- Providing media, including writings such as newsletters and web pages, and audio-video such as radio and podcasts, to educate the public and promote the teachings of witchcraft.
- Providing technical communications support to the Temple regarding both electronic support via the Internet and World Wide Web, as well as social networking support.
- This ministry is responsible for acting as the trickster, questioning assumptions of the Temple, often using humor, and offering a contrary point of view when deemed necessary in the inner communication of the Temple. Included in this work will be rituals, rites and trainings in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, and otherwise non-heteronormative or Queer Mysteries.
To contact the Gemini Minister, please e-mail email@example.com.
Queer Spirit Ministry
Gemini ministry’s spiritual responsibility concerns the Queer Mysteries, defined as those which are non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgendered. As a tradition founded by a triad of gay men in a polyamorous relationship, the Temple is aware of spiritual experiences beyond the heteronormative and gender binary and embraces a wide range of manifestations of the divine.
Fires of the Queer Spirit
The notion of Queer Spirit rites of passage is still a relatively new one, although such rites have been practiced by some modern neopagans and spiritual folk for decades. As a tradition founded by three gay men, the Temple of Witchcraft acknowledges the importance of the Queer Mysteries—all those that are not heteronormative—alongside the Women’s Mysteries and the Men’s Mysteries. The Temple’s Gemini ministry is responsible for cultivating, keeping, and sharing these Mysteries as part of the its work.
This ritual was co-created and first offered by Andrew Plummer and Steve Kenson during their membership in the Circle of the Sacred Thyrsus, a queer men’s circle in New England, prior to the founding of the Temple. It has since been offered at festivals such as Between the Worlds, Coph Nia, the Rowe Center Labor Day Retreat, and TempleFest, and privately at the Temple of Witchcraft in Salem, New Hampshire, as part of the Temple’s Queer Spirit ministry. It is shared here for the use of all and benefit of the community.
The only essential element of the Fires of the Queer Spirit ritual is a candle for each participant. Generally, votive candles are used, but you can use any you prefer, keeping in mind that participants need to hold them—beware of dripping wax! Ideally, participants can light the candle of the next person from their own but, if not, a lighter can also be passed as part of the ritual (and is good to have on-hand in case candles are accidentally extinguished). You can even use electronic LED candles for the ritual, as the candlelight is the key element, although the symbolic element of actual flame—and the passing thereof—is also valuable.
Preparing the Participants
The ritual facilitator(s) gather the community in a circle in the ritual space, ideally sitting as dictated by each individual’s comfort and the nature of the space. The facilitator explains the nature of the ritual and its boundaries. In particular, it is important to make clear that this is a safe and sacred space, and that what occurs in the context of this ritual should be kept in strictest confidence as a sacred trust. Ask for and receive clear consent from the participants to this before beginning. The facilitator should also allow the opportunity for anyone who feels they cannot participate in the ritual within the boundaries described to politely withdraw at this time.
Preparing the Space
You may wish to have participants gather around a central altar or a central fire, such as a fire-pit or campfire in an outdoor setting. If you are using a central altar, place upon it a central candle representing the Queer Spirit and the Ancestors. The altar can include other sacred items connected to the Queer Spirit, and participants may be encouraged to bring and place their own sacred items on the altar for the ritual.
Hallow and open the ritual space by calling upon the Queer Spirit and upon the Queer Ancestors, by the following invocations or whatever means suits the facilitator and the community. You may also want to call upon the Divine in other forms or by other names, or upon specific divinities, spirits, or named ancestors. Generally, the ritual facilitator does this, although you can have individual participants take parts of the task or make their own invocations, if you wish.
Calling the Queer Spirit
“We call upon the Queer Spirit, the holy formless fire that burns at the center of our beings, in all of its many colors and aspects. We call it in from without as we call it up from within, for this fire is our birthright to welcome and claim. Let all within this circle know their true fires. Blessed be.”
