Tag Archives: drum circle

Healing through movement – The Radical Faerie drum circle

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.

GET ON THE MAILING LIST TO RECEIVE NOTIFICATIONS OF DRUM CIRCLES

Send your email to faerieuk@gmail.com or sign up on the left.

 

Glastonbury Summer Solstice 2015 depicted in art.

Click image for bigger version…

summer solstice art
‘I struggle to put words down after gatherings and am always in awe reading other peoples amazing prose, but somehow I hope this image gives some insight into the emerging energies I felt around the fire and in the trees on solstice night.’ – Snail.

Screaming Manhood: My Solstice Faerie Gathering at Paddington Farm.

By Chris Butler. Aka. Bright Eyes.

There was something truly magical about the Solstice Gathering. It may only be my second but I sensed something quite out of the ordinary going on, even by Faerie standards. I’d be surprised if anyone went home unchanged and reading other people’s accounts of the week only confirms to me what I already felt. Transformative magic descended on Glastonbury for us and as a community, its presence was both welcomed and embraced.

The magic worked at so many levels within me but not least with my self-image. Without realizing, I’d arrived at Paddington Farm feeling middle aged in all the wrong ways. Call it mid-life crisis, call it whatever, but I haven’t been dealing with the approach to Fifty as confidently as I wanted to portray. Two botched relationships had eroded my emotional and sexual confidence and looking in the mirror only affirmed the grey and sagging aspects of my 48 year old being to my mind.  Imagine therefore the astonishment of being gently and spontaneously embraced, then kissed by a handsome Faerie you have come to love and admire. He only whispers two words, as he looks me fully in the eye before continuing his embrace. The words are, “You’re beautiful.”

The words mean so much, but the sincerity was unmistakable and managed to reach within me like nothing else over the past eighteen months. C.S. Lewis once said through the character of Jane in “That Hideous Strength”, “I don’t think we were meant to see ourselves. We’re mirrors enough to see another.” Searching myself in the mirror over the last eighteen months has brought little but negativity. By contrast, being mirrored by a loving Faerie brother gave me a long overdue vision of my true self, along with the courage to step into it.

Another great joy for me was the opportunity to run a Tarot workshop and to spend time reading for people one on one. It’s a joy to guide someone through a reading and watch them as realisations dawn and inner connections are made. There are sometimes tears, both of grief and joy but there are also tears of relief when fears are faced or the wisdom to face obstacles becomes clear through the messages in the pictures. For me, each reading is a privilege but don’t ever be fooled into thinking it’s a selfless process on my part. Reading for someone gives me the rare privilege of connecting on a level that wouldn’t be possible in another setting. The barriers come down and you get to see the real person and in every instance of reading for one of the tribe, I came away knowing my connection with that person was deepened profoundly.

In several instances my negative preconceptions were challenged and I came away with whole new levels of respect for the people in front of me. If I read for you, you may also have noticed how I calm down and let the real me begin to show. That’s because it’s the one place where I feel safe enough to let the brash, camp humour drop and be myself. When I can be that person outside the reading room I’ll have made my own progress.  All in all, the cards can be a powerful tool for healing and self-discovery but they can also be a tool for bonding, sharing, trusting and understanding within our community.

Perhaps my most important breakthrough came around the fire on Solstice Eve. I’d given plenty of eloquent excuses why I was going to spend a quiet Solstice back on the field, in my tent or in the Farm House living room until Octopus called me out wonderfully on my bullshit: “Honey, I think I can hear your shame speaking.” No fooling that Faerie as they say.

I made my way somewhat apprehensively to the fire, having avoided it for several days previously and it didn’t take me long to realise my fear; wildness and raw masculinity. There was plenty of it round the fire and for once I learned to fully let go. I’ve drummed at two previous gatherings but it’s here that I realised I was born to drum. It’s in my blood and my blood goes wild with the pulse and the rhythm. This time I learned not to resist; just to give myself wholly to the flow.

To my surprise, I found myself screaming wildly to the treetops as I drummed and for the first time in my life I connected fully with my raw masculine spirit. It felt liberating to be wholly queer and wholly man at the same time and that feeling has stayed with me ever since. My minds eye only sees a magical blur of fire, ecstasy and dance when I look back to Solstice eve, yet several clear moments jump out at me. I see Earthsong across the fire and she really is the fairy Godmother of the Drums. I see two precious Faerie sisters weaving a dance of astonishing feminine power and beauty through the pulsating rhythms of male revelry. The Dryad is more than a match for the Faun and in this instance she truly is Lady of the Dance. Most precious of all I remember sharing the drum with Octopus. We co-created Faerie Fire together momentarily – so fitting, as I wouldn’t have been there without his honest calling.

If this wasn’t all enough, two big miracles happened for me during the course of the week. I’ve always yearned to see the Aurora Borealis and an unusually strong Solar Storm happened to coincide with our gathering, making the Aurora visible as far south as the English Channel. Call it what you like but I call it my gift from the God and the Goddess. My other miracle was in the form of an individual Faerie. The meeting and the connection are too personal to share in full but this sharing realised a dream for me and revealed threads of inspiration and common experience that reach way back to my teenage years. That Faerie knows who they are and the revelation of their real self was the most priceless gift of the week; one that makes me respect and value them all the more, not less.

