At this time of Joy and Pain

For LGBTQ people, we live in an age of Joy and Pain.

The tides of public opinion change in favor of acceptance in many parts of the United States, Western Europe, Latin America, Australia and other parts of the world. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage has spread. Some prominent religious leaders have backed away from strident opposition and persecution of LGBTQ people, and the ‘Ex-Gay” movement has mercifully been shrinking in this country. The issues facing transgender and gender queer people are starting to gain recognition among young people and in University settings, which will hopefully lead to greater acceptance in society in general.

At the same time, the news has been full of painful stories from around the world where persecution is not only commonplace, but endorsed by governments. Russia has enacted strict censorship on anyone portraying LGBTQ people in a positive light and turns a blind eye to beatings and abuse of openly gay and lesbian people. Just this week, the infamous Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe continued his campaign of hatred and threatened to behead all gay men and women. My heart breaks for the people in these places, and other places such as Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, and Uganda (and the list goes on, sadly) who live in terror and face abuse and even death just by admitting who they are.

 

At this time of Joy and Pain

Hail to Amor, Sacred Lover! Inspire all hearts with love and respect. Help us to recognize the beauty in each other and to celebrate what is unique and precious within each person.

Hail to Juno, Protector of Homes and Families! Look with favor on marriages and families of all genders and combinations. Let the bonds of love and support define a family and not narrow cultural frameworks.

Hail to Hermaphroditos, Divine Androgyne! Show us that we are only complete when we accept all parts of ourselves, not just the parts that fit into society’s gender definitions. Inspire acceptance for all those who embrace other paths and identities.

Hail to Apollo, Bringer of Truth and Clear Thinking! Shine your revealing light on the prejudices and bigotry in our world. Show us the dangers of turning away from harsh reality.

Hail to Mars, Supreme Warrior! Focus the minds of the strong on protecting and not abusing.

Hail to Clementia, Goddess of Compassion! Fill our hearts with compassion and mercy for all who suffer, struggle and strive.

Hail to Minerva, Protector of Justice! Inspire our leaders to protect the abused and restrain the abusers. Show those who make and enforce laws your shining sword so they can bring fairness and tolerance to their countries, cities and homes.

Hail, Gods and Goddesses! Be with us at this time of joy and pain! Let our will be your will. Fill us with divine wisdom and sacred power! Inspire us and those around us to transform the world!

Terra Mysterium and The Owen Society updates

As I have previously shared with you readers, I am in love with Terra Mysterium. I wanted to share their exciting new plans and upcoming shows.

Terra Mysterium’s 2013 indiegogo page

Also, I wanted to share that I will be the presenter in August for The Owen Society for Hermetic and Spiritual Enlightenment, our local Steampunk group that meets to share esoteric knowledge. The details have not been hammered out yet, but the event is called “Borrowing Wisdom: Sacred Mystery Practices of the Roman Empire”, and it should be fun, or, at least, my idea of fun. The link the the even information is here.

A visit from a god

Apollo appeared to me. This is something that hasn’t happened before. I have occasionally had gods and goddesses appear to me, but it’s rare, and a vision this vivid hasn’t happened to me in probably 20 years. Apollo is not a god that I have communicated with in the past, although he certainly has always had a certain fascination for me.

He is a sun god and the god of the oracles and music originally from Greece. His sites included the famous Oracle at Delphi and more than a dozen other oracles He was one of the few gods that the Romans adopted very early into the family of gods and the Romans used the Greek name for him rather than combining his identity with an existing Roman god.

He appeared to me just two days after the Summer Solstice. I was in a Catholic church at the time, taking a family member there (this is not an activity that would have been my choice). It surprised me as a place for a Greek god to appear. While I am not a Christian (although I was raised in that tradition), I don’t hold that the Christian god doesn’t exist. I always understood that he has a certain presence for those who worship him. So, I was a bit surprised that Apollo showed up there, essentially in another god’s house. I began to notice a different version of sanctuary starting to become visible to me while I sat there. The whole area was filled with a golden light, much brighter than the light had been. Apollo descended though the ceiling and stood and looked at me. He was giant – 20 feet tall at least – with an athletic body and golden skin. He wore a short white toga and had his lyre. He was so bright that it was difficult to look at him directly.

