Category Archives: Personal Stories

Brotherhood (by Cunty)

Every now and again things align beautifully and disparate patterns coalesce to form a path. For a precious moment things make sense and we find an empowered sense of peace. We find the balance within; we resonate with the magic around us.

It was a cold February evening in Scotland (is there any other kind?) and I was travelling to St Andrews in Fife with one of my dearest friends. A few weeks earlier I’d learned that Panti Bliss, the famous gender discombobulist and gay rights campaigner was to give a talk at the University there and I eagerly booked a couple of tickets.

There’s something else in the town that bears the name of my country’s patron saint: my little brother, who is a student there. We share the same father as a genetic anchor, though we are both emotionally unattached to him. He is half my age, lives with his girlfriend and only learned of my existence a few years ago. I tracked him down last Summer online and we’d chatted online but never met.

So on the day I was off to see Panti I logged into Facebook and discovered it was my brother’s birthday. Since we had been denied the opportunity of knowing each other, I forgive myself for not knowing such details. Shaking, I messaged his girlfriend and asked if she thought he’d be interested in meeting that night. Just before I finished work for the day she replied with the go-ahead.

On stage that night, Panti exceeded all expectations. A heartfelt plea to the young queer kids to explore and celebrate the gifts that come with their otherness was mixed with humour and a story of how she met Madonna at a funeral. The talk itself augmented and fuelled the things I know as a Faerie – that we are a tribe, there’s a purpose to us being here, that we are blessed with the ability to engage in our own forms of transformative magic.

Before catching the train back to Edinburgh, my friend and I went to meet my brother and his girlfriend. After an initial awkwardness and then 40 minutes of my storytelling mode (whilst my friend did her best smile-and-nod-to-reassure-everyone-I’m-not-going-to-pull-a-knife routine) there was much hugging and general loveliness and barriers were broken down.

The train journey home was a deeply reflective 80 minutes. My friend, the most patient person I have ever known, said I could talk the whole way home if I wanted. So I did. I expressed my excitement and joy, my fears about this important step in building a relationship with a sibling, after us both being separated as only children.  I clenched my teeth in anger that our father denied us the option of knowing one another. I delighted in the notion that we had both escaped that solitude imposed upon us, as if we had been prisoners in neighbouring cells, never speaking or seeing each other, yet conspiring through facebook notes to break out of the fortress of his emotional repression we were captive within.

I turned to my uncomplaining companion and told her how blessed I was. How my own otherness had sparked my search for my own vision of spirituality, how being a Faerie gave me the chance to connect with others of my tribe in the most astonishing ways, deeply and honestly. How lucky I was to have the words available to me to express myself and to question familial power structures that are toxic to me. What did my little brother have?

My long-suffering confidant looked at me right in the eye and said “He has you”.

And everything came into alignment. The pattern began to form in my mind.   It was the web of Faeries I know and love. It was the gift they offered freely, without the expectation of conformity that my estranged patriarch demands. Love and connection are the gift and they are what I can pass on, what I can teach my brother and learn from him again in turn. This is part of the Work too, taking the magic of Faeries back into the mundane world, sowing the seeds, waiting for wonder to shoot up between the pavement cracks. For one shining moment it all made sense and I was at peace, having passed through the anger at years wasted.

As the train moved us ever on to home, as I sat with my dear friend who was practically manifesting Kwan-Yin herself at that point, I indulged myself in naming some of those Faeries who have taught me of brotherly love, in between whatever ramblings. Even though the names meant little to her, she smiled at the tears in my eyes as I spoke, and the obvious affection name evoked in me.

Beloved, Gandalf, Wood Pigeon, Royal, Woodchild, Ant of the Earth, Lovehandel, Dogwood, Will, Octopus, Aurora, Buzzy Dandelion, Mushroom, Fanny Boy, Pikachu, Fairy Liquid, Minerva, Zeb, Dido, Future Babes, Hawthorn, Shokti, Brother Sun, Chundra, Tumbleweed, Fellina, Barbarella, Jim from Rural France Not Paris, Ladslove, Mixture, Sunflower, Mata Hari, Whatever You Want, Big Puck, White Rose, Theoklymenos, Qweaver, Joost, Topsoil, Doghood, Fagus, Rabbitstar, Presence, Efthimios, Spirit Force, Coco Pierre, Robder, Pink Sapphire, Lone Wolf. The list is not exhaustive and I apologise for out-of-date names, mis-spellings and omissions.

