at its current venue, the atmospheric Wheatsheaf Hall in Vauxhall, on the 21st December 2012 with an ‘End of the World Party’ to celebrate the Mayan Calendar. We created a portal into a new paradigm, viewing this date as a significant marker on the way into the Age of Aquarius, and stepped or danced our way through it. The Circle was by this time becoming known as the Faerie Drum Circle, meeting mostly at full moons to raise energy, release emotion and build magical connections.
Since 2012 the Radical Faeries of Albion have attracted increasing numbers to our gatherings and circles. A rising tide of queer spirituality, free of religious bonds, reaching for the shamanic truth at the core of queer nature, has also given birth to three Queer Spirit Festivals –
500 pioneer queers came to Whittlebury Park in Northamptonshire at the Aquarius Full Moon this August to celebrate, explore, play, expand and rise in love. A vast range of spiritual flavours was on offer – from early morning yoga to late night trance from our awesome DJs, via shamanic journeys, holy chants, medicine wheels, creative pursuits, drumming, healing workshops, activism, inspired performances, sacred sexuality…..
Every part of the LGBTQ+ rainbow was present in good numbers. Radical Faeries have the history of being birthed by gay men, but Queer Spirit Festival has from the start been created by, and intended for, every section of our queer multiverse. This brings challenges, which we gladly rise to, creating a powerful culture of respect, consent, curiosity and openness that enables the love to flow freely around the field. Queer Spirit revels in the beauty that is diversity, and the unity that arises from honouring everyone’s uniqueness, from all being free to be ourselves, and to express our inner truths and our core loving nature.
The Faerie Trance Dance was my personal highlight of the festival this summer. 15 years of dedication to the Drum Circle was rewarded grandly as I merged into the powerful rhythms and ecstatic dancing with a hundred or more beautiful, wild, witchy, shamanic, magical, radical queers, who just seemed to slip through the gates instantly, becoming their spirit animals, once the beats began. The festival draws together various strands of queer shamanism, tantra and other forms of spirituality – in the trance dance all these energies became one melting pot of high vibrational spirit. The power of the dance was magnified by having the opportunity to collaborate with DK Green, whom I invited to cast the circle – he taking the ceremonial gatekeeper role that has historically been held by trans people in cultures across the world – and Andy Fowler, a teacher of world percussion who had been inspiring dozens of queers to discover the healing and uplifting power of the drum throughout the festival.
The London Drum Circle starts its Autumn run at the Full Moon in Pisces on Friday 13th September. Pisces is the mystic – its transcendent perspective is gained through compassion for all beings. As more of us recognise that all beings are one being, are us in other forms, deserving of love and kindness, and seek the company of others who also live in or aspire to that lighter vibration, we ask all who come to ensure the drum circle is a welcoming space of coming home. The Radical Faerie term recognising the unity of life is subject:SUBJECT consciousness – a term that honours that I am another YOU and YOU are another ME, a life-altering perspective change once embraced.
We will gather at the September Full Moon
to give thanks for our summer journeys as we approach the Equinox turning point into the Autumn
to celebrate the amazing manifestation of love and magic at Queer Spirit Festival
and to invoke blessings for the first ever LONDON TRANS PRIDE MARCH, which is happening in central London the next day.
There are lots of drums and percussion to play with, the drum circle is a free flow space in which you are welcome to drum, dance and socialise as you wish. We arrive from 7pm to set up, and it is recommended to arrive by 8pm for the circle casting. You are welcome to bring any instruments along, plus snacks/drinks to share, and if possible £5 donation towards costs. (The Hall Hire charges have gone up recently.) As with all faerie events, payment is not insisted on – NOTAFLOF applies: No-One Turned Away For Lack Of Funds.
