Faerie glossary


or the artform of cultural shock

Radical - as in radical faerie. Does that mean you will be regularly dragged by the SWAT units in that sexy black gear? No dear. You are the sexy one. "Radical" for us aims to express the etymological root of the word - which is radix or "surprisingly" the root. Finding your roots, your past, your history, your ancestors, the myths of your tribe. (Spirituality) As a gay or queer person. (Sexuality) What's the purpose of our minority in bigger picture. (Politics) Going to the roots of terms, things, meanings we work with. (Philosophy) Unlike our civilized technocratic culture, rediscovering our roots in the soil, the earth, the nature. (Ecology) And, at the end, if we revisit the contemporary meaning of the word - what's more radical that offering cooperation and community instead of a tough competition where even a gay brother is a threat? What's more subversive than offering compassion, kindness, love - instead of a fight for (even well-meant) ideas, ideals, ideologies?

Faerie - We used to know and maybe love this magical mischievous being as children, we had to abandon them as rational adults. Now, more sophisticated, we are becoming them in an artistic or shamanic role-play theater. While gay mainstream used a technique of appropriation of the former insults - gay, queer, pédé, schwul, teplý - it still can't come to terms with faerie, that evokes something soft, effeminate and camp - daresay deliberately! A minority within a minority. They used to point finger at us - fags - now we fags point finger at them - sissies. Maybe in an attempt to divert the attention and anger. We replicate our own former oppression. Straight-acting and hetero-imitation have become a norm. Faeries do not ant to be normal. We know the drag and camp is subversive, provocative - and thus helpful, healing, educating. We allow the hunted and haunted to relax from "acting" and start just being. Comfortably oneself. Playfully oneself. Fully oneself.

Two-spirits - along berdache - is a roofing concept for the traditional role found in history of many different native American tribes. Once a child was born and in an early age did not profess the usual traits of male or female gender, a ritual was held. If a boy chose the female utensils or a girl inclined towards archetypal male tools - it was pronounced two-spirited, that is having both male and female spirit within one body. This was understood as third and fourth gender and not as sexual orientation. More than this theoretical aspect, the social status, role, purpose - is what thrills us today. Two-spirits were valued, needed, considered important for the survival of the tribe. The culture would be in danger of disappearing without them. Nowadays, as the tribes accepted Christianity, alcoholism, homophobia - white men's values and vices - this prophesy has become real.
The advantage of being man and woman is quite obvious. Insight to the thinking, feeling, needs and fears of both. Ability to interpret between them, to mediate, to harmonize these two worlds that are often in quarrel and misunderstanding. As much connecting the sexes, two-spirits were believed to be bridges between material and spiritual world. Therefore, have become healers, shamans, storytellers, rite-preservers, ceremony-organizers, helped women with domestic works and kids as much as server symbolic role for the male-warriors. We dare to see this special trait even in contemporary society - queer people inclining towards arts (storytelling, shamanic theater), social work (cooperation instead of competition), care-taking, but even florists and decorators and stylists (rite-preservers, ceremony-organizers) or priests (shamans). We crave for the roles that are close to our nature. Do we dare to grasp its full meaning?

Assimilationists - embody quite the exact opposite of the previous idea. "There's nothing more to gay, than who we sleep with. We are normal. We want to be like everyone else. Ordinary boys. Straight-acting men. We want to fit it. Imitate the heteronormative lifestyle, desire the hetero-couple privileges, reenact the heterosexual rites. Do what's supposed to be done, do what everyone else does." This modern twist in gay (liberation?) movement - compulsive obsession to blend in, to assimilate - was something that troubled Harry Hay and other outcasts from the normalized activism. While assimilationists ask "what's so special in being gay?" the faerie radicals tend to answer: Our unique characteristics, predispositions, abilities - gifts that have meaning, function, added value - that we can offer to the outside world. The outside world that has no perspective over itself. It considers its traditions, roles, myths - from religion to science, from family to competition - as the only way.

Matrix - is an ironic name for the outside world. Nice example of working with a symbol, a metaphor. As much as the Rainbow Family uses term Babylon (perhaps a place of vice, sin, too diverse and unorganized - quite the questionable topics for the gay folks), we see the world based on consumption as a seductive illusion, that we allow to fool our retina in exchange for sucking out our life batteries. Living as a part of monstrous machine, while we do not know if it gives us or takes from us more. On the other hand, we come from it and we return to it, there's a vivid communication between Matrix and faerie space. We heal our wounds from the outside world, we evolve, we learn and we bring the knowledge back to "the simulation" - trying to live better and maybe make the life easier/nicer/healthier for the others.
There's an ongoing vivid reflection of individual faeries, which world - the Matrix or the faerie Land - is the "normal" one or the crazy one. Which one is an illusion? Which one is real and which one is sur-real. While saying "out there in the real world", we often stop astonished and rephrase: "this is my real life, out there I just survive, it feels so not me, so not real."

