in the temples of the gods and goddesses of the ancient world, all around the Meditteranean, the women, queer men and the in-between/non-binary folk, practiced our sex rituals
the rites of Dionysis , when women went to forest orgeia with their transsexual god, were built into the Greek calendar…. when men started to join in the rites were moved to night time and things got even wilder
sometimes those rituals took place on the city streets, such as in ancient Rome during the Spring celebrations of the Great Mother Goddess, Cybele, when her long haired, crossdressing, publicly self-castrating priests brought their frenzied dance ceremonies to the people
in the forests of northern and eastern Europe we practised our sex rites, part of the craft of healing and community peace and protection, part of maintaining balance
they were finally stamped out during the witch trials of the 16-17th century, at the Europeans started exporting their homophobia to the rest of the world
erotic, ecstatic, drumming ceremonies were crushed in Africa and America and Asia – the white men were terrified of the power of these rituals, so they attacked the power of the shamans by naming their sexual practices and gender fluidity shameful. they called the noble American Two-Spirits berdache, a word for the passive partner in buggery, and the word stuck until the end of the 20th century. they wiped out so much cultural memory in Africa – of the
mwammi, mugawe, quimbanda, okule, agule
jo apele, korre, londo, tubele, isangoma, yan daudu….*
– that today African politicians can claim homosexuality was a European import. only the Dagara people remember the true spiritual nature of men who love men, women who love women, men who are also women, women who are also men, and people who are neither man nor woman.
throughout the Middle Ages ‘heretical’ Christian groups advocated free sexuality and the ability of the soul to find salvation/liberation in this life and become free from sin
occasionally in the medieval monasteries and convents same sex love flowered into bloom: with the 16th century Reformation protestantism and buggery acts put an end to that joy
though when the Jesuit explorers arrived in Japan they found that homosexual relations were rife in the buddhist monasteries – this was considered normal by the populace, who saw it as the monk’s privilege in return for their service to spirit
in the molly houses of 18th century England the queens kept the spirit alive
so did the royal courts of James I, William III, Queen Anne
19th century visionaries Edward Carpenter, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde understood that sexuality was holy, they claimed the inheritance of Socrates and Plato (Carpenter’s preferred name for queer folk was Uranian, after the Goddess Aphrodite Urania, patron of same-sex love and representing its divine nature). they knew also that amongst the native americans and tribal peoples the world over, sodomy and sorcery/shamanism were as linked as they had once been in Europe
20th century brought men who desire men the political and social liberation to pursue our desires (but only after many of us were killed in nazi concentration camps, national hero Alan Turing in the UK chemically castrated, and vast numbers of men arrested, imprisoned for having pleasure).
21st century in 74 countries gay sex is still illegal, and men are still executed for it in some. certain religions poisoned the minds of the world against us. they will not acknowledge the sacredness of male love, its potential to take us into holy communion. they do not acknowledge that ancient faiths the world over worshipped the phallus and the cunt as holy symbols. it is up to us today to reclaim the power, proclaim the power and liberate homosexuality to be enjoyed without shame, fear or guilt… so that men might enjoy the drive for male sexual bonding and take it out of the gutter and into the heavens, where it came from, that women can love each other without fear or shame, and people with non-binary/trans/genderqueer souls can freely be themselves.
we are entering the Age of Aquarius: the myth of Ganymede, the beautiful shepherd boy, who was whisked to heaven by Zeus flying by as an eagle, tells us this is the age of queer liberation, where all forms of love and sexuality will eventually be honoured as divine gifts, sexuality be remembered as a rite that opens the soul, giving glimpses into the great Mystery, and the unity of the human spirit be honoured once again, in all its forms.
“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”
“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.”
“Out of the mists of our long oppression,
We bring love for ourselves and each other,
And love for the gifts we bear,
So heavy and so painful the fashioning of them,
So long the road given us to travel them. A separate people,
We bring a gift to celebrate each other,
‘Tis a gift to be gay!
Feel the pride of it!”
quotes from Harry Hay, the first Radical Faerie – as a young man he read the books of Carpenter and met the Native American elders; he set up the first gay rights organisation in the USA and went on to be one of the men calling the Rad Fae community into being in the late 1970s.
*recommended reading on African queer shamans: Blossom of Bone by Randy P. Connor, chapter 2 ‘Ancestors’
3 thoughts on “The Rites of Queer Spirit”
“the women and the queer men” … and all the rest of us queer folk. 🌈🦋💖
take another look.. what u think now? 🙂
Your writing is brilliant and touches me deeply. Thank you!