Calling the Queer Ancestors
“We call upon the Ancestors of Queer Spirit; you who walked the path before us, you who opened and eased the way for us. May we follow in your footsteps, to open and ease the way for those who will follow us. You who stand in shadow at the edges of our circle, know you are welcome here in love and in community. We seek your wisdom and guidance in this sacred work. Hail and welcome!”
Calling the Divine
“We each take this time to silently call upon the Powers who walk with us: our divine guides and guardians, to join with us to witness and support this rite. [Pause for reflection.] Welcome to all Powers who come in Perfect Love, Will, and Wisdom. Hail and welcome!”
Note that the Fires of the Queer Spirit ritual does not generally involve the casting of a ritual circle or the other components of Temple-style circle magick, although participants are welcome to hold the ritual in the container of a ritual circle, if they prefer. In that case, make the casting of the circle and calling of the quarters the initial hallowing and opening of the space before calling upon the Queer Spirit. If there is to be a sacrament of “cakes and ale” or the like, share this offering at the end of the ritual—following Speaking Insight—and before dismissing and releasing the circle.
Once the ritual space has been prepared, one participant (usually the ritual facilitator) lights their candle. While the “hold the flame,” this ritual participant is the only person in the ritual permitted to speak. Everyone else is expected to engage in active listening and witnessing, holding space for whatever truths the holder of the flame wants to speak. In this first round, it is generally sharing some personal experience or insight in answer to the question: “When did you (first) experience the Queer Spirit?” Other prompts can be used for other types of rituals with a specific focus, such as:
- What was your experience awakening to your queer self?
- What was your experience in coming out as your true self?
- What has your experience been with queer divinity or deity?
- What aspects of your life has the Queer Spirit helped you to heal?
…and so forth. When the first participant has said what they need to express, they pass the candle flame to the next person clockwise in the circle from them. This can involve lighting that person’s candle from their own, or passing a lighter, depending on the logistics of the circle and the candles used. The previous person extinguishes their candle once the next is lit, and the new participant holds the flame and speaks their turn. Repeat this process until everyone in the circle has had an opportunity to speak.
Be aware that, in spite of the various prompting questions, some participants may go “off script” and have different truths they need to speak into this space. They may also choose not to speak at all or to “pass” on their turn. These are all allowed and encouraged, as needed. Also be aware that some of the truths revealed through this process may be emotionally charged or difficult to hear. Participants should be encouraged to remain grounded and only to witness; they should not speak or intervene, even to offer words of encouragement. The ritual facilitator should monitor the atmosphere of the ritual space and take what actions are necessary for the good of all involved, should a participant be overcome or in need of aid, or if there is an issue with the safety of anyone involved.
Seeking the Queer Spirit
Once the flame has been passed around the entire circle and all of the participants have had their opportunity to speak, the ritual facilitator returns attention to the central fire (either altar candle or campfire/fire-pit). Guide the participants into a meditative state, using the countdown method or according to your practice, and through the following guided meditation. Read or paraphrase as you see fit:
Upon the screen of your mind, visualize the world tree, the tree that stands at the center of all things. See its branches, spreading out across the sky. See its roots digging deep within the earth. See its mighty trunk, spanning between worlds. Step through the screen of your mind to stand before the world tree: Place your hands on its trunk and feel the texture of its bark. Smell the scent of the earth around it. Hear the wind in the branches and leaves. Be present before the world tree.
Upon or around the world tree is an opening, a passage, feel it call to you, drawing you in. Go into that passage, into the darkness within. Find yourself in a dark tunnel, making your way by feel and a sense of the space around you, deeper and deeper, the darkness enfolding you, until you emerge into an open space and see a faint, soft light.
The light comes from the embers within a large pinecone, placed atop a long staff, standing upright in the middle of the space. Within the pine cone’s petals are red-orange embers, little more than sparks. As you lean in close to inspect them, your breath causes them to glow a bit brighter. Call upon the Queer Spirit within you and the experiences you have shared