by Arthur Evans, author of Witchcraft and the Gay Counter-Culture:
“The scene was San Francisco’s Sutro Park, near the beach at Land’s End. A new group I had helped create, the Faery Circle, had decided to conduct a night-time ritual here. It was held in honor of the ancient Roman goddess Diana, whose statue overlooks the Roman-like ruins of the old Sutro Baths. We gathered in a semi-circle before the goddess, chanting her name, and calling down the power of the moon, which the ancients identified with her. Since Diana is also the patron of animals, one celebrant (Earl Galvin) wore an enormous green frog’s head that he had made. He also carried a large banner of Our Lady of Guadeloupe (to remind Mary of her pagan roots!). After paying our respects to Diana, we descended to the beach, crossing the highway that separated it from the park. As we did so, motorists were forced to a jaw-dropping stop by the spectacle of a giant frog crossing the road with a banner of the Virgin Mary. After the frog came a procession of men wearing dresses and brightly flowing gowns, tinkling finger symbols, and chanting the name of Diana.
“Once we got to the beach, we built a fire, chanted, and danced joyously in a circle. We experienced in the flesh an ancient system of meaning that had validated human sexuality.”
In the same article Arthur says:
“My experiences as a gay political activist, faery celebrant, and gay scholarly researcher have been quite diverse. Yet they all share a common determination to create meaning, based on a positive sense of gay identity.
“I am not alone in having such a motivation. Whether as political activists, spiritual seekers, or innovative scholars, many lesbians and gay men are now challenging the prevailing assumptions of our time. They are also helping to create a more humane and livable world. The experiences of a lifetime tell me that this process — of challenging what is taken for granted and of building something better — is part of what it means to create and live a meaningful human life.”
Ralph Waldo TRINE (1866-1958) excerpted from In Tune with the Infinite
“The great central fact of the universe is that spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all, that manifests itself in and through all. This spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all is what I call God. I care not what term you may use, be it Kindly Light, Providence, the Over-Soul…
“The great central fact in human life is the coming into a conscious vital realisation of our oneness with this Infinite Life, and the opening of ourselves fully to this divine inflow. In just the degree that we come into a conscious realisation of our oneness with the Infinite Life, and open ourselves to this divine inflow, do we actualise in ourselves the qualities and powers of the Infinite Life, do we make ourselves channels through which the Infinite Intelligence and Power can work. In just the degree in which you realise your oneness with the Infinite Spirit, you will exchange dis-ease for ease, inharmony for harmony, suffering and pain for abounding health and strength. To recognise our own divinity, and our intimate relation to the Universal, is to attach the belts of our machinery to the power-house of the Universe. One need remain in hell no longer than one chooses to; we can rise to any heaven we ourselves choose; and when we choose so to rise, all the higher powers of the Universe combine to help us heavenward.”
When Napoleon Bonaparte’s French troops were occupying Egypt at the end of the 18th century they discovered cannabis, liked it and brought it back to France with them, where it’s use and effects excited both psychiatrists and artists. The war to conquer Algeria from 1830-47 brought more hashish into France. Psychiatrist Jacques-Joseph Moreau studied use of the plant extensively and produced a ground-breaking work ‘Du Hachisch et de l’aliénation mentale’ in 1845 (translated into English as ‘Hashish and Mental Illness’) – he is considered the forerunner of modern psychopharmacology. Moraeu concluded that cannabis is safe to use, while “wine and liquors are a thousand times more dangerous.” He was also a member of the Club des Hashashins, where he rubbed shoulders with such great French thinkers and writers as Charles Baudelaire, Eugene Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas and Honore de Balzac.
Meeting from 1845 to 1849 once a month for a ‘séance’ at Hotel Pimodan on L’Isle Saint-Louis on the RIver Seine, members at the Club des Hashishins wore traditional Arab clothing, drank strong coffee laced with hash, and ate cannabis edibles.
Novelist and club member Theophile Gautier described his initiation into hashish: following a “convulsive gaiety of the beginning, an indefinable feeling of well-being, a boundless calm took over… I was like a sponge in the middle of the ocean. At every moment streams of happiness penetrated me, entering and leaving through my pores… I had never been so overwhelmed with bliss.”
‘While most of the club members would get high and write about their experiences being “stoned,” others like Balzac would stay sober, most of the time. In 1845, he gave in, and when he did, told his fellow club members that he heard heavenly voices and saw visions of Godly paintings.’
The club only lasted four years but had much longer lasting influence, literary and social. Dumas classic novel ’The Count of Monte Cristo’ dives into cannabis use. The count offers some paste to a visitor saying “Taste this, and the boundaries of possibility disappear, the fields of infinite space open to you, you advance free in heart, free in mind… Taste the hashish, guest of mine—taste the hashish… open your wings and fly into superhuman regions.” By contrast, Baudelaire’s disappointment led to ‘Les Paradis Artificiels’ (Artificial Paradises), a much more sombre affair.
Some of its literary fans may have got tired of it: Theophile Gautier, who in 1846 wrote an article praising the “oasis of solitude in the middle of Paris, which the river, by surrounding it with its two arms, seemed to defend against the encroachments of civilization,” later reported: “After a dozen experiments we renounced forever this intoxicating drug, not that it would have hurt us physically, but the true literator needs only his natural dreams, and he does not like his thought to be influenced by any agent.”
While the JaneStreet article puts the closure of the club down to restrictive laws, it was not until France signed the Geneva Convention in 1953 that cannabis became illegal in the country. It’s seems that cannabis clubs quietly existed in certain places alongside opium dens and ether houses – I found a reference to them in a classic work of sexology from 1907 by German Iwan Bloch, called ‘The sexual life of our time in its relations to modern civilization’. (This fascinating book also lists the many gay cruising grounds of Paris and Berlin at the turn of the 19th century.)
In it we read:
‘There exist in Paris special opium houses, hashish houses and ether houses, some for men and some for women. Three opium-houses are to be found, for example, in the Avenue Hoche, the Avenue Jena and the Rue Lauriston; there is an ether-restaurant in Neuilly; one for opium, hashish and ether in Rue de Rivoli. All three means of enjoyment evoke after a time sexual ideas and fantasies of an extremely peculiar character, associated with actual voluptuous sensations. Opium gives rise to ‘ardent, brilliant pictures of an excessively stimulated imagination, frequently of a perverse character; hashish has a similar but even stronger influence; and ether gives rise to a more powerful stimulation of the sexual organs, to a ‘vibration of the flesh and of the soul.’ The interior of these unwholesome places of exotic enjoyment, in which frequently homosexual acts also occur, is vividly described…” [in novels by Rene Schwaeble and bisexual crossdresser Gisele D’Estoc]
It was through Parisian contacts that Irish poet William B Yeats came into contact with hashish, which he used in his occult experiments in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and as a member of the Rhymers’ Club. This was set up in London in the 1890s in emulation of the Club des Hashashins, as a meeting place for poets to share their work while enjoying a drink and a pipe. It met until the early 1900s.
In the 20th century cannabis became illegal in much of the world – while alienation, mental illness, social problems grow and grow, often fed by the most destructive of licit substances, alcohol, and the medical benefits of cannabis are still not fully embraced. Back in the more open-minded 19th century, the German visionary Friedrich Nietzsche bemoaned the pervasive sense of alienation in modern society and the attempt by many to overcome it through intoxication, hedonism, disembodied mysticism, and ‘the voluptuous enjoyment of eternal emptiness.’
But Nietzsche, who called alcohol and Christianity ‘the two great European narcotics,’ was not averse to the therapeutic use of cannabis: ‘To escape from unbearable pressure you need hashish.’
At the Club des Hashashins they knew that cannabis could also be used to access the higher mind and riches of the imagination, fuelling creativity as well as easing life’s burdens.
When I write and speak about the commonalities between the spiritual roles often taken by same-sex loving and gender-fluid people in traditional cultures around the world and also in pre-Christian Europe I tend to feel like I am delivering ‘news’, releasing a perspective little known in the world. However it is no new discovery I am offering – I am repeating an observation that has been made ever since the European explorers of the 16-18th centuries set out around the world. Why is it taking so long for the implications of this to become clear?
The modern LGBTQ+ movement was born in a secular age, but Coming Out is a SPIRITUAL step on the journey of Self Awareness, Discovery and Realisation. Life is not a secular experience, but humanity has become so cut off from the spiritual levels of existence that many believe we are material beings having a temporary experience. I was atheist when I came out aged 21: nine years later I was facing a serious decline in health due to HIV, with AIDS and death looming. As I prepared myself to leave the planet my soul came online and woke me up: it is entirely possible that humans are not material beings having a spiritual experience, but actually spiritual beings having a time in materiality. But how can we know this, when the true priests, priestesses and priestexes are prevented from doing their work of keeping human consciousness connected to the other dimensions, or even knowing that this work exists, and has long been part of the spiritual life of communities around the planet.
Malidoma Some of the Dagara Tribe of West Africa said in 1993: “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.” In his tribe there are no gay people – instead there are gatekeepers, their role is spiritual and their sexuality is considered magical and private.
Early European explorers in the Americas recorded the presence of both same sex couples and transgender people in many tribes. Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca’s spent five years in captivity among the natives of Florida, from 1528 to 1533, stated:
“During the time that I was thus among these people I saw a devilish thing, and it is that I saw one man married to another, and these are impotent, effeminate men [amarionados] and they go about dressed as women, and do women’s tasks, and shoot with a bow, and carry great burdens, … and they are huskier than the other men, and taller..”
Also in Florida, Juan de Torquemada‘s reported male natives marrying each other in ‘Monarchia Indiana’, which he began in 1609. He called these men ‘mariones’ (effeminate men), and wrote that they dressed like and did the work of women, comparing these Indian customs to those of the French and Greeks.
Spanish conquistador Cieza de Leon wrote a chronicle of his time in Peru, recording, in 1554 that:
“Every temple or chief house of worship keeps one or two men, or more, according to the idol – who go about attired like women, even from their childhood, and talk like women, and imitate them in their manner, carriage, and all else.”
Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette‘s account of his first voyage down the Mississippi in 1673-77 declares:
“I know not through what superstition some Illinois, as well as some Nadouessi, while still young, assume the garb of women, and retain it throughout their lives. There is some mystery in this, For they never marry and glory in demeaning themselves to do everything that the women do. They go to war, however, but can use only clubs, and not bows and arrows, which are the weapons proper to men. They are present at all the juggleries, and at the solemn dances in honor of the Calumet; at these they sing, but must not dance. They are summoned to the Councils, and nothing can be decided without their advice. Finally, through their profession of leading an Extraordinary life, they pass for Manitous,-That is to say, for Spirits;-or persons of Consequence.”
In 1724 Jesuit Father Joseph-Francois Lafitau published, in French, a massive work named ‘The Customs of American Savages Compared to the Earliest Times’ in which he wrote about des Amities porticufieres, or ‘special friendships,’ among the male Native Americans:
“the Athenrosera, or special friendships among young men, which are instituted in almost the same manner from one end of America to the other, are one of the most interesting sides of their customs, since they entail a most curious chapter of Antiquity, and serve to reveal to us what was practiced in that regard, particularly in the Republic of the Cretans and in that of the Spartans…They are highly ancient in their origin, highly marked in the constancy of their practice, consecrated, if I dare say as much, in the union which they create, whose bonds are as close as those of blood and nature, and cannot be dissolved, unless one of the two makes himself unworthy of the union by acts of cowardice that would dishonor his friend, and is compelled to renounce his alliance, as several Missionaries have told me that they have seen examples. The parents are the first to encourage them and to respect their rights…”
Lafitau also recorded that:
“Among the Illinois, among the Sioux, in Louisiana, in Florida, and in Yucatan, there are young men who adopt the garb of women, and keep it all their lives. They believe they are honored by debasing themselves to all of women’s occupations; they never marry, they participate in all religious ceremonies, and this profession of an extraordinary life causes them to be regarded as people of a higher order, and above the common man. Would these not be the same peoples as the Asiatic adorers of Cybelc, or the Orientals of whom Julius Fermicus speaks, who consecrated priests dressed as women to the Goddess of Phrygia or to Venus Urania, who had an effeminate appearance, painted their faces, and hid their true sex under garments borrowed from the sex whom they wished to counterfeit?
“The view of these men dressed as women surprised the Europeans who first encountered them in America; as they did not at first guess the motives for this species of metamorphosis they were convinced that these were people in whom the two sexes were confounded. To be sure our old Relations called them no other than hermaphrodites.
“Although the religious spirit which made them embrace this state causes them to be regarded as extraordinary human beings, they have nevertheless really fallen, among the savages themselves, into the contempt into which the priests of Venus Urania and Cybele were held of old.”
In 1775 Don Pedro Fages, third in command of the 1769-70 Spanish Portolà expedition, wrote an account of the first European land exploration of what is now the state of California, in which he said:
“I have submitted substantial evidence that those Indian men who, both here and farther inland, are observed in the dress, clothing and character of women – there being two or three such in each village – pass as sodomites by profession…. They are called joyas, and are held in great esteem.”
Also in 1775 Thomas Falkner in his ‘Description of Patagonia’ (1775), said that among the south Americans:
“The wizards are of both sexes. The male wizards are obliged (as it were) to leave their sex, and to dress themselves in female apparel, and are not permitted to marry, though the female ones or witches may. They are generally chosen for this office when they are children, and a preference is always shown to those who at that early time of life discover an effeminate disposition. They are clothed very early in female attire, and presented with the drum and rattles belonging to the profession they are to follow.”
French writer Perrin du Lac‘s report of his travels in Louisiana and among the Natives of Missouri, Ohio, and the bordering areas (1801-03), mentions “men dressed in women’s clothes,” who, along with prisoners, perform the “humiliating task” of serving at Native ceremonies.