Photo of the fireplace in Blue Room at Featherstone, by Sparkly Tom
The Albion Fae have had a bumper year…
The first Albion Faerie Gathering took place at Featherstone Castle at Imbolc 2006. We held one gathering there per year for 6 years, putting down the roots of community at these Winter hideaways in Northumberland. From 2012 the pace quickened – we started to gather at Paddington Farm in Glastonbury, to meet at Featherstone in the warmer climes of Spring and Autumn – and in Summer finally in 2017 when faeries from around the world came to our hearth for an inspirational Global Gathering. Connections formed at that time have continued to develop, with much cross fertilisation going on between the various Faerie communities of planet earth. One product of this creativity is our very own social media website – Faenet.org, the work for which has been mainly undertaken by Canaan and Albion faeries.
From one gathering per year for 6 years, in 2018 we are holding 6 gatherings in one year:
IMBOLC at Paddington, with our annual pilgrimage to the White Spring and Brigit Mound. Faerienizers were Blossom, Running Water, Bridge, Earth Song, Touch Me and Starbuck. 30 faeries attended.
MAGIC GATHERING in Gloucestershire, the second appearance of this focussed space for an intimate group facilitated by Earth Song and Qweaver
OSTARA at Featherstone, 80+ faeries welcoming the new season, our 5th Spring visit to Northumberland, the faerienizer team this year facilitated by Wolverine, with Zebedee, Touch Me, Hagbard, Samicee and more on the crew.
BELTANESpring Love Awakening Gathering – A new gathering in May in Glastonbury coordinated by Bridge with a core team of Big Sister, Paradox, Running Water, Swallow & Taboo. The gathering of around 60 fae fused core faerie themes of love, heart sharing, sensuality, sexuality, practices, celebration, community, compassion, personal growth and most importantly co-creation. The intention was to create a journey and a container where our hearts could open more, where we could make Love, both within ourselves and for each other.
COMING HOME Healing Retreat at Unstone Grange, Derbyshire – another new gathering, with an experimental structure intended to enable us to go deeper in our paths as healers of self, other and the planetary soul. Included silent mornings and exploration of emotion and expression through our moon element energies. Initiated by Shokti who brought together a team of new faerinizers – Blaze, Unicorn, Lionboy, Paradox, Samicee and Sexual. 40 faeries attended.
and still to come..
SAMHAIN at Featherstone. This gathering was fully booked within two weeks of registrations open and currently has a waiting list in operation. Taz is heading up a team which includes Running Water, Samicee, Surprise and others
As well as gatherings this has been an expansive year for other faerie get-togethers, with 70+ people at each London Drum Circle. Lots of new people are constantly drawn to this space where we feed our souls through a full moon musical and frequently ecstatic work out. Faeries have also been meeting over in the east of the city, at the Faerie Sky Garden in Plaistow, scene of an amazing pre-Pride evening of fire and ritual that drew in dozens of fae-curious queers. London Faeries also meet for heart circles, held an Ewok Woman gathering, and faeries came from far afield to be part of the Music Gatherette, which focused on ways to foster confidence and encourage spontaneous music-making and singing at gatherings . This year has seen a developing strand of WeMoon circles, an intentional space initiated by Samicee Mother of Unicorns to act as doorway for Trans, Intersex and faeries of other marginalised orientations into faerie ways. Also, a group is now holding monthly open meetings to plan for permanent residential community space in London. (https://albionfaeries.org.uk/the-emerald-village-london-faerie-housing-community/ )
The Brighton clan held space for Faeries and friends away from the intensities of the town on Pride Day in August, and earlier in the year welcomed San Francisco Faerie Joey Cain in town for the festival screening of ‘Hope Along the Wind’, a documentary about the life of Harry Hay. There have been faerie meets in the West Country, the Nottingham clan held heart space in the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, and there was an impromptu alternative-imbolc weekend on the South Downs. Coming up in September is the first North West Heart Circle in Liverpool.
A year ago at the Great Circle/FaeGM we established a new administrative structure for the tribe. Out went the roles imposed on us by bank formalities (president/secretary/chair), to be replaced by three admin circles – Communications, Finance and Gatherings/Events. Together the faeries volunteering their energy to be part of these circles form a collective Stewards Circle. All circle meetings are advertised and anyone can attend. The Stewards Circle is meeting for a Tribal Moot on Saturday 29 September to review progress of the new structure.