Yoo-Hoo - is a call, deliberately flamboyant and camp and high-pitched and playful and extravagant. It's a call to participate - in daily life routines, circles, conviviality of the communal meals, workshops or the fun; a greeting to the fellow faeries, recognition meme, distinct cultural tradition (belong to a group that is different from the rest); a reflection of the original call made by founding mothers of the faeries - to anyone with a heart open for the faerie experience. Some faeries put anarchy over the hierarchy, creative chaos over the organization (especially order enforced by formal leaders), yoo-hoo is a method of invitation to participate. Characteristically, many events in faerie space happen in faerie time (sometime after lunch and before dinner), fluid with the flow of the day, current need of the individuals and also the community, planned is adjusted by the unexpected, hence the purpose of the call.

Kitchen queen, kitchen mama and kitchen slaves prove the rule by the exception. The kitchen is a feudal tyrrany, as it ensures that the most essential needs of faerie nation are met. There is nothing so un-magical, un-compassionate and un-sophisticated as the hungry faerie fearing for her life, nervously inquiring in-between the door: "anytime soon?". That's the dreaded responsibility, that still finds its brave carriers though. And the result is competition (hushshsh) of exquisite meals, that are often enjoyed in bizarre and spectacular fashion, both on the table and around the table, not excluding the participants dressed in unearthly outfits and often non-fits and beyond-fits. The loveliest compensation for the totality of the kitchen is the appreciation and convivial atmosphere. (Almost) whatever you cook. You're surely going to be the hero of the moment.

"If you see a task - it's yours." This is how creativity happens. This is how faerie experience is co-created. This is how you join the hand into the circle - yes even with different color of nail polish on each finger, honey! In faerie space, you don't need to be so much of an expert to take the tool and do the job. Most probably you will be thought wonderful and amazing - and surely loved and praised. Faerie experience is not a workshop itself, no one is there paid to fix the things, no one is expected to work his ass off in the backstage, no one is responsible for things showing up at the right place at the right time. Everyone is. That is the paradox and tough lesson of the communal life. Missing something? Offer it!

Circle - is both a symbol and a daily bread of faerie life. One's hand may be spinning one day in circles from all that circular motion, vicious circles not excluded. Still, the circle is enactment of consensus decision making. It is a counterbalance to the anarchist spontaneity often ruling the course of the events in faerie space. While we are all honored individualities, working on themselves, following their needs, circle is an expression of the idea of community. Holding hands, passing the energy, noticing each other - whatever way we opt for - allows us to feel the unity in diversity, being there for each other, on a physical level. Living and working together, interacting, caring about each other. Circle is not only energetically most effective and balanced shape of the universe. It allows us to have each other in view, to see each single one of us. While talking, each one gets his say and the unfinished discussions can circularly continue.

Consensus - is a state in decision making, when everyone involved agrees. Not because he is forced to, but because everyone's voice was heard, everyone's concern was taken in the account, everyone's fear was answered in satisfactory manner, everyone's need was met. While considered unachievable utopia in the Matrix world, some smaller tribal communities used it quite effectively. A talking stick or talisman is passed in circle, everyone gets to speak and is being listened to until he is finished and has nothing more to say (a-howg). This is very unlike the usual discussions where one interrupts the other one in a desperate competition to win a bit of speaking time and grasp the audience's attention. A decision is made when everyone is satisfied.
While the minority voice may challenge the easy solutions convenient for the majority of the assembled, it is equally powerful. Contrary to democracy where majority over-votes the minority (competition, war, losers and winners), mass taste prevails over the alternative currents, general opinion deafens dissent and provocative innovative ideas. In consensus, the disagreement of one makes the group reconsider and adjust the solution so that even his concerns are addressed and his point of view included in the result. Thus, the decisions become robust, complex and supported - not undermined or sabotaged.