They helped teach me about speaking from my heart, staying connected, returning from conflict, puppy piles, listening to others’ hearts, being playful, wearing a dress, accepting touch, not being fearful of other men and that a new heart-connection is just as significant and impacting as any other. I hope I honour their gifts as I in turn pass them on to brothers of the heart or of the blood (and heart-sisters and non-binary siblings too). Wherever we go, in or out of Faerie space, or each others’ lives, or to other countries or planes of existence, we are connected in a brotherhood. If not a circle, perhaps a spiral of loving companions, throwing one arm out to the cosmos and the other back to itself and each other.

What’s in a faerie-name? By Princess Cuntmuscle.

What’s In A Name?

 

Within Radical Faeries there is somewhere between a tradition and habit of assuming a Faerie Name. Something that marks a transition of Self into Faerie Space. Perhaps it conveys a sense of the mystical, of whom one might wish to become, or like a super hero, it is the truest name that represents your innate special power, whilst your given or everyday name is the disguise.

 

There have at times been leanings towards flowers for names, evocative of the Victorian Flower Fairies. Others have felt a call towards some animal as a power totem and taking the name imbues them with its attributes. Some Faeries even assume the mantle of a deific name, or a choice from folktales and legends. Eco-centric (and sometimes ego-centric) names remain very much in vogue.

 

Others feel no such compulsion and of course should never be forced to relinquish their common name for a created one. It can become tiresome though when a group who know each other from similar events insist on calling everyone by their mundane name “because it’s easier”. There’s a special look I reserve for those types, often accompanied by a swift kick – just one, we’re all still chums after all.

 

There are a number of faeries whose names change periodically and it can be something of a test to stay abreast of alterations, though more of a challenge to remain congenial when someone refers to you by a name you no longer hold as being true to yourself. Worse yet, when someone steadfastly refuses to speak your Faerie name at all.

 

This brings us, gentle reader, to a small but hearty crew of Faeries who dare to take for themselves the Faerie Names Others Take Offence At.

 

There have been 2 Faerie Names that I have held. I count 2 because they are the ones I have spoken in Circle, and thus they are locked in to physical Faerie Space. There was a third, Roadkill, which was only ever filled out in a registration form and very much represented how I felt about myself coming back into Faeries after a period of estrangement.

 

My first Faerie name, which I took at my first gathering, was Titz. The full version was Hairy Tit Wank, as I felt that to be rather subversive but also empowering as a larger hirsute Faerie. I further felt that it fitted with being something natural and it’s a lovely thing to give someone (to this day I have had no complaints and even one letter of recommendation). The nomer of Titz was also brought to mind having read a wonderful tome called I Lick My Cheese, which was a collection of mostly passive-aggressive notes between flatmates (recommended to anyone engaged in communal living as a warning guide). There was a note left by someone who signed it as “Tits” and the author remarked “who would refer to themselves as Tits?” whereas I found it rather charming and somehow in my mind placed it on a par with Quaint Irene from EF Benson’s Mapp & Lucia novels. The Z was brought in to replace the S as a nod to my (vaguely) mundane name, Zander.

 

It was farewell to Titz after a few years though, as by that time I had garnered a reputation as a stressed-out, emotionally-removed and ill-tempered organising Faerie who was Not Having Fun Any More. The thing about Titz was that everyone seemed to get on them, including myself.

 

The ill-fated and speedily-aborted Roadkill could have worked out had I given the poor soul a chance but I fear he would have been a most dour Faerie, truth be told. Bitter, even.

 

As the wheel turns, so it is time to explore my current and most offensive nom de fey, Cunty. Princess Cuntmuscle for the more formal occasions but day-to-day Cunty is fine. Are you clutching your pearls or reaching for the holy water yet?   For indeed, what would possess me to refer to myself as Cunty?

 

Again, inspiration came from an outside source. This time, a very dear friend who over the few years we have known each other taught me two standout terms “metric fuckton” and “cuntmuscle”. The unkind among us may infer the former is more appropriate to myself and they shall meet their fate in a dark alleyway someday, I’m sure. This friend has remained a staunch supporter of my endeavours and I am blessed to have her as a core member of my logical family, thus my Faerie name honours one of her favourite swearwords.

 

I quite imagine that the prefacing of Cuntmuscle with Princess is some innate intention to Disnefy the whole thing. To make it whimsical and thus soften the blow just a little. I must admit that when dealing with official Faerie business that necessitates minutes of meetings and such, there is a raw delight in hearing the words “I’d like to refer to the point Princess Cuntmuscle made a moment ago…” Truly priceless.

