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 Faeries came to play by the river. The people came out to enjoy the open space, walking, riding and picnicking.
Warm illegal hugs exchanged on arrival at the bandstand full of drums, percussion and drag!
An invocation and welcome to the directions, animal spirits and wonderful qualities of human nature – once we had not quite all agreed in which direction lay North!
Busy mind, furtive eyes and a cautious beat as we find ourselves in the unfamiliar surroundings.
The wind shakes the trees and bristles the leaves adding another soundscape.
A long section of sheer golden fabric is held aloft over the gathered tribe and ripples and dances and touches the faerie folk drawn into its aesthetic call like moths to a flame.
Joyous smiles emerge and bubbles appear. More dresses and colour, more fabric and twirling bodies. The drumming finding its voice.
We are witnessed.
By the old man sitting with palms up to the sky experiencing the chi.
By the curious joggers bending their necks as they pass to take in this scene.
By the van of police patrolling the riverside. Who stop to consider and observe.
The drums continue without missing a beat, communicating a message of vitality and strength. Dare you interrupt this expression of family, of presence and bold determination to express freely in a not quite one metre plus way? A beaming smile from the circle announces our loving intent and allows them to move on.
The children hear the music and dance with smiles as they pass with their parents. We model the beauty of free expression and play as they model the delight of unencumbered youth.
(A memory of childlike play with a balloon amongst the sleepy shoppers in a street in Cologne. Dancing with street musicians, being met by children as they see the balloon their parents choose not to see. Eager to pat it back up into the sky.)
Swallows from Africa catch the London insects and fly over the bandstand that emits the call from its current band.
Young African Londoners congregate nearby on the railings, drawn by music.
Others stop to take pictures and to soak in the scene.
More material, more dresses and headwear. Pipes are played, tambourines and a cowbell build the momentum. More dancing, more twirling, some sage knitting the spaces between the flowing bodies. Hands hitting the skins of the drums, eyes closed and feeling the mounting excitement in the air. Shrill ululation, howls and screams, release, bind, honour, acknowledge and affirm our gifts, our rage, our passion and love and need to gather. To hear the call, make the call and dare to embrace the moment. Shake it, stroke it, breath it and allow it to find its form.
Lovers of beauty, creativity and life. Filled, topped up and nourished.
Ready to return to the other world of stories, concerns, plans and judgements. Of roles and obligations, expectations and responsibilities.
Returning with seeds of possibility, knowing and courageous determination to enter and embrace the ever unfolding, expanding and unknowable complexity of this paradoxical flight into the cosmos and beyond.
Boundless gratitude, love, peace, health and abundance!
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…..
I’ve recently been very interested by points raised and issues brought up in articles posted by Shokti and Cunty (thank you both for your contributions). While I don’t want to reply directly to either, they have brought up and shone a new light on some thoughts of mine that I’d like to share.
Something that seems to be very much in the forefront of faerie consciousness is consent, and how it is affected and potentially invalidated in situations where there is a power inbalance – whether that be because of a difference in age, in sexual or romantic experience, in relative health/wellbeing, in social capital/etc. In a rather emotionally challenging circle I attended fairly recently, a discussion on how intimately/emotionally involved it was acceptable to be with those who have approached you for support descended into a faerie being aggressively accused of effectively using their position in the community to sexually take advantage. I really don’t want to make comment or take a side based on a very limited perspective on an obviously very deep and complex interpersonal conflict, but it certainly highlighted to me that this is an issue that it would be healthy for the community to start examining together, in a unified, careful and heart centred way. I was therefore very gladdened to see Cunty open up – in what I read as a very careful, vulnerable and relatively non-violent way – about the specific objectification and allure of (particularly male perceived) youth as he sees it within faerie gatherings. Personally, what he said definitely made connections with many of my observations and understandings of contemporary faerie culture. From my memories of the spotlighting and collective adoration of a select number of glamorous 20-something gay boys at the couple gatherings I’ve been to, to younger fae talking about navigating the myriad attentions and overtures of relatively older fae, to the multitude of over 40s gay men’s sharings in heart circles about feeling passed over, ignored and left out during the more festive and sexually charged modes of gatherings, my personal impression is that many faeries from all sides of the power dynamic would agree with Cunty about its existence. When I first encountered this dynamic at Featherstone, my first reaction I’m not proud to admit was envy, for the attention and adoration I perceived the young guys in their drag and glad rags as being granted. The root of this, given some time to reflect, was obvious: I have always struggled with needing validation and attention to feel accepted or appreciated socially, in earlier more male presenting times I would have flaunted and flirted my youth and form to gain the social attention and validation of other gays, and I was sore to find in this community my gender nonconformity meant I wasn’t able to misuse that dynamic as I was used to doing in queer spaces. While I have in the past definitely found select desire fulfilment by taking advantage of this sensual objectification dynamic, in hindsight it was disingenuous and caused much unhappiness: mainly because I had no intention or desire to engage sexually with the majority of the people I inticed, and interactions ended with neither party ultimately getting what they sought after.