Hisssssss - has become a subject of couple of legends of its conception. The point of myth is not to be literally true, but to inspire and motivate. Therefore I'll offer all the stories of its origin I've heard. The most banal says it is an extension of emphatic yesssss - as the agreement processes are quite important part of faerie life. In heart circles, when we open up our hearts, uncover the vulnerabilities and very intimate and private parts of our soul, it would be rough and disrespectful to be interrupted in the middle of a thought by sudden: "Yeah, I feel the same way - you know, I had this similar situation where ..." And the time to share ones own feelings is hijacked by the other person. We could feel weak, unheard, diminished. That is the competition for the speaking space we know from the outside world, a compulsive habit we learn to defy.
The hiss allows us to ventilate the urge to add our "yes!" - if we must say it, without stealing the other one's space and time to be seen and heard. It is the less-intrusive expression of agreement and also compassion. Saying "Oh my dear!", hugging, holding hand - can be as much supportive as theatrical (stealing the stage and inserting oneself in the spotlight) and disruptive for the uneasy flow of feeling coming to the surface.
Another legend says, that hissing replaced clapping hands - which forces our hand to dis-join and often not-only-symbolically disrupt the circle. Applause is loud and may interrupt the speech or diverge the attention to individuals expressing their support.
Finally a story from the first gatherings tells about a snake - who was considered a sacred animal of the Earth goddess - that we honor by his own sound. Snake is occasionally transgressing into phallic/sexual symbol as well. As an animal, it is often feared, hated and killed - even if it has its rightful place in ecosystem - as much as the gays and faeries do in the social environment.

Heart circle - is the secret "nuclear" technology (nucleus - core) of faeries. It is believed, that without it there would be no faerie space, no faerie magic, nothing of what makes the faerie way of life so unique. A consensus-building model is applied - a talisman moves the circle and the one who holds it can express himself in whatever way he feels compelled to (talk, sing, dance, scream, cry, laugh, stay quiet) without being interrupted, until he decides to pass the talisman on. A heart circle is not a discussion, interactions (except the hissing for sympathy) are often discouraged, as much as using "we" constructions instead of "I" or "I think" sharings instead of "I feel". The intention of heart circle is not to argue about idealogical visions, but to open the heart and uncover ones fears, anxieties, vulnerabilities, sadness, pain, joy, hope, etc. Things shared in heart circle remain confidential in the heart circle and are not revisited outside.
This situation may feel doubtlessly weird and scary for the newcomers. Even if discretion principle is stressed, we were not raised to show our fragile self in Matrix life, actually we are trained to build shields to protect ourselves, because the other beings, however close, are always considered potential enemies, that prey for our weak spots. And this is the radical, revolutionary idea behind faerie space. We voluntarily uncover our soul, which is an exercise in mutual trust. The trust is basis for feeling safe around the others. And the safety allows for all the wonders of faerie space to happen. Our coexistence reaches dimensions unheard of, possibilities beyond belief. Heart circle is an antidote to all the well known stumbling-blocks of the straight communities, whatever noble ideals they are reaching towards. Heart circle has incredible power to heal us on personal level as much as appease dead-lock conflicts. Instead of hiding things inside and feeling bitter and distancing ourselves from the group, we say it.
Even more challenging that trusting and speaking from the heart is the process of listening from the heart. The time when the show is not ours, but we allow the other one to express, when we really do listen to him and care what's inside of him, non-judgmentally, not just impatiently waiting for our turn. It is different to put ones heart on paper or just talk to the mirror - and different when there is an audience, ears that hear and kindred souls that witness us. Listening means offering of precious space when the speakers voice sounds and is heard. a situation so unimaginable in the outside world where we battle for 15-minutes of publicity.

Subject-SUBJECT consciousness - is often mentioned, though seldom explained concept. For many an ideal, a holy grail, the paradise fruit of all our faerie effort. The term was brought to the table by Harry Hay, who observed, that most of the straight-world interactions, fundamentally the power-struggles, were based on treating the other person as an object, a mean, a tool. It's the history of murder and execution. In the worst but not rarest case, a person is killed (his life story prematurely terminated) so that someone achieves his goal (wins a property or a person, silences the disagreeing opinion, strikes terror, enforces the religion or other ideology). A woman treated as an object, a trophy to achieve, something to represent a man, something to show off, incite envy, to own, to sell, to marry strategically, at times a punch-bag to ventilate anger. A child is likewise considered a mean to fulfill parent's dreams, need for pride (look at my kid), social status (what will neighbors say), continuation of parent's egoist self (he will be like his father).
We live in the subject-object environment since birth, we don't get to see anything else, we don't even dream that there might be a different way, we don't imagine a need for it. We replicate the same pattern, we consider it normal, desirable, a virtue. Anytime we expect and demand from a person to satisfy our own needs or views, we treat him (it) as an object. Having partner in order to be protected, secure, well-off, rich, socially successful, have someone to help pay the bills, get mortgage granted, someone to feel needed, who gives us attention, listens to our talking, someone who is supposed to make us feel less lonely, someone who has a task of making us happy, satisfied, appreciated, be there forever. And we think of being betrayed when they fail to. While we use the other person as a mean to achieve all this, where is he, his needs and dreams, the honouring of his intrinsic value beyond being useful for us? Following of this question is a key to treating the other person as an equal SUBJECT, a fellow human being.