This was not only the case in the Americas:
Jesuit leader Francis Xavier, in the mid 16th century complained that the Buddhist ‘bonzes’ of Japan: “.. are inclined to sins, abhorred by nature. They even confess it and don’t deny it. It is visible and public to all, including men and women, young and old, none of whom think much of it nor despise it as it seems to be a common habit indeed.”
Portuguese Jesuit Joao dos Santos wrote in 1625 that the ‘chibados’ of southwestern Africa were: “attyred like women, and behave themselves womanly, ashamed to be called men; are also married to men, and esteeme that unnaturale damnation an honor.”
Antonio Cardonega, in the 17th century, mentioned that sodomy was: “rampant among the people of Angola. They pursue their impudent and filthy practices dressed as women.” He also stated that the sodomites often served as powerful shamans, were highly esteemed among most Angolan tribes and commonly called “quimbanda.”
19th century British explorer Richard Francis Burton found homosexual and cross-dressing practices common around world, and recorded they had “been adopted by the priestly castes from Mesopotamia to Peru.”
A 1904 study of Shamanism in Siberia by Polish anthropologist Maria Antonina Czaplicka (1884 – 1921) recorded the discoveries of earlier explorers, including the frequent association with gender-fluidity:
“As to the people of Siberia, the ‘change of sex’ is found chiefly among Palaeo-Siberians, namely the Chukchee, Koryak, Kamchadal, and Asiatic Eskimo. Even the earliest travellers record instances of this phenomenon. Krasheninnikoff in 1755, Steller in 1774, Wrangel in 1820, Lüdke in 1837, and others. They do not give complete accounts, but merely mention the fact. It differs, however, in their description from ordinary homosexualism in that there is always reference to shamanistic inspiration or evil biddings.”
She recorded also that : “Effeminate sorcerers and priests are found among the Sea-Dyak of Borneo (Capt. Brooke, Schwaner); the Bugis of South Celebes (Capt. Mundy); Patagonians of South America (Falkner); the Aleutians, and many Indian tribes of North America.”
Finnish philosopher and sociologist Edward Westermarck (1862-1949) wrote in his study ‘The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas’ that:
“the change of sex was usually accompanied by future shamanship; indeed nearly all the shamans were former delinquents of their sex.”
He wrote also:
“There no indication that the North American aborigines attached any opprobrium to men who had intercourse with those members of their own sex who had assumed the dress and habits of women. In Kadiak such a companion was on the contrary regarded as a great acquisition; and the effeminate men, far from being despised, were held in repute by the people, most of them being wizards.”
The 19th century brought the first ‘gay rights’ pioneers in western Europe, who resisted the new medicalisation of – and even the very term – homosexuality: proposing instead not only that same sex and gender fluidity is natural, but that they have a vital role to play in the evolution of humanity.
Seeing gayness as a medical or mental issue was, for these self-aware men who loved men, a continuation of the prejudice promulgated over the centuries by both Church and state authorities. These writers were well aware that certain pre-Christian pagan cultures held gay love in high esteem, and they followed the example of de Torquemada in the 17th and Lafitou in the early 18th century to reveal the common association of same sex eroticism with the spiritual realms both in ancient Europe and in indigenous tribes around the world.
German writer and campaigner Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) came out in 1862 calling himself an Urning, which became Uranian in English, in reference to the Greek Goddess Aphrodite Urania, who was born from the testicles of Uranus, with no female involved, and considered a patron of love between men. Oscar Wilde famously said:
“To have altered my life would have been to have admitted that Uranian love is ignoble. I hold it to be noble—more noble than other forms.”
English philosopher and socialist Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), in a book called ‘Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk ‘, published in 1919, explored the link between homoeroticism and the sacred in ancient religions of Europe and elsewhere, including the Samurai of Japan, drawing comparisons with ancient Greece. He concluded that certain:
“…classes of men and women, diverging from the normal in their sex-customs and habits, became the repositories and foci of new kinds of learning and skill, of new activities and accomplishments Thus the foundational occupations of human life – such as fighting, hunting, child-rearing, and agriculture having been laid down by the normal sex types, it was largely the intermediate types who developed the superstructure The priest or medicineman or shaman was at first the sole representative of this new class, and we have seen that he was almost invariably, in some degree or other, of Uranian temperament.
“His work, to begin with, was prophetic or divinatory; but this soon branched out on the one hand into rude poetry, drama, dance and song – what we should call Art – and on the other into elementary observation of the stars and the seasons, medicine and the herbs – what we should call Science. The temples became centres of learning and of the development of the arts and crafts. And a god who combined in some degree the attributes of both male and female was commonly worshipped in their courts.”
English poet and writer John Addington-Symonds (1840-1893), felt the spiritual power in his love for other men, opposed the scientific mind’s attempts to replace religious and legal prohibitions with medical diagnoses, and dreamed of the love of man for man changing the world:
“The new school of anthropologists and psychological physicians study sexual inversion partly on the lines of historical evolution, and partly from the point of view of disease. Mixing up atavism and heredity with nervous malady in the individual, they wish to substitute medical treatment for punishment, lifelong sequestration in asylums for terms of imprisonment differing in duration according to the offence. Neither society nor science entertains the notion that those instincts which the laws of France and Italy tolerate, under certain restrictions, can be simply natural in a certain percentage of male persons… Society lies under the spell of ancient terrorism and coagulated errors. Science is either wilfully hypocritical or radically misinformed. Walt Whitman, in America, regards what he calls “manly love” as destined to be a leading virtue of democratic nations, and the source of a new chivalry.” (A Problem in Modern Ethics, published 1896)
German anthropologist Ferdinand Karsch-Haack in 1911 published ‘Uranismus oder Päderastie und Tribadie bei den Naturvölkern’ [Uranism, or Pederasty and Tribady among Primitive Peoples].
Over five hundred pages in length, this book gave a comprehensive compilation of primary source materials on male homosexuality among the North and South American Indians, Australian aborigines, Malayans and Melanesians, Eskimos and other Arctic peoples, and Africans. A short section on lesbianism was also included.
Karsch-Haack rejected the new academic term ‘homosexuality’ because of its hybrid combination of a Greek and a Latin root, as well as the term ‘third sex’, which was popularized by Magnus Hirschfeld of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. Instead of these terms, Karsch-Haack mostly used the German terms ‘homoërotische’ or ‘gleichgeschlechtliche Liebe’ that can be translated as ‘homoerotic’ or ‘same-sex love.’ Karsch-Haack sought to dismantle the hierarchy of love-forms, which made hetero superior to same sex love and insisted on the recognition of its naturalness.
German psychiatrist Dr Iwan Bloch (1872-1922), co-founder with Hirschfeld of the Institute for Sexual Science, and known as the ‘first sexologist’ , proposed that ‘primitive peoples’ saw homosexuality as something mysterious and magical:
“This riddle, which despite all our efforts, present-day science has not yet satisfactorily solved, must to the primitive intelligence have appeared even more inexplicable than to us; and a man born with the inclination towards his own sex must have been regarded as something extraordinary, as one of those strange freaks of Nature which among Primitives are so easily accounted divine marvels and honored as such. The by no means scanty supply of ethnological facts on this subject which we possess confirms the above view, and shows in what odour of sanctity homosexual individuals have often stood among Nature-folk – for which reason they frequently played an important part in religious rituals and festivals.“
Not written from a gay man’s perspective, Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941, author of The Golden Bough), in his work ‘Adonis, Attis, Osiris: Studies in the History of Oriental Religion’ attributed the adoption by south Pacific island priests of female attire to the fact that:
“it often happens that a goddess chooses a man, not a woman, for her minister and inspired mouthpiece. When that is so, the favoured man is thenceforth regarded and treated as a woman.”
He added – “These unsexed creatures often, perhaps generally, profess the arts of sorcery and healing, they communicate with spirits and are regarded sometimes with awe and sometimes with contempt, as beings of a higher or lower order than common folk.”
The association of (what we now call) transgender and gay/queer people with the spiritual realms is ancient and universal, yet somehow the memo did not make it into the modern gay liberation movement, which was born in a secular age, when religious attitudes were being overthrown. Liberation, however, is more than a political concept – it has a deep spiritual meaning, and by uncovering the hidden spiritual history of queer people we discover that the suppression of sexuality by Church and state over the centuries has both a suppression of LOVE and a denial of the natural priests of the species.
Same sex love was once deeply associated with philosophy, magic and also, along with gender fluidity, with the spiritual life of the community. In tribal settings queer shamans were highly regarded because their spiritual energy kept the community connected to the spirit of the earth, the ancestors and the Great Mother/Great Spirit. In the pagan civilisations of ancient Europe, queer people had prominent roles in temples, rituals and festivals – and, 1000 years after the Christian Church, hand in hand with armed and brutal political forces, had began its campaign to eradicate queerness from its domains in Europe, when Europeans went out to explore and conquer they found the same phenomenon going on in every part of the world.
IN THE 21st CENTURY IT IS TIME FOR THE QUEER PEOPLES OF PLANET EARTH TO CLAIM OUR SPIRITUAL INHERITANCE.
“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,
“The influence of the Holy Spirit, exquisitely called the Comforter, is a matter of actual experience, as solid a reality as that of electro-magnetism”
W. C. Brownell, American art and literary critic (1851-1928)
The Divine Feminine – known as shakti – shekinah – holy spirit– is the LIVING PRESENCE OF DIVINITY within us, around us, and in all things. By making religion all about Father God and his Son, Christianity restricted the Sacred Presence to its selected places, making it necessary to go through the Church and its priests to get access to it. The Goddess however was and is always with all the people, her celebrations are for everyone. Her ecstatic presence was and can still be found in nature, in the body, in friendship, pleasure, joy, laughter, sex.
“… in all countries and in all ages, some form of physical enlargement – singing, dancing, drinking, sexual excitement – has been intimately associated with worship. Even the momentary expansion of the soul in laughter is, to however slight an extent, a religious exercise… It is the infinite for which we hunger, and we ride gladly on every little wave that pioneers to bear us towards it.” Havelock Ellis, The New Spirit, 1892
I was named Shokti by a group of mystical adventurers, led by a female Swiss former disciple of the crazy mystic Osho, whom I met in the jungle close to Hampi, in Karnataka, India, in 2003 – in reference to my spiritualised inner feminine: the name came because they were shocked by my personal shakti! I turned up in their magic circle with my French boyfriend, the two of us both skinny, energised and spiritually awake AIDS survivors, taking a tropical holiday to boost our immune systems and to spend time at the ashram of Amma, the Divine ‘Hugging’ Mother of Kerala as well as travelling to Goa and Hampi.
I had awoken to the reality, presence and unconditional love of the Divine Feminine eight years earlier when I plunged into questioning the purpose of existence while facing likely death from encroaching HIV-related illnesses. As I emptied my mind of life’s concerns there was room for the light of spirit to enter. I soon came to understand that mystical teachers the world over had long considered God’s presence in the world to be a feminine one – and suddenly I saw that by suppressing women and the feminine side of men, by destroying Goddess worshipping religions and the often gay and trans priest/esses who served in her ancient temples, the religions of the Father had been able to indoctrinate the world’s population to believe that ‘God’ is somewhere outside of the world, which eventually led many people to not believe in any form of divinity or holiness at all. The idea that ‘god’ could be known as a presence was until then unknown to my atheistic mindset.
SHAKTI – In Hindu lore shakti is the name for the presence of the divine and is considered feminine. While the masculine Shiva is the transcendent aspect of divinity, Shakti is the immanent, presence, felt and experienced tangibly.
SHEKHINAH In Judaism, Shekinah is the ancient word for the presence within and around us as god’s immanent force. (Islam has sakina). “ The relatedness of Shekinah to the Spirit is important to feminist theology because Shekinah is decidedly feminine and also relates to the concept of faith as a lived experience in Shekinah’s close connection to the concept of tikkun or ‘gathering the sparks’, a concept centered around the idea that god’s feminine aspect (Shekinah) has been lost—scattered—and must be restored in order to make the world, humankind and god whole once more.”(Rebecca Burton Prichard, Sensing the Spirit: The Holy Spirit in Feminist Perspective, 1999)
THE HOLY SPIRIT – In Christianity, the presence of God is known as the Holy Spirit, and named also ‘the Comforter’. The Hebrew word for Spirit, ruach, was feminine in gender – the word translated to the neutral Greekpneumathen masculine Latin wordspiritus.
Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as feminine in various gnostic texts – in the Gospel According to the Hebrews, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Then my Mother, the Holy Spirit…” In The Acts of Thomas, the expression “the Holy Spirit, the Mother of all creation,” is used. Gnostic groups the Mandaeans and Ophites called the Spirit ‘the first woman’ and ‘the Mother of all living.’ For the Valentinians, the Spirit as a dove represented “the word of the Mother from above.” According to theologian Peter Gerlitz, speculation on the Holy Spirit as feminine was common among certain Christian sects before they were suppressed after the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.
I came to see that to know the Divine Mother I had to unite with her inside myself, to ‘become’ Her – by embracing the ‘feminine’ aspects of myself, which I now saw as the powers of the Soul, capable of radiating divine glory. Feminine power is accessed through the body, through emotion and sexuality, through gender-fluidity – all things which the patriarchal religions set out to suppress, thereby cutting humanity off from this powerful magic, indeed from its mother source and its own sacred, eternal nature.
Zulu Sangoma and High Sanusi Credo Mutwa explains, in the YouTube video below, the African wisdom that we each have inside us a warrior mind (which is the male god, the rational individualised sense of self), and the mother mind (which we all share as the portal to collective consciousness, which reveals our oneness with all life). He expresses in this video the simplicity of how we can know the Mother, saying “We must awaken the mother mind within us. We must feel what is going on in the world. We mustn’t just listen to newspapers. We must ourselves, feel.”