I was interested to see the strongly differing perspectives between Cunty and Shokti on how objectification (or celebration of form etc.) fitted into Harry Hay’s binary of Subject-Subject vs. Subject-Object interactions. Obviously for Cunty, his experiences of how younger male-perceived faeries were sought after and his role in it was distressing and felt demeaning to the objectified faeries, whereas others (seemingly including Shokti) experience it as something much less inherently malign, and as compatible with empowering, loving faerie interaction. I can only stress that all I am doing and can do is lay out my own limited personal perspective, in the hope it might strike a positive chord with others, but I would like to suggest that its more complicated than that, and wrapped up in the use and misuse of a peculiarly faerie talentset, which I would like to call Glamour.
***Content Warning: contains liberal Woo, including Woo terminology and ideology***
So, lets talk about Glamour! In faerie space, I think it would be misguided to imagine that every interaction is an honest, profound and direct expression of self from one heart to others. On the contrary, we have extraordinary freedom to play with situations, to channel external energies and power, to adopt guises and personae, to perform as conduits of magick and ritual, to act out salacious and outrageous roles and desires. When we do so, consciously or not, our manifestation of Other (whatever external to ourselves we are creating the idea of) represents a channelling of our energy in order to bring about a physical change in how we are experienced by those who we interact with . This I’m going to denote with the old scots word for witchery and magick, Glamour – simply put, I’m using glamour as a blanket term for energy that is used to alter how you are perceived, whether that’s in faerie space or the concrete world.
How is this relevant to our discussions of power dynamics, of objectification and desire, you may ask? Because glamour is the tool and magic we use (wittingly or not) to work towards obtaining the reaction we desire from others: whether that is simply to enrapture, enrage, outrage, entertain, arouse, relax; or to achieve a more complex goal altogether. It is undoubtedly powerful, and does have the power to (temporarily or permanently) alter people’s perceptions of what is real and what is not, of their boundaries, of their internal senses of what is safe and unsafe, right and wrong. I see this as present in our drag and performance, in our engagement of those we are enamoured of or desire, in how we present our workshops and ideas, even in our stories, narratives and words of wisdom. Glamour undoubtedly has the power, sadly, of causing situations which can potentially lead to energetic and psychological damage to those who are more susceptible to losing themselves to it, when it is used without care and attention. Whether that is someone who has the protective seal on their inner trauma untimely broken, someone who finds themselves drawn into a cycle of indulgence that leads to a substance abuse relapse, or someone looking for paternal guidance and companionship who finds themselves in the midst of something more carnal, the reality is that faerie space – despite its beautiful, enriching empowering potential – can at times generate risks and the possibility of danger also. I don’t necessarily think this is something we should be ashamed of or feel guilt for communally, we aren’t ultimately responsible for or can control others feelings and reactions to faerie space. However, that isn’t to say that working towards making space more loving and nourishing for all isn’t an admirable undertaking for all of us who feel called to do so.
So how can we work to being responsible and loving wielders of this power, especially given the liminal nature of Glamour, and why should we? I think to the latter question, there may not be a simple right answer but my two cents is that at the foundation of faerie space is a core bedrock of being a community of love, and that by each individually doing work towards maintenance of that equanimous love we share as a community, we hold the community together and ensure its stable continuity. I think that especially those who exist towards the centre of the web of faerie energies particularly – whether that’s just for one gathering by being an organiser, social focus point or energetic catalyst say, or those who more generally are tied in to the core of continued community – tend to pool the energy to project glamour, potentially more so than they give themselves credit for. I’ve felt this myself at gatherings, when some people enter a room the energy completely changes in anticipation of them, when some people talk their words hold the listeners in rapture, and their expressed ideas naturally become the listeners reality. From what I have seen, often this is used by these faeries in a really generous and conscientious way already – easing the anxieties of unsettled newcomers, bolstering the guidance of gatherings energies towards mucking in and interacting respectfully, offering support to the disenfranchised, and helping make heard the quieter more fragile voices. To my mind though, they are unavoidably in the position of holding sway over hearts and minds, and I think recognising that power dynamic and creating a conscious and supportive collective awareness might help us harmoniously flow together around these issues.