The Global Gathering in 2017, hosted by the Albionfae at Featherstone Castle, opened up new connections for us with other communities around the world, which some of us have had the chance to deepen during the past year. There has been a rush of Albion Fae spending time at the French sanctuary, Folleterre, and a lot of cross fertilisation with the Canaan Faeries, plus many visitors passing our way from other communities, such as Fairyland in Australia and the North American sanctuaries. Tennessee Willy of the Short Mountain tribe has just spent a few months with us and reports how awestruck he is at the vitality in our collective spirit, to observe how open and keen we in the Albion Fae are to build deep and real connections with each other. Wherever we gather, the love truly flows.
But of course as a rapidly growing community we have growing pains. One of the many ways for us to positively evolve iswhen someone shines the spotlight on what they perceive as a difficult issue going on amongst us and we learn, over time, how to effectively respond compassionately to that issue. There is always the risk thatsuch issues can quickly take centre stage and obscure the sight of the amazing, positive and beautiful things we are achieving – such as a healthy balance between celebration and self-exploration, and the real and lasting loving friendships that are being formed. But we are learning and evolving and increasing in awareness that we operate at different speeds, have different ways of communicating and do so with different priorities. Our tribal energy is ‘vital’: people’s lives are changing for the better because of us, we are becoming known as a healing force within the wider LGBTQ+ cosmos, creators of sanctuary, wherein heart connections and authentic communication lead the way. Our community is in its 13th magical year and its light is strong. bright and changing the world’s understanding of queer consciousness, magic and community.
As we enter the Autumn season, the time of the Ancestors approaches.
As young a community as we are, we already have our own personal ancestors in spirit
Fairy Nuff, Barbarella, Beloved, El-Leo, Jon BlipClone, Woodchild and others who have briefly engaged with us on their journey
We are not in this journey alone
Another analogy to describe us is to see the Albion Faeries as a growing branch in the forest of Human Consciousness Development which traces its roots back to ancient times and through the more recent works of Walt Whitman, Edward Carpenter, Harry Hay, John Burnside, Starhawk, Mitch Walker, Don Kilhefner and the developing boughs and branches of the Faerie Sanctuaries throughout the world.
The branch which is Albion grew from the Eurofaerie tree but also from Queer Pagan Camp, Edward Carpenter Community and most recently has found some rich nutrients from the amazingly rich melange that is Queer Spirit Festival.
We are a still new branch but we already have our own loved ones who left, perhaps prematurely…
We can reach out with love to those in spirit
and receive their love right back into our hearts and our circles,
following this guidance that Edward Carpenter left to be read at his funeral:
“Do not think too much of the dead husk of your friend, or mourn too much over it, but send your thoughts out towards the real soul or self which has escaped — to reach it. For so, surely you will cast a light of gladness upon his onward journey, and contribute your part towards the building of that kingdom of love which links our earth to heaven.”
Autumn is a rich time of natural magic, let’s spread our faerie love and blessings wherever we tread this season…..
Harry Hay (1912-2002) Here are some quotations and photos to assist communion with the spirit of Harry, gay activist and founder of the 1950s Mattachine Society and one of the three founding motherfathers of the Radical Faeries…. Harry was born in Worthing, UK, and lived his life in the USA.
Give yourself permission to enjoy being gay. You do have to give yourself permission. You have been told you may not. Give yourself permission to be free.
Throw off the ugly green frogskin of hetero-imitation to find the shining Faerie prince beneath
When we begin to love and respect Great Mother Nature’s gift to us of gayness, we’ll discover that the bondage of our childhood and adolescence in the trials and tribulations of neitherness was actually an apprenticeship for teaching her children new cutting edges of consciousness and social change. In stunning paradox, our neitherness is our talisman, our fairie wand, our gift we bring to the hetero world to….transform their pain into healings; …transform their tears to laughter: …transform their hand-me-downs to visions of loveliness.
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.
