Emerging from a chrysalis: the awakening of a radical faerie
The character of my spiritual life is a reaction to my personal
history. It is about affirming the good that has been denied, and
rejecting that which has done me harm.
I most closely identify as a radical faerie. The radical faerie
movement is a home-grown gay spirituality movement that is completely
non-institutionalized. It borrows heavily from earth-based spiritual
traditions such as Native American and pre-christian northwest European.
The movement most essentially affirms our identity, our sexuality, our
unique spirit, and our community. No one description meets all radical
faeries, we are very eclectic. Most have rejected formal religion and
instead quest for traditions, rituals, and beliefs that affirm our
identity, our sexuality, our unique spirit, our community. We let our
spirits take a holistic natural path. Unnatural rules and expectations
are definitely out.
Below are some random personal
thoughts on spirituality:
Each person has to find their own way through their own journey. The
idea that one way is the right way for all people is harmful and false.
Everything in the universe has feminine and masculine aspects. This
includes humans, all objects living or inanimate, time, events, forces,
seasons, everything. The feminine and masculine in everything can be
recognized as the Goddess and the God. I hope we can learn to cherish and
respect the Goddess and God in ourselves and in all humans regardless of
gender. I want to change the social forces that condemn the feminine in
men and the masculine in women. Teaching boys to hide their feminine side
teaches them disregard for women. Is this the source of sexism?
Each faerie typically finds one thing, a belief, a practice, a
ritual, that forms a special part of his identity. Commonly that one
thing becomes a part of his faerie name, and people in the faerie
community know him for that trait. So I am working/thinking on how to
incorporate my obsession with bodypainting into my faerie life.
Faeries tend to incorporate a lot of pagan/pre-christian traditions
into their belief systems, especially northwest europe and native american
traditions. You may know that the people inhabiting the british isles
before the Celts were called the Picts. They were named so by the romans
for their painted appearances. Picts were little dark people who
frequently had many tattoos and practiced extensive bodypainting.
94% of my ancestors are from the british isles, and my spiritual
identity is very tied up in the pictish and celtic spiritual traditions.
My fascination with bodypainting begs the question of whether it is an
inborn/ancestral interest. So that is where I am with my effort to bring
those two aspects of myself together. I would like to come up with a
faerie name for myself. I think the latin Pictus would imply my Pictish
background as well as my (occasionally) painted appearance. I'm not 100%
decided on that yet.
I grew up in the US and western Europe, as a christian, as a mormon. At
this point in my life, I do not identify as a christian. I believe that
Jesus Christ, as it is written in the bible, was a true prophet of
goodness. There are no organized religions, and few christian individuals
whose beliefs are consistent with his teachings, and fewer still whose
behavior is consistent with his teachings.
An unfortunate aspect of the mormon church is how it handles family
(and it is far from the only christian denomination to do this). It claims
to be strengthening the family, but in fact it is using people's belief in
family to force compliance to the church's teachings: if you want to be
with your family you have to be a good mormon. In fact it is a wedge that
forces families apart. The church prohibits family members who are not
good mormons from participating in important events like weddings It tells
parents that they must force their children to be good mormons or else
lose them for all eternity. This divides families and causes discord. The
promotion of family should be about celebrating our good relationships,
celebrating that our births brought us together. Not holding the threat
of separation over our heads to gain obedience.
Further, I think that modern christian temples, grand churches, and
other religious places that are intrisically exclusive, are in conflict
with Jesus' teachings in the New Testaments. He said that all that is
necessary is for two or more poeple to come together in God's name. He
gathered his followers on the hillside, on the beach, in the streets of
Jerusalem. He taught us to find god in the face of the lepers and the
homeless, not secluded in a temple with the elite. If one is truly a
Christian, one would aspire to be Christ-like, doing good works,
preferring the company of a prostitute to the company of Pharisees and
Sadducees (temple scholars devoted to obedience to the law of Torah).
My grandfather was raised by a Navajo tribesman. My mother as a child
played in ancient Pueblo dwellings before the anthropologists studied
them. As a child I spent many summers with my grandfather, and he took me
to the nearby reservation to witness tribal dances. The native american
people had much wisdom in their beliefs and traditions, much of which
remains alive in the tribes today. Sadly much has also been lost with the
millions who died from war with the European settlers and the diseases
Most of my ancestors (94%) are from the British Isles. The body of
traditions and beliefs that resonate most profoundly within my heart are
those of the pre-christian British Isles. During the forced
christianization of Europe, all non-christian beliefs were labelled
pagan. Many of us who identify with those pre-christian beliefs
have taken the name for ourselves. When we take a word created for shame
and imbue it with pride it gives us power over our oppressors. Much the
same has been done with the word queer, and with faerie.
I have very strong family values. My ties to my family of
origin are very strong and have withstood much turmoil. They continue
to be an important part of my life, despite the geographical distance.
Just as important is my family of choice. My family of choice
starts with my lover and companion Richard, his children and their mother,
my dog and my friends, with whom I have intimate ties. They are all my
family as much as my blood relatives and we care for and support each
other as any family would.
Harry Hay is widely regarded as the founder of the modern gay political
movement (He founded the first gay organization in the US, called the
Mattachine Society in 1948!) in the US and he is also one of the
great thinkers behind the radical faerie movement. His book _Radically
GAY_ (edited by Will Roscoe, Beacon Press 1996) documents his life and
the second half of the book is all about the radical faerie movement.
Probably the best reading on the subject available.
Anything else by Harry Hay or Will Roscoe you can get your hands on is
worth reading. Especially delightful and inspiring is Roscoe's _Queer
Spirits_: A Gay Men's Myth Book_ (Beacon Press 1995).
Symbols are very important to the gay and lesbian community, and to me.
In 1950, Hay chose four symbols to represent the early Mattachine Society:
the Ankh, the Greek Androgyne, the Hopi Berdache (or Two-Spirit), and the
designation of the Order of St. Medardus (Balkan patron saint of male
companionship). In the years since 1950, the gay and lesbian community
has adopted a few more symbols: the rainbow flag, symbol of the diversity
of our community; the pink triangle, the symbol given male homosexuals in
Nazi concentration camps; the black triangle, the symbol given female
social deviants in Nazi concentration camps; the greek Lambda; the equal
sign, symbol of our struggle for equality; the leather pride flag; the red
ribbon for support of those with HIV; and others.
The Houston Faerie Circle
Who are the Radical Faeries
Jeremy's musings on spirituality and
Faerie and Gay Spirituality links