 

Mostly, though, my abbreviated Faerie name is a challenge. It’s a reclaiming of a word with many undertones and connotations. As a Faerie who strongly engages with his shadow energy, the implication of being shady, devious or a Dark Fey is something woven into the name. As a guttural word for a penetrable hole it intrinsically resonates with my being a shameless power bottom (hi, Mum!).

 

I find being Cunty a challenge within which I am both a student and teacher. With this name I present the opportunity for someone else to see past something that may offend, to see the gifts of friendship, healing, humour and solace that I am blessed to be able to pass along. I also learn how to fight for my right to my own name, to have it heard and honoured as any other would be. I discover more about my own comfort levels and the gifts conflict can bring in its own way. I find a gentle voice to discuss it when the most delicate and polite faerie i have ever encountered says “I just want something nice to call you”. This most recent gathering I have been stunned at the tenderness and affection that can be conveyed in my special 5 Letter Word.

 

The notion that people have the right to not be offended is ludicrous to me. How can we expect to grow and to learn if nothing challenges us or shocks us from our comfortable ingrained thought patterns? In the 5 years I have been a Faerie my comfort zone has relocated to another continent and I am glad of it. I am proud to take my part in the chaotic furry (rub me!) underbelly of Faeriedom, which is well meaning but often deeply misunderstood.

 

And here is the Lesson of the Day – so pay attention – if the worst thing that happens to you today is that you’re offended by what a little Scottish faerie calls himself, your day’s pretty fucking golden. Be glad that you can’t think of anything more important or traumatising. Everyone else is jealous of you right now. Isn’t that a nice present from your Auntie Cunty? You’re welcome.

 

C x

A buoyant soul, unshackled and rising – Odanata on Summer Gathering 2013 @ Folleterre.

The way to Folleterre was scenic, light and full of promise. The approach greeted by a meandering stream carving out picturesque spaces for habitation and country-folk recreation in the humble valley place of Folleterre’s home. Pines postured green and tall in peaceful and watchful communion with other brothers and sisters of bark and leaf. The sun held the whole scene in a warmth you felt on the breath, in the chest. The pull up the mountain was a calling – a silken leash gently tugging on the fluttering hearts of a thousand butterflies in the stomach.

I can’t give you many words for my first glimpse of our Faerie haven. I jostled with the tension of a superficial desire to have my expectations fulfilled and the heartfelt attempt to breathe in the first moment of being there. To grasp it authentically, untainted by my prior lust for and dreams of Folleterre.

Nevertheless I had arrived – I was here now. Follettere held me whilst I gained some composure. The environment so strange yet so perfectly familiar. Faerie intention and detail etched into the most inconspicuous places. The pinecone tinsel up the shit tower, the wisps of an absent-minded doodle in the sand of a faerie-claimed beach and crochet-flowers adorning the branches of random trees down the way to the prairie.

And holding I would need. The bosom of Follettere took some nesting. The first task being unpacking my other-world baggage, inspecting the contents with care and sharing some of them round for knowing reflection in heart circle. Then, either making adjustments, scrapping entirely or re-crafting them with a new found, or better honed, loving faerie-artisanship. Of course there are a few bits wedged in the cognitive crevices of a worn luggage, undetectable to naked-faerie eye – but a gathering is a tonic for perspective. There will be other times for these, of that I’m sure.

The appropriate camp caveat of “you better WERQ” accompanied my initiation to Folleterre – a cyclical process of processing and learning and bonding and sharing. But what sweet soulful bounty and harvest did the perseverance yield – akin to bursting out, wild and running, from the dank and thorny thickets of a strange forest into a boundless meadow of wild flower harmony. Each murmur of summer life so present, so disarming.

And then the connections. Thrilling and physical, enriching and penetrative – a reaching out beyond the pre-conceived and anxious, without grasping, to merge with the welcome of another faerie soul. Faerie souls that taught me the boundless nature of love. It’s transcendental quality – the simple, divine antidote to the unfathomable, to the dark.

Anchored in the tired conceptions of how to love and how to be loved, a new way of being with one another in perfect sharing became the new horizon. A personal metamorphosis still unfolding. A flaking off of a tired rusty hue, stripped back by perfect flows of clarity – the buoyancy of the soul unshackled, and rising.

I re-enter the other place consolidated, holding onto perfect realisations, trying all the time with your love and support, to make them permanent manifestations.

Odanata x

A first gathering for faerie, Wood Pigeon.