The term ‘spiritual’ represents the accumulation of all experiential consciousness from the division of the first cells in the primeval slime, down through all evolution, to your latest insights of subject-subject consciousness just a minute ago. What else can we call this overwhelmingly magnificent inheritance—other than spiritual?
I was an older brother. So I had to do a lot of things first. My father was a self-made man, and he would beat me senseless. But he was a Scotsman, and stubborn. I’m his son, and I’m stubborn, too. I go on being stubborn.
We know how to live through their eyes. We can always play their games, but are we denying ourselves by doing this? If you’re going to carry the skin of conformity over you, you are going to suppress the beautiful prince or princess within you.
Confronted with the loving-sharing Consensus of subject-SUBJECT relationships all Authoritarianism must vanish. The Fairy Family Circle, co-joined in the shared vision of non-possessive love – which is the granting to any other and all others that total space wherein each may grow and soar to his own freely-selected, full potential – reaching out to one another subject-to-SUBJECT, becomes for the first time in history the true working model of a Sharing Consensus!
Subject–SUBJECT consciousness, a concept proposed by Harry Hay, believed by Hay to be gay people’s unique perspective on the world. Hay saw heterosexual society existing in a subject–object dynamic; where men, who had the culturally acceptable power, saw only themselves as subject and therefore higher than women, who were treated as objects and property. Hay extrapolated this interpersonal-sexual dynamic (male-power:female-subordinate) into a broader social context, believing that the subject-object relationship was the driving force behind most all of societies ills. Objectificiation served as a barrier, emotionally separating an individual (subject) from another individual by dehumanizing them, making them object.
When Hay looked at same-sex relationships, however, he saw a different dynamic at work. He believed that homosexual relationships were based on mutual respect and empathy for the other: a longing for a companion who was as equally valuable as the self. Hay termed this interpersonal—sexual dynamic “subject—SUBJECT” (which Hay capitalized for emphasis in all of his writings). He believed that this subject–SUBJECT way of viewing the world was gay people’s most valuable contribution to the greater society. By empathizing with all people, relating to each other as equal-to-equal, society would change drastically and social injustices would be eradicated. Wikipedia
There are many motivations behind people’s involvement in Radical Faerie space. Heart centred communication as a way of creating community is definitely a major one. As is the chance to honour nature and the spiritual side of life in ways of our own choosing and devising. Faeries are creating a queer mystical subculture, where we can drop the human façade and be the magical divine child at play in the universe, where we can recognise that all life is one (the faerie mantra is ‘subject-SUBJECT consciousness’), and discover the role that queer beings are called to play in that sacred unity.
For some faeries this journey is directly about exploring the inheritance we receive from the shamanic peoples of planet earth, which tribes were often served by gender-bending, cross-dressing, shape-shifting queer souls in spiritual roles. It is about reclaiming the link between homo-eroticism, gender variance and the sacred – an intimate link that once was in play around the whole world, from ancient Greek and Roman cults that worshipped deities such as Aphrodite, Artemis, Dionysus, Pan, Antinous… to Celtic pagan sorcery, native American two-spirit shamans, African magicians and Sufi poets. Monasteries in Christian and Buddhist cultures long served as sanctuaries for same sex loving individuals.
Radical Faerie spaces enable queers to deepen our experience of life – of love, sex and community. Bonds are strengthened through gatherings and ecstatic rituals that lead us into communion with nature and spirit. In community we care for each other, form bonds of love and compassion that are extended to all who come along – we are exploring the next territories of queer life, taking our gay liberation all the way from the sexual through the social and political into the spiritual realms, attempting to build a world where LOVE is the starting point.
The doors to Albion Faerie gatherings are open to all who feel called to be there. The first Radical Faeries were gay men but they soon discovered that Faerie space involves the transcendence of labels, of limited notions of gender and Self, that society.. and the mainstream lgbt+ community.. often impose on us. In Faerie space we can drop outdated limiting notions of who we are, and open mind and heart to a magical reality that humans have long lost touch with. Inside every human there exists an indigenous soul that remembers its innate connection to all of life. It is magical and eternal, it is the Faerie child inside.
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,
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.