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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

On Bridwell Park...

The team creating the 4th Queer Spirit festival this summer are very excited about our new location – it's beautiful, quiet (no traffic noise, no Grand-Prix practice next door as we had in 2019!)

The land is expansive with lots of beautiful trees, including ancient oaks, plus there's a woodland and lake to walk around.

Deer in the parkBridwell Park was called "One of Devon’s unsung surprises" by architectural historian John Cornforth – the land is an 18th century landscaped deer park, it once contained a chapel dedicated to St Bridget, built at the site of a sacred spring (Brid-well) that likely had associations with the Goddess Bridget, precursor of the Saint, going back into pagan times. The chapel was demolished in 1774, then replaced by the current building which became a museum storing the artefacts from around the world that Captain Cook brought back from his travels.

Bridwell Park was opened up to public access in 2015 by current landowner Lord Ivar Mountbatten, whose family moved into Bridwell from Essex in 1997.  Lord Ivar has made headlines in recent years as the first member of the extended royal family to come out as gay and to take a civil partner, James Coyle.

Their story is a refreshing one in this time when tension is rising for LGBTQ+ people: Ivar's wife Penny had always known of her husband's bisexuality, their divorce was amicable, and Penny walked her ex-husband down the aisle at the partnership ceremony. Ivar and his partner, and also the now grown-up children from his marriage to Penny, are all looking forward to welcoming hundreds of fabulous queers to the park, which we will be sharing with a resident herd of very chilled red deer!

“Deer’s medicine includes gentleness in word, thought and touch. The ability to listen, grace and appreciation for the beauty of balance. Understanding of what’s necessary for survival, power of gratitude and giving, ability to sacrifice for the higher good, connection to the woodland goddess, alternative paths to a goal." Deer Power Animal Symbol Of Gentleness Unconditional Love And Kindness – Shamanic Journey

This is our third venue for Queer Spirit – the first two, in 2016 and 2017 were held at Thoulstone Park, a converted golf-course in Wiltshire; in 2019 we were in a nice big field in Northamptonshire, but it lacked trees, lacked wild nature, and was next door to Silverstone Race Course! Every day the sound of Formula 1 race cars doing practice runs came flooding across the space.

The team so longed to find a more suitable place for the festival, but it was challenging to find somewhere that was suitable and interested in staging a non-profit, queer festival focused on spirituality! The search went on for 18 months before the chain of events brought us to make contact with Bridwell Park, who happened to be ready to launch into festival hosting – Queer Spirit will be the first ever camping festival at the Park.

..and let us assure you, Bridwell is quiet and peacefull!

Bridwell Park

The festival team are super grateful to Ivar and James for their enthusiasm and generosity in welcoming us all to Bridwell. Some people are assuming that because the festival is taking place on their land that the team working on it have some 'royal connection' – we are in fact simply customers of Bridwell Park, we met Ivar and James when we went along to view the land for the first time last August.

For some folk, this coming together of festival folk (who might often be hippies, anarchists and socialists) on land owned by members of the 'upper class' is challenging. To that point I offer this – QUEER PEOPLE ARE HERE TO UNITE THE WORLDS – that's our role, both spiritually and materially. Queer people come from all races, nations, religions and classes – we are a potentially unifying force in the world because we have the ability to see beyond surface differences, to know the real person in front of us.

We are a people who have been judged harshly and erroneously for so long that most of us are of the inclination to not judge others. In the past, one of the reasons gay sex was so notorious was because it broke through the class barriers and threatened the rigid, hierarchical structures of society. The persecution of Molly Houses in the 18thcentury, the Oscar Wilde trial, Cleveland Street and other scandals of the 19th, brought this to public attention.

Plato had understood 2500 years ago that same sex love "is regarded as shameful by barbarians and by those who live under despotic governments just as philosophy is regarded as shameful by them, because it is apparently not in the interest of such rulers to have great ideas engendered in their subjects, or powerful friendships or passionate love-all of which homosexuality is particularly apt to produce." 

Bridwell ParkWe are gathering on ancient land, once a sanctuary of the Maiden Goddess Bridget, more recently an imperial roost: the Land holds its history.  This piece of the earth became the landing place of many items and artefacts taken from cultures of the globe – as indeed these British Isles have become home to people from so many races and religions from around the world. We living today are the inheritors of a colonial history that we know was at times dark, bloody and cruel. Our multi-cultural society is the result of this history, which gives us a huge opportunity – what we do with this legacy is ours to decide.

Can we perhaps achieve justice for our ancestors by moving beyond the stories of blame and shame, recognising the humanity in each person alive, regardless of their race, faith, class, gender, sexuality, abilities etc? The family and setting of a person's birth is decided by the universe, not the individual. As a queer man I learned not to judge others for who they were born to be, but only for what they do from that place. But the damage done in the past left its wounds, we cannot ignore that, but we can choose both justice and healing as the way forward.

Queer people have the potential to be a catalyst for global healing because we have the power of seeing through difference

At Queer Spirit Festival we are gathering together to Reclaim Queer Nature as the magical, healing, world-connecting force it truly is – and to build community that embraces nature, ancestors and all queer beings and our allies. The time we are most likely to step into the miraculous realm of oneness is when we together are in nature communing with animal, plant and tree spirits, with earth, air, fire and water, with the sun, moon and stars. Nature is always waiting to bring us home. 

MORE ON DEER MAGIC: "In the Celtic tradition, there are two aspects of deer – female and male. The Hind (the red female deer), called Eilid in the Gaelic language, symbolises femininity, subtlety and gracefulness. The Hind is believed to call to us from the Faery realm, tempting us to release the material trappings of so-called ‘civilization’, to go deep into the forest of magic, to explore our own magical and spiritual nature. The topic gentleness is part of this tradition. Many stories tell of Hinds changing into women, often goddesses, to protect does from being hunted.

The lesson to be gleaned here is that when we explore magic and spirituality, it must be with good intention, to harm no living being, but to enter the realm of the wild things in the spirit of love and communion. The Stag, Damh in the Gaelic tongue, is also linked to the sacredness of the magical forest. The Damh represents independence, purification, and pride. It is known as the King of the Forest, the protector of its creatures. For time immemorial people have sought to identify with the stag by ceremonially wearing antlered headdresses and imitating the deer’s leaping grace. 

"Deer teaches us to be gentle, to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings who are in our lives. Don’t push people to change, rather gently nudge them in right direction, with the love that comes from deer. Love and accept people as they are. The balance of true power lays in love and compassion."
Deer Power Animal Symbol Of Gentleness Unconditional Love And Kindness – Shamanic Journey

Queer Spirit Festival

Hail to the trees and spirits of Bridwell Park!

Queer Spirit Festival is coming!


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