Novice Faerie, Wood Pigeon, returns to Brighton after a weekend Faerie Gathering retreat camping in the middle of the Glastonbury countryside. He is a young man in his early thirties. He’s a little tired, but excited and also a bit emotional with that happy/sad feeling of someone recently parted from a found experience, which had long been sought.

Wood Pigeon

So how long have you been involved with the Faeries?

About 4 days!

How did you first hear about the Faeries and what was it that drew you towards the Faerie Movement?

My boyfriend’s ex boyfriend (Bonobo) went away with the faeries some time before Christmas last year.  My boyfriend passed on stories of all the adventures Bonobo had been having with the Faeries and he was keen to go himself.  We had both planned to travel up to the February 2013 Featherstone Castle gathering in Northumberland but I needed to save up the holiday to go on tour with my band so I didn’t go.  My boyfriend came back as Faerie Magnoose and he was like a different person. The way the experience shone through him and filled him with love, confidence, happiness and joy was incredible.  I had to go on the next faerie gathering and so organised to travel to Glastonbury Tor for the 2013 Summer Solstice weekend.

Can you describe what took place?

Well I was a little bit nervous about what was going to unfold as I’d never attended an event of this kind before.  But I had been told that there would be an opening and closing ceremony and everything that took place in between would be co-created, a result of what the faeries present wanted to do.  So we were greeted by a very lovely set of people who had organised the event and made me feel very welcome from the outset.  There was an opening circle and a practical circle where we were given a quick intro to the layout of the accommodation, camping areas, timings for food etc and then we all affirmed our names as a group in a triumphant chorus of faerie voices.  One of the lovely faeries present had taken on the role of Kitchen Mum and had already prepared a sumptuous feast for everyone (about 50 of us) which was wholesome, vegetarian and very welcome.  As the evening unfolded I felt a little unsure about where to place myself.  Magnoose already knew a lot of the faeries from the last gathering but I was new so I slipped into a an easier role of doing some dishes to keep myself busy.  However the banging of drums and lighting of a fire led us all around into another circle.- this time to open the four directions of Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water.  I guess this was a Pagan element to the gathering, which I really liked; deepening our connection to nature and to each other.  Some of the faeries danced round the fire, dressed in various costumes, drag, outdoor gear (there was a tendency to rain) and others sat supping cider and chatting amongst each other.   The first night was a lovely long night of making new connections, hearing other people’s stories, understanding their journeys, who they were and appreciating their unique faerie spirits.  One of the faeries performed a beautiful healing for me, which allowed something to move deep inside and present itself. It felt great to be able to drop life, let go, and immerse myself in a totally new and wonderful experience of human harmony.

The next morning after a long night I climbed up to the Tor to get some air and perspective on what was unfurling below me.  Walking alone to the top of this sacred, spiritual monument I already began to miss the energy of the gathering.  Sat atop in the rain with dark clouds swirling I understand what I had to learn this weekend was not a solo journey but one spent with this new family of queer spirited brothers and sisters. I descended and rejoined the group for breakfast.  Slightly fuzzy from the night before but excited about what the day would hold.

I spent time in the morning snuggled up in bed with two faeries that I was just beginning to get to know.  It wasn’t a sexual encounter but one of intimacy, warmth, friendliness, openness.  This was totally new to me as the only time I’d known guys to hop into bed together usually ended in sex.  But this was different.   It was nurturing, patient, fun.

The time soon came around for one of the most important events at a faerie gathering, a heart circle.  This is an opportunity for every faerie to introduce themselves to the group and share whatever they feel they want to.  Space is given for one person to talk at a time, without interruption and everyone listens and allows this person to reveal the thoughts closest to the heart.  I guess in a way it could be seen as some kind of group therapy session but it didn’t feel like it.  It was just an amazing opportunity to feel loved and supported by a group of people who barely know each other but who were totally there for each other.  It felt wonderful and sad, happiness intermingled with tears, as one by one the group spoke or passed on the opportunity and each took their turn.

Following this experience there was a closeness in the group that hadn’t been there before.  A new level of understanding, of being present, on a level which is sadly absent from today’s day to day reality.  I wanted to reach out and hold these men and women. To hug them and be there for them.  I also wanted them to be there for me, to hold me and support me. They were.  And it was an incredible feeling.  The power of loving a stranger, but knowing them so deeply at the same time is an ancient feeling.  It defies modernity.  It doesn’t make sense when placed into out culture of throwaway consumerism and rampant capitalism. This isn’t every man for himself, shallow and fleeting.  It’s almost tribal, magical, shamanic, healing.  It feels like the true spirit of human nature. Interconnected, loving, centred, intimate.  I said to one faerie that I came away feeling that there is some hope for humanity if this is an example of the kind of love that people are capable of expressing and receiving for each other.  It’s amazing that it stems from a community of queer people, from all over the world, who have suffered so much at the hands of others and continue to do so yet defy all the unhappiness, suffering and hatred with such love and openness.

