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Thank you to everyone for creating a wonderful space for all! 

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I had an amazing time at queer spirit. Would definitely return! 

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There is not a moment I would not was such a wonderful time... thank you all

Audio versionAudio version

Being Earth, by Al Head

The theme of this year's Queer Spirit Festival is:
'Born of Earth, Born to Love' and I've been reflecting on this.

My personal suggestion for the theme was' Remembering we are Earth'. This is why.

We do not just come from the earth, we are not just connected to the earth, we are the earth. Our bodies are made from the same elements as rocks, soil, water and other animals. Our breath is the same air that is breathed by all other animals, the same air that the trees breathe out so that we can live and so that the balance of life can continue. We live within the atmosphere of the earth. We share the same energy that makes up everything in the earth. We are earth.

When I was first introduced to paganism, it was in a context of feminist spirituality. The earth was referred to as our 'mother' and this perception is also found in many other pagan traditions and earth-based spiritualities. However I have increasingly found this concept difficult. For one thing, I no longer perceive the earth – or the sun, moon, stars or myself – as having a gender. I perceive gender as something created by humans – sometimes an idea that is playful, complex and empowering: but more often something that binds, restricts and controls.

I believe that the concept of binary gender has been imposed upon humans (and upon our perception of other animals) in order to continue the patriarchal systems of 'power-over' and of hierarchy. Reducing a complexity of choices to only two, and making one of those dominate the other, has been one of the most powerful tools of subjugation. This subjugation of humans by other humans has gone hand in hand with the destruction of the earth. If humans are not allowed to be free, then how can we allow the freedom of the earth, and of all the myriad beings on it. Again, we are earth.

And so I feel that the gendering of the earth, of elements, of planets, is a part of this control, this putting into boxes, this seeking power over others, with which humanity is afflicted. This affliction comes from the ways that humans have been hurt, and the ways in which they perpetuate that hurt. The only way we can change this is by healing, by reconnecting, by remembering that we are earth.

So, in my perception, the earth is not female, but a huge, ever-changing, ever-growing energy of life. How can such a huge being be gendered, or be anthropomorphised in any way? And yet to inflict the damage that we humans have inflicted, we have had to reduce our perception of the earth. We have had to reduce also our perception of ourselves. We have had to forget that we also ever-changing, ever-growing, energetic beings. We have had to forget that we too are earth.

Being EarthAnd so it is my belief that we are not born of earth. The earth is not our mother and we are not 'her' children. The earth is, and we are, a small part of an eternal energy, endlessly recurring and (in my belief) reincarnating. 'As above, so below', is something witches say; and in our small microcosms we reflect the larger macrocosms of the whole earth, the whole universe, and whatever is beyond it. We are born from the wombs of those who will become our ancestors. These people, as we are, are earth, and so, in that sense only, we are born of earth.

When we are born, we start the long process of separating from the human who birthed us. Energetically this can take many years, and some of us never completely separate. And yet this is the aim that we search for. We do need to become our own person, not defined by those who birthed and/or raised us. When we are our own person, energetically separate, we can welcome and honour our connection to those people, and to all people. But we have to experience our separateness in order to connect. 

If we perceive the earth as mother, we will feel that this process of separation needs to happen between us and the earth: but in my perception it does not. In my perception it is this very separation, or perceived separation, of humans from the earth, that has led to our ability to rain destruction upon it. If we truly know that we are earth we cannot destroy earth, because to destroy it is to destroy ourselves. I do not think we need to separate from earth in the same way as we need to separate from other humans. Indeed, we cannot separate because we are earth. We are entities that feel ourselves as unique individuals – creative, joyful, loving – within the larger energy of earth. When we feel disconnected, that is when destruction can happen.

So are we born to love? I would say yes, and no. Love, in my view, is connection, is opening to another, is honouring another, and as such is one of the biggest joys of being. We love other humans, trees, buds, clouds, foxes, insects. When we love the earth it is in the same way as we love ourselves, because we are earth. If we forget to love ourselves, because of the emotional pain we are in, then we also forget to love the earth. Yes, love is our birthright, but it also goes beyond our birth, to wherever we were before we were born and wherever we go after we die. 

Love is broad and all encompassing. In our society it gets restricted, reduced, made into romantic love, sometimes acknowledged in friendship or family. But love is so much bigger, so much more. Love is what we feel when we stand in a circle of two or three hundred people at Queer Spirit Festival and feel the connection between us, feel the freedom we are allowing ourselves and each other, the ability and honour to be ourselves, and the opportunity to share ourselves with others in any way that is consensual and desired. I'm looking forward to being in those circles again this summer and feeling this love. And I'm looking forward to remembering together that we are earth and that we are not separate; and to feeling our love for the earth, for each other and for ourselves. I'm looking forward to us remembering that, because we are all earth, we are all, always, connected.

Al Head (author of 'Queer Deity, Sacred Slut')


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