Magic - of the fabulous moment, the unexpected coincidence, surprise beyond belief, clicking together, wishes come true - while we may experience this occasionally and randomly in our other life, in faerie space it happens more often than accidentally. Rational mind may start to feel challenged. You wish for a meal, a workshop, a topic to be opened - and without saying so - someone does it that day, someone offers it, someone says it. Things that seemed impossible do happen. Things appear where they are needed, when they are needed. The magic has become almost a physical law of faerie space. Though, there's no magic behind magic. It's exactly the trust, the safety, the care, the interest in each other, tuning in to the same wavelength, strange synchronism - that makes the almost miraculous to happen.

Presence - is another aspect of faerie (co)existence, that gets verbalized quite often. On a physical level it is explained as preference to avoid alcohol and other drugs, that bring us to modified states of consciousness, alternative reality, detached from the others. Presence means being right here, right now, me by myself, with you. How else than conscious we can work on subject-SUBJECT consciousness? The substances often make us dependent, acting in a way we would not act if we were free of needing them. The faerie life is an exploration of freedom. The substances are used to induce various forms of thought-to-be-bliss, in faerie space we try to achieve happiness without means, just by ourself, thus discovering our own unconditional power. The substances are sought to suppress pain - the healing power of heart space is working because it allows us feeling our pains fully, be with them, express them, transcend them on our own. The substances are used to bring us further - ecstatically, spiritually, sexually - but how real is what we experience? How do we distinguish hallucinations and visions? Is it us or the substance that enjoys that experience?
On a deeper level, presence relates to the soul. Awareness of oneself - what am I doing and why - that allows self-observation, learning, getting precious skills in life. Awareness of the other ones, that are subjects as much as myself, with needs, dreams and fears. Being there with them sounds much simpler than it is to achieve, even in a faerie space.

Faerie space - stretches beyond the physical Land where the Sanctuary stands. It may come to existence wherever faeries assemble and create a safe space, a care space, a heart space. It may be the name for our hopes for the future reconnection with faeries, or a memory of the past experience. Faerie space is a feeling - of mutual trust, safety, kindness, overcoming shame, avoiding judging. Faerie space is safe enough to put oneself in danger - in a sense of trying new ways, roles, exploring beyond our usual limits. It is safe enough to open the old wounds and try to heal oneself. It allows not only for the positive sides to the existence - joy, happiness, elation, thrill and fabulousness - but also sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness, anxiety. It makes us multidimensional beings, wholesome, holistic. Faerie space is more than amazing extravagant vacation with drag in the forest, it is often spoken about as a laboratory with both security measures and tools to experiment radically with oneself.

The Land - is the physical aspect of faerie space. While many "straight" spiritual doctrines shun the flesh and matter, on behalf of enlightenment or connection with the divine - this pose is nowadays revealed as theatrical and fake - the world that we perceive with our senses is a map, playground, where we try and fail, learn and harvest the spiritual knowledge. Our relationship to the ground, soil, nature, ecology, Gaia - those different aspects and ways to address the Mother Earth - is an integral part of our spiritual profession. While we garden, plant the trees or create shrines for spirits and as a commemoration of the events - we submerge into ourselves and allow the soul to speak. We see images and metaphors, we extend beyond the isolate bodies, we discover new perspectives. How more could we be spiritual and soul-full? Although rites and ceremonies are important for our soul, pure verbal invocation of the directions and spirits may be superficial and artificial, while the land allows us to feel the often-mentioned elements: the water that pours down in rains, erodes the soil, nurtures the veggies, quells the thirst, the flames that warm us and attract us to gather around the bonfire and create the candle magic and cook our food, earth that we grow it on, rocks that we stumble upon, we build from, we use in art, the wood for fire, the leaves of renewal, the blossoms that smell beautifully, the fabrics of life, the glitter; the air that is so fresh in the mountains, the wind that brings goosebumps and carries the yoo-hoo along the valley.

