What is gay Neo-Paganism?
Neo-Paganism is often identified as one of the most quickly growing religions in the United States. There are religious, spiritual, ecological, and activist neo-pagan groups thriving throughout the country. As a highly-individualized form of spirituality, diversity is necessarily one of the key elements sought out and taught by many of these groups. Unfortunately, despite the open, accepting nature of many organizations and the presence of gay-centric groups such as the Radical Faeries and the Minoan Brotherhood, a great many of our brothers have not been able to satisfy their spiritual needs within the groups already existing.
Why do we need another Neo-Pagan Tradition?
There are many reasons for creating a new spiritual tradition. Chief among them, religion must understand and respond to the present day needs of the individuals and communities it serves. When a religion fails to adapt its structure to present times, it loses its authority and becomes stagnant. Its symbols cease to inspire and empower the seeker by failing to connect with his experiences or by criminalizing his identity.
When a religion no longer speaks to the community it serves, its role as a spiritual guidepost becomes null and void.
We feel that our brothers are being left out in the spiritual cold by other institutions and we watch as they seek spirituality with mixed results. In response to this absence of meaningful, accepting spiritual traditions we have created a tradition that speaks to the current experiences of our brothers. It is a tradition that has links to what has come before, but roots itself in the present with an eye to the future. It is a tradition that has, and will continue, to adapt to the needs of the community.
What Gods do you worship?
Our Brotherhood recognizes that being “other” is not a cause for shame, but a gift to celebrate. Accepting that we and our brothers have our own challenges and journeys ahead of us, we have seen a vision of the God who is found amongst men who love men. He, like each of us, is on the road of fulfillment and rebirth. Each of his eight faces represents a phase or time in our lives.
He is the Divine Youth, full of life, joy, potential, awe, and innocence.
He is the Explorer, traveling beyond his community and their ideals to learn about the world at large, its people, and the mysteries of the universe.
He is the Lover, who comes to love all men, and wishes to fill their hearts full and give them pleasure.
He is the Healer, who has experienced sickness and suffering along with wholeness and health. He helps us to learn to heal ourselves and each other.
He is the Warrior, willing to fight to the death to protect his loved ones from those who sling hate and violence.
He is the Androgyne, both male and female but more than either; who knows the mysteries of balance.
He is the Shaman, uniting all dualities and polarities while bringing back wisdom from the places only the spirit can visit.
Questions about Public Rituals
Who is welcome?
Our regular rituals are open to gay, bisexual, and transgender men who love men and are at least 18 years of age. We hold many events that are open to the general public as well. Event postings under the Upcoming Events section will provide more details on specific events.
Should I bring anything?
We ask that men bring a potluck dish to share, an open mind and, of course, any donation that you can afford. We are thankful for the abundant generosity in our community that has allowed us to keep the order financially sound.
How many men attend your rituals?
We generally expect attendance to be somewhere between 20-50 men at each rite. As with any other organization, attendance is subject to the time of year and other obligations outside of the Brotherhood.
Spiritually speaking what do you wish the assembly will bring with them to the rite?
A strong yearning to converge in a harmonious assembly. A desire to honor the combined personal experience and wisdom each man brings to the gathering so that , in turn, we can create a place of healing and empowerment. We hope that each man brings the full expression of who he is to the rite and is willing to share openly, with good faith, so that we can “know” one another in a deeper and more profound manner.
What are your open rituals like?
To maintain the mystery of the experience for new members we will only explore some of the basics things to know about the Brotherhood’s public rituals. If we divulged everything here the ritual would lose a bit of its drama and color. Logistically, we ask that men arrive approximately a half hour before ritual, we do not allow late comers into the ritual space. The rental agreement is very strict and therefore we must allow timing accordingly. Also, our legal counsel has advised us to ask participants to sign a waiver. While there will not be any dangers more dramatic than “crossing the street” in the ritual, we must protect the order and our hosts legally. The Brotherhood is a new pagan order. We have elements from many of the current neo-pagan religious traditions as a part of the liturgical order. Among them: Druidism, Ceremonial magick, Nordic and Greek elements, some Wicca, and a nod to the traditions of the African diaspora. We also focus on building community and introducing what we do to the public. Our rituals are not a standard Wiccan liturgical format.