How to wield Glamour in a safer way is something I can only offer my limited set of ideas towards, but I hope these might serve as a starter to thinking about approaching Glamour more mindfully and conscientiously. I think its important to examine our motives in how we interact with others, and try and match the Glamour we wear or project with our heart’s intentions – if our desires are sexual then wearing that on our sleeve and weaving seduction into our advances does honour to both the magick and the recipient. Further to that, checking-in in some manner and working responsively with the reactions our glamour elicits gives us the opportunity to ensure our energies have provoked what was intended and not something else unwanted, and gives us the opportunity to regather where our audience may have gone astray. As an example, I have heard of multiple instances where gender-bending manifestations have been mis-taken as looking to elicit sexual desire, which could lead to plenty discomfort for some of these manifesting fae if left unchecked. Moving towards a subject-empowering approach in our interactions can often help avoid situations where we impinge on others self-determination. This can involve ensuring we have their informed consent throughout interactions, we are being transparent about what we are doing, and self monitoring for mistakenly projecting your needs or traumas onto them, or false convictions of knowing what would be good for someone better then they themselves do. Upholding live consent doesn’t need to be something clunky and jarring that disturbs our energy flow in interaction, for one who is used to looking for it it can be achieved intuitively and as a beautiful enhancing element of their language of intimacy. Finally, being open-minded to our own limitations – as lovers, as healers, as magicians – and knowing when something has escalated beyond our control or comfort and it is safest to tap out is an important skill we should all bear in mind, and be open to the idea of. At the end of the day, it is the chaos in the nature of humans to make mistakes, to not always achieve what they set out to do, to be reliably unreliable – this isn’t something shameful or negative! It is how we respond to signs of failure, to accept it with grace and humility, and to learn from it which to me marks out the most enlightened amongst us.
I hope I have managed to set out my ideas on these power interplays that come into faerie space in a way that is constructive and has avoiding bringing up pain as much as possible. In faerie community one thing I particularly value is that with all the so many different faeries whom I have touched hearts with, I have not met anyone who does not in their own way have a loving relationship with the tribe as a whole, and isn’t seeking to have a more healthy and nourishing interrelationship with this community. I truly believe that we do all dynamically make our own uniquely positive contribution to the spaces we hold together, I hope that in understanding and respecting the complexities of our many differences we can all be enriched and grow together, to make ever more tolerant, loving and caring faerie space in the future.
I am complicit in a pattern of behaviours that is toxic to individual faeries and our community as a whole.
I am complicit because I have at times fallen deeply into the trap of comparing myself to others, objectifying certain members of my tribe and not speaking up when I witness the behaviours in those around me.
Within this piece I do not seek to shame or to judge, although many times I find these behaviours embarrassing or infuriating. Partly my reaction is on behalf of others, partly it presents a reflection of my own past conduct.
This is offered as a call for change. I know change is often difficult, costly or painful. Some will react with anger as they read my words, a few may nod in recognition, perhaps one or two may even find themselves reviewing their own gathering etiquette.
Whilst visiting the most recent gathering at Paddington Farm in Glastonbury, I found myself in a room surrounded by faeries, although I was present as a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence at the time. I often find the role of the outsider gives a perspective that is revelatory.
I saw and heard behaviour patterns I have seen time and time again in faerie space. The same issues were present 2 years ago when we had so much trauma and division. I had hoped we might learn and change but we didn’t seem to address one of the underlying problems.
Middle-aged cis white gay men, like me and including me, commoditise youth. Some of us (“not all” I hear the cry and respond “no but far too many”) base our own sense of worth and our social standing within the community by how young, pretty and new the faerie is that we are seen to be frolicking with.
Outrage! Of course. It is outrageous. It’s ridiculous that an intentional community who speaks so much of coming home, of tribe, of not being like the other, Grindr-loving queers, should recycle and promulgate such toxicity among ourselves.
