There must be radical healing of the gatekeepers if our globe is to truly be healed
In earth-connected traditions “The gay person is looked at primarily as a 'gatekeeper.'” Malidoma Some of the Dagara People
In a materialist paradigm, sex is just something we do with our bodies, driven by a biological urge to have pleasure, underlying which is nature's imperative in us to procreate. In that paradigm, those who love and have sex with people of the same gender, or people who embody both male and female in their person, become anomalies, nature's 'mistakes' and 'abominations' distracting humanity from its 'natural' biological purpose.
Patriarchal religion first tried to impose this view by calling all non-reproductive sex 'sinful.' It suited the aims of emperors and governments to enshrine this prejudice into law (in the Roman empire from the 4th century CE, in western Europe from the late Middle Ages, in the UK from the Buggery Act under Henry VIII in 1533). Many centuries earlier in ancient Greece Plato had spotted this trend, recording in the Symposium that “the interests of rulers require that their subjects should be poor in spirit, and that there should be no strong bond of friendship or society among them, which love above all other motives is likely to inspire...”
In the 19th century the new science of psychology inherited this homophobia, and addressed 'inversion' as a problem to be solved. The term homosexuality was adopted, with heterosexual only coming later, and for the first time in history all people became defined by sexual categories. There were gay men at the time who saw things very differently – they knew their attraction to other men was only part of their character and nature, they knew that 'intermediate types' (as Edward Carpenter called us) had a long, noble, spiritual history to draw from in identifying ourselves, stretching back to the philosophy schools of Greece and the priesthoods of the Goddess temples of the ancient Mediterranean world, kept alive in the culture of spiritual friendship nurtured in medieval monasteries, and reclaimed already by the artists and writers in the European Renaissance (even Shakespeare wrote sonnets celebrating the love of a young man, as the Greeks once did).
“And if the vulgar and malignant crowd, misunderstand the love with which we’re blessed, its worth is not affected in the least, our faith and honest love can still be blessed.”
Radical Faerie Harry Hay said:
“We have been a SEPARATE PEOPLE…. Drifting together in a parallel existence, not always conscious of each other.. yet recognising one another by eyelock when we did meet… here and there as outcasts… Spirit people… in service to the Great Mother.. Shamans.. mimes and rhapsodes, poets and playwrights, healers and nurturers… VISIONARIES… REBELS.”
CULTURES OF THE WORLD THAT HONOURED THE DIVINE FEMININE RESPECTED ALL LIFE AS PART OF THE HOLY CREATION. THE IDEA THAT THE CREATOR COULD MAKE A MISTAKE DID NOT OCCUR TO THEM.
“The Mother of the Gods also admits effeminates, and the Goddess would not judge so, if by nature unmanliness were a trivial thing,” wrote Greek philosopher Sextus Empiricus in the 2nd century.
In a spiritual paradigm sex becomes a sacred meeting of bodies and souls; in a spiritual paradigm same sex love and gender-variance have defined roles to play. Cultures around the world, such as the Native Americans, have historically recognised the spiritual nature of 'gay' or 'queer' people. The 'Two-Spirits' of the American tribes are reclaiming their sacred ritual and community roles, having shaken off the label 'berdache' (which meant a bottom in gay sex) given to them by European explorers five centuries ago. They are an example for queers the world over, but in Europe we have to dig deep into our history to uncover this.
It is only because the western world got so stuck on the materialist viewpoint, got so obsessed with the 'normality' of heterosexuality, that QUEER as in 'strange' has become the term for the balancing concept! But let's remember that queer has roots in the German 'quer' meaning 'across'. Queers are the cross-weave on the tapestry of life. By suppressing queer nature the people born of nature to bring harmony, mediation, peace to the species are unable to do our work.
Andrew Ramer, Two Flutes Playing:
'All those whose intrinsic capacity for love turns toward members of their own gender are consciousness scouts. They explore the terrain of what it means to be a woman or a man, or both. But they also have other skills as a people, as a sub-tribe, that need to be remembered and honored, by themselves and by the world.'
Malidoma Some of the Dagara Tribe of west Africa spoke in the 1990s about tribal understanding of the connection between homosexuality and spirit:
“Why is it that, everywhere else in the world, gay people are a blessing, and in the modern world they are a curse? It is self-evident. The modern world was built by Christianity. They have taken the gods out of the earth sent them to heaven, wherever that is. And everyone who aspires to the gods must then negotiate with Christianity, so that the real priests and priestesses are out of a job. This is the worst thing that can happen to a culture that calls itself modern.
“Among the Dagara people, gender has very little to do with anatomy. It is purely energetic. In that context, a male who is physically male can vibrate female energy, and vice versa. That is where the real gender is. Anatomic differences are simply there to determine who contributes what for the continuity of the tribe. It does not mean, necessarily, that there is a kind of line that divides people on that basis. And this is something that also touches on what has become known here as the "gay" or "homosexual" issue. Again, in the culture that I come from, this is not the issue. These people are looked on, essentially, as people. The whole notion of "gay" does not exist in the indigenous world. That does not mean that there are not people there who feel the way that certain people feel in this culture, that has led to them being referred to as "gay."