Why don’t you perform ritual on the date of the actual Sabbat?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with pagan traditions, the Sabbats are our eight holy days designated by the Sun and Moon as they journey though their individual cycles. These “Eight Great Days” are somewhat “fixed” in the calendar year in that they are astronomical events and deemed as auspicious for working rituals and linking personal energies to the Land, to each other and to the Gods and spirits. One of the reasons the Brotherhood holds our rituals after the Sabbats (during what we call the Sabbat season) is to give men who circle with other covens, groves, and orders the opportunity to be present within both organizations. The one exception to this rule is the Sabbat of Ostara (or Spring equinox) which we call Quintescence. This is time of year when the Council of Guardians (Board of Directors) is ritually installed and prepared to take their offices for the term of one year before the Sabbat rite begins.
Will this be a participatory rite?
Absolutely. It is our central belief that everyone is responsible for creating the brotherhood together. The ritual is structured so that men enter as “individuals” but come out feeling a part of a community. We see the God as dwelling within each individual and as a group. To allow the God to more fully manifest, each man is asked to bring the God forth in a way that feels right to them. Each ritual will have familiar elements and new experiences. Among the events that you can expect to participate in are: meditations, breathwork, practical magick, singing and or chanting, feasting and fellowship, and healing each other and the Earth.
How will sacred space be guarded?
Our order has 7 officers called the Council of Guardians. They act in a mundane capacity as a “Board of directors” but in ritual they fulfill specific roles. The Sentinel will always be guarding the Temple Door and will address any intrusions or problems that may arise. The Warder performs a similar function on the spiritual and magical levels and the Guardian does so with the human psychological levels.
Will we be casting a circle?
Many pagan traditions that are based upon ceremonial magick, i.e. Wicca, cast a circle around the participants of the ritual to focus energy and minimize the influence of the world outside of the ritual. This is a modern way of creating sacred space within a ritualized context. When our liturgy is performed inside, the sacred space is made before the ritual and the “Seekers” enter into an already prepared space. Likewise that sacred space is returned to its previous state after the potluck has ended. We do “call” or honor the 4 elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth within the liturgy. This practice is central to many neo-pagan traditions as part of the creation of sacred space. It links the compass points to ancient concepts and philosophies relating to the physical manifestation of the material world, the five senses of perception and various states of being within and without.
I’d like to know more about the “entities” the Brotherhood works with. Who will we be inviting to join us from beyond the veil?
The central focus of each ritual is upon one of the myriad faces of the divine that reveals itself through men who love men. We also give honor to the elemental beings, nature spirits and animals, genius loci (or “spirits of the place”), ancestors, fae folk , various Gods and Goddess who are sacred to individual brothers and of course each other. In short, we honor those who choose to come and support our work. Those forces that are disruptive or against our work will not be invited
How are the ancestors involved in your rites?
In the Brotherhood we feel that the ancestors are of great importance. The ancestors can be seen as the first stages of life upon this planet leading to our current state of being, your personal relations who have “crossed over”, those men who loved men in the past as well as the sum total of all of these. As part of the liturgy we invite the ancestors to each and every rite that we perform. We don’t believe that Samhain is the only time to revere them for they are the key to who we are and what we have become.
I’ve seen and heard the Brothers use the phrase “Ta kya te“. What does it mean and where does it come from?
Many mystical traditions use esoteric languages and writing systems or alphabets to convey their mysteries. In the Brotherhood, we speak an esoteric language that has a unique history, grammar, and syntax of its own. In this language the phrase “Ta kya te“ can be translated in several ways, but when spoken as a greeting and parting it means “My heart is open to you“ and embodies the philosophy of our Order.
How would you like the men to prepare themselves prior to attending the rite?
Physically: Dress in a way that makes you feel attractive, magical, spiritual and that isn’t movement restrictive. We invite you to participate as fully as you are able taking into account your personal needs and desires. Prior to ritual, please let a Brother know if you need a chair to sit on or any other physical concerns so that we can assist you.
Mentally: Know that we want to get to know you. Ask yourself if there is anything that would get in the way of opening up a little more than you would socially. Honor what you bring to life and your interactions with others. Give your knowledge freely and be willing to receive from others as well. Last open your mind to the awareness of the fact that different worldviews are like maps and can be switched or changed when new information comes along. It would be difficult to drive somewhere reading only a topographical map. Be flexible to new ideas and perceptions.
Emotionally: Honor whatever you are feeling. Allow yourself to express your emotions in a healthy way. Provide for your own well being knowing that we will do everything we can to provide a “drama free” space. Also, see if it feels okay to take a few bold steps tonight.
Spiritually: Ask yourself what it would be like to manifest the divine within yourself. What would it be like to go through day to day life knowing that you are a God? Then go a step further by realizing everyone is a God or Goddess. How would it change your behavior toward yourself and others? If you’ve never considered such a thing before be open to the face of the God when he manifests within the rite, within the men attending and within yourself.