In London 2005 a group of queers started to meet at a squatted former maternity hospital as the Queer Spirit Circle, setting up as a space for people of all genders and sexualities to gather to share stories and experiences of their individual spiritual journeys. Very soon the Circle became a place where dozens of people came to combine energies and create ritual together to celebrate moon cycles and the major turning points of the year – the solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter points. And very soon making music, and dancing, became one of our key activities.
The Queer Spirit Circle formed a base from which, in 2006, Radical Faerie space arrived in the UK in the form of a mid-winter gathering at Featherstone Castle in Northumberland. Since then the expansion of Faerie spirit has been fast… in 2015 years the Albion Faerie tribe met for five gatherings, having started to meet also at Paddington Farm underneath Glastonbury Tor for Summer Solstice, Imbolc and other events. The upcoming October 2016 Samhain gathering at Featherstone will be the 21st full gathering of the Radical Faeries in the UK. During this busy decade many of the Albion Fae were also deeply involved in the development of queer sanctuary at Folleterre, home of the eurofaeries in northern France, which has also grown phenomenally – the sanctuary calendar stretches from March until October and hosted 100 faeries from all over the world at its recent summer gathering.
The London moon meets have continued, increasingly known as the ‘faerie circle’, offering a few hours of free flowing, radical queer space in the city roughly once a month… occasionally expanding from a simple drum circle into a full on End of Summer Ball or into last year’s Queer Day of the Dead, which was attended by over 70 people and was a highly ecstatic zone of emotion, dance and communion with the spirit world.
The doors to the London circle are open to all who wish to participate, and while hosted and held in a radical faerie ‘style’ this space is, and was always, offered to all queers who wish to come, whether to drum, to dance, or simply to be with spiritually open-minded people and socialise.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT A DRUM CIRCLE?
Faerie drum circles are not like other drum circles. This is a free form space where it is perfectly fine to follow your own heart, drum if you wish, dance as much as you like, express what you need to express, divest clothing if you wish or play with drag, relax and absorb the energies – or dive right in and help raise them.
The Wheatsheaf Hall in Vauxhall where the circles usually happen is a Victorian community centre, but built with something of the air of a medieval church. It is spacious, has fantastic acoustics for the music making and features a balcony around the main room from where it is possible to watch the action below. There is also a kitchen, and faeries bring along snacks and drinks to share – for while we love to spend as much time as possible in the rituals of drumming and dancing that take us out of the monkey mind and lift our spirits, we also come together to enjoy social time and make or deepen personal connections. Whether on the dance floor, or in the kitchen, or anywhere in faerie space, the intention is always to meet from the heart.
When it comes to the beats we love to let the rhythm take over. Drum circles often start with some instruction on technique for those that want it, then we dive into a musical journey together that can last 2-3 hours with breaks. It’s not all about drumming and it’s not all about raising the energy higher and higher. Our musical journeys take us into all sorts of directions, emotions and shared spaces. All instruments are welcome in the mix, as are voices, songs, chants, poems, storytelling etc.
The first hour of a circle is time to arrive, help set up the space and do some practice. We then come together in circle formation, holding hands, saying our names and tuning into the energies of the occasion, which is often a full moon. This assists us to become more fully present in the space, to come into the moment so that we can surrender to the rhythm and movement, and enter the journey. Full moons are times when emotions can be very strong, and drum circle is offered as a space where we can feel safe and supported while we give those emotions a chance to come through us and find expression and release. For a few hours we get the chance to get out of the head, dropping excessive thought and coming deeply into heart and body.
We drum, we dance, we heal through vibration and movement.
We break the familiar predictability of the mainstream lgbt scene venues – this is a space where anything can happen, where spontaneity and discovery rule the roost.
It is also a space where we can honour our queer spirit by tuning into the cycles of nature, of the sun and moon, and the energies of ancestors, animal totems etc. No belief system is required here. The circle is about experience, and the experience is co-created by all present.
Adults of all ages, all genders and all sexualities make it along to the drum circle. For a few hours we enter into a liminal space between the worlds, where music and movement open the gates to healing and release… to growth, pleasure and enjoyment. We laugh a lot, we love a lot, we dance, we sing, we celebrate the emergence of Queer Spirit in the world. All the beats emanating from our circles are sent out as a call to queer souls out in the world who are seeking this kind of heartfelt, open and honest communion with each other and the unseen worlds.
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