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.
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!