The Divine Feminine is missing. Trapped in the Underworld of the human subconscious. Yet She is also right here, in front of our eyes, speaking into our ears and into our hearts. We simply forgot how to see and listen to Her. There has been a growing Goddess movement increasingly active in the world for some decades now – but this movement seems slow to impact the world with its awesome divine truth perhaps because it is missing so many of its key troops, the ones who are designed to enact the union of heaven and earth through their own bodies made sacred by the presence of both female and male soul in one person: many of those who came here to be priestesses and shamans of the Goddess are swimming in the secular vibrations of the sexually/politically charged gay/queer subculture.
The gay subculture is the child of secular society, and gay people have long been reviled as the incarnate devils of the Christian hegemony. For these reasons it is taking some time for the LGBTQ+ movement to embrace its spiritual side – wherein it will find its power and destiny. The world awaits the GAYWAKENING.
I am proud to be named SHOKTI because my dream in this lifetime is to deliver the shock the world needs in order to re-awaken to the ever-present SHAKTI-SHEKHINAH-SPIRIT that sustains and fuels both our consciousness and our physical forms with Her unconditional love….
AND TO SEE GAY PEOPLE RESTORED TO THEIR ROLES AS NATURE’S PRIESTS, as HEALERS, SHAMANS and SCOUTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS, serving the restoration of wholeness on planet Earth.
As Rumi said:
“Though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream, and will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are.“
Will Roscoe wrote in From ‘Priests of the Goddess: Gender Transgression in Ancient Religion (1996) “At the time of the birth of Christ, cults of men devoted to a Goddess flourished throughout the broad region extending from the Mediterranean to south Asia.”
“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.” Malidoma Some, Dagara Tribe, west Africa
American gay writer Arthur Evans looked forward in Witchcraft and the Gay Counter-Culture, (1978)“…to regaining our ancient historical roles as medicine people, healers, prophets, shamans and sorcerers. We look forward to an endless and fathomless process of coming out – as gay people, as animals, as humans, as mysterious and powerful spirits that move through the life cycle of the cosmos….. Like butterflies we are emerging from the shells of our past restricted existence. We are re-discovering the ancient magic that was once the birth right of all human beings. We are re-learning how to talk to the worms and the stars. We are taking flight on the wings of self-determination. Come, blessed Lady of the Flowers, Queen of Heaven, creator and destroyer, Kali – we are dancing the dance of your coming.”
The world is torn apart, the world is falling apart –
because the holy souls who walk between the worlds
have been prevented from practising their pagan art.
Once as shamans we served, or as priestesses of pleasure –
we knew the body as the temple of the soul –
our erotic magic has an invisible role
in connecting humanity to the whole.
Those who bridge the gender divide,
uniting female and male on the inside,
are also bridges between the worlds –
our fem-masc bodies connect heaven and earth.
We do this through sex,
through rhythm and dance,
going deep into the body,
the mind enters a trance.
The body contains portals
through which cosmic light can come,
and the most sacred portal of all,
is that found within the bum.
The call to unite, through love or lust
is a call to come home
to deep peace and trust
in the powers of the universe
as we navigate life’s deep seas
and explore our desires and needs.
Yet we’ll never truly fulfil our deep desires for union –
it comes, it goes, in flashes of bliss –
these moments remind us of the truth beyond,
we have to come back to earth to sing our own song
knowing that it’s to earth and to spirit that we belong:
separated in appearance, thought and form –
when reunion comes through spirit and emotion,
the cosmic human will be born.
Before the ravages of two world wars,
and the ongoing battles to even up scores,
there were those who saw that the evolution of the race
was happening apace.
Ancient visions seemed close to fulfilment,
humanity reaching its finest hour
but dark forces of greed, hatred, fear
manipulated the game
kept humanity asleep, in a state of near slavery,
and now global disaster seems near.
Instead of rising to our spiritual destiny
humanity chose to repeat its history
with greater weapons and enforced mind control –
the world’s mystics denied their central role
in bringing humanity home through love and compassion –
in the 21st century will the search for Oneness finally come into fashion?
“I believe in you my soul, . . . the other I am must not abase itself to you, And you must not be abased to the other. Loaf with me on the grass, . . . loose the stop from your throat, Not words, not music or rhyme I want, . . . not custom or lecture, not even the best, Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent summer morning; You settled your head athwart my hips and gently turned over upon me, And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart. And reached till you felt my beard, and reached till you held my feet. Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and joy and knowledge that pass all the art and argument of the earth; And I know that the hand of God is the elder hand of my own, And I know that the spirit of God is the eldest brother of my own, And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, . . . and the women my sisters and lovers, And that a kelson of creation is love.” Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
“Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached “reality”; but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya [illusion]. ” ― Helena P. Blavatsky (1831-1891)
“If religion is to mean anything definite for us, it seems to me that we ought to take it as meaning this added dimension of emotion, this enthusiastic temper of espousal, in regions where morality strictly so called can at best but bow its head and acquiesce. It ought to mean nothing short of his new reach of freedom for us, with the struggle over, the keynote sounding in our ears, and everlasting possession spread before our eyes.” William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, 1902
“The simple truth is, that there has lived on the earth, “appearing at intervals,” for thousands of years among ordinary men, the first faint beginnings of another race; walking the earth and breathing the air with us, but at the same time walking another earth and breathing another air of which we know little or nothing, but which is, all the same, our spiritual life, as its absence would be our spiritual death. This new race is in act of being born from us, and in the near future it will occupy and possess the earth.” Richard Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness, published 1905.
“We are arriving at one of the most fruitful and important turning points in the history of the race. the Self is entering into relation with the Body. for, that the individual should conceive and know himself, not a toy and a chance-product of his own bodily heredity, but as identified and continuous with the Eternal Self of which his body is a manifestation, is indeed to begin a new life and to enter a hitherto undreamed world of possibilities….this transformation, whilst the greatest and most wonderful, is also of course the most difficult in Man’s evolution, for him to effect. it may roughly be said that the whole of the civilisation-period in Man’s history is the preparation for it.”
“This interaction in fact between the masculine and the feminine, this mutual illumination of logic and meditation, may not only raise and increase the power of each of these faculties, but it may give the mind a new quality, and a new power of perception corresponding to the blending of subject and object in consciousness. It may possibly lead to the development of that third order of perception which has been called the cosmic consciousness and which may also be termed divination.” Edward Carpenter, Intermediate types among primitive folks , 1913
“In these days of the shattering of the old form and the building of the new, adaptability is needed. We must avert the danger of crystallization through pliability and expansion. The ‘old order changeth,’ but primarily it is a change of dimension and of aspect, and not of material or of foundation.”
“Christ when He said: “the kingdom of God is within you,” thus pointing all human atoms to the center of life or energy within themselves, and teaching them that from and through that center they must expand and grow. Each one of us is conscious of being centered within himself;”
“Initiation, or the process of undergoing an expansion of consciousness, is part of the normal process of evolutionary development, viewed on a large scale, and not from the standpoint of the individual.”
“Hundreds in the East and in the West are pressing onwards towards this goal. and in the unity of the one ideal, in their common aspiration and endeavor, they will meet before the one Portal. They will then recognize themselves as brothers, severed by tongue and apparent diversity of belief, hut fundamentally holding to the same one truth and serving the same God.”
THE BIG LIE OF THE MODERN AGE IS THAT WE ARE MATERIAL BEINGS, WHO HAVE SOMEHOW EVOLVED TO BE CONSCIOUS.
THE BIG TRUTH IS EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE: WE ARE CONSCIOUS BEINGS WHO HAVE EVOLVED INTO MATERIAL FORM.
TO COMPLETE THE JOURNEY WE NEED TO UNITE CONSCIOUSNESS WITH THE BODY – THIS IS THE SACRED JOURNEY OF HOMECOMING AND ITS NATURE IS EMOTIONAL, EROTIC AND ECSTATIC.
THE MYTH OF THE MODERN AGE IS THAT WE ARE MATERIAL AND MENTAL BEINGS. THE EMOTIONAL IS SEEN AS A SIDE EFFECT, THE SEXUAL AS FUNCTIONAL AND THE SPIRITUAL AS DEBATABLE.
THE MYTH OF THE NEW AGE WILL HONOUR WHO WE ARE AS SPIRITUAL/SEXUAL AND EMOTIONAL BEINGS EQUALLY WITH MENTAL AND PHYSICAL. THE BODY IS THE SACRED TEMPLE OF THE DIVINE, AT ITS BEST WHEN CHANNELLING LOVE AND BLISS.
WE LIVE TO GROW THROUGH EXPERIENCE AND FEELING – EVEN MORE THAN THROUGH PHYSICALITY AND KNOWLEDGE. EXPERIENCE AND FEELING CONNECT US TO EACH OTHER, TO NATURE AND LIFE ITSELF. THE BODY IS OUR VEHICLE AND MIND IS OUR TOOL. SEXUALITY IS THE FIRE OF CREATION ALIVE IN US. THE HEART IS OUR GUIDE ON THE PATH, AND ETERNAL SPIRIT IS THE CORE TRUTH OF WHO WE ARE.
“Whether woman or man, one’s real humanity comes to light only when the feminine and masculine qualities within one are balanced.”
Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi, Mother of Immortal Bliss)
A few decades ago the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ was a commonly heard phrase, one rarely used now – did men and women declare a truce? Maybe for most people the battle was always an illusion to be transcended, but for some the fight goes on – nowadays in a new form of Gender War known often as the Trans Debate. This tends to manifest in arguments over trans inclusivity in women’s spaces, the media obsession with medical approach to trans youth, and an apparent ‘trans agenda’ to teach children that gender and sexuality are not fixed at birth.
This debate is based on illusory materialism – and a blind, arrogant ignorance of the spiritual nature of the human being. Mystic masters, gurus and witches have been studying human nature much longer than biological science, and unlike science, which divides, dissects and see only the material, their approach respects and reflects the unified, interdependent, composition of life’s many layers of spirit, mind, emotion and matter.
Spiritual wisdom teaches us that we are each male and female – on the inside – and that some people also manifest the combination externally, in their physical appearance and behaviours. Every culture on the planet has found terms for the ones who stood between or beyond the gender binary, often giving them specific roles in the community, roles that often included a strong spiritual element.
Hinduism honours the two primary genders—potent males (pums) and fertile females (stri)—but also acknowledges a third, less common sex (tritiya-prakriti or napumsa) considered to be a natural combination of the male and female natures
Hindu texts such as the Kama Sutra, Mahabharata, Artha-sastra, etc. mention third-gender men working as domestic servants, go-betweens in the affairs of men and women, barbers, masseurs, florists and prostitutes. The Kama Sutra also mentions homosexual marriages based on “great attachment and complete faith in one another.” Transgenders are described as especially talented in the feminine arts of music playing and dancing, and lesbians are mentioned as skilled vaisyas (businesswomen), armed military guards, domestic servants and courtesans. Third-gender citizens were renowned for their special talents and often served in the homes of wealthy landholders, generals and kings.
Another role held by homosexuals, transgenders and other third-gender people in traditional Hindu society was their special non-procreative status and association with supernatural powers. Revered astrological and omen-reading texts such as the Brihat Jataka and Brihat Samhita all mention planetary alignments at the time of conception that indicate a third-gender birth. Such births are associated with the three napumsa planets (Mercury, Saturn and Ketu) and indicate intelligence, mastery of the arts and sciences, detachment from family life, and clairvoyant abilities. In Hinduism, people of the third gender are believed to hold special powers that allow them to bless or curse others, and this traditional belief can still be seen in India today.
The name Ardhanarishvara means “The Lord whose half is a woman”. This form of Shiva represents the “totality that lies beyond duality”, and is associated with communication between mortals and gods and between men and women. Alain Danielou says that “The hermaphrodite, the homosexual and the transvestite have a symbolic value and are considered privileged beings, images of the Ardhararishvara.”
“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.”
The term Two Spirit was coined in 1990 in Winnipeg, Canada as a means of unifying various gender identities and expressions of Native American/First Nations/Indigenous individuals, the term is not a specific definition of gender, sexual orientation or other self-determining catch-all phrase, but rather an umbrella term.
Two Spirit people have both a male and female spirit within them and are blessed by their Creator to see life through the eyes of both genders.
The term does not diminish the tribal-specific names, roles and traditions nations have for their own Two Spirit people. Examples of such names are the winkte among the Lakota and the nadleeh among the Navajo people. These names and roles go back to a time before western religion.
Two Spirit people held significant roles and were an integral part of a tribal social structures. In many tribes Two Spirits were balance keepers. Thought to be the “dusk” between the male morning, and the female evening.
The birth chart reveals how the interplay of female, male and ‘other’ energies form our personality. In everyone’s chart the position of Venus reveals how the feminine nature plays out for them, of Mars for the masculine – and Mercury for the transgender aspect of each of us. Note that Mercury is the closest to the Sun, ie the Source creator energy.
“Harnessing the mystery of sexes is one of the keys to transformation. Identifying and artfully “surfing” the gender polarities that are always present inside of human psyche and manifested through the planetary forces of an astrological chart is what can make a happier and fuller person.”Masculine, feminine and transgender in astrology. (timenomad.app)
THE TRANS DEBATE reveals that SCIENTIFIC MATERIALISM and the belief in BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION is leading humanity into a SPIRITUAL VOID, a DEAD END of consciousness.
THE REAL EVOLUTION IS THAT HAPPENING IN THE HUMAN MIND.
The old story of division, discord, separation are still running the show –
BUT A DIFFERENT STORY IS EMERGING
FROM THOSE WHO HAVE COME TO KNOW
THAT LIFE IS ONE SPIRIT, AND LOVE IS THE KEY
TO REVEALING THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS
AND INTEGRAL INTERDEPENDENCY
BETWEEN THE YOU AND THE ME.
By embracing feminine and masculine within ourselves that we can set ourselves free.
through the heart we tune into the vibrations around.
It’s through accepting and loving all beings
and letting intuition be our guide,
that humanity will evolve to a new level,
discovering the cosmic senses inside.
We are more than the body, and more than the mind,
everyone benefits, when we choose to be kind.
Transcend the body, transcend the mind –
there’s a multiverse of consciousness waiting for us to find.