So during the day there was an opportunity to attend some workshops put on by faeries.  This was wonderful as it gave people a chance to bring their, skills, talent and energy and share it with the group. I went to three of them.  The first was called “how to bring your faerie life into your ordinary life” .  It was a group of about 8 of us, led by a wonderful Australian who talked us through his experiences of wearing unusual clothes back home and how people responded to it.  It became clear that some faeries were not comfortable wearing drag, jewellery etc in normal day to day environments and we looked at the reasons for this and what affect that had on others.  I left the workshop feeling liberated.  I’ve never been into wearing drag really and must confess to having a rather dull wardrobe.  I had to question why I never looked upon women’s clothes, bags, jewellery, hats etc.  What drives me to the men’s section of a charity shop, to look across the racks of browns, blues and greys? Why steer clear of all the fun, brightly coloured adornments that celebrate a female body?  There is a stifling of the female spirit in men that I can now see is manufactured by the society we live in.  Other cultures have incredibly elaborate costumes for men and women but we are forced one way or the other.

The second workshop I went to was Kundalini Yoga.  It was another moment that brought the group together as so many of us attended and nurtured, explored, stretched and strengthened the energy within.  It was a delicious 90 minutes with everyone, a great way to create a group sense of closeness.  I think that’s why these gatherings work because they nurture the group spirit so beautifully through ritual, ceremony, dance, dress, fun, food and laughter.

The final evening workshop caught my eye as it was put on by a fellow masseuse.  It was essentially a tantric massage workshop, with faeries naked and massaging each other. There was an option for us to all be clothed but it seemed like an unnecessary obstacle to intimacy.   I felt totally relaxed, at home, safe and comfortable being unclothed within the group.   It was beautiful to be given instructions from an experienced masseuse on new positions for massage techniques, and exploration, whilst really connecting with the man or woman you were with.   I have a little experience working professionally in this field and it really helped me to make a connection with each person and to understand their bodies. It was lovely being massaged too.  The one thing that struck me as the workshop was unfolding was for me was that it wasn’t a carnal, sexual experience. It was tantric.  I’d never attended a tantric space before and absolutely loved it.  The session went on into personal exploration with different people, evolving into hugging and kissing, reassuring and cradling.  It was deeply moving, powerful, exciting, comforting, loving.  By then end of the night I was in a whole new space. A place I’d never been before.  Too often encounters with others are based on quick, furtive, sexual explosions that leave you with less than you came with.  This gave me more.  Filled me with warmth and energy and a longing for more.

The final day of the gathering was a time to hug, kiss, laugh, eat and rest before the journey home.  It was deeply touching to hear in a closing ceremonial circle everyone’s final words on the few days and feel all the positive loving energy that had been created together.  I felt close to so many members of the group even though we hadn’t had time to get to know everyone.

This whole experience gave me an insight into what it is like to live together with people, where you really care for and nurture each other, not just pay lip service to it.  I feel I’ve spent many years wanting to be a better person and now I’ve finally found a group of faeries that will allow me to be who I want to be.

 So what are your plans for your FaerieFuture?

Magnoose and I are planning on visiting the Faerie Sancturay in Folleterre, France this August for their summer gathering.  I can’t imagine how we’ll feel after 10 days of faerie love.  I think it’s going to be one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I can’t wait!

So do you think this gathering has changed you?

It’s funny but I’ve always wanted to wear a ring and for years have never been able to do it. I’d never found one to suit me but I suppose I’d never felt that comfortable with the idea of it.  But now I have one!  And a necklace!  I spent £2.80 and put them on and felt this incredible lightness across my heart.  It almost sang out when I laid some bright orange beads across my chest.  As if to say YES!  Thank you!  I am free!  To be a faerie!  To love others without the burden of a life not of my making, or of my wishing.  I wanted to sing and dance but London Road isn’t ideal so I carried on with my other errands.  I felt so nervous leaving the shop, with a ring on.  RIDICULOUS!  It’s just a butterfly ring, come on Wood Pigeon you can do it!  And do you know what? I now know I certainly can!

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