Post Queer Spirit
Shokti here, back from the Divine Delights of Queer Spirit Festival, where 600 magical Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, Transgender and Non-binary folk along with friends and allies, over 5 days in the stunning, genuinely bucolic, setting of Bridwell Park in Devon, celebrated creative connection with nature, the thrill of bonding in community and the spiritual liberation that queerness can open up in us.
In a blog piece about the festival, Chandler Tregaskes, the non-binary editor of Tatler magazine, has recorded witnessing “an unrivalled sense of freedom amongst attendees” and describes Queer Spirit as a place were “all are welcomed in with an unbridled sense of community and love.” The festival spirit was even compared in the article to that of the early pioneering days of Glastonbury: “Like how the original Glastonbury Fayre’s began with a small group of like-minded individuals immersing themselves in a shared love of the arts in the South West, a feeling of togetherness ran throughout the affair. After all, Worthy Farm is only an about an hour away. But with no alcohol served on site, it was a sense of sobriety and unadulterated equality that filled the air instead of boozy breath and cigarette smoke. Nature and spirituality is the drug du jour here.”
Queers Finding Home in Nature, Finding Co-Creative Community, Healing the Wounds inflicted on our kind by religion, law and psychology – queers of all sexualities, genders and from all faiths, races, nations: celebrating what we have in common – our connection to nature, our connection to love, our truly cosmic nature!
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO CAME AS VOLUNTEERS, PERFORMERS, FACILITATORS AND PARTICIPANTS – together we opened the gates to nature, the gates to love, the gates to healing...
BUT SADLY – ON COMING HOME, I FIND MY SELF READING HEADLINES LIKE THESE:
Man could face death penalty over alleged 'aggravated homosexuality' (msn.com)
“Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania and other African countries are looking to adopt similar 'Kill the Gays' laws targeting their countries' LGBTQ citizens...”
Nigerian police arrest at least 67 at suspected same-sex wedding (thepinknews.com)
“Police raided the event at around 2am on Monday (28 August) and initially arrested more than 100 people before scaling it down to 67 suspects who will be prosecuted for “allegedly conducting and attending a same-sex wedding ceremony”, police spokesperson Bright Edafe told local media...Edafe stated: “On 28 August, about 100 suspects were initially arrested. The majority of them all dressed like females and we saw the two main suspects, one dressed as a bride and one as the groom.”
Iraq anti-LGBTQ bill could put same-sex couples to death (thepinknews.com)
“Iraqi independent politician Raad Al-Maliki introduced amendments to the “Law on Combatting Prostitution” on 15 August that would make same-sex relations a criminal offence – punishable by either the death penalty or life in prison.”
Canada warns LGBT+ travelers against visiting the US (msn.com)
“Within Canada’s travel advisory for the US, there is now a warning specifically directed at individuals who identify as two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or intersex (2SLGBTQI+).
“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons,” the advisory from Ottawa said on Tuesday. “Check relevant state and local laws.”
This wave of hostility towards LGBTQ+ people is not just happening in Africa and the USA – in the past weeks south London has seen two violent homophobic attacks:
Two Brewers stabbing: 'Our second home was attacked' (thepinknews.com)
“In Clapham, there’s a sense of trepidation and sadness as the local LGBTQ+ community comes to terms with an attack at one of their safe spaces, iconic bar The Two Brewers...
“Steven Chinnery works in Fetch, a local adult store just a stone’s throw from The Two Brewers. He says locals are “on edge” since the attack... The attack was a shock, but in some ways it wasn’t surprising, as far as Steven is concerned. He says things have been sliding back for some time – and not just in Clapham.”
Couple making their way home from Black Pride fall victim to homophobic attack in south... - LBC
“Teacher Michael Smith and his boyfriend, performer Nat Asabere, were waiting on Brixton Road when a stranger assaulted them in a homophobic attack.”
How can we meet this dark tide in the world?
THE TEAM CO-CREATING THE MAGIC AT QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL BELIEVE IT IS BY SHINING OUR LIGHT MORE BRIGHTLY...
WE ARE SO PROUD TO HAVE BROUGHT HUNDREDS OF SPIRITED QUEERS TOGETHER IN DEVON THIS SUMMER TO RECLAIM AND PROCLAIM OUR NATURAL SPIRITUALITY...
… which connects bodies, hearts and minds to Nature
… lifts us into union with the Cosmos
… and brings healing, love, laughter and grace to the World.