“When you live in the moment, you are completely here—the next moment doesn’t matter at all, it never enters your mind. You do not worry about anything, you have no fears of preconceived ideas. Similarly, as you continue on to the next moment you let go of the previous one. The past doesn’t matter to you anymore; you forget it. Nothing can bind you—you are ever free. To truly be able to love, you need to be free of everything. But at the same time, if you are to be completely free, you must have love within… Only when you learn to love everyone and everything can we truly be free. Only then will the night of ignorance come to an end and the day of Supreme Realization begin.” —Mata Amritanandamayi, AMMA
“When I look into the world it seems that so much has been forgotten, and a sorrowful fog of trauma lingers, keeping the illusion of separation dominant and overbearing. It is time to transcend this suffering and remember who we are as individuals, and as a collective, so we can alter the course of generational trauma. Such healing can be triggered through witnessing the face of the Holy Mother in myriad ways, such as mindfulness practice, meditation, art, dreams, near-death experiences, and psychedelic journeys. Most controversial is still the psychedelic experience, even though it has been practiced as a holy ritual longer than can be remembered.
“The use of sacred concoctions to stimulate this dying unto oneself and provoke the experience of oneness is vast in origin and practice. If the psychedelic experience is there to show us this deeper truth and layer of reality, then why has it not been celebrated as a rite of passage for every human interested in such concepts as they come into maturity? Why is it not accepted as therapy, and a medicine, in this experience of being human?
“Thousands of years later, we are now living in times where a great remembering is happening, a fractaling mycelium web is connecting billions of people directly to each other in ways never seen before. Daily stories of unity, alignment, and harmony are surfacing, in opposition to the screaming walls of war and chaos…
“I see no choice after seeing what I have seen, but to be one of Her children on the front lines of Her revolution, of the Divine Mother being remembered and celebrated as the Divine Father steps beside her, into harmonic union.” Amanda Sage in Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine (2019)
“The philosophers of the ancient world were the spiritual masters of the Inner Mysteries… At the heart of the Mysteries were myths concerning a dying and resurrecting godman, who was known by many different names. In Egypt he was Osiris, in Greece Dionysus, in Asia Minor Attis, In Syria Adonis, in Italy Bacchus, in Persia Mithras. Fundamentally all these godmen are the same mythical being.“ Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries – Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God? 1999
J. G. Frazer in The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion (published in 1890) first proposed the existence of a universal core in religion – a myth about a dying and rising fertility god, along with associated rituals. The idea was popular and quickly adopted, and although sometimes challenged, reveals something of the mystical reality underlying all faiths.
“The central figure of the ancient Egyptian Religion was Osiris, and the chief fundamentals of his cult were the belief in his divinity, death, resurrection, and absolute control of the destinies of the bodies and souls of men. The central point of each Osirian’s Religion was his hope of resurrection in a transformed body and of immortality, which could only be realized by him through the death and resurrection of Osiris.” E. A. Wallace Budge, Osiris & the Egyptian Resurrection, 1973 (1911), Preface
Utterance 498 “Awake, Osiris! awake, O King! Stand up and sit down, throw off the earth which is on you! I come and give you [the eye of] Horus… Go up and take this bread of yours from me.”
Utterance 532 “Raise yourself, O Osiris, first-born son of Geb, at whom the Two Enneads tremble… Your hand is taken by the Souls of On, your hand is grasped by Ra, your head is raised by the Two Enneads, and they have set you, O Osiris, at the head of the Conclave of the Souls of On. Live, live and raise yourself!”
After escaping from the Underworld Inanna found that she was being chased by demons who demanded to take back the third-gendered beings who had rescued her. To protect her rescuers the Goddess appointed them to be her priests and bargained with the demons to find a substitute, Discovering that her husband Tammuz/Dumuzi, the human King of Sumeria, had not been mourning her loss, she sent him back to the Underworld in her place, for six months of every year..
Dumuzi/Tammuz, was mourned every year upon the anniversary of his entrance to the Underworld (his death), and then celebrated every year upon his reappearance from the Underworld (his resurrection). The Old Testament contains references to women mourning for him.
Adonis was a young hunter who was killed by a boar. This version of the myth is elaborated upon in Lucian’s second century AD work, De Dea Syria:
“I did see… in Byblos a great sanctuary… in which they perform the rites of Adonis… They say… that what the boar did to Adonis occurred in their territory. As a memorial of his suffering each year they beat their breasts, mourn, and celebrate the rites… they first sacrifice to Adonis as if to a dead person, but then, on the next day, they proclaim that he lives and send him into the air.”
Adonis’s mainly female devotees would join with Astarte each year weeping for her lost son slain by a boar. They then rejoiced when he was restored to life.
“Some say that when Adonis was still an infant Aphrodite, for the sake of his beauty, hid him in a chest unknown to the gods and entrusted it to Persephone. But when Persephone beheld him, she would not give him back. The case being tried before Zeus, the year was divided into three parts, so that Adonis should stay by himself for one part of the year, with Persephone for one part, and with Aphrodite for the remainder. However Adonis made over to Aphrodite his own share in addition. For this reason Adonis may be counted among those who were in the Underworld and came back to be among the living.”
Both Dumuzi and Adonis were said to live a portion of their lives in the Underworld. With Dumuzi it was half the year and with Adonis it was a third. Also, the ritual of the mourning of Tammuz was held in the summer, which was the same time that the annual mourning/celebrating of Adonis took place, while the raising of Tammuz must have taken place in the winter, near the month of Peritius (February-March) when the celebration of the “Awakening of Heracles” took place. Christian Church Fathers Origen and Jerome both clearly believed that Adonis and Tammuz were the very same figure.
In Greece the changing seasons were personified by a Goddess:
When Hades, lord of the underworld, fell in love with Persephone, he carried her off into death to be his queen. But as soon as Demeter began mourning for her daughter, the Earth’s plants began to wither. In order to prevent life on Earth from dying, Zeus ordered Hades to release Persephone. Unfortunately,Persephone had already eaten some of the food of the dead, and so she would have to return to the underworld for one third of every year. So whenever her daughter returns to Hades, Demeter mourns—and this is why winter descends on Earth. Growth only resumes properly when Persephone is returned to the world of the living.
The Ancient Greek god of wine and divine madness – one of the many names attached to him is ‘Twice-born’. ..When Zeus made Persephone pregnant, his wife Hera fell into a jealous rage. She sent the Titans to tear the infant Dionysus apart. They then consumed all of the corpse except the heart. This was saved and modern myths tell us it was sewn into Zeus’ thigh (actually testicles), where he was gestated and born anew.
Attis was a beautiful young shepherd whom the Great Mother Goddess Cybele loved. Attis died either slain by a boar sent by Zeus, like the Syrian god Adonis, or by bleeding to death under a pine tree, after castrating himself in a madness sent by Cybele out of jealousy. Every spring, the death of the god was mourned until he was resurrected by the Great Mother, when grief turned to joy. At this festival the new initiate priests of Cybele castrated themselves, holding up their bloody organs to the heavens to make themselves eligible for the priesthood, the Galli.
Mithraist ritual involve the liturgical representation of the death, burial in a rock tomb and resurrection of the very ancient god Mithras, who was especially popular in the male legions of the Roman Empire.
An ancient text says, as James Frazer worded it, “Heracles on his journey to Libya had been slain by Typhon and brought to life again by Iolaus, who held a quail under his nose: the dead god snuffed at the bird and revived” (Frazer1922).
The text is by Eudoxus of Cnidus from an inscription dating to around 200 BC,
“…the Phoenicians sacrifice quails to Heracles, because Heracles, the son of Asteria and Zeus, went into Libya and was killed by Typhon; but Iolaus brought a quail to him, and having put it close to him, he smelt it and came to life again.
The chief god of Norse mythology gained great wisdom by undergoing several trials. In order to achieve knowledge from beyond the realm of the dead, Odin decided to sacrifice himself. He took a spear and drove it into his side. Then he tied a noose to the world-tree Yggdrasil, and hanged himself for nine days. It was after this sacrifice that Odin returned, stronger than ever.
“…the mother of the gods … commanding him to restrain his infinity, converted him to herself.”Emperor Julian on Attis in the Discourse on the Mother of the GodsC4
The ancient Great ‘Mother of the Gods’, Cybele, was worshipped in Phrygia in the Anatolian region of modern Turkey since way back in pre-history – the oldest terracotta model of her, which shows her with enormous breasts and thighs and is seated between two big cats, dates from 6000 BCE. Her worship reached Greece in the 6th century BCE and Rome in 204 BCE, when she became the official protectress, the Magna Mater, of the growing Roman power. She remained on that throne until the rise of Christianity in the 4th century CE, and her son/lover, Attis, whose story involves an act of self-castration leading to his death then resurrection in spirit, was an immensely popular deity and a principle rival to Jesus in the first centuries of the Christian era.
“She arrived from Asia Minor where, for centuries if not millennia, matronal and nurturing goddesses, often accompanied by wild animals, had been revered and regarded as protectresses of the dead whom the earth reabsorbed into its bosom. They lived in rocks, mountains and woods, had command over the animal and plant world, and were the secret and inexhaustible sources of fecundity. They were sometimes worshipped in the forms of sacred stones…” [Robert Turcan, The Cults of the Roman Empire 1996]
Cypriot terracotta pieces from the 6th century BCE show Cybele seated with a child in her arms, he wearing the iconic ‘Phrygian cap’ of Attis. The appearance of this cap is associated with the liberty cap, the psilocybin mushroom, that gives psychedelic communion with nature to those who eat it, and Cybele worship included mystery rites where such sacraments revealed the intricacies of the Goddess’ universe to participants. Five centuries later, once Cybele worship was well established in Rome, an Attis cult also emerged, with the Emperor Claudius (10-54 CE) establishing a ‘holy week’ of celebrations commemorating his death and resurrection, that preceded the structured programme of the Christian Easter week by a century.
Cybele and Attis had arrived in Rome in the 3rd century BCE as a result of an appeal by the Senate to the Sibylline Oracles in 205 asking for assistance in the ongoing wars with Carthage. The oracle said the enemy could only be defeated if the ‘Idaean Mother of Pessinus’ was brought to Rome, which was arranged, in the form of a black meteorite that had long been Cybele’s icon. The poet Ovid records the reluctance of King Attalus of Pessinus to yield the stone, but an earth tremor was believed to be Cybele expressing her annoyance, and she was said to prophesy (through her priest) that “Rome is worthy to become the meeting place of all the gods.” She arrived in style on 4 April 204 BCE and was greeted by the great and good of the city – the stone was installed temporarily in the temple of Victory until her own sanctuary was opened on 10 April 191 BCE. The period 4- 10 April became the Megalesian festival from then on, commemorating her arrival.
Along with Cybele came her loud, colourful, queer eunuch priests, the Gallae. The Senate insisted they be confined to her sanctuary except for during the April festivals, when they were allowed to dance through the streets of Rome “to the sounds of auloi and tambourines, in their exotic ‘get-up’, with their feminine garments, long hair and amulets. At that time they were allowed to make door-to-door collections, for the upkeep of the temple and its emasculated staff. Afterwards they were not seen against until the next year.” [Robert Turcan, The Cults of the Roman Empire 1996]This mystery around the Gallae excited interest in the Mother cult.
The Gallae priests were eunuchs, in honour of Attis, whose premature death came from his own attempt to self-castrate:
THE ATTIS MYTH
Attis, the youthful consort of Cybele, was linked to Ganymede and often compared to Adonis and Pan. There are striking resemblances to Jesus too in the virgin birth, plus his death and resurrection. It seems that the proud Cybele spurned the amorous advances of Zeus, who in his frustration masturbated his seed onto a rock. The rock gave birth to Agidistis, a being combining both masculine and feminine energy so powerfully and destructively that the Gods decided to castrate them, sending Dionysus to get them intoxicated and sort this. The pomegranate grew from Agidistis’ blood. Nana, a water spirit daughter of the River God, ate the fruit and became pregnant, giving birth to the beautiful Attis. However the River God, Sangarios, would not accept that this was a virgin birth and he sent Attis away to be brought up by goatherders. Attis and Agidistis met in the woods one day and became lovers – a tale full of shock and significance to the ancient Greeks as it involved the reversal of the accepted homosexual relationships of the time. In Greek culture it was considered acceptable for the older male to penetrate the younger in the sexual act. As Agidistis was a eunuch he took the passive role with the young, virile Attis.
Attis, Agidistis and Cybele became a Trinity of lovers. But King Midas wanted Attis to marry his daughter, and had the town walled and locked up to avoid any disturbance to his plan. The Mother of the Gods wanted to rescue her lover, and broke through the town’s ramparts (which is why she is depicted with towers on her head). Agidistis burst in, bringing a collective madness to the guests – the bride cut her breasts, her father castrated himself, and Attis fled into the wilds where he fell at the foot of a pine tree after cutting off his genitals. The castration botched, Attis died and violets bloomed from his blood. Bereft, Cybele took her lover’s testicles, bathed them in holy water, wrapped them in his clothes and buried them in the earth. Agidistis pleaded with Zeus to revive Attis, and in honour of the fallen Attis set up a cultic priesthood of castrated eunuchs. As the theme of death, resurrection and salvation took a more central place in religious thought, of which Christianity is the most famous example, the Attis tales developed to depict him resurrected with a crown of stars, associating him with the Milky Way and calling him ‘the leader of the all the tribes of divine beings’ and the ‘servant and charioteer of the Mother’.
According to Hippolytus of Rome, a third century CE church father, Attis cut off his testicles to “[pass] over from the earthly parts of the nether world to the everlasting substance above, where, he says, there is neither female or male.”