Whatever happened to the idea of subject-subject consciousness? The notion that we sought to exist in kinship and harmony with each other? That we respected each other’s uniqueness and gifts as a queer person, not just their value as an object to elevate our status amongst others who similarly objectify them? Harry Hay spoke of the natural inclination of queer men to be not killers and fighters who “seemed to want to celebrate their Brothers rather than to compete with them”. When we read those words do we even recognise ourselves any more?
Sometimes I look across the room and I can almost hear the transaction in my head as an older faerie gently places his hand on the lower thigh of one 30 years his junior and in his inflections the dialogue flows “you’re obviously deeply spiritual”, a little too practiced.
Or the hidden revelations given by another when nobody is around to hear that their spirit guides told them they would have a lover matching the same description as a newly minted faerie almost 4 decades younger.
The use of woo as a tool for seduction of other members of our tribe distresses me. Its twisting to enable seduction and subjugation is abhorrent. The delight in sharing ideas and rituals, of empowering and raising each other instead becomes an area of mistrust and confusion.
Wisdom of astrology becomes a set of mystical edicts from those with hidden arcane knowledge, set up to entrap the unwary.
At times I find myself questioning if I judge too harshly, regardless of the faeries who share their experiences with me, or the evidence of my own senses.
I remember my own mistakes and missteps, the damage I have caused and will no doubt cause unwittingly in future.
I remind myself that what is acted out in this sacred space is a result of trauma. We don’t talk about how it feels to grow older. To survive those who never will. To become invisible in our bars and clubs. To feel increasingly isolated, afraid and somehow lacking.
This isn’t everyone’s experience of course. Some delight in the role of the silver daddy, of discovering new ways of expressing themselves.
Some find comfort in their accomplishments and in their wisdom.
But some are desperately scared of no longer being desireable. We use gatherings as dating pools rather than opportunities for our own growth and development, let alone connecting to other men in platonic loving ways.
I watch complex, fascinating, talented men ignore opportunities to connect and nurture their community as a whole because they are obsessed with pursuing significantly younger men. The skills and insights they have are cast aside in their ravenous pursuit of their physical ideal.
As I say, I am complicit. I am one of these men. Although I have never had sex with a younger faerie at a gathering (except one instance where I was already in a relationship with them) I have found myself competing and I hate it. The process demeans everyone involved. It reverts to subject-object unconsciousness. How could it not do damage?
And I too have applauded and cheered as the most pert and youthful have been paraded at an auction to the howls of older men. That plays into the same culture too.
So what can we do?
Maybe we be more open about how it feels to be present in inter-generational queer space. Maybe we have some personal boundaries in place or share an intent to focus on our own gifts and journey and hold ourselves accountable. Perhaps even invite others to hold us accountable too. Wouldn’t that be a big hit of vulnerability and trust right there?
The crux of subject-subject consciousness should be mutual support and equality of power. We are perfectly capable of this but it doesn’t always serve the ego. So maybe we could prioritise consciously spending as much time with older faeries and getting to know them. Cause let’s face it, we’re all older faeries to someone.
Reach out to each other rather than offering reach-arounds. And there are issue of consent and coersion, as well as personal responsibility regarding sexual health that should to be addressed too. But I fear there are few who do have read to this end now. Many who have dismissed it.
Maybe we could engage back into our core tools. Heart circles help us to practice listening to everyone regardless of youth or appearance. Maybe we could share our fears and be there as silent witnesses for each other.
I would argue that we have a responsibility to ourselves and each other, to nurture and protect our tribe. Even from ourselves.
One small year. It’s been an eternity, it’s taken all of me to get here. Through this one small year.
I found myself in a music circle last night, feeling compelled to murder the above Shaun Colvin song as acknowledgement of the anniversary of my leaving last year’s Imbolc gathering and the changes in my life since then.
Immediately after last Imbolc I made the painful decision to break up for the final time with my ex-fiance. Faced with a flat that reeked of loss, a job I could hardly tolerate and a city full of memories, I hatched a plan to escape and relocate (with considerable help).
Now a full solar rotation later I am in a different country, a different job, I have less stress and I am a Novice within the Order of Perpetual Indulgence. My life is full of new people and renewed purpose.
I had plans to help facilitate the current Imbolc gathering at Paddington Farm alongside some of the team from last year. As the date grew close and discussions began it felt progressively more frustrated and at odds with the process, so I bowed out and encouraged another to take my place.
