Exploring Queer Life Passages as Gateways to Divinity
By Chas Bogan and Storm Faerywolf
They are lovers. Entwined. Eternal.
Call them Brothers or Sisters, Fathers or Mothers, Friends or Lovers… they are just words. It is Their love that matters.
Call Them Heaven and Earth and we can see Them: The Earth who looks upon the face of Heaven and beholds the face of His beloved. The ruby-red fire that rises from below; the primal lust of millions of years, stretches upwards, longing for more than just a kiss…
Heaven turns and looks below and beholds the magnificent beauty of the Earth. The liquid cosmic light of His mystery—a fire as blue as sapphire— flows gently down to His lover, arousing passion’s fevered touch.
Their kiss is the sweetness of grapes on the vine, and Their song is that of the wind in the trees, the dance of the grasses in the breeze, the glory of the moonlight upon the water.
Together they flow, one into the next. Their kiss, Their touch, Their Holy Rut… these two flames that shine now as one, the color of wine, the color of Their bliss…
This rains down upon the Earth to touch the souls of every kind, that some among them be marked as Their special children.
But those who shine with violet souls in the world of men are forced to hide amongst the shadows.
“How then shall they know their special place? How then shall they know that they too are Gods?” asks Earth.
And Heaven says, “Behold, the star of our special love. It shall guide them to us with every breath.”
And so from Earth emerges the form of crystal stone, and from Heaven flows the liquid light. Together, blended, this precious stone grows, containing the light of above and below. The mark of their love. Their gift to Their kind.
And the Amethyst Pentacle shone with the power of Heaven upon Earth.
And together they spoke:
“In innocence born into this world,
Drawn forth from darkness by desire.
Awakened by uncommon love
And named by self as act of power
To shine with brilliance, your own design
You sacrifice your greatest fear
And are born anew each day and night,
within this star that we hold dear.”
And so the star was given to the Queer Ones, to remind us of our special place as children of the stars and of the earth, that we might remember our power and walk once more amongst the Gods.
In the F(a)eri(e) Tradition, we have a common practice of working with pentacles. They serve as models for balanced attitudes, emotions, and energetic states, aligning in us those traits we seek to instill in ourselves. They provide for us a symbolic map of the inner territories that we wish to explore. The Iron Pentacle, for example, is such a map, informing us of the twists and turns that are common while we are delving deeper into our spirits.
As any Queer practitioner can attest, there is a definite shortage of Queer-specific models that encourage the strengthening of ourselves as whole beings. In many Neo-Pagan Witchcraft traditions, we are told simply to adopt the pre-existing (and heterosexist) magickal modalities of polarity and fertility. In the Feri tradition we are given certain tools that enable us to have healthier relationships with our Divine natures, devoid of any such baggage. We are reminded of the concepts that each point on the pentacle represents, and when applied magickally, we are able to interact with those deepest parts of ourselves that are in resonance with the issues and energetic complexes associated with each of them. The pentacle, when used in this way, is a prime example of how a model can be used to bring us into alignment.
Alternatively, it can also represent various stages on an energetic path. Meditating upon certain life experiences common to Queer people has inspired us to develop certain tools that attempt to speak directly to our Gay souls, allowing us to include our sexuality within our spiritual identities, and vice-versa. By re-connecting to these experiential markers in our personal histories, we are better able to discern the personal cycles in our lives, and see these experiences as part of an unfolding process. We not only see how an issue such as “coming out of the closet” is a process and how it leads us to a deeper understanding of ourselves, but also how these patterns return, over and over, certain themes resurfacing over time as we peel away at the layers of our selves, learning new mysteries with every pass. With each trip along the pathways of the pentacle, we have a better chance to meet our demons, and in doing so comes the potential to make them our allies. As whole Queer people we can claim our birthright to be spiritual, as well as sexual, beings.
Because this particular model seeks to describe a progression along a discernable path, we have identified the pathways that course between each point on the star. Though these categories are separated on the pentacle for the purpose of solidifying each facet of the Queer experience, in life they might likely overlap. These stages flow in and out of one another, and can even change places altogether.
In the presence of the Star Goddess and the Blue God, we present the Amethyst Pentacle in the hopes that it may assist us in better understanding and experiencing our Divinely Queer nature.
Innocence: the Void. Dreaming. Bliss.
(Strangeness): the beginnings of feeling “different”.
Desire: yearning; longing
(Resonance): the experience of ‘other’ as ‘self’.
Awakening: epiphany; noticing ones uniqueness
(Initiation): the engagement of something new
Identity: Creating one’s identity; identifying with a community.
(Courage): the development of the Will.