My final gift came on the morning of my departure. Throughout this and the Spring Gathering, I’d used my real name as no Faerie name seemed to fit. I’d given up hope and stopped looking but the name found me when it wasn’t expected. Turret called me ‘Bright Eyes’ that morning and it stuck to my heart instantly. It takes me back to C.S. Lewis and his view of the mirror. Yet again, a beloved Faerie brother became an authentic mirror, revealing a hidden part of the real me. When you next see me at a gathering, I’ll still be Chris, but I’ll have been Bright Eyes for some time by then.

Thankyou Faerie Family by Beverley: stories from Albion, summer solstice 2015.

Feeling Joy at the end of a synchronicity filled week in the magical aura of Avalon,

Love as so many new connections were made and friendships deepened,

Heart blooms peppered the days.

Inspired by the power of community and co-creation, and the great contributions from so many to the collective event,

Feeling humbled and honoured by fae who quietly confided in me their deep secrets,

Fortified by the morning qi gong,

Happy at the greater diversity of the gathering,

Feeling blessed by the many personal learnings scattered across the gathering,

Feeling loved and accepted even when the stress levels spiked and the crown of calm slipped momentarily – then held unconditionally in faerie compassion.

Grateful for the kind thanks and tokens of appreciation & helping to rebuild my broken self worth,

Enriched by the experiences,

Liberated through the workshops,

Thankful for the healing,

Nourished by wonderfully creative vegan food,

Delighted to see those first timers I had encouraged to come find that they did fit in and yes they were part of the faerie family.

Happy to be able to use my cooking skills again and work with a harmonious kitchen team,

Entertained and impressed by the show and the talent, and also those whose living performances that ran non-stop for the week,

Invigorated and recharged by our excursions to the sacred places in Avalon,

Tuned in to spirit and the visions, the telepathy, the synchronicity, the angelic messenger service…

Stronger in my personal capacity to manage life,

Loved again, and loving again, beyond the walls and the wounds,

Unconditionally loved,

Hugged by all the hugs…

Still being hugged now as I type….

Rad Fae Summer Solstice @ Paddington Farm, Glastonbury.

Facebook event here.

Booking form here.

Last year, we were blessed with some awesome weather, as our community descended on Paddington Farm to have one of the most revelatory, nourishing and joyful gatherings seen there – the whispers and energy from which propelled the community into some hungry and ecstatic energy that saw a real spike in community events, happenings and appearances throughout the rest of the year.

We WERQED out our shame and cast it off last summer. We danced naked and painted in the sunshine, in awe of each other and the world. We spoke and we listened, we cooked and we munched, meditated and stretched in the bounty of the Somerset landscape. We played a tribal intensity around the fire throughout the night; beating our drums hot handed and wildly, lost in each other and spirit. We were enchanted.

And now it’s time to gather again, to continue the story and officially break out our tribe into the bosom of summer.

This faerie-qweens, is our summer gathering! Let’s put it all aside for one week to weave some camp-chaos and sissy-serenity in our pop up headquarters, nestled in the ancient hills of Olde-Glasto.

Yes! Let our summer-sport be faerie-loving, and Paddington Farm our pitch. Breathe deep dears and open your hearts: raid your closets, set your intentions and spread the word.

Bring fabulous outfits, smiles, loving-appetites, raw passion, creative inclinations and soulful offerings – let’s co-create and supercharge our radical network the world over, by making this one go off in the brightest, most spectacular and conscious way possible.

It begins with you and ends with us all.

See you there.

If you have any other suggestions around encouraging a more inclusive, safe space that you would like us to consider, or would like to comment on any of these – please, get in touch.

Sacred-fever, solstice eve by Octopus.

I’ve been waiting. Waiting for that warm glow on the fingertips.

An aural envelope that sings over the skin; a sign for writing.

Scribing the now-myth (legend?) of the paddington farm solstice, the weaving of a new albion potential – is daunting.

 

Should I talk about my tribe of warriors? Facing down a queer burden of shame with exhilarating, fierce-piercing love.

Like hot knives through a butter of bullshit, a searing arc through the rank curse of revolving closets – each witnessed to dissolve like charred flesh in the unwinding of fire.

Taken in by trees that know it no different, and which hold you all the same.

I watched ghosts walk on in bodies that day. I’ll never forget it.

 

Should I talk about my tribe of two-spirits? Walkers on tightropes of imperceptible wavelengths, each wing-tip dipped in the crimson of other-dawns and the fine-centring-focus of the minds that know – and played the solstice in.

How the fire burns and holds – so beautiful you want to fuck it. The surging within, reflected in flame. 

It licks at corners of the unseen unfolding of a boiling-spirit, that animates us each according to our own, but each according to its calling; cackling for its chaos, fucking for ecstasy, embracing in joyful-love – beating drums like a calling, the spirit is home.

 

Should I talk about my tribe of lovers? Fearless in their heart-space, bold in their sharing – an antidote to the plague of “not enough”.