Archaeological work has revealed Attis statuettes from the early days of the Roman temple, when he arrived as Cybele’s child. By the 1st century CE Attis had grown up and been assigned cult practices of his own – the Emperor Claudius instituted public ceremonies which started with a nine day period of penitence, during which people abstained from many foods, leading up to 22 March when a pine tree was cut and processed through the streets to the Goddess sanctuary. The image of Attis, and violets, were attached to the tree and the next day dedicated to mourning and lamentations. The peak came on the 24 March, the Day of Blood, when the gallae led a wild, frenzied dance around the tree, at the height of which new priests would self-castrate. The tree was buried and a vigil undertaken until the next day when the resurrection of Attis was proclaimed and the ‘Hilaria’ festival of rejoicing begun. The 26th was a rest day, and on the 27th the Cybele idol, with the black meteorite as its head, was taken to the river Almo and bathed. A week later the Megalesia festival celebrated her original arrival in the city. Robert Turcan says that “Phrygianism was thus well and truly officialized. It became popular and imperial.”
First century Emperor Claudius may also have instituted the office of the archigallus – the high priest of the Cybele temple, of which role there is no earlier evidence – and the role was taken by a Roman citizen. However, laws forbade Roman citizens from self-castration in order to become Gallae, so the archigallus underwent a taurobolium ceremony: records of these come to us from 4th century Christian writers. The taurobolium was a pit into which a man descended – the pit covered with an openwork platform or floor with many holes in it. A bull was sacrificed above the pit, it’s guts cut open and its insides pouring all over the person beneath. Its testicles were buried beneath the altar, offered to the Goddess instead of those of the archigallus. This was considered enough to purify the blooded man to join the official hierarchy of Roman priests as the pontiff of the Mother Goddess – and this ceremony took place in what is still the home of the Christian pontiff – the Vatican, which site Turcan says was, “the Mecca of Mother-cult consecration.” One Roman emperor underwent the ritual – Heliogabalus (218-222). Taurobolic altars were found buried in front of St Peter’s Basilica in the early 17th century. Note that the name Vatican refers to the ‘vaticinations’ – ie prophesying – of the pagan priests during the ceremonies. The Pope today still wears the white mitre cap that was once on the archigallus’ head.
One early Christian Gnostic group – the Naassenes were a group who eschewed all sexual relations, sang hymns to Attis that that syncretised him with Pan and Dionysus/Bacchus. They taught that the Mother of the Gods castrated Attis for him to break with the material world and gain immortal life: “although she had him for her lover; it was because, on high, the blessed Nature of beings who are above the world and eternal wants to make the masculine virtue of the soul rise towards her.” (Philosophoumena V)
Cybele and Attis worship spread through the Roman Empire, as Gallae took their mission to wherever the army marched. From Britain, Gaul and Spain to the Black Sea, Cybele and her eunuch lover were celebrated and honoured until the end of the 4th century.
In that century Roman Emperor Julian devoted a powerful hymn to Cybele – Discourse on the Mother of the Gods –in which she crowns her beloved Attis, whom Julian calls the “… intellectual god Gallus, i.e. a deity who contains in himself material and sublunary forms, and who associates with the cause presiding over the fluctuating nature of matter,” with a ‘star-spangled tiara‘
“Attis is a certain demigod, (for this is the meaning of the fable) or rather he is in reality a god: for he proceeds from the third demiurgus, and after his castration is again recalled to the mother of the gods; but as he persuaded himself wholly to verge, he appears to incline into matter. Indeed he who considers this deity as the last of the gods, but the head of all the divine genera, will by no means deviate from the truth..
“Attis spreads himself round the heavens, which cover him like a tiara, and tends, as it were, from thence to the earth. And after this manner does the mighty Attis present himself to our view; and from hence the lamentations for his long departure, and concealment, for his vanishings and falling into a cavern, arise. But the time in which his mysteries are performed sufficiently evinces the truth of what I have here advanced: for they say that the sacred tree should be cut down on the very day when the sun arrives at the extremity of the equinoctial arch; that on the following day the sounding of the trumpets should take place; that on the third day the sacred and arcane fertile crop of the god Gallus should be cut down; and that after all this, the hilaria and festive days should succeed.
“The sacred institution, therefore, exhorts us, who are naturally celestial plants, though detained on the earth, that collecting together virtue in conjunction with piety from a terrestrial polity, we should eagerly hasten to the primogenial and vivific mother of the gods. But the recalling signal by the sound of a trumpet, which is given to Attis immediately after his castration, is also a signal to us, who, flying from heaven, have fallen upon earth. But after this symbol kingAttis stops his infinity through the castration; and the gods by this means exhort us also to cut off the infinity of our nature, and hasten back again to that which is bounded and uniform, and, if possible, to the one itself; after which, when perfectly accomplished, it is proper that the hilaria should succeed. For what can be more joyful, what can be the occasion of greater hilarity, than the soul flying from infinity and generation, and the storms in which it is perpetually involved, and by this means returning to the gods themselves? But Attis being among the number of these, the mother of the gods by no means neglected him in his progressions beyond what was proper, but commanding him to restrain his infinity, converted him to herself…
“Attis, then, has been said by us to be a certain cause and divinity who proximately fabricates the material world, and who, descending even to the extremity of things, is at length stopped by the demiurgic motion of the sun, when the solar god arrives at the extreme bounded circumference of the universe, and which, from its effect, is called the equinoctial circle. But we have said that castration is the restraining of infinity, which takes place no otherwise than by a revocation and emersion to a more ancient and primary cause; but we consider the elevation of souls as the ultimate design of lustration.” Quoted from Discourse on the Mother of the Gods
Gay/transgender priesthoods served the ancient pagan gods for thousands of years – and we can see a vestige of their craft in the transgender priestesses of the Indian deity Aravan. Known as the Aravanis, this ‘trans’ sect is similar to the Hijras, who worship the Goddess Bahuchara Mata. The Aravanis celebrate Aravan, the son of the great warrior Arjuna in the epic tale Mahabarata, who offers to sacrifice himself in battle but receives the boon of getting married first. As no woman wishes to marry then become a widow, Krishna changes into his feminine form, Mohini, marries Aravan, then mourns his death. To commemorate this story, the worship of the Aravanis includes ecstatic grief ritual, just as the Gallae of Cybele once mourned for Attis.
Of the Hijra priestesses, Jenny Wade of the California Institute of Integral Studies has written: “Their public behavior—and society’s perception of them—resemble that of the Galli: they are exaggeratedly made-up cross-dressers who dance wildly to loud, percussive music and engage in transgressive bawdy behavior; they beg; and they are paid sex workers in “deviant” sex.”
QUOTATIONS ABOUT THE GALLAE:
“The Mother of the Gods also admits effeminates, and the Goddess would not judge so, if by nature unmanliness were a trivial thing.”Sextus Empiricus, 2nd century.
“As the Gallae sing and celebrate their orgies, frenzy falls on many of them and many who had come as mere spectators afterwards are found to have committed the great act. I will narrate what they do. Any young man who has resolved on this action, strips off his clothes, and with a loud shout bursts into the midst of the crowd, and picks up a sword from a number of swords which I suppose have been kept ready for many years for this purpose. He takes it and castrates himself and then runs wild through the city, bearing in his hands what he has cut off. He casts it into any house at will, and from this house he receives women’s raiment and ornaments. Thus they act during their ceremonies of castration.”Lucian, De Dea Syria 2nd century CE
“The tie between god and man cannot be thought of in closer or stronger terms, and they are joined by a feeling not only of lifelong gratitude but of personal love, which in its expression passes over into sensual terms.” Philostratus(end 2nd century CE)
The devotees of Cybele “went . . . forth, shouting and dancing . . . they bent down their necks and spun round so that their hair flew out in a circle; they hit their own flesh; finally, every one took his two-edged weapon and wounded himself in divers places. Meanwhile, there was one . . . who invented . . . a great lie, noisily . . . accusing himself, saying that he had displeased the divine majesty of the goddess . . . wherefore he prayed that vengeance might be done to himself. And therewithal he tools a whip . . . and scourged his own body . . . so that you might see the ground wet and defiled with the womanish blood that issued forth abundantly” Apuleius The Golden Ass, VIII. 2nd century.
“They wear effeminately nursed hair, and dress in soft clothes. They can barely hold their heads up on their limp necks. Then, having made themselves alien to masculinity, swept up by playing flutes, they call their Goddess to fill them with an unholy spirit so as to seemingly predict the future to idle men. What sort of monstrous and unnatural thing is this?” Firmicus Maternus, 4th century
“They are the sons of the earth. The Earth is their mother”, he also called them “castrated perverts….. madmen…. foully unmanned and corrupted.” Augustine, 4th century
Scotland’s government marked International Women’s Day 2022 by issuing a formal apology to the 2000 women and 500 men who were executed between the 16th and 18th centuries in a mania against witchcraft.
“Addressing Scottish lawmakers, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “injustice on a colossal scale” that was “driven at least in part by misogyny in its most literal sense – hatred of women.”…
THERE IS AN UNADDRESSED LAYER TO THIS STORY … the men! Gay sex was deeply associated with Pagan magical practices and heretical Christian beliefs in ancient and medieval times. Gay men had been on the receiving end of Christian persecutions from the 4th century onwards – in large part because of the prominence of queer deities and gender-bending priesthoods in the ancient pagan culture. 4th century historian Eusebius praised Emperor Constantine for his suppression the effeminate pagan priests of the Goddess temples. Eusebius described a temple:
“where men unworthy of the name forgot the dignity of their sex and propitiated the demon by the their effeminate conduct.”
The Emperor ordered the army sent in, “that this building with its contents should be utterly destroyed.”Eusebius recorded that:
“inasmuch as the Egyptians, especially those of Alexandria, had been accustomed to honour their river through a priesthood composed of effeminate men, a further law was passed commanding the extermination of the whole class as vicious, that no one might thenceforward be found tainted with the like impurity.”
The persecution stepped up under Constantine’s successors. Roman senator Firmicus Maternus wrote a polemic called ‘The Error of the Pagan Religions’ in 346 which firmly associated pagan cults with sexual immorality and especially homosexuality. He was particularly fired up about the effeminate priests or holy men, writing that those of a Carthaginian love goddess:
“can minister to her only when they have feminised their faces, rubbed smooth their skin, and disgraced their manly sex by donning women’s regalia. In their very temples we see scandalous performances, accompanied by the moaning of the throng: men letting themselves be handled as women, and flaunting with boastful ostentatiousness this ignominy of their impure and unchaste bodies…. Next, being thus divorced from the masculine, they get intoxicated with the music of flutes and invoke the goddess with an unholy spirit so they an ostensibly predict the future to fools.”
And from there it all began – the suppression of Goddess priesthoods, of sex-positive versions of Christianity, and eventually homosexuality itself – which of course went hand in hand with the suppression of women’s sexuality and self-hood, of which the witch trials were the ultimate manifestation of using FEAR to keep women subservient, as had been used against gay men since the 4th century.
The tide turned violently against paganism in the 380s when an imperial edict against sacrifices inspired what has been called ‘an orgy of destruction and spoliation’ when bands of monks and Christian fanatics destroyed temples and statues across the Empire. Thousands of years in which queers had served the holy life of the community came to an end, our ecstatic-erotic practices that opened the gateways to spiritual communion were wiped out.
In 390 a law focussed on male brothels attacked “the poison of shameful effeminacy”. In 438 this was expanded to call for all who engaged in gay sex to die “in avenging flames in the sight of the people.” The Code of Justinian, issued in 534, sealed the fate, setting a legal climate regarding homosexuality that would influence Europe until the 20th century, and his violent actions in 528 against men who loved men established a climate of fear that still persists in some places. The Justinian Code expanded an old law from the time of Augustus against adultery to include the death penalty for ‘illicit sex with males’ (stuprum cum masculis).
Byzantine historian John Malalas (c 491-578) recorded the great persecution of men who loved men in the late 520s in the eastern half of the Empire, after the collapse of Rome itself. Justinian issued laws that could be applied to past crimes, not simply ones that occurred after its creation. Note however that the Church did not support his actions, in fact the first victims were prominent men of the Church itself:
“At that time, bishops of diverse provinces were prosecuted for the lustful act of sleeping with males. Among them were the bishops Isaiah of Rhodes, formerly the Nycteparchus of Constantinople, and Alexander of Diospolis in Thrace. After they were brought to Constantinople by an edict of the Emperor they were examined by the prefect of the city, stripped of their rank and punished. After he had suffered severe torture, Isaiah was sent into exile. Alexander, on the other hand, has his male organ cut off, and was place in a litter and exposed as a spectacle to the people. Shortly after, the emperor passed a law that the crime of sex with males should be punished by castration. And at that time many androkoitai (men who slept with men) were seized and their genitals were cut off. And a great fear ensued among those who suffered from the evil desire for males.” John Malalas
The Emperor’s court historian, Procopius, left us a ‘Secret History’ in which we read that Justinian:
“…prohibited sodomy [paiderastein] by law, not examining closely into offences committed subsequently to the law but concerning himself only with those persons who long before had been caught by this malady. And the prosecution of these cases was carried out in reckless fashion, since the penalty was exacted without an accuser, for the word of a single man or boy, and even if it so happened, of a slave compelled against his will to give evidence against his owner, was considered definite proof. Those who were thus convicted had their privates removed and were paraded through the streets.”
Georgius Cedrenus, wrote later in 1060 about this persecution: “Many citizens and senators and not a few of the high clergy were found guilty, were castrated and exposed naked in the forum and died miserably.”
There is considerable amount of evidence that the Celtic and Germanic peoples of northern Europe were accepting and approving of same sex relationships in ancient and medieval times. Aristotle noted this in the the 4th century BCE, calling the passionate, erotic friendship between Celtic males ‘synousia’, and so did Greco-Roman writers several centuries later. 1st century rhetorician Quintilian wrote a speech in which an imaginary German soldier called Marianus declares that male love is seen as honourable amongst his people. Sextus Empiricus (160-210 CE) wrote that among the Germanic people sodomy was “not looked upon as shameful but as a customary thing.”Eusebius of Caesarea (4th century CE)wrote that “Among the Gauls, the young men marry each other (gamountai) with complete freedom. In doing this, they do not incur any reproach or blame, since this is done according to custom amongst them.”