Instead I concentrated efforts on my new local community. Alongside my good friend and fellow Sister I helped at the Community Christmas Day Dinner and threw myself into manifesting in Bristol and Glastonbury, handing out condoms and lube, delivering a speech as part of the World AIDS Day or writing profanities in glitter onto shiny festive baubles.
Time passed as it does and one chance encounter led to a discussion with a local publican about putting on a queer cabaret night here in the heart of rural Somerset. The Ministry of Martha was born.
In the meantime I began to share some faerie processes and ideas among my fellow Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They took well to hissing in circles, they wanted to hear of the magic of queer empowerment, asked about spirituality within the context of sexuality.
All this culminated this week in pulling together an astonishing event here, where Faeries, Sisters and locals mixed, laughed and played together and raised funds for each other including a new LGBTQ youth group in Glastonbury.
Our 5 Sisters were graciously welcomed to the gathering space just outside town and after a brief sleep we walked together to join the Imbolc celebrations at the White Spring and Chalice Well. Sisters and Faeries also ate together and talked a lot, found common ground and opened their hearts in circle.
It has felt like reuniting lost relative tribes this week. Sisters honour their origins that lie with Faeries and the fact that one of their founders, Sister Soami (aka Sister Missionary Position) is still living in Sanctuary space on Short Mountain.
We have much to teach each other and I am blessed to have seen the best in both organisations this week. Oddly enough I have felt more valued and able to contribute at a Faerie Gathering as a Sister than if I had stuck it out and been a Gathering Organiser.
There are challenges here still for me, whether those reveal themselves through discussions around conflict or flickers of jealousy at some of the beauty all around me. New faeries to meet, reminders of happy loving times with past lovers here, the heartache of missing those who have passed through the veil. Familiar rivalries, old behaviour patterns, recalling schisms past and feeling their repercussions still.
Also being on the farm only part of the time, just enough to host an auction and a midnight heart circle or help facilitate a workshop on being a Sister, has been disconcerting. But I think I have become a better Faerie by being a better Nun. Perhaps those in combination might help me be a better realisation of myself. Hell, at least I know by now where spare blankets and towels can be found.
Everything is different now and some of it is even making sense. Blessed Imbolc everyone. You are loved.
My experience of being introduced to the faeries was through an ex-lover, now Sister/Brother. You might know them; their affection is expressed through playful gestures of invisible flea picking, nipple play and the deep bass and tone of contentment and connectedness; emulating the playful and healing libido of a small, cuddly and radical tribe of the forest – Bonobo.
It was a brave manoeuvre to invite me into the space that they had found such home in. I have many tentacles and take up space. It changed my life in only ways that the faeries can and in that spirit, I went on to subsequently nag my then current long term partner to attend – they became Wood Pigeon. Through that experience Wood Pigeon came to exude so much grace and confidence in their queerness that it was clear we were all on to something special. Some years later our lair / nest would grow a little more to accommodate another member – who would also find tribe through us. They became Magpie; a cheeky, playful and curious treasure-seeker. Their journey has been similarly expansive and transformative. They too found a home.
These days my lair is my own. The Wood Pigeon has flown and flies in many directions, building temporary nests along the way so as to not make heavy their global adventure of the heart. The Magpie too found a home near water, in an exotic and mischievous floating menagerie of love and constant playtime. They are happy and I’m happy for them. I keep less mirrors on the walls these days. My tentacles bask simultaneously in the light at the mouth of my cave, with some curled and drenched in the shadow. Sometimes I project out to the Jellyfish, undulating upwards all glitter, ruffles and appendages. But for now my heart is safe at home in myself. It’ll be a while until it ventures out again.
But enough of the poetry – real struggle, real words. The past year has been a challenge in both personal life and community – which are increasingly inseparable, and so be it. This last chapter has been a true test of my polyamory, my integrity, family and community. Over the last six months of being in various queer and faerie spaces, from the glorious temple of queer rites, to the fields of queer spirit, the racket of global gathering and the heart of Canaan Tribe, I’ve shared and resonated with many gorgeous and courageous creatures who share similar experiences. Some still caught up in the process; still shining but with characteristic wide eyes and hard jaws. Holding on.
To clarify, this piece is informed by my own process but also from inspiration. When I say ‘our’, I don’t mean to misrepresent anyone else’s voice or experience. I say it in hopeful solidarity. In essence, I’m trying to trace a common experience of breakups in community to understand potential collaborative solutions and more effective healing structures and spaces.