“The reason why I’m saying there are no such people is because the gay person is very well integrated into the community, with the functions that delete this whole sexual differentiation of him or her. The gay person is looked at primarily as a "gatekeeper." The Earth is looked at, from my tribal perspective, as a very, very delicate machine or consciousness, with high vibrational points, which certain people must be guardians of in order for the tribe to keep its continuity with the gods and with the spirits that dwell there. Spirits of this world and spirits of the other worlds. Any person who is at this link between this world and the other world experiences a state of vibrational consciousness which is far higher, and far different, from the one that a normal person would experience. This is what makes a gay person gay.”
Andrew Ramer, Two Flutes Playing:
“The male body vibrates differently than a female body. Their patterns of energy are different. So a male and a female body create a different pattern of combined energy in their meetings than the union of man and man, or of woman and woman. Once all religions knew this. The energy of those exploring the male-female path emerges in spirals. Woman to woman energy expands outward in rippling circles. The energy of man-to-man love creates a pillar, a column, a tree of living light, of liquid fire rising. So the spiral, the circle, the line. The differing faces of oneness. The bowl, the jug, the plate shaped out of clay. The ancients knew this. And this knowledge surfaces and resurfaces through time. Sometimes hidden, sometimes secret, still it lives on in the heart of humanity. Surfacing, going into hiding, waiting for the time when it can flow freely again.
“So twice in recent western history this knowledge began to surface, in Greece and during the Renaissance. But the world was still too fearful, too bound to childbreeding, to survival, to fully sanction the three patterns of love that it carries within. So as a bird carries the dream of flight, in our time a bird ready for flight spreads winged memory and sails into the blueness. I speak now, and others like me speak in other places. We speak of the fullness of human life, the multiple paths, the differences. We speak of the common love-heart that births us all, living and loving in spirit. We come to a new time, a rich time. Let music play. Let music be played freely. Let new-fashioned ancient songs be played. The song of two flutes will now be heard again. The light-water-love song. The forgotten mystery.”
Throughout the dark middle ages and the first centuries of the modern era, lovers of the same sex, and gender-fluid people kept their secrets. Gay subcultures appeared here and there, in city taverns, around universities, in theatreland, and over time knowledge of the positive legacy of the ancient world was passed from generation to generation. The intellectual gays of the 19th century were conscious of this connection to a noble, and spiritual, past, and appealed for it to be reclaimed – but in the 20th century the cause of gay liberation took another tack, it met the 'rational' age on its own terms and gained progress for queer people in the name of human rights. However, in certain parts of the world, where the fire ancient religious prejudice is still being stoked, to be queer is still dangerous and deadly.
Until the religious roots of homophobia are exposed for what they were – a patriarchal power grab, an usurpation of spiritual power, taking it out of the hands of women and queers as straight men remade God in their own image, as a Father only – freedom for our kind will remain elusive.
Some of us queers have had enough of delicately stepping around the issues religion throws at us, and are waking up to our own spirituality – and discovering it is more ancient than any religion, more connected to the feminine and to the earth itself. Christian Father Augustine described the flamboyant queer Galli priests of the Great Mother Goddess, who performed popular, wild, ecstatic ceremonies “the sons of the earth.” The anti-sexual, homophobic, misogynistic attitudes of Christianity and Islam were part of the suppression of the ancient cultures of the Goddess.
On the edges of the gay mainstream, some queers have been gathering to create spiritually awake community in sacred groves for over four decades – for as the modern, political, gay movement grew there were indeed some who felt the call to search deeper for the real secrets of queer nature. In Radical Faerie sanctuaries, womens' communities, Queer Pagan camps, gay spirit retreats – many queers have discovered that their sexuality and gender are gateways to deeper knowledge, experience, magic and wisdom, and wish to share that beautiful truth with the rest of queerkind, to wake up the magic in our souls and bring healing grace to the world.
The latest manifestation of this journey into the creative, healing spirit of queer people is coming up very soon: around 600 of us will be gathering at QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL this August at Bridwell Park in Devon. We are RECLAIMING QUEER NATURE in all its creative and world-connecting potential. We are reclaiming our healing powers and redefining who we are.
“Our beautiful lovely sexuality is the gateway to spirit. Under all organised religions of the past, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, there has been a separation of carnality, or shall we say of flesh or earth or sex, and spirituality. As far as I am concerned they are all the same thing, and what we need to do as faeries is to tie it all back together again.”
“...the thing about it is that humans are going to be begetting gatekeepers, no matter what. This is the chance that we’ve got. So maybe that means that sooner or later we’re going to wake up to the horror of our own errors, and we’re going to reconsecrate our chosen people so that they can do their priestly work as they should. Otherwise, I just don’t understand. I just don’t understand. My position about it is not so much that gays be just forgiven. That’s just tokenism. But that they serve as an example of the wrong, or the illness, that modernity has brought to us, and that we use that to begin working at healing ourselves and our society from the bottom up. That way, by the time we reach a certain level, all the gatekeepers are going to find their positions again. We cannot tell them where the gates are. They know. If we start to heal ourselves, they will remember. It will kick in. But as long as we continue in arrogance, in egotism, in God-knows-what form of violence on ourselves, no, there’s that veil of confusion that’s going to continue to prevail, and as a result it’s going to prevent great things from happening. That’s all I can say about that.”