Most medieval law codes, such as from the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England, made no prohibitions against male sexual relations. Visigothic Spain carried forward the late Roman prohibitions, advising castration as the punishment for offenders, but as Spain came under Islamic rule from the 8th century a much more tolerant atmosphere prevailed until the return of Christian rule and the dark days of the Spanish Inquisition.
Medieval church declarations and penitentiaries reveal a growing obsession with regulating the sex lives first of monks and clergy, then eventually the whole population. For example, the Council of Paris in 829 issued a canon associating God’s wrath at gay sex with the devastation of the Great Flood, and endorsed the death penalty for sodomy. Saint Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah (11th century) attacked homosexuality among the clergy, whom he accuses of “wallowing voluptuously in the pigsty of foul obscenity.” He complained that “Vice against nature creeps in like a cancer and even touches the order of consecrated men. Sometimes it rages like a bloodthirsty beast in the midst of the sheepfold of Christ.” The Pope of the time was not prepared to go as far as Damian proposed in punishing same sex acts, and when the 1102 Council of London wished to issue a decree that sodomy be condemned from every pulpit Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury prohibited its publication, saying that homosexual acts were common and not seen as a sin by the population.
In the 13th century the homophobic stance of the Church hardened – the work of Thomas Aquinas defined ‘unnatural’ sex as masturbation, heterosexual acts in the ‘wrong vessel’, ie wrong orifice, sodomy (meaning any sex relationship with someone of the same gender), and bestiality. This century saw the suppression of the Cathar heresy, which was so associated with gay sex that the German language inherited the word ‘Ketzer’ as slang for a queer person. Similarly, English and French gained ‘bugger’ from the Bogomil heresy from Bulgaria – Bogomil in fact meant ‘beloved of God’. From the start of its reign of Terror, the Inquisition was on the lookout for sodomites, who were assumed to be either pagans or Christian heretics. The Society of the Blessed Mary, pious laymen supporting monastic endeavours, set out to track down gays as well as heretics – in 1242 the Italian city of Perugia appointed 40 men to seek out sodomites, a phenomenon repeated in Renaissance Florence’s Officers of the Night. The suppression of the politically powerful Knights Templar in the 14th century was justified in part by their indulgence in “the execrable outrage of the Sodomites.”
Secular laws in the late Middle Ages set the scene for the Church and State to work together in the suppression of homosexuality. The 13th century law in the Beauvais region north of Paris explicitly combines heresy and homosexuality:
“A person departing from the faith by disbelief so that he will not come back to the way of truth, or who commits sodomy, must be burned and he forfeits all his possessions.”
A 14th century copy of a 1290 English legal treatise, known as Britton, which cites fire as the penalty for sodomy and calls it a ‘mixed’ crime that could be tried by state or church, states:
“The inquirers of the Holy Church shall make their inquests of sorcerers, sodomites, renegades and misbelievers; and if they find any such, they shall deliver him to the king’s court to be put to death.”
Another English law code of the time indicated that the punishment for gay sex, along with bestiality or friendship with Jewish people, should be to be buried alive.
In Spanish Castile Christian King Alfonso X issued a law in 1255 that stated:
“…when a man lusts after another to sin with him against nature, we order that whoever commits such a sin shall both of them, as soon as it has been discovered, be castrated before all the people, and, after 3 days, shall be suspended by the legs until they die, and shall never be taken down.”
Historian Louis Crompton, in his 2005 book Homosexuality and Civilisation, says that “no comprehensive account of executions in earlier periods has been made… Undoubtedly, many men and women suffered whose fates are forever lost to history.” Some examples are known – such as in Basel, Switzerland in 1277 when the annals record that King Rudolph I, founder of the Habsburg dynasty “burned Lord Haspisperch for the vice of sodomy.” All levels of society were at risk – in 1292 Jan de Wettre, a “maker of small knives” was burned to death in Ghent, Flanders.
A remarkable record from the town of Olite, near Pamplona, informs of us of the burning of two Jewish men “because they had committed the sodomitical sin with each other.” First the men were tortured to obtain confessions, then “accompanied to the stake by a cortege of twenty men while a musician played the anafil, a long Moorish trumpet of lugubrious tone.” (Louis Crompton) The record lists the payments to the trumpet player and the man who tied the convicted pair to the tree and “administered the fire.”
Louis Crompton lists burnings of gay men in France (Laon 1317, Dorche in Savoy region 1344, Reims 1372), Antwerp in the 1370s, Augsburg 1409. The first known execution for sodomy in Venice was in 1342; in 1357 a Venetian boatman, Nicoleto Marmagna, and his lover of three years, Giovanni Braganza, were sentenced to be burned alive. Venice was to be a hotbed of gay life, and its repression, in the 15th century, beginning with the trial in 1406 of 15 young noblemen and 18 commoners. Most convicted men were burned alive – until 1446 after which they were decapitated before the burning, perhaps the screams had become too painful to hear. More than 400 men were tried in 15th century Venice for sodomy with other men, and 34 for sodomy with women.
Preacher Bernadino de Siena (1380-1444) described in a sermon the burning of a sodomite in Venice, whom he saw “tied to a column on high; and a barrel of pitch and brushwood and fire, and a wretch who made it all burn, and I saw many people standing round about to watch.” He also spoke of other executions, including regular burnings in Genoa, and told of a man quartered, his limbs hung from the city gates, in Verona.
Florence in the 15-16th centuries saw even more arrests and prosecutions, but in general imposed less harsh penalties. The city had such a long standing reputation as a gay locale – in 1305 Dominican preacher Giordano da Pisa declared in a sermon: “Oh how many sodomites there are among the citizens! Nearly all are dedicated to the vice, or at least the majority” – that during the Renaissance in German lands sodomites were known as Florenzer. The intensity of persecution varied over time, but Louis Crompton estimates that around 12500 men were prosecuted during a long anti-sodomy campaign in Florence that lasted from 1432 to 1502. At this time this quite small, city had an anti-sodomy police force, the Officers of the Night, which was eventually disbanded due to the amount of publicity its presence gave to the gay subculture of the city.
An even more virulent homophobia took hold in Spain after the unification of the country in the late 15th century under Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. An edict of 1497 summed up the attitude that had developed over 1000 years, that because of male-male sexuality “God… in His indignation sends pestilence and other earthly torments” and declared that “Because the penalties hitherto established are not sufficient to castigate and extirpate totally… such an abominable crime… we order and command that any person of whatever rank, condition, pre-eminence, or dignity who commits the abominable crime against nature, being convicted by that means which according to the law is sufficient to prove the crime of heresy or lese majeste [ie treason] shall be burned in flames of fire.”
From 1570 to 1630 the Spanish Inquisition was particularly active in hunting down gay men – over 1000 men were brought to trial in Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia, many punishments were assigned and there were around 100 executions, with a similar number via secular courts. Louis Crompton describes this period as “arguably the worst moment in the history of a mighty institution,” for which “the church must bear the guilt for having inflicted an enormous amount of unwarranted an atrociously cruel suffering.”
The inquisitors cared little about saving the souls of the men they accused – their expressed aim was to strike fear into the multitude – to “terrorise the people [ut alli terreantur]”. (Franscisco Pena, Spanish law scholar, 1578). Executions peaked in the 1620s, after which the appetite for the death penalty waned, though other punishments remained, such as imprisonment, lashings, fines and banishments, or being sent to work in the galleys of the great ships. Spain of course exported its homophobic attitudes to the New World of the Americas, and one of the earliest recorded atrocities there, from 1513, involved releasing hunting dogs to kill a group of 40 effeminate shamans, whom explorer Vasco de Balboa had observed with the king’s brother in Panama.
Crompton estimates that around 150 men and women were executed for sodomy in France in the 16-17th centuries. The Netherlands experienced a horrific gay persecution in the 1730s, called by Louis Crompton “the most deadly persecution of homosexuals known to us before Hitler.”A trial of two men in Utrecht led to the implication of many more and a ‘witch-hunt’ against gay men across the whole country. Around 250 trials took place and at least 75 men executed. Mass arrests also happened in Dutch cities later in the century, such as Amsterdam in 1764. The last execution for sodomy on the European mainland took place in the Netherlands in 1803. The last in England, of James Pratt and John Smith, took place on 27 November 1835.
England had been a late comer to the persecution game – it did not suffer the extremes of the Inquisition and Henry VIII’s Buggery Act of 1533 set a harsh tone but was not much used against gay men until the 18-19th centuries, when it did lead to many hangings. England abolished the death penalty for sodomy in 1861, but of course other punishments remained. Scotland was the last country in Europe to abolish the death penalty for gay sex, in 1889. The homophobic tone of the Buggery law was of course also to spread around the worldwide British empire and still darkens the lives of many queers in former British colonies, especially in Africa, today.
Christianity adopted its homophobic stance from the Jewish prohibitions of the Old Testament, in stark contrast to the many other faiths of the ancient world, which not only accepted gay love but gave spiritual roles to queer people. The Levitical prohibition on gay sex was a reaction against the cross-dressing, gender-bending priests of the pagan temples, and the first homophobic actions of the Christian emperors of Rome was also against these priesthoods. From that point began the long, dark 14 centuries where the extermination of gay people became the official policy of European countries. During the Middle Ages the darkness deepened as “heresy of the flesh” became equated with “heresy of the spirit.” Stoked by religious preachers of both Catholic and Protestant faiths, the fire of homophobia burnt strongly first in the Catholic south and later in the Protestant north of Europe, with executions in England reaching their peak in the early 19th century.
The many centuries of homophobic persecution inspired by the Christian faith sit alongside the intolerance also meted out to heretics, Jews, Muslims and of course witches. Add to this the endorsement of the African slave trade for several centuries and the suppression of native faiths the world over and it is clear the Christian Church has been responsible for a lot of suffering.
Nowadays Christianity no longer supports the suppression of pagans, Jews, Muslims or witches – but homosexuality remains either a huge taboo or a grey area in certain Christian circles. The climate of religiously based fear that queers have had to live with for so long began the 4th century, worsened in the 13th and persists in some parts of the world to this day. An apology from the Christian churches would be a catalyst to expose the dark history of persecution and reveal the religious roots of Christian homophobia – queers were pagan Goddess worshippers, who revelled in holiness through the body, in sexuality, in ecstatic intoxication. And throughout the dark centuries, maybe some of us remembered this fact, and for sure some of us are remembering and reclaiming it today.
“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”Harry Hay, Radical Faerie
an optical illusion designed to facilitate the play
of the multidimensional magician
who illuminates the way
for us to rediscover that we are he,
it’s just our minds got led astray.
Stop fighting, start forgivingl
Stop fearing, start living –
there’s one core cosmic truth
the world seems to have forgotten,
that without divine love
we would not be here.
For thousands of years humanity called the Love ‘Mother’
and knew the Goddess through the heart,
until the followers of a warrior god placed in the sky
ripped Her world apart.
The world betrayed, destroyed by human greed –
to return to her Oneness is our urgent need.
For this task, it’s been foretold, a rainbow nation would emerge
to lead the return to love, to nature, to ancient lore:
revealing the fifth dimensional door,
opened through Dionysian joy,
opened by those who are both girl and boy
who are human and fae, free radicals on the way
Emergence of a Cosmic Tribe beating drums and waking the land, resurrecting the mystery in life – reborn worshippers of Pan.
Emergence of transcendent transsexuality, horn-ed pagan questing queers when the lost tribes of the Goddess arise, the Age of Aquarius will be here.
Emergence of a calling to explore, know more and go to the core. Emergence in emergency, cosmic warriors will find the way.
Rituals of fire, water, earth and air
unite us and reveal
the sacred gates long waiting:
the goddess returns to seal the fate –
humanity’s resurrection as the divine race.
100 YEARS AGO in the early 20th century there were visionaries who saw humanity coming close to a leap in consciousness – but it didn’t happen. Instead we had world wars and mass propaganda keeping the world deeply asleep. In the early 21st century we get to try again, and the forces are once more lined up to try to prevent it. But the inspiration is there, the light is shining, and the leap can happen. We each have the power to make it so.
“You settled your head athwart my hips and gently turned over upon me, And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart. And reached till you felt my beard, and reached till you held my feet. Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and joy and knowledge that pass all the art and argument of the earth; And I know that the hand of God is the elder hand of my own, And I know that the spirit of God is the eldest brother of my own, And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, . . . and the women my sisters and lovers, And that a kelson of creation is love.”Walt Whitman
“I am conscious.. that behind all this artistic beauty.. there is some spirit hidden of which the painted forms and shapes are but modes of manifestation, and it is with this spirit that I desire to become in harmony…. We have forgotten that water can cleanse, and fire purify, and the earth is Mother to us all… I feel sure that in elemental forces there is purification, and I want to go back to them and live in their presence…”Oscar Wilde
“The simple truth is, that there has lived on the earth, “appearing at intervals,” for thousands of years among ordinary men, the first faint beginnings of another race; walking the earth and breathing the air with us, but at the same time walking another earth and breathing another air of which we know little or nothing, but which is, all the same, our spiritual life, as its absence would be our spiritual death. This new race is in act of being born from us, and in the near future it will occupy and possess the earth.”Richard Bucke,Cosmic Consciousness, published 1905
“We are arriving at one of the most fruitful and important turning points in the history of the race. the Self is entering into relation with the Body. for, that the individual should conceive and know himself, not a toy and a chance-product of his own bodily heredity, but as identified and continuous with the Eternal Self of which his body is a manifestation, is indeed to begin a new life and to enter a hitherto undreamed world of possibilities….this transformation, whilst the greatest and most wonderful, is also of course the most difficult in Man’s evolution, for him to effect. it may roughly be said that the whole of the civilisation-period in Man’s history is the preparation for it.”Edward Carpenter
“I feel on the margin of a life unknown, very near, almost touching it–on the verge of powers which, if I could grasp, would give me an immense breadth of existence. Sometimes a very ecstasy of exquisite enjoyment of the entire universe filled me. I want more ideas of soul-life. I am certain that there are more yet to be found. A great life–an entire civilization–lies just outside the pale of common thought.”Richard Jeffries quoted in Richard Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness (1905)
Into the fallen human sphere they came, Faces that wore the Immortal’s glory still, Voices that communed still with the thoughts of God, Bodies made beautiful by the spirit’s light, Carrying the magic word, the mystic fire,
Carrying the Dionysian cup of joy, Approaching eyes of a diviner man, Lips chanting an unknown anthem of the soul, Feet echoing in the corridors of Time. High priests of wisdom, sweetness, might and bliss, Discoverers of beauty’s sunlit ways And swimmers of Love’s laughing fiery floods And dancers within rapture’s golden doors, Their tread one day shall change the suffering earth And justify the light on Nature’s face. AUROBINDO
QUEER PRIESTS SERVED THE GODDESS, THE SUPREME DEITY.