Stewards - are the non-masters of the land. They come forward from the faerie folk to take responsibilities, bring the practical needs to the table, guard the safety and guide the unexperienced, at times they remind us of the proven faerie ways, what works and what may be dangerous, they allow for the magic to happen. They are our caretakers, that volunteer and get elected, consensually, that find extra time among all the playing and merriment, that they dedicate to making ideas to happen, notice the overlooked, preserve the traces of the structure in creative chaos. This is a different approach to well-known organizers and managers and elders - non-hierarchical, not self-imposing, not ruling, listening, advising, sharing skills and spreading knowledge, serving, accountable.

Sanctuary - transcends the land, the house, the gathering - by giving it a purpose, meaning, intention. from the Latin sanctus - holy - it is a sacred space that has an added value for the soul, beyond the physical one. It is where we speak with the divine, where we perform the rituals, where we seek shelter. The medieval sanctuaries used to be places of immunity from arrest - now it allows us to hide from the logic of the competitive consumerist homophobic machist world, experiment and explore the new ways of feeling, being, being together, doing things, to trust, to feel safe, to open the heart, to treat each other as subjects, to experience magic, to learn, to heal, to rejoice.

Gathering - is an intentional assembly of the faeries. They know that they will reconnect with the beloved ones, be treated in good old faerie standard, as well as meet the new faces, new perspectives, new experience. It is the epicurean time for pleasure, connection, show-off, performances, workshops, screaming, singing, dancing, exercising the body, mind and spirit. They are vivid, crazy, packed, at times hysterical, at times too much, sometimes peaceful and unbelievably synchronized, other times provocative. Gatherings can challenge the faerie space and in the same time cause it to move, learn, evolve.
Community weeks - surpass the individual hedonism and work on the self. We dedicate the time, energy, the other resources to serve the communal good, to offer our skills, to work together. To experience the work that is enjoyable, performed with glamour and humour, done consciously, with presence and awareness of the others, reflected upon. Working in our own pace, without expectations and judgment, balancing the work out with sensuality and pleasure - can be refreshingly new situation for many who both already have or have not any manual-work history yet.

No-talent show - is one of the expressions of the non-judgmental co-existence. It is a highlight evening of the gatherings, when the limits of decoration, craziness and absurdity are pushed, where faeries present whatever art they come up with - without a stress of having to be good enough. Be it a horrible kitsch or witty farce - faeries will be applauded, adored and loved. No one wins, no one has to beat the other one, no one has to be better than the previous one. Just bring joy for the others and enjoy oneself - for its own sake. It is a mutual therapy for shame, for the curse of perpetual competing, for the education of having to struggle and acquire love.

Drag & nudity - are valuable in several senses, both for one's own soul-making as much as the mutual education. Despite the world that is hysterically sensitive about the roles, ranks and statuses, we play with any costume and often bizarre combinations of gender, class, age, culture or nation outfits. While the cross-dressing may be provocative statement in the outside world, here we tease and teach each-other and ourselves. Changing our second skin (or fur) allows us to switch between roles, thus uncovering social pose, the game of so-called civilization, the artificial pomp, uncritical self-adoration, pathetic seriousness - and serving the social function of jester, fool, satirist. The one that stretches from the two-spirited ceremony-masters to the contemporary artists, performers and provocateurs. Uncovering fake-ness, being a conscience. Drag - or costumes - are essential part of any ritual theater from the tribal times to the modern ways of storytelling. We put on masks to remind each-other of the the archetypal myths. The final stage of this all is complete undressing of oneself, removing the armor, being safely vulnerable, seeing ones own body beneath the role, having no pretensions and being just oneself, feeling the elements sensually through the skin. As an addition, nudity reflects the stripping off of the soul in heart circles, mutual trusting and believing in ones own beauty.

Sex - is not banished from the faerie kind of spirituality. While at the end of this glossary, it has both the last and the first position in faerie realm. It is considered an integral, useful, positive, valued, god(dess)-given part of our being, that can be also a medium for spiritual life and a way towards divine bliss. Sexuality can be a tool, as good as a form, or even a goal of spirituality. At its basic, it teaches us to trust, to care, to open up, to give and to receive from the others. Our sexuality may be even provocative (it is seen, talked about, unashamed of - unlike in the polite society of manners), political (non-performance, counter-machist, anti-patriarchal - offending the straight self-centered righteousness), religious (fake macho prophets declaring "god hates homosexuals" versus talking to God(dess) through sex and seeing Him/Her in the beloved one), exploratory (not doing it as it is supposed to be done) and expanding (orgasm, blessing, connection to the Universe). The spectrum for intimacy - from romantic to BDSM is wide enough.