A Note to Readers
This year for Pride Month, we're exploring connections between the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, neopaganism and witchcraft. We acknowledge that these explorations are not a complete picture of all of these connections, but we hope they can be a starting point for people to dive deeper and learn more about 2SLGBTQIA+ folks, queer magick, and spirituality.
We're also holding a contest to give away a $50 gift card to someone who read the blog and answers a few quiz questions about the content. Enter the contest by June 21, 2023 for your chance to win.
The value of a solitary, unique, secular spiritual practice cannot be understated since it’s usually the most accessible form of connecting and participating in meaningful ritual, spellwork, and empowerment – among other significant aspects of the magickal self. This can be especially important for folks identifying as 2SLGBTQIA+ since it allows for so much agency and autonomy over their own path. That said, it's probably of equal importance to the queer pagan community to know about more organizations that participate in collective membership.
2SLGBTQIA+ pagan associations and formal groups can lend support for those looking for more social spiritual experiences, community, and confidence in their craft that can come from more structured protocol - a new form of coven, if you will! There are excellent pathways to discover such groups in many of the newer neopagan and magick studies books being published. Many titles have listings at the back for covens, fellowships, and societies, among other groups that queer mystic seekers might find helpful.
Fellowship of the Phoenix
Based in Seattle and Chicago, Fellowship of the Phoenix, is a group that may provide some spiritual solace for those wanting a more social journey in magick. As a neopagan group, the are quick to understand and rally around the evolving needs of the 2SLGBTQIA+ neopagan community. The group began in 2000 as gay men’s resource to pursue magickal arts and reclaim their places within magickal roles and spaces. Originally named Brotherhood of the Phoenix, the faction changed their name in 2017 to recognize the diversity, inclusion, and accessibility needs for the greater scope of queer folks seeking spiritual community. In their years of existing as an organization (obtaining their non-profit status in 2006), the fellowship has developed a thorough and rich set of values, ethics, core concepts, deities and holidays and are open to all queer-identifying people.
The Fellowship’s two core concepts are laid out in a resource available on their website, a chapbook called Out of the Flames, beautifully stating:
1. “The Fellowship of the Phoenix is a living tradition, a group of neopagans that was founded on the core concept that an institution that does not change with its population ceases to be relevant,”
2. “Find the Divine within your own experience.”
The most vibrant thread that weaves through all the sentiments found in the Fellowship’s media is their welcoming nature. There is a gentleness to it that can be felt in all their writing and videos. With such a strong connection to the fire bird, the Phoenix, and the Sun, it is no wonder they have warmth to share in abundance! To get a sense of what I mean, check out their video from a 2022 celebration where they recite a rede. The warm welcome is palpable even through the screen!
The fire bird, the Phoenix, functions as the group’s patron spirit and namesake. Transformation and heart-fire are fundamental aspects within the workings and mysteries of the Fellowship. Only members are privy to the depth of what that means. However, their welcoming online presence allows us to extract a little from the surface of how the symbol of the Phoenix acts as both a part of Oneself and as a Companion on a spiritual journey that is at once physical, cerebral, astral, and incorporeal. What sort of brilliance tapping into that that kind of transformative power could mean to each person as a self, a higher self, a collective, a higher collective, and a cosmos!
One of the most compelling pieces of information The Fellowship of the Phoenix shares with the public is their pantheon.
Queer Deities of the Fellowship
The Divine Youth: Restoring and refreshing perspective.
The Explorer: Courage against the unknown.
The Lover: Opening the heart to love and protecting it when needed.
The Healer: Knowing there’s no ‘cure-all’, ability to find healing in authenticity.
The Warrior: Defender and protector when faced with injustice.
The Liberator: Offering balance and flow through all spectrums.
The Mystic: The deliverer of esoteric and divine information.
The Elder: Sage wisdom from experienced lessons.
Upon learning of these Queer Deities, admittedly there was an affinity I felt toward them as Divine Beings as the reader. Perhaps you might feel it, too.
Fellowship of the Phoenix holds celebrations that are open to the public within Seattle and Chicago. These off-sabbat holidays honour the brilliant collective of Queer Deities (in addition to the Phoenix itself). While the holidays are within the seasonal timeline of the 8 pagan sabbats on the Wheel of the Year (Northern Hemisphere), theirs do not share exact days: off-sabbats. There is poetry and reverence in the names of their holidays, I hope you enjoy as much as I do!
SpiritSong: Honouring the Divine Youth, corresponds approximately to Imbolc.
Quintessence: Honouring the Phoenix, corresponds approximately to Ostara.
FireDance: Honouring the Lover, corresponds approximately to Beltane.
Apotheosis: Honouring the Healer, corresponds approximately to Midsummer.
SoulSong: Honouring the Warrior, corresponds approximately to Lammas.
Ecstasis: Honouring the Liberator, corresponds approximately to Mabon.
ShadowDance: Honouring the Mystic, corresponds approximately to Samhain.
Quietus: Honouring the Elder, corresponds approximately to Yule.
Current members count over 50 people all within the geographical regions of their two temples. Membership requirements take about one year to obtain (which reminded me of A-Year-and-a-Day initiation for some forms of Wicca). Although the duration seems less about symbolism than scheduling, as attending at least three holiday rituals is a prerequisite to join. In addition, a hopeful seeker needs to complete their Novitiate Training curriculum. The training is a fundamentals and foundations for the Fellowships neopagan practices. Demonstrations of commitment (likely differing for each person seeking membership) and being over the age of 18 are also outlines as membership terms.
Membership outside of the Chicago and Seattle area is difficult. Training and rituals are in-person. However, speaking to their desire to cast a wide net for queer seekers everywhere, they offer many online tools for personal daily devotion. And of course, instilling their core value, “Find the Divine within your own experience.” The Fellowship also encourages those outside their area to get in touch with them if there is a serious interest in cultivating a community in another area.
There is a plethora of information and magick within the spiritscape that The Fellowship of the Phoenix paints for seekers. One that feels extraordinarily welcoming and warm but full of bold revolution! The Fellowship’s own words capture these sentiments best when they explain their purpose, “We seek to encourage and reclaim Queer power, healing, and spirit, for the individual and the community at large. We offer spiritual guidance to the modern needs of those we serve. We work to unite the ancient and the modern in a structure that honors the diverse membership of our community as we walk this labyrinth together.” And equally, when they offer their salutations, “Ta kya te” meaning, “My heart is open to you.”
Fellowship of the Phoenix Website