THE ANGRY MEN FOLLOWING THEIR SUFFERING GOD
BROUGHT SWORDS TO OUR GROVES AND TEMPLES:
THEY STRUCK DOWN OUR TREES AND BURIED OUR DREAMS,
SUPPRESSED OUR MAGIC TO PURSUE DIABOLICAL SCHEMES:
STRUCK DOWN WERE THE GOOD GAYS OF GAIA,
THE PRIESTS AND PRIESTESS OF THE MOON, THE SONS OF BACCHUS.
THEY DID THIS IN EUROPE, THEN AMERICA, AFRICA, EVERYWHERE
FOR WHEREVER EXPLORERS WENT, WE WERE THERE
SERVING THE SPIRIT, SERVING THE TRIBE
GENDERBENDING LOVERS FEELING NO SHAME –
UNTIL UPON US WAS HEAPED THE BLAME
FOR CLIMATE DISASTERS, PLAGUES AND PERVERSIONS
BUT OUR LOVE CAN NEVER BE STOPPED BY COERCION.
GAYS ARE BORN TO EVERY GENERATION
WE ARE THE HEALERS, THE TEACHERS, THE WITCHES
WE ARE PROPHETS, MEDIUMS, PRIESTESSES AND PROUDLY
PROCLAIMING OUR RIGHT TO BE FREE,
AND WHEN WE RECLAIM OUR QUEER SPIRIT
IN ALL ITS DIVINE POWER AND GLORY
WE WILL UNLOCK THE GATES TO HUMAN DESTINY.
In tribal times we were Gatekeepers, opening the pathways
which connect the subtle dimensions of nature and spirit,
and this is what we are here to do today.
Gatekeepers we have an essential role to play.
Malidoma Some from 1993 MenWeb interview:
“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. This kind of function is not one that society votes for certain people to fulfill. It is one that people are said to decide on prior to being born. You decide that you will be a gatekeeper before you are born. And it is that decision that provides you with the equipment (Malidoma gestures by circling waist area with hands) that you bring into this world. So when you arrive here you begin to vibrate in a way that Elders can detect as meaning that you are connected with a gateway somewhere. Then they watch you grow, and they watch you act and react, and sooner or later they will follow you to the gateway that you are connected with.
“So to then limit gay people to simple sexual orientation is really the worst harm that can be done to a person.”
Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) was a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire (Syria), who reigned 175-164 BCE. He captured Jerusalem in 167 BC and desecrated the Temple by offering the sacrifice of a pig on an altar to Zeus (an act known as the Abomination of Desolation). At that time of history there were two factions within Judaism: the Hellenists, who accepted pagan practices and the Greek culture; and the Traditionalists, who were faithful to the Mosaic Law. In seeking to prohibit Judaism and Hellenize the Jews, Antiochus forbade their religious practices and commanded that copies of the Law be burned, all of which is related by Josephus in the Antiquities of the Jews (XII.5.4):
“…when the king had built an idol altar upon God’s altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious worship in that country. He also compelled them to forsake the worship which they paid their own God, and to adore those whom he took to be gods; and made them build temples, and raise idol altars in every city and village, and offer swine upon them every day. He also commanded them not to circumcise their sons, and threatened to punish any that should be found to have transgressed his injunction. He also appointed overseers, who should compel them to do what he commanded. And indeed many Jews there were who complied with the king’s commands, either voluntarily, or out of fear of the penalty that was denounced.”
The Biblical Book of Maccabees, which tells the story of the Jewish revolt against this tyranny, informs us that :
“…when the feast of Bacchus was kept, they were compelled to go about crowned with ivy in honour of Bacchus. And there went out a decree into the neighbouring cities of the Gentiles, by the suggestion of the Ptolemeans, that they also should act in like manner against the Jews, to oblige them to sacrifice: And whosoever would not conform themselves to the ways of the Gentiles, should be put to death: then was misery to be seen.” (2 Maccabees 7-9)
The Maccabee rebellion succeeded in regaining control of Jerusalem and the Temple was cleansed and rededicated in 165 BCE. The Seleucid kings remained the region’s overlords, but the ban on Judaism was lifted.
Jewishexpert.com states: “It is claimed that Antiochus also introduced the orgiastic Bacchic rites, but this story may serve as a cover for practices that had already been occurring for centuries, such as the temple cult prostitutes mentioned in the Bible.” These queer cultic practices going on in the pagan temples are documented in the Old Testament book of Kings, some 6-800 years prior to the Maccabee revolt, and were still going strong at the time of Christ’s birth.
Hellenistic Judaism, which honoured/embraced pagan deities and beliefs alongside Jewish was around from the time of the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE until its decline from the 2nd century CE. It’s quite certain some Jews were very happy to parade in celebration of the God of Ecstasy. Plutarch (1st century CE) informs us of Jewish worship he considered Dionysian, and that the ancients considered Bacchus “good counsellor,” as the wisest god, similar to Jewish notions about Yahweh.
“The non-Jews of Alexandria and Rome alleged that the cult of Dionysus was widespread among Jews. Plutarch gives a Bacchanalian interpretation to the Feast of Tabernacles:
‘After the festival called ‘the fast’ [the Day of Atonement], during the vintage, the Jews place tables laden with different fruits in booths of thickets woven from vines and ivy. Their first festival is called by them Sukkah (σκηνή). A few days later, the Jews celebrate another festival, which one may simply call a Bacchanalian festival. For this is a festival on which the Jews carry fig branches and sticks adorned with ivy and carry them into the Temple. One does not know” – adds Plutarch – “what they do in the Temple. It seems reasonable to suppose that they practice rites in honor of Bacchus. For they blow small horns as the people of Argos do during the festival of Dionysus, and call upon their god. Others, who are called Levites, walk in front, either in allusion to Lysios (λύσιος) – perhaps ‘the god who attenuatescurses’ – or because they call out ‘Euius,’ i.e., Bacchus.‘
“According to Plutarch the subject of the connection between the Dionysian and Jewish cults was raised during a symposium held at Aidepsos in Euboea, with a certain Moiragenes linking the Jewish Sabbath with the cult of Bacchus, because “even now many people call the Bacchi ‘Sabboi’ and call out that word when they perform the orgies of Bacchus.” Tacitus too thought that Jews served the god Liber, i.e., Bacchus-Dionysus, but “whereas the festival of Liber is joyful, the Jewish festival of Liber is sordid and absurd.” ‘
“…the presence of Dionysus on mosaics from the third to fourth centuries AD/CE in the finely appointed home of the apparent Jewish patriarch at Sepphoris or Tzippori, a village in Galilee, lends weight to Plutarch’s commentary. Significantly, this imagery depicts Bacchus and Herakles in a wine-drinking contest, which Dionysus wins, a theme flagrantly featured in the prominent Jewish citizen’s home. Since Herakles was a favorite of the Phoenicians, this symbolism could reflect the defeat of that faction commercially, in the wine trade. This central place for Bacchus indicates the wealth of the community depended significantly on the blessings of the grape.
“If these later Jews were aware of Dionysus and unflinchingly revered him, it is reasonable to suggest that Israelites knew about his worship and myth in more remote antiquity, particularly as they became wine connoisseurs, a trade that dates back 3,000 years in the hill country where they emerged.
“It is very significant that this site of Bacchus worship, Sepphoris, was deemed the Cana of the New Testament, where Jesus was said to have produced his water-to-wine miracle. It is clear that the gospel writers were imitating the popular Dionysus worship with the newly created Christ character.”
In his 1902 book Love’s Coming of Age, Edward Carpenter described his vision of how a shift in attitudes towards sex, sexuality and love would push forward human evolution. Carpenter described his belief in a letter to Richard Bucke, author of 1905 book Cosmic Consciousness:
“…that there is in man a divine consciousness as well as a foot consciousness. For as we saw that the sense of taste may pass from being a mere local thing on the tip of the tongue to pervading and becoming synonymous with the health of the whole body; or as the blue of the sky may be to one person a mere superficial impression of color, and to another the inspiration of a poem or picture, and to a third, as to the “God-intoxicated” Arab of the desert, a living presence like the ancient Dyaus or Zeus–so may not the whole of human consciousness gradually lift itself from a mere local and temporary consciousness to a divine and universal? There is in every man a local consciousness connected with his quite external body; that we know. Are there not also in every man the making of a universal consciousness?”
Love’s Coming of Age
Sex is the allegory of Love in the physical world. It is from this fact that it derives its immense power. The aim of Love is non-differentiation–absolute union of being; but absolute union can only be found at the centre of existence. Therefore whoever has truly found another has found not only that other, and with that other himself, but has found also a third–who dwells at the centre and holds the plastic material of the universe in the palm of his hand, and is a creator of sensible forms.
Similarly the aim of sex is union and non-differentiation–but on the physical plane–and in the moment when this union is accomplished creation takes place, and the generation (in the plastic material of the sex-elements) of sensible forms.
There is a kind of illusion about physical desire similar to that which a child suffers from when, seeing a beautiful flower, it instantly snatches the .same, and destroys in a few moments the form and fragrance which attracted it. He only gets the full glory who holds himself back a little, and truly possesses who is willing if need be not to possess.
On the other hand it must not be pretended that the physical passions are by their nature unclean, or otherwise than admirable and desirable in their place. Any attempt to absolutely disown or despite them, carried out over long periods either by individuals or bodies of people, only ends in the thinning out of the human nature–by the very consequent stinting of the supply of its growth-material, and is liable to stultify itself in time by leading to reactionary excesses.
…it must be remembered that in order for a perfect intimacy between two people their bodies must by the nature of the case be free to each other. The bodily intimacy or endearment may not be the object for which they come together; but if it is denied, its denial will bar any real sense of repose and affiance, and make the relation restless, vague, tentative and unsatisfied.
Sex-pleasures afford a kind of type of all pleasure. The dissatisfaction which at times follows on them is the same as follows on all pleasure which is sought, and which does not come unsought. The dissatisfaction is not in the nature of pleasure itself but in the nature of seeking. In going off in pursuit of things external, the “I” (since it really has everything and needs nothing) deceives itself, goes out from its true home, tears itself asunder, and admits a gap or rent in its own being. This, it must be supposed, is what is meant by sin–the separation or sundering of one’s being-and all the pain that goes therewith. It all consists in seeking those external things and pleasures; not (a thousand times be it said) in the external things or pleasures themselves. They are all fair and gracious enough; their place is to stand round the throne and offer their homage-rank behind rank in their multitudes-if so be we will accept it. But for us to go out of ourselves to run after them, to allow ourselves to be divided and rent in twain by their attraction, that is an inversion of the order of heaven.
To this desertion of one’s true self sex tempts most strongly, and stands as the type of Maya and the world-illusion; yet the beauty of the loved one and the delight of corporeal union all turn to dust and ashes if bought at the price of disunion and disloyalty in the higher spheres–disloyalty even to the person whose mortal love is sought. The higher and more durable part of man, whirled along in the rapids and whirlpools of desire, experiences tortures the moment it comes to recognise that It is something other than physical. Then comes the struggle to regain its lost Paradise, and the frightful effort of co-ordination between the two natures, by which the centre of consciousness is gradually transferred from the fugitive to the more permanent part, and the mortal and changeable is assigned its due place in the outer chambers and forecourts of the temple.
Pleasure should come as the natural (and indeed inevitable) accompaniment of life, believed in with a kind of free faith, but never sought as the object of life. It is in the inversion of this order that the uncleanness of the senses arises. Sex to-day throughout the domains of civilisation is thoroughly unclean. Everywhere it is slimed over with the thought of pleasure. Not for joy, not for mere delight in and excess of life, not for pride in the generation of children, not for a symbol and expression of ‘ deepest soul-union, does it exist-but for our own gratification. Hence we disown it in our thoughts, and cover it up with false shame and unbelief-knowing well that to seek a social act for a private end is a falsehood. The body itself is kept religiously covered, smothered away from the rush of the great purifying life of Nature, infected with dirt and disease, and a subject for prurient thought and exaggerated lust such as in its naked state it would never provoke. The skin becomes sickly and corrupt, and of a dead leaden white hue, which strangely enough is supposed to be more beautiful than the rich rose-brown, delicately shaded into lighter tints in the less exposed parts, which it would wear if tanned by daily welcome of sun and wind. Sexual embraces themselves seldom receive the benison of Dame Nature, in whose presence alone, under the burning sun or the high canopy of the stars and surrounded by the fragrant atmosphere, their meaning can be fully understood: but take place in stuffy dens of dirty upholstery and are associated with all unbeautiful things.
