edward carpenter community retreat

 ECC WEEK AT LAURIESTON HALL, SEPTEMBER 2011:

 ‘INTIMATE BEINGS, SPIRITS OF LOVE’

A group of courageous men determined to be together in a spirit of love

Charted a course through a demanding full moon

Finding a way to bring all 36 into a state of expanded heart and lightened mind

The magic boy becomes the magician with all involved called to open themselves for healing to happen

A trial of trust and compassion and a strengthening of brotherhood

A love field constructed for a community rising through love into light, a radical healing force in a time of massive global change

Very short time to arrive, I hardly had my nrg body in the place by the time of the opening ceremony. Had to avoid nrg of arrivals as much as possible to get chance to meditate and be at least centred enough in a circle of the elements to lead the ceremony beginning our time in intentional community.

Arrival of so many from last year, very buzzed and ready to dive into intimate heartspace + many very experienced ecc regulars, some returning after a long absence + arrival of bunch of unique and wonderful new men: brought on a degree of sensory overload for the whole organising team. We had to try to keep steady while enjoying the highly magical and pretty intense nrg that engulfed us all. We were whisked into the play of the divine before we had really grounded our souls in the moment and attuned to the location.

I didn’t get to spend time slowing down and checking in with the goddess, to commune with my angelic guides, to find out which animal spirits were along to teach us. I had to live in the moment and trust that the spirit of co-creation would give us a clear path, but perhaps what happened was the magic we invoked led us all through a mysterious rocky road, but still reaching a glorious destination.

A group of such experienced men needed to sit down together and share their truths, discover where each was at, but this was not on the programme and so did not happen. I felt the need for it but did not engage the will to push the idea and so we were propelled on a journey of mystery, where the crucial element of shared understanding (that manifested during the previous year’s event thru the afternoon discussion groups) was missing. This was an extremely experienced group of men, with much to share in their own right, but whose wisdom and insights were barely tapped. The fact that some felt confused about the direction of the week reached me but I didn’t see how to act.

We undressed and blessed each other chakra to chakra. I experienced increasing intimacy as the evening progressed and the energy opened and connected, and the group ended up in a massive puppy pile of glowing flesh. Massage brought us closer and deepened our connection and presence in the moment.

The spirit seemed to move through our team of 4, always one of us had the vision of the next step. This continued through to the end of the event, with the exception of one turbulent day when it seems bigger forces than us were steering the ship.

The full moon passed through pisces. I felt emotionally challenged around the question of late night smoking indoors – had no mental attachment to doing it but felt the emotion of injustice around forbidding it. Another organiser also had an emotive outburst, and I strangely believed that he and I had experienced the full moon energy and the rest of the community would be spared.

Sun in Virgo and full moon in Pisces – the virgoan need for order and clarity meets the urge to chaos of the Piscean mystic. A great time to grow, but not an easy package. The mystic parts of us were handed pens and we drew our maps of spirit – they revealed a wide diversity of approaches, a stunning and inspiring range of expressive artistic views on existence. But it was reasonable to wonder how we could become a community unified in consciousness and love from the differences in the approaches.

The universe brought the lesson, trying hard to communicate to the team through dreams and bodily discomforts that a challenge was coming – shokti, attempting to create spiritual communion without mentioning ‘G’ words that might offend some (why was I so concerned what one or two men might think?), was pushing the mystical awareness button, offering or challenging the community to embrace the oneness of life. But to do this brings the biggest challenge of life – to rise in mystical union with the divine we must overcome our fear of death. I believe the spirit was trying to tell us that death was the subject to grasp now. Death should have been an obvious theme of the gathering due to the absence of our beloved Nick Dane, and it has been part of the collective gay journey in ways others communities do not experience, except in wars. Tackling fear of death is a crucial spiritual practice, honoured by Buddhists and Pagans in particular for the transformation it brings.

We built a leafy lingam, large enough for a slim man to stand inside, and entered a space where all intended to honour the union of their sexuality and spirituality. We had not built towards this with themed workshops that would have prepared a group of sensitive men for such a ceremony. Sexuality and spirituality are the two areas where gay people hold the biggest woundings of all. We had not tackled the healing process. The evening brought about the collapse of the pool of joy that we were swimming in, as most were pushed into inner waters, taking a dive into the soul’s store of fears, vulnerabilities and disappointments. But this did have the effect of bringing us all BANG! into living in the moment. We were more arrived than ever, our shadows, doubts and anxieties had come to join the play. The passage of Time slowed down considerably.

Our hearts were opened in circle, their turmoil revealed and honoured, as was the collective belief in the strengths that balance our sensitivities. We made sacred ceremony in the forest, walking silently through the night with fire torches to a glade by a stream where the power of fire was invoked to burn away our fears and sorrows. With drum and voice we affirmed our magic and the forest heard and responded. We came closer to the nature spirits and bonded as a community, singing from our hearts in the woods.

Over two more days the chasm in the energy was refilled with love and intimacy. We painted our bodies and danced to a state of blessed stillness; circle danced our prayers, shared poetry song and comedy, and those who could still stand disco-danced into the night.

I found out how deeply the wound of being alone in the world sits with me. As a young child, despite the lovingness of my parents I had no brothers or sisters on my wavelength to play with and must have spent a lot of time alone in my imagination. Thinking became an obsessive pastime – I can remember when my beautiful sparkling still night time mind became invaded by numbers and words that would torment me as I tried to sleep. The feeling was a mental agony that I felt in the body. But I had a great imagination, loving to create adventure games and from a very early age revelling in the ecstatic energy thrill that playing with my cock brought me.

On this week I found out how good it is to be loved, respected and forgiven by a circle of wonderful men, all of them pioneers exploring the next frontier of our queer journey of gay liberation. Their love circles around me still and each one has something to teach me about myself.

The final heart circle on our last evening together revealed the depth of transformation that had occurred for all, and a meeting on the history, purpose and future of ecc was attended by most of the men. We went on a journey where the incredible power of loving community to heal us individually and collectively was felt, I’m pretty sure by all, bringing optimism, growth and radical insight. I hope many of the men choose to tell their stories.

Living as queer community, heart mind body and soul all engaged, is a radical and r-evolutionary thing to do. We are the wayfarers charting the next stages of gay liberation, bringing that liberation home all the way to the soul. We are birthing the twenty-first century queer – powerful and progressive in their hearts and minds, in their sexuality and their spirituality, overcoming old divisions and creating a union of soul and body that is humanity’s destiny.

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