Being the parent of two teenage humans can often prove to be quite thought provoking in terms of trying to articulate what I actually “believe” in terms of my own metaphysics. My eldest helpful summarised my spiritual path as being “some sort of weird druid, meditation thing”. Credit where credit is due, that’s probably not far off!
While I have had some past attempts at spiritual brand loyalty, they have often ended in consumer dissatisfaction. My path has always been a blurry one, a fuzzy inexact ramble along a path that is much more about exploration and the privilege of travelling with some rather excellent companions. I can understand why others like certainty, and given the current scary state of the UK, I can appreciate why such apparently vague, postmodern and Queer perspectives don’t appear to be muscular enough to confront our current difficulties. But hey! It’s not my fault, I blame Magic.
Queerness and Magic are a bit of a chicken and egg thing. It’s hard to know whether Magic’s strange ways are innately attractive to the fey, liminal shape-shifters within a culture or whether it makes the curious even Queerer; as a lover of strange loops and circularities I’ll take both ☺
To engage with Magic is to engage with the whole of life. It is art and it is science, it is both acceptance and change. It is many things, but I’m pretty sure that it demands a heroic pursuit of curiosity and a willingness to question almost everything we thought was true of our lives and selves, as I have said elsewhere:
“Whatever else Magic may or may not accomplish it aims to transform our own awareness so that we become more effective. By self-willed mimetic infection, the change that we seek becomes more likely as we sensitize our perception to themes and opportunities.” (Deep Chaos part deux)
To enter the circle or to cast a spell means to lift anchor on what we thought we knew about ourselves. Whatever scripts and stories that we may have inherited about what our lives should look like, are called into question as we are sailing more uncertain seas
Many find the descriptor “Queer” problematic because of its historic associations as a homophobic slur or because it is viewed as attempting to summarize the complex terrain of “non-straight” identity (LGBT+) with a single (albeit complex) word. I certainly don’t wish to imply any form of flat-land homogenization of people’s lives and politics. Language and self-identification are important markers and means for both self-understanding and collective response. Part of why I view my own magic as Queer (as well as being that of a Kinky, Bisexual and gender fluid person), is the way in which Queerness for me embodies the role that we as magicians have as edge-dwellers who question oppressive catergorisation and help pull our cultures forward.
“Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. It is an identity without an essence. ‘Queer’ then, demarcates not a positivity but a positionality vis-à-vis the normative.” David Halperin Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography
While some may view the conscious deconstruction of category as being overly hip or laboured, for those of us who find liberty within Queer’s punk rock attitude, Queerness challenges us to experience relationship and uncertainty in new ways. Rule books that rely on clear categorisation and the safe assertion that problems are located in “the other” can longer be as true. While the urge for individual emancipation and freedom seem innate to the human project, a Queer awakening might also attend to the complex tendrils of connectivity between self and other. Indeed our liberty may ultimately be within context as much as it about liberation away from it.
Part of my own current context is as a human who lives in the United Kingdom. Recent weeks have been a bewildering and deeply saddening time for many of us who (despite its many imperfections) view remaining in a larger Europe as being an important factor in seeking to reduce ignorance, hatred and less effective communication. Whatever economic arguments that “exit” advocates might have been able to proffer, for me my identity as a magician and Queer limit my ability to embrace the lax, childish worldview that Britain’s current difficulties can be located in those other people over-there.
Whichever framework one employs in trying to understand how Magic works, most magicians seem to rely on concepts of connection, alliance and symbiosis. Over 20 years of frontline social work may well and truly kicked most naivety out of my system, but I still know that my own Magic seems to be maximised when I have the possibility of exploring creativity from a position of flexibility and relative fearlessness. For me it’s hard to reconcile such freedom and connection with a siege mentality that imagines safety behind a balsa-wood drawbridge.
In recent times I have been working with the Goddess Sophia and the way she is made manifest in Gaia. In offering devotional practice to Gaia-Sophia, my coven-mates and I have been seeking to promote greater connectivity and Wisdom. This prayer is still on my lips:
“Praise to the Wise one,
The Connected One,
The Whole one,
The Holy One!
Sublime Strange Attractor-
Illuminate our intuition and give us neither-neither genius!
Help us to spin our webs of connection with silver and gold
Help us to seek Wisdom and apply its insights with kindness.
We give thanks to you and to each other
For this time of nurture and deep listening!”