Expression: Moving in the world. Making your mark.
(Freedom): The absence of boundaries or limitations.
Innocence- This refers to that time in which we were blissfully unaware of anything that might label us as being ‘different’ or ‘other’. This was a time before we knew of our eventual identities and simply existed without making excuses for who we were. “The Black Heart of Innocence” is a Feri term that is used to refer to that natural state of the soul unfettered by societal conditioning. Ideally this state, along with all of the others on the pentacle, represent an unfolding process as opposed to a static or isolated event. Even when we find that outside judgements have infiltrated our blissful ignorance, we are not permanently damaged by them. Innocence lost need not remain so forever. By doing the hard work of self-examination and magickal application, we can seek to remove any blocks and heal any wounds that may be keeping us from returning to our more natural (and healthy) state of being. Innocence is the void of self-awareness, from which emerges the very distinction that shall help to formulate our Queer consciousness.
Strangeness- Many persons who identify as Queer can trace their sense of being different as far back as early childhood, before such time as they matured into an understanding of why they are actually different than the majority of persons around them. This sense of difference may not be unique to those who will someday be Queer-identified. Most children fantasize about their true, royal parents coming to take them to the castle that is their rightful home, or else dream of discovering that their extraterrestrial lineage will someday endow them with psionic powers. What is unique for the Queer person is that at some point they will realize the true extent to which their sense of being set apart is valid. It may be that Queers remember better that sense of difference more so than straighter persons, for in our case it was precognitive of our eventual epiphany that we are Queer. Others around us often perceive our difference as well; some realizing why; others sensing some quality they understand no better than we do. This stage invariably leads to alienation, which in its negative form causes loneliness and insecurity, although alternatively it can also cause self-reliance and independence.
Desire- The second point is Desire. It is that exciting time when our senses are enticed by something beyond ourselves, and we feel our energy reaching for it. For the gay child, an instance of this is when he finds himself inexplicably drawn to a feature of his same sex. He may not realize at this point that his arousal is sexual. Even when he does, he does not immediately understand the significance given to his erection in relation to where it points. This is the time when Narcissus first spies his reflection in the pond, just before he plunges into the depths of his self-image. What can be said of Queer culture in all its diversity is that the core commonality among all gay men is the seminal role of desire in our lives. Yearning to touch his lips to the downy haired arm of a classmate, he can feel himself doing so as he projects his spirit towards the object of his longing. As any good magician knows, it is desire that brings us into resonance with what we seek to conjure.
Resonance: This is the experience of identifying with another on a deeper level. The acknowledgement of sameness. This could be seen in the closeted gay teenager who befriends another who is also perceived as being different. Resonance is, on one level, the experience of compassion. It is that opening of the senses that allows for the experience of something ‘other’ as ‘self’. For the Queer person, this can be the experience of feeling “at home” in a Queer-specific environment, or even a sense of comfort or recognition when in the presence of other Queer persons.
Awakening- At this stage, the person begins the process of self-acknowledgement, realizing that his sense of difference is linked to his emotional and erotic longings for persons of his same sex. He is out to himself at this point, realizing that his history of arousals and inclinations are something fundamental. Hopefully he will not fall into the trap of believing these feelings are fundamentally warped, a sickness or damnation. On the opposite extreme, he may explore the idea that he has been touched by Gods and given unique abilities. Now is when desire impels one to explore the emotions, imaginations, and sensations entangled with his arousal. This exploration might bring him to an awareness of his mystical senses as well. Or perhaps he realizes that the vibe he gets from certain guys is actually his psychic awareness, letting him know that another’s lusts are aligned with his own. Though his gaydar may have been tripped by sight of a certain visible flare in another’s style, he might take note of the times when he senses another cruising him before he even gets a whiff of the latest fad cologne.
Initiation: This is about that shift of energy that occurs when we have first been exposed to something new, learned a lesson, crossed a boundary, or broken a pattern. Initiation, like its name suggests, is the beginning of the journey rather than the culmination of it. Each time we are exposed to new choices we are given the opportunity to travel a new road and learn new secrets about our lives along the way. Going to your first gay bar, or bathhouse, buying your first gay magazine, or giving head for the first time, these are the experiences that shape our sexual identity. We surrender our previous limitations in the form of our fears and preconceptions, and move forward into new territory, blazing new trails in the internal landscape. When invoked in the body, this line reaches from hand to hand and through the heart, causing us to be open and receptive to the changes those new experiences bring.