Our public opinion, our literature, our customs, our laws, are saturated with the notion of the uncleanness of Sex, and are so making the conditions of its cleanness more and more difficult. Our children, as said, have to pick up their intelligence on the subject in the gutter. Little boys bathing on the outskirts of our towns are hunted down by idiotic policemen, apparently infuriated by the sight of the naked body, even of childhood. Lately in one of our northern towns, the boys and men bathing in a public pool set apart by the corporation for the purpose, were-though forced to wear some kind of covering–kept till nine o’clock at night before they were allowed to go into the water–lest in the full daylight Mrs. Grundy should behold any portion of their bodies! and as for women and girls their disabilities in the matter are most serious.
Till this dirty and dismal sentiment with regard to the human body is removed there can be little hope of anything like a free and gracious public life. With the regeneration of our social ideas the whole conception of Sex as a thing covert and to be ashamed of, marketable and unclean, will have to be regenerated. That inestimable freedom and pride which is the basis of all true manhood and womanhood will have to enter into this most intimate relation to preserve it frank and pure–pure from the damnable commercialism which buys and sells all human things, and from the religious hypocrisy which covers and conceals; and a healthy delight in and cultivation of the body and all its natural functions, and a determination to keep them pure and beautiful, open and sane and free, will have to become a recognised part of national life.
Taking all together I think it may fairly be said that the prime object of Sex is union, the physical union as the allegory and expression of the real union, and that generation is a secondary object or result of this union. If we go to the lowest material expressions of Sex–as among the protozoic cells–we find that they, the cells, unite together, two into one; and that, as a result of the nutrition that ensues, this joint cell after a time (but not always) breaks up by fission into a number of progeny cells; or if on the other hand we go to the very highest expression of Sex, in the sentiment of Love, we find the latter takes the form chiefly and before all else of a desire for union, and only in lesser degree of a desire for race-propagation.
A description of the White Swan in Vere Street, London by Robert Holloway can be found in ‘The Phoenix of Sodom or the Vere Street Coterie’, published 1813, which relates the story of the conviction of James Cook for permitting his pub to become a queer rendezvous, of the Molly House kind documented since the early 18th century. In 1810 a police raid led to twenty-seven men being arrested at the pub. Most were released – probably they were able to pay bribes to the police. Eight men were convicted, of whom two were hanged as punishment for sodomy, and six were pilloried as punishment for attempted sodomy. Without focusing on these gory details, however, here’s a little glimpse into the gay subculture of the early 19th century…
‘Four beds were provided in one room:—another was fitted up for a ladies’ dressing-room, with a toilette, and every appendage of rouge, &c. &c.:—a third room was called the Chaple, where marriages took place, sometimes between a female grenadier, six feet high, and a petit maitre not more than half the altitude of his beloved wife! These marriages were solemnized with all the mockery of bride maids and bride men; and the nuptials were frequently consumated by two, three, or four couple, in the same room, and in the sight of each other! incredible as this circumstance may appear, the reader may depend it is all provable:—the upper part of the house was appropriated to wretches who were constantly in waiting for casual customers; who practised all the allurements that are found in a brothel, by the more natural description of prostitutes; and the only difference consisting in that want of decency that subsists between the most profligate men and depraved women.—Men of rank, and respectable situations in life, might be seen wallowing either in or on the beds with wretches of the lowest description: but the perpetration of the abominable act, however offensive, was infinitely more tolerable than the shocking conversation that accompanied the perpetration; some of which, Cook has solemnly declared to me, was so odious, that he could not either write, or verbally relate. It seems many of these wretches are married; and frequently, when they are together, make their wives, who they call Tommies, topics of ridicule; and boast of having compelled them to act parts too shocking to think of;—an instance of which I must relate, because the history of the country furnished a precedent, that consigned a Peer of the realm, and his infamous associate, to the gallows: I allude to Lord Audley’s case, who was convicted of rape and sodomy at one time with his own wife.—The instance I shall relate was told at Vere-street by the husband, to many of the wretches, and the partner of his guilt, then present, who joined in the relation, as if it had been a meritorious act:—this ill-fated woman had been brought to that pitch of infamy, that she frequently endured it, as if it was no offence even to modesty! the dreadful fellow, who is the subject of the narration, is one of three miscreants living together in the same public office in the city, one of whom is known by the appellation of Venus.
‘It seems the greater part of these reptiles assume feigned names, though not very appropriate to their calling in life: for instance, Kitty Cambric is a Coal Merchant; Miss Selina, a Runner at a Police office; Black-eyed Leonora, a Drummer; Pretty Harriet, a Butcher; Lady Godina, a Waiter; the Duchess of Gloucester, a gentleman’s servant; Duchess of Devonshire, a Blacksmith; and Miss Sweet Lips, a Country Grocer. It is a generally received opinion, and a very natural one, that the prevalence of this passion has for its object effeminate delicate beings only: but this seems to be, by Cook’s account, a mistaken, notion; and the reverse is so palpable in many instances, that the Fanny Murry, Lucy Cooper, and Kitty Fisher, are now personified by an athletic Bargeman, an Herculean Coal-heaver, and a deaf tyre Smith: the latter of these monsters has two sons, both very handsome young men, whom he boasts are full as depraved as himself.
‘It seems that these odious practices are not confined to one, two, or three houses, either public or private; for there are many about town: one in the vicinity of the Strand; one in Blackman-street in the Borough; one near the Obelisk, St. George’s-fields; one in the neighbourhood of Bishopsgate-street, kept by a fellow known by the title of the Countess of Camomile; perhaps the title was derived from his ancient place of residence!—This wretch was sent to the cold bath of Newgate for two years, by way of quenching a flame that had been raised by the charms of an uncomplying boy. The old worn-out catamites are stationed in different lodgings, and maintained, for the purpose of entrapping servants out of place, and other distressed characters; and as distress is the most potent enemy to virtue, they too frequently succeed in the objects of their employers:—no expence is spared for clothes, public places, or pocket money, till the ends are obtained. Many of these breeches-clad bawds have chambers in the different Inns of Court, the Temple not excepted, where they carry on their practices with greater security from detection; which is somewhat extraordinary, when we consider that lawyers are not very partial to any description of monsters but their own!’
This passage from Two Flutes Playing by Andrew Ramer is central to and reflective of my personal experience and understanding of AIDS. I’d like to suggest, however, that you read COVID-19 wherever it says AIDS below and see the parallel, hear the lessons.
AIDS (and COVID-19) is a planetary experiment, an experiment in consciousness. All human beings are involved in it, in and out of bodies. All human beings are involved in this experiment, some directly and others less directly. Those at the front line are actively working in their own ways to further planetary transformation. Some will do it through their work, others will do it through the work they inspire in others. But no one is immune, no one is not a part of this experiment. It is an experiment in love and in compassion. It is an experiment in shifting consciousness. Many out of bodies support you in your research. Together, we can all evolve in consciousness.
The gay community in this land is participating directly in this experiment for a combination of reasons. On a body consciousness level, self-internalized rage and shame have weakened certain individuals’ immune systems to the point where microscopic entities have attacked them. But those same individuals, paradoxically, have responded to something deeper in themselves, to an ancient tribal knowledge that goes back to the beginning of this era of human history.
Gay people have specific functions that grow out of our vibratory essence. The vibratory essence of male and female are not the same. The vibratory essence of those who are drawn to their own gender in love are not the same as those who are drawn to the other gender. Gay people are healers and creators, using our energy to serve humanity. We do not have to list the great gay artists. We may have to remind you that shamans in many places were gay. But few if any will remember that for much of the Ice Ages, gay people often served as tribal midwives. Not midwives for those being born, but midwives for those who were dying. Some of the fear of gay people to this day is the lingering whiff of death and transformation unconsciously detected.
Death is a shift in focus. When you are dreaming, you are already a little bit dead—you are conscious without a body. Death is a shift in focus, as birth is. One takes you into physicality, the other leads you out. But to be human, fully human, is to know both. As it is equally a part of being human to have male and female lives, straight and gay lives. 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.
AIDS (and COVID-19) is a planetary experiment designed to see whether or not human beings can shift their consciousness from a divisive mode to an all-embracing one. Every human being on the planet is a participant. Not just the individuals who “have” AIDS. We in subtle bodies are as much participants as you in physical form. This experiment is our chance to change human life upon this world. It’s Phase One Intensified of the last chance. If you love your body, if you love the body of the being you call Earth, then there can be only one outcome—Transformation.
AIDS (and COVID-19)is a planetary experiment. It is an experiment in love and compassion. It is an experiment to see whether the mass of human beings can change their consciousness levels to a point of love and understanding that embraces all human beings. Those who play host to this experiment may be female or male, black, brown, red, yellow or white, rich or poor—but they all have one thing in common—which may not be readily apparent on the outside—they feel that they do not belong here. As if that could be true of anyone who is born here. But they feel it. And in surrendering their bodies to what is often a fatal illness, they offer themselves up to this experiment, and must be applauded
In this poem, published in the collection ‘Toward Democracy’, English philosopher and writer Carpenter predicts a glorious future for transgendered people, and speculates on the trans nature of Adam before Eve was created.
0 child of Uranus, wanderer down all times, Darkling, from farthest ages of the Earth the same Strange tender figure, full of grace and pity, Yet outcast and misunderstood of men-
Thy Woman-soul within a Man’s form dwelling, [Was Adam perchance like this, ere Eve from his side was drawn?] So gentle, gracious, dignified, complete, With man’s strength to perform, and pride to suffer without sign, And feminine sensitiveness to the last fibre of being; Strange twice-born, having entrance to both worlds- Loved, loved by either sex, And free of all their lore!
I see thee where down all of Time thou comest; And women break their alabaster caskets, kiss and anoint thy feet, and bless the womb that bare thee, While in thy bosom with thee, lip to lip, Thy younger comrade lies.
Lord of the love which rules this changing world, Passing all partial loves, this one complete – the Mother love and sex emotion blended- I see thee where for centuries thou hast walked, Lonely, the world of men Saving, redeeming, drawing all to thee, Yet outcast, slandered, pointed of the mob, Misjudged and crucified.
Dear Son of heaven – long suffering wanderer through the wilderness of civilisation- The day draws nigh when from these mists of ages Thy form in glory clad shall reappear.
THE LEGEND OF INANNA
A legend from the ancient lands of Sumer and Mesopotamia tells us that the Great Goddess was trapped in the Underworld by her dark sister Ereshkigel, and could only be saved by Asushunamir, a specially created being who was neither male nor female. In her rage Ereshkigel cursed all such queer beings but Inanna in response appointed them to be her eternal servants, promising that one day their holiness would be restored:
“For many ages you will suffer… you shall be strangers in your own homes, your families will keep you as secrets in the shadows and they will cast you out and they will leave you with nothing. The drunken shall smite your faces and the mighty shall imprison you, but if you will remember me, how you were born from the light of the stars, remember how beautiful you are, and how it was you, and only you, who could save me from the final death and rid the earth of winter, I shall harbour you and your kind. You shall be my special children and I shall make you my priests. I shall grant you the gift of prophecy, the wisdom of the earth and the moon. You shall banish illness from my children, just as you have stolen me from Ereshkigel and the land of no return and when you shall adorn yourself in my robes, i shall dance in your feet and sing in your throats, and no-one shall be able to resist your enchantments. When the earthen jug is brought forth from the seven gates you shall be free from the spell of Ereshkigel. Once more you shall be called Asushunamir, Being Clothed In Light. Your kind shall be calle Asushunamir, those whose faces are brilliant, those who have come to renew the light, the Blessed Ones, of Inanna.”
Listen to the story of Ishtar/Inanna and her queer priests on this podcast:
This ancient legend speaks to us today – the Goddess is once more trapped in the Underworld of human consciousness; disconnection dominates our world and planetary ecology is way out of balance.Queer people are more accepted and freer to be ourselves in some parts of the world now, but our ancient connection to the Goddess is still hidden from sight. Yet we meet her in our games, our celebrations, our love affairs – and our task is to bring her love back into the world, to restore the holy whole by putting love and pleasure on the throne of human civilisation. Many ancient myths from around the world tell of a crucial connection between gender fluidity, same sex love and the sacred realms. Queers served as priests and shamans in traditional cultures the world over. It is time for the modern LGBTQ movement to embrace and engage with spiritual as well as social/political liberation. For we are a people with many gifts of the spirit, that are designed for the benefit of all.
Gay/queer/trans priests served in ancient pagan temples for thousands of years. The Hijra in India today are a remnant of a once common phenomenon of queer spiritual priest classes. In the Old Testament there are references to the presence of Qedesha – male priests who engaged in sexual ritual with temple visitors (translated as sodomites in the King James Bible) – and, in Deuteronomy, a ban on Jewish men becoming Qedesha. Yet in the Bible we also find two references to the long term, spiritual role of ‘eunuchs’:
For this is what the LORD says: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, who choose what pleases Me and hold fast to My covenant, I will give them, in My house and within My walls, a memorial and a name better than that of sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.”
Jesus quoted in Matthew 19:11-12
“Not everyone can accept this word,” He replied, “but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way; others were made that way by men; and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
THE LEGEND OF RAMA AND THE THIRD-GENDERED ONES
A myth concerns Lord Rāma and is told by hijras of India to justify their position in society and allude to possible rewards for their suffering. Hijras in Madhya Pradesh particularly referenced this narrative, which was said by many (hijras and non-hijras) to be associated with the Rāmāyana, although it does not appear in the text. In the myth, Lord Rāma returns from exile and finds those who are ‘neither man nor woman’ waiting on the banks of the river, from which he had left the city of Ayodhya to go into exile, fourteen years previously. When he left the city, he told the ‘men and women’ to go home, but these individuals, being neither, remained there. As a result, Rāma is touched by their devotion and he blesses them, saying they will rule the world in the ‘future’
Some African wisdom on the matter… it could also be said of this The one who can accept this should accept it:
Malidoma Some of the Dagara Tribe of Burkino Faso:
“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…
“If, today, we are suffering from a gradual ecological waste, this is simply because the gatekeepers have been fired from their job. They have been fired! They have nothing to do! And because they have been fired, we accuse them for not doing anything. This is not fair!
“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.
“…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.”