Dancers on the margins, eros on the fringe; eyes like opals in greeting – even in the stillness, at rest, circles twist behind the eyelids and it plays.

Rendering possession meaningless with a fluid love, spontaneous.

A reciprocal gift, untapered, without boundary.

A weaving of tendrils so potent, so unshakeable – we were all touched. And continue to be.

 

Should I talk about the future? About how I saw it – each beat of that drum that I never played, at the intersection of each vibration, its poetic-geometry opening to me, opening like the simple gesture of a flower, opening to the sun.

Each beat, each snarl, each moan – each glide of skin, each pulse of cock; each and every moment in gaze of bewilderment – held in the bowl of its spectacular crown.

We played with it. It played through us. We were perfect. We will be more.

 

Sacred Vulnerability by Cunty.

At Midsummer in that most magical place we gathered. Under azure skies of a week’s eternal summer we came together to speak words of empowerment, to engage in acts of healing and to find our once-dentorian voices yet again. We danced, massaged, opened our hearts and gave our darkest secrets to a circle of welcoming arms, then threw our shame into the fire.

 

Sacred Vulnerability is what I have seen and felt in a circle of Faeries. As the talisman passes into the hands of another of my brethern I can see his spirit move deeper into the room, I sense the rest of us draw a collective breathe as we make room for his shining heart, as we bear witness to the shamanic journey he undertakes into the Otherworld of his hidden truths and emotions. We challenge our own hearts to stay open and connected, ready to be moved and reminded of our own wounds and joys, shames and successes. It seems such a simple truth that only when we are all open-hearted can we manifest that transformative magic that is such an intrinsic aspect of Faerie space.

 

Outside of the circle, there are ripples and echoes of this Sacred Vulnerability. I see it by the campfire as one young faerie runs his hand on the back of the head of one who will weep such tears when they part days later, like a first love. I hear it in the voice of an older faerie who talks to me of his initial discomfort of being there, of how he is slowly learning how to open up again. I feel it rise in my own chest as I ask another of us to share my bed that final night of our gathering, choosing to step beyond my own deeply embedded fear of rejection.

 

In my mind I am reminded of the Sumerian tale of the Descent of Inanna. As she travels into the underworld there are seven gates and at each of these she must remove another item that represents her power and position, until she walks through that final gate naked and resplendent, simply and completely her own self and being.

 

This to me in Sacred Vulnerability. No hierarchy, no titles, no logos, no pretence, no shame, no connections, no ego. This is the Temple of our Collective Souls. They must be tended and worshipped, cared for and offered up. There will be times we will act as the priestesses of that place, guiding others with a measured and experienced hand. We may find ourselves paupers and pilgrims, seeking answers and solace there. Perhaps other times we merely sweep the floors or find ourselves the sacrifice on the altar.

 

When we act in service to our own Spirit, when we offer respite to another’s, when we find the courage to abandon the masks, to bring forward kindness for both Self and Other knowing they are not separate – we take a step closer to shedding that frog skin, to becoming our own Healers and Guides.

 

The real challenge is to embrace that role when we are in conflict with our community, our lovers and ourselves. To acknowledge that everyone, including us, has the right to belong without undergoing the burdensome task of fitting in.

 

These are the lessons I learned in those seven dazzling days of summer, that I carry with me and that have changed me irrevocably.

 

With Love

 

Cunty

Faeries Fire Solstice in Avalon by Dido / Bowerbird.

Hard by Paddington Farm,

Stands Paddington Wood.

Where deep within Ananga and his Faery friends from far,

Blissfully danced, pranced and vaguely stood.

What sounds were heard!

What scenes appeared!

Oh those flames did bond and purge!

I kisses a god that night.

And hidden in their secret bower,

All in fragrant flower,

The Satyrs of Paddington Wood,

Crouched silently and watched in wonder struck.

And turning to his shaggy mate one did whisper in a hush:

“For never yet did I behold mortals like to these,

Neither man nor woman.

I am awed as I look upon them”.

The Summer Solstice by Qweaver / Rainbow Childe.

In the nut-brown green womb
emerald of the woods, in the splash
of the grass, the weave of the wind,
the drum flames

to its heart-born rhythm lambs,
wild flowers, clouds dance, water
sheds its gifts, moon shapes her wisdom

how our eager limbs grew golden,
fused, lusted, roared, self-given,
all-given joy rose that night,
swept back the black with a rainbow dawn

lip to lip, elementals, butterfly children,
swell the chant, voices layered as air or earth,
eyes now diamonds larger than stars,

bodies as steel, as fire, fire and water, breath-bright,
breath-flight, breath-height potency,
hand to hand a surge of angels,
united, perfect, unashamed

Summer Solstice by BrotherSun

Love is loving.
Drums are drumming.
Guitars are playing,
As the fires burning.

Time went timeless,
Our energies grew,
We shed our skins,
And were born a new.

Hands were touching.
Skin caressing.
Magic flowed,
And lips were guessing.

The sun is rising,
The magics growing,
The moons reflecting,
Our souls are glowing.

So here we stand,
In time and space,
A new found joy,
Written upon our face.