He told me that the people in the pews of the church were blind to him and his message. They didn’t see the truth and that their prayers and worship were following unchallenged habits and traditions inherited from their parents. Again, I was a bit amazed that he showed up in their house and spoke this way.

But he told me that a bright light would be shown on reality for me and that I can see a harsher, clearer reality. I will have the ability to see though falsehoods and pretexts. I will be brave enough to see the truth.

My mind began racing with questions. What would I see? Why me? Why now? What am I supposed to do with what I have seen?

I am still trying to sort this all out in my mind. The last 3 weeks since this happened I have been on a mood roller coaster, which is pretty unusual for me. News stories have been unusually upsetting for me, and I have been having strong emotional reactions to nearly everything, positive and negative. There is the usual drumbeat of human tragedies (sad though they are), but also bigger issues that will cause greater suffering and environmental destruction. I was horrified about the Penokee mine planned for northern Wisconsin. It has had very little coverage and it has the potential to be an environmental disaster. Also, the mean-spirited political maneuvering in our current age, like the lack of funding for SNAP food assistance by Congress, is profoundly upsetting.

I am not sure what this all means, but it definitely is an awakening of sorts for me. I am going to take it as a gift from Apollo, and one which I don’t fully understand. I keep hoping that if he was trying to point me in a particular direction that I will be able to see it and understand.

I will keep listening.

No parade for me this year

This year, for the first time in about 20 years, I did not attend the Pride Parade. It’s not that I am no longer proud of being gay. I have been “out” since 1987 and it is as much a part of my identity as being blue eyed or where I grew up. My relationship with the parade as a specific event has changed, however, and it has much to do with my friends.

I have never been particularly good at long stretches in the hot sun, and I enjoy large crowds less and less as I get older. For the past 10 years, though, I made an exception for the Pride Parade. I slathered myself in sun screen and found large-brimmed hats. I summoned my patience for the masses of people (750,000 – 850,000 were estimates in recent years for the number of parade watchers). It had become one of the few points in the year when I saw a group of friends whom I met in my 20s.

This was a group that I met back when my social life revolved around going to bars. In particular, I was a regular at show tunes night at a very popular local video bar. I started going with a co-worker from my first job after I moved to Chicago, and for the 2nd half of the 1990’s, I went every Sunday, as regular as clockwork. I met a network of friends there, and some I began to see outside of the bar. For many years, these were some my closest friends, particularly after several college friends that had lived here moved away. My 2 most serious relationships have been with guys that I met at this bar, but for my current partner, we both had lost interest in hanging out in bars regularly, and that worked well for us to spend time together and away from the bar.

I still did hang onto that group of friends, though, even as I had less and less in common with most of them. Their social lives still revolved around going to bars, and I may go to a bar once every 3 months, or even less frequently. Staying connected seemed in a way to be a part of my connection to a larger gay community in Chicago. But the truth is that the gay community, or rather the LGBTQ, community here in Chicago is so much more than the Halsted Street bars, and I don’t need to hang onto that to feel my pride in who I am.

So this year, instead of going to the Pride Parade, I chose to attend a meeting of The Owen Society for Hermetic and Spiritual Enlightenment . Interestingly, this is a group which is largely run by a couple of gay men, and which has a sizeable LGBTQ contingent. So, instead of standing out on a sidewalk with huge crowds, I went to a lunch and talk with around 25 lovely and interesting people. I had an infinitely better and more fulfilling time of it. The talk was on C.G. Jung’s shifting connections to the occult and spiritualist communities.

This marks a shift in my self, too. I am letting go of ties to the version of myself that I developed in my 20s after I moved to Chicago. The group of friends from that period of my life has ceased to provide a meaningful social outlet, and I am glad to have found friends who are interested in Paganism and spiritual topics that are more in line with where I am today. Many of those earlier friends are mystified by some aspects of my path. My veganism, my paganism and even my interest in Steampunk are all things that they don’t particularly understand or support. The friend who hosted the pre-parade brunch always seemed to be annoyed at my veganism, as if it made me a particularly troublesome guest. The lack of understanding is certainly not universal and I will certainly stay close with some of the friends from that group who are more accepting (and whose lives don’t revolve around a bar).

Today marks a certain transition, then. I am letting go of social connections from another part of my life in favor of connections that support who I am today and who I am becoming. Perhaps next year, I will go to the Pride Parade again, but I will have to go on different terms. Going just to see a group of old friends from another phase of my life won’t be enough.