Faerie tribe is a torrent of play and connection of varying intensities – of everything from fleeting gazes and smiles over shared cigarettes, to deep heart connection and intimacy over lengthier periods of time. Sometimes we meet our lovers and partners in situ, sometimes we open the door to tribe for them, sometimes we are the ones invited into tribe through a relationship. It seems to me that the true radicalism of the faeries is how we practice our love and how we navigate our relationships in and out of community. It is not always easy; it is always beautiful but sometimes messy.
Nevertheless, as Tribe we hold space for ourselves and each other – for our individual and collective fire; our intensity, passions, anger, shame, fears, jealousies, attachments, perceived flaws and inadequacies. Objectively, we seem to find our way and do a pretty good job. In fact, we rock. But in our mish-mash of connections and intense faerie affairs there can be casualties too – inevitably, for whatever reason, faeries may need to breathe space into a connection with a significant other(s). Draw it to a close. Recalibrate and re-configure as a means of self-preservation, healing and renewal. Hearts break and there are heart aches. The question is, when love implodes, transitions and transforms in community, how does community hold us? Or does it hold us at all?
I think it’s fair to say that after a parting of faerie-ways a whole mess of feelings follows suit. My experience and those processes I have witnessed seem to speak to how post break up, community can seem a precarious place. A sense of tribe can quickly devolve into a conspiracy of discrete fractions and alliances where we may find ourselves having to survey upcoming gatherings and events to see where and what is safe for us. Particular faeries close to an ex-partner may become ripe for projection, our ‘storyboards’. In this sense, without support, it’s easy to see how one can quickly become a co-conspirator in their own fear and isolation.
Shame may be experienced through the exposure of a breakup in community – externalising self-judgement and blame for a connection gone awry onto the faces of tribe. Self-esteem, already at a low ebb through the often injurious ride of decoupling, remains depleted as we struggle to find footing in our usual store of magick and power – tribe-as-home. Drum circles become clashing symbols of memories and triggers echoing what has been lost. There may be a struggle to find the dance, rhythm and beat that was uniquely ours before our merger. And as the tribe shifts, fluctuates and grows, as it tends to do, the distance needed for healing can feed into a sense of being left behind – of not knowing where the point of re-connection or re-entry is.
How do we find our place again? Our community, being the glorious vanguard of sex-positivity, free-love and polyamory that it is, means that there’s always the potential for some sloppy faerie encounter lurking around the corner, involving your ex-partner and multiple other creatures, to twist into your belly what is lost and where you aren’t. To find solace beyond the smog of faerie breakup, we may even seek Tribe on the other side of the world; to cry in unfamiliar circles and be comforted by an impartial gaze. In worst case scenarios, these experiences can be unbearable and the escape can be very final, meaning complete detachment from community. This isn’t a sensational point, it happens. And for others, the inhibiting consequences of all of this, or perhaps of anticipating the mess that can come through relationship in community, is to rule out deeper intimacy with other faeries – to connect deeply on all other levels but the kind of sacred intimacy and sexuality that risks a bruised heart. But which forms also a vital part of our ritual and celebration together – of our love.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard other stories too. Positive stories. And beyond the challenge, I’m involved here and now in the co-creation of one myself. Many of us live to tell the tale of how beautiful tribe can be post-heartbreak, when a true sense of family arises from the ashes of what was before. Indeed, one morning in a queery field in Wiltshire, a dear former lover bound out of their sleeping space to unexpectedly fall onto two sleeping faeries who had arrived late in the night and took up residence in the porch of their tent. Both of us had shared deep connection with them in the past to go onto forge a chemistry and friendship of our own. In that moment, the love among the three of us was tangible. Later that day, that faerie would counsel me in the rawness of a current breakup to say: the struggle is real but worth it – in what other world do we have the chance to queer our relationships through pure alchemy into the most unexpected but steadfast and persistent arrangements of love and harmony. Real people. Real tribe.
But this story is also a shout out and an invitation. An invitation to consider as a community how we can support this fragile re-birth in a way that flows more gently and that holds people lovingly through the transition. What does real sisterhood around breakups look like in faerie community? How do we create alliances around both parties struggling with heartbreak and separation that are transparent, non-exclusive, reciprocative, communicative and well resourced? Which of us feels able to steward from the heart, to be visible, present and accessible as counsel to those faeries struggling with the fallout of heartbreak in community? What do these systems of support look like, where do they exist and how do they function? If heartache in community is part and parcel of the process – if it is something to learn from, grow from and in the end, to benefit from – how do we gather round to make that medicine easier to swallow? How do we integrate the inevitable ebb and flow of connection in faerie space in a way that allows those intimately involved in a shifting connection, and the whole community witness to it, to mine the gold beyond the pain?