Identity- Having realized that he is part of a category of men who are drawn to intimate relations with other men, he must face whatever prejudices he has had about those with whom he now shares part of his identity. It is here that denial can rear itself, keeping him from assuming a complete identity. Those who decide to see themselves as gay must deal with their conception of what a gay man is. He must take one step or another; either his negative attitudes about homosexuals will poison his self-image, or he will adjust his idea of homosexuality to include such guys as himself. At this point, the individual is seeking to come to terms with not with his homosexuality alone, but with homosexuality as a category into which he can include himself. This can be problematic if the individual perceives the ‘gay label’ as a limitation. Some fear that by defining themselves as gay they are binding themselves to the boundaries of that definition. If one is homosexual, does that then exclude attributes given to heterosexuals? He must overcome the notion that by being gay he is missing out on some primal experience of being. The position he is put in is simultaneously one of having to equate his sense of being to that of the straight cultural majority, while also finding value in how his experiences are diverse from the norm. Whether or not one who is attracted to his same sex chooses to define himself as homosexual, he must realize that others might. Like any minority, he must face the question of how others view him, often wondering if those around him have negative attitudes about him. Some will be put off at having to force themselves to imagine how two men might find pleasure in one another. Others will regret that they have one less thing in common with their gay fellows. Even with all the freedom given to the sexes today to follow no traditional blueprint, there are many who feel separated by gay folk for the fact that the choices we make in our lives are different from their own. To them we are labeled as gay and expected to assume that identity. Even those of us who would prefer not to be limited by our own definitions are nonetheless defined by others. In order to face one’s Queer identity, either in the mirror or in the glare of another, will require courageous effort.
Courage: It is this stage in which we most often find the archetype of the warrior. Having claimed one’s identity as something other than mainstream it is necessary to bravely move forward. Working with the concept of courage can assist one in developing a state of mind that is conducive of personal pride, and esteem, leading us to a place where we are better able to express our needs and desires. This is best seen in the occult concept of the development of the Will.
Expression- In this stage we find that the focus has shifted from the internal, to the external. The previous work has led us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and now the time has come for us to unleash our potential upon the world. In the previous stage, the focus was internal, crafting one’s identity. Now one must interpret a new language, often suffused with innuendo and obscure references, learning to recognize the body language of the men he cruises. Should he seek camaraderie, he might also need to acquaint himself with such gay cultural expressions as camp, artifice, and the art of reading another’s beads. He may now fully engage the world, having at last the tools necessary to express himself. The many Queer artists having graced time since Saffo represent our intrinsic need for expression. Some people have a better understanding of themselves when mirrored by others, and therefore might try a variety of labels and personalities without much thought. Having in the previous point come out to ourselves, it is now that those of us who come out to others do so. Some of us conform to a gay image that we find comfortable. Some of us try to blur the boundaries and fuck with definitions by being as unconventionally gay as possible. Either way, the members of our community share the common trait of being conscious of our identities, taking an active role in designing ourselves. Those who become isolated, from another’s intolerance or of their own volition, find ways to stimulate their own entertainment, becoming creative, often artistic. Many gay men become performers from the earliest stages where they try to fit in, or attempt to not be noticed. Others flame loudly, and can find a niche as class clown. If one has a naturally nonconformist nature, then it really comes into play now. An artist strives to push the limits, to do things differently for the sake of difference alone. It is here that he begins to seek out others who share his feelings, be they sexual encounters, or the greater sphere of community.
Freedom: Having processed and expressed our complexes and emotions we can now move forward hopefully unburdened by them. This is a state of relaxed healing, in the sense that its energy is that of reflection on battles won, and a time for integration of what has been learned. Having recognized the boundaries of culture, and the structure of ourselves, only now can we be free to move beyond them. We can now project our experience outward onto the Amethyst Pentacle, allowing us to move beyond the confines of self, emptied of those burdens that come with being Queer, returning us to the state of innocence.
Working with the Amethyst Pentacle has been an interesting and eye-opening experience. Many insights have arisen for both our students and ourselves while contemplating its points and pathways. During a series of rituals atop Mt. Diablo, we invoked the Star Goddess and the Blue God to bless this work and charge it with life. We stood in the middle of a huge pentacle, chunks of amethyst at each point. We walked the pathways and invoked as we traveled its labyrinthine delineation. We sat in the center and allowed the Gods to talk to us, to inspire us. We have watched the Pentacle evolve into its present form, having revealed to us new directions and deeper understandings of the power of our Queer souls.
Having worked the Amethyst Pentacle and moved through it full circle, let us be healed and whole, bright in spirit, and fabulously Queer.
This article originally appeared in Witch Eye: A Zine of Feri Uprising #7
©2002 Storm Faerywolf and Chas Bogan