As we gradually decolonise notions of gender and sexuality from the binary system invented in 19th century western Europe, history is finally revealing what Edward Carpenter and others already wrote about over a century ago:
“In pre-Christian times and among the early civilisations… the intermediate people and their corresponding sex-relationships played a distinct part in the life of the tribe or nation, and were openly acknowledged and recognised as part of the general polity.”
In 1906 Finnish philosopher and sociologist Edward Westermarck stated quite plainly in his book the Origins and Development of Moral Ideas:
“…the Hebrew’s abhorrence of sodomy was largely due to their hatred of a foreign cult. According to Genesis, unnatural vice was the sin of a people who were not the Lord’s people…. we know sodomy entered as an element in their religion. Besides kedeshoth, or female prostitutes, there were kedeshim, or male prostitutes, attached to their temples. The word Kadesh, translated ‘sodomite’, properly denotes a man dedicated to a deity; and it appears that such men were consecrated to the mother of the gods, the famous Dea Syria, whose priests or devotees they were considered to be…. the sodomitic acts committed with these temple prostitutes may, like the connections with priestesses, have had in view to transfer blessings to the worshippers.”
Political leaders have long stoked this religious prejudice against homosexuals as a way of deflecting the attention of the masses from other problems. 1500 years ago, Byzantine Roman Emperor Justinian imposed the death penalty on gay lovers, declaring that God's horror of it led to earthquakes, disease and disasters. Almost a millennium earlier than that, Plato had already recorded 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." Throughout the medieval and modern world the imposition of penalties on same sex love and gender variant self-expression has been a way of diverting the people's attention from problems, and from what the elite political class were up to. Nowhere is this more obvious and painful than in recent decades in Africa, where homophobia is stoked up as a way of diverting attention from poverty, corruption and maladministration of funds. Belgian feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray and others have walked in Plato's footsteps, demonstrating that countries run by dictators are predominantly homophobic - and showing how little has changed in 2500 years.
In the 21st century, as we are gradually decolonising notions of sexuality, we are learning about the common association around the world of gender-fluid and same-sex loving people with ‘magic’, with the spirit world, with priestcraft, divination and healing. Examples include the Quimbanda wizards of Angola, the Mahu of Hawaii, the Two-Spirits of America, the ancient Gallae priests of Cybele (an Anatolian Goddess who became the Great Mother of the Roman Empire, served by her female and queer priests until the end of the 4th century CE) and the Buddhist monks of Japan, for whom gay sex was considered a privilege. (When European Jesuits objected to the practice, the insulted Japanese were extremely offended!)
The modern Gay Liberation movement is in many ways the love-child of secular society — which dismantled centuries of religious prejudice and gained us legal rights — but also the 1960s counter-culture, which shook up societies attitudes to both sexuality and spirituality. In 5 decades the powerful energy of Gay Liberation has brought huge advances in political, legal and social realms — but the spiritual world remains in shadows, as the current ugliness playing out in Africa shows. Fear, hatred, ignorance and prejudice are still widespread, with the trans community taking the brunt of it in the UK and USA recently, although it isn't taking long for that to develop into manifestations of aggressive homophobia also.
The global LGBTQ community has yet to address the cause of, and uproot, the religious homophobia that continues to blight the lives of queer people around the world, and is still used to justify persecution in many countries. Homophobia was part of the effort of the Father God religions to separate themselves from the Goddess worshipping pagan past, in which the body and sexuality were highly revered as sacred, as were the gay and transgender priests who enacted her, often erotic and ecstatic, rituals.
At Queer Spirit Festival 2023 we celebrated the reunion of the body and the spirit, the sacred reunion of humanity with nature, the possibilities of healing in community and the creativity and love that LGBTQ+ people bring to the world. Let's expose the lies of certain religions, of evil laws and ignorant medical labelling as we RECLAIM QUEER NATURE in all its beauty, joy and freedom.
In our lusts and in our passions
burns the fire of life,
in our open minds and unfurling love
lies the way to light
light of many colours
rainbows shall fill the void,
we are channels, vessels and light beams
born to show there is more to life
Here to reveal and paint the rainbow:
peace, love and understanding for everyone,
children of moon and sun,
rainbow warriors, multidimensional
sexy souls, simply sensational,
chasing love joy and liberation
The world has forgotten what we queer children do -
and those amongst us who remember it are few -
yet deep at the core of the so-called me and you,
it's the inner dance of the genders and subject:SUBJECT consciousness
that opens the gateways to let the cosmic lovelight through.