From Smalltown Boy to Queer Spirit Warrior, from gay bars to Radical Faerie gatherings, here is a tale of awakening to a multi-dimensional reality and of discovering the hidden spiritual powers of gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer people and how they are manifesting in the world today. AIDS took me to the twilight world between life and death, a place where realities merged and spirit entered. HIV opened my mind to the fact that humanity needs to awaken and realise that we are cut off from our true source and nature, to understand that: Healing Is Vital: healing of our belief in separation.
AIDS became my Accelerated Individual Discovery of Self.
In this book I offer my story of awakening to spiritual light and discovery of the magic inherent in queer sexualities. I hope to offer perspectives on life, and our queer part in it, that I hope will assist in the evolution of a more compassionate world of enhanced understanding, well-being and joy. I hope it will help queer people especially to overcome negative attitudes around spirit and faith as we realise we can find our own answers through direct experience. Answers that will help all of humanity to overcome the fear of death, the ultimate illusion, and live a more fully divine life. The emergence of gay people into society, accepted and embraced as never before, is changing the world, and the Queer Age of Aquarius is only just beginning.
From the Foreword by Toby Johnson (author of Gay Spirituality, Gay Perspective, Find Your Own Myth. tobyjohnson.com):
‘Early in his exploration of gay life and love in mid-80s London, Mark Whiting is going to tell us in this autobiographical portrayal of his gay spiritual hero journey AIDS to Eternity, he was faced with an HIV diagnosis and prediction of imminent death. As he prepared himself for the end, he dove into the mysteries of religion, occult magic, mysticism and new age teachings, seeking answers to why he had been born in the first place.
‘AIDS, he says, took him into the twilight world between life and death, a place where realities merged and spirit entered, where spirit pointed to a way to change and healing, where—by transforming acronyms—HIV could reveal that Healing Is Vital and AIDS could act as an Accelerated Individual Discovery of Self. He describes his journey with AIDS—the symptoms, the sufferings, the despair, the hope when new successful treatments arrived—as a rite of passage into the multidimensional nature of life. It forced him to grow out of the blinkered, limited ego-mind and discover himself as a ‘divine child’ with a rightful place in the great scheme of the universe. And after he opened his inner eyes, he found the motivation within to bring light, love and joy into life and to the planet. And subsequently his health returned and his life utterly transformed.
‘The healing crisis of nearly dying with AIDS allowed him to get in touch with his soul, his true self, and to see just how deeply we human beings— including we gay/ queer men—are involved in a spiritual, not simply physical, experience here on planet Earth, and how blind humanity— and so much of the gay/queer world—has been to that. But things were changing… It was as he prepared to die, he says, in the mid ’90s, just a decade after coming out, that he learnt, not least from reading the 19th C. British philosopher and precocious sexologist, Edward Carpenter, that what we call ‘queer’ people were often the shamans and healers of traditional tribal societies across the globe. Gender-diversity and healing go together…
‘Learning the lessons from the AIDS years, in the early 2000s Mark became involved with Queer Pagan Camp, the Edward Carpenter Community which holds retreats for gay men, and the global Radical Faerie community, thus becoming Shokti. He was part of the team that established Folleterre Sanctuary in France and the Albion Faerie gatherings in the UK, LoveSpirit in London, and the Queer Spirit Festival dedicated to celebration of the creative, loving spirit—and innate spirituality—of LGBTQ+ people.
‘This book too is such a celebration of creative, loving spirit. It is the story of how Mark became Shokti and recovered his true life. It is an account of a not uncommon spiritual journey of men who lived through the era of AIDS. And it is a kind of treatise on the Gay Spirituality Movement. One of the remarkable aspects of Shokti’s wisdom is that he tells us about the books he’s read, the teachers he’s learned from, the names of the other gay men and women who have contributed to this field. He demonstrates its breadth. Shokti Lovestar seems to speak for a deep and broad current of spiritual wisdom that runs—karmically—through our queer lives.’
I have been running a Queer Spirit Full Moon Drum Circle in south London since 2005, a rich occasion of vibrant trance rhythms and ecstatic dance, often attended by 70+ people.
I am one of the core team organising Queer Spirit Festival, which brought together 500 questing queers at its third manifestation in 2019 to celebrate our queer creative spirit and healing gifts. Another festival is in planning. http://queerspirit.net/
I’ve experienced the many shifts on the London gay scene since I arrived here aged 21 in 1986. HIV pushed me early on that road into a spiritual search for meaning, which has flowered into community activism amongst the global Radical Faerie community and the founding of Queer Spirit Festival:
Queer people have long been associated with magic and mystery – but modern queers may not even know this… Our sacred roles were suppressed in Europe but survived longer in the rest of the world. As we decolonise gay history, it is in our power to reclaim our spiritual magic, but only if we can get over the lies about us forced on the world by religion, and over the centuries of virulent homophobia that lies deep seated in our collective memory.
AIDS threatened to end my life at an early age – but gave me the motivation to seek the path to inner liberation, and in FROM AIDS TO ETERNITY I offer insights gained on that journey, hoping to shine some light for others.
1. My Aquarian Story
2. The Shift of the Ages
3. Magical Roots
4. Childhood and Coming Out
6. Start of the Awakening
7. Meeting the Mother
8. At the Edge with AIDS
9. Awakening Accelerated
13. Queer Spirit
14. Back to the Roots
15. Into Eternity