This is call for solidarity, sharing and ideas. Let’s workshop, explore and create.
Thanks for all of those in Tribe for inspiring this piece through their heartache, vulnerability and sharing.
The creativity of the AlbionFae is flowing into print and electronic books…
Check us out!
QUEER DEITY, SACRED SLUT by Al Head
QUEER DEITY, SACRED SLUT’ invokes ancient and modern archetypal figures along with a revel of QUEER DEITIES. It explores themes of paganism, gender, sexuality, identity, healing and the ways we connect with each other and the earth.
Its magical, embodied and radical prose is woven with poems and songs to form a rich tapestry imbued with the author’s unique perspective. http://www.alhead.co.uk/2.html
ESSENCE: THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO VEGANISM by Edward Daniel
Packed with mouth-watering recipes, emotive poetry and themes on letting go of the past, this book is a highly personal, very readable result of a lifetime commitment to bring about change and understanding to the new paradigm we find ourselves in. This paradigm involves making spiritual choices from the heart.
This book offers a heart-centric way of living and invites the reader to be open to new ideas and ways of being. It is an exquisitely illustrated, evocative beginner’s guide to veganism and a passionate argument on why to go vegan. Edward breaks down barriers that lead to a new spiritual well being achieved through a wholesome, plant-based diet. http://www.ethivegan.com/ethivegan-book-essence-the-beginners-guide-veganism/
I AM GOD: Seven Magickal Steps to Personal Divinity by Lilith
To be truly divine we must learn to be wild again – to un-domesticate ourselves. We need to let go of the fear, the self-hatred, and the ‘good’ behaviour that we’re driven to by the doctrine of monotheism.
This book takes you on a journey from your inner world to the outer cosmos, it offers a simple yet potent training for personal discovery and enlightenment.
Using story, magick, ritual, sacred-sex, meditation, journey, and the ecstatic state, it gives you the tools that will inspire your spiritual experience and awaken you to your deep inner wisdom.
THE QUEER DIARY OF MORDRED VIENNA by Russell Christie
Christian, Daniel and Alan are drawn to San Francisco on the cusp of the digital age. They find work as erotic performers in the emporia of the city. Through outcaste and avant-garde connections at The Ashbury Theater, they meet the artist Mordred Vienna. Like them, she arrived from somewhere else. Now, she uses her body as her canvas and the focus of her installations. Together they make new performances as they move from the twilight world of the homosexual into the computer systems of Silicon Valley and on to Hollywood and mainstream success.
The Queer Diary of Mordred Vienna is a work of queer fiction. It uncovers a journey from obscurity to recognition, from exile to inclusion and mutual acknowledgement. Moving from the country to the city and from the margins to the center, the book plots an alternative history of LGBTQ liberation. Like life, it has erotic content.
AIDS SHAMAN: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar
Take a journey with Shokti, AIDS survivor who awoke to the spiritual realms while sick in the 1990s. Poetry and prose to make you think about the role gay/queer people play in the human story, plus inspiration from queer ancestors, prophets and teachers.
We are the faerie spirit
that’s always lived within humanity
raw awareness in tune with nature’s dance
that sacrificed that divinity
that also lost its sanity
that became mortal, physical, solid
forgot how to shapeshift, astral travel
how to turn within to take flight
we became flesh, we learnt to die
we learnt about suffering, we learnt how to lie
but now humanity’s reached its tipping point
and amidst its madness a new age being born
remembering eternity, remembering you are me
remembering the elements, the mother, the spirit
surrendering to That and becoming This
Faerie Spirit born to flow free
born to liberate humanity
from polarities and dualities
Great Faerie Spirit-in-Action
flow through this tribe
liberate our minds from deathtraps
empower our hearts with courage
may we be who we, see who we, become who we are
may we reunite the earth and the heavenly stars
bring the power of rainbows into human eyes
as we reveal the faerie ‘neath the human disguise
we may appear at L as G, as B as T
but our queer spirit is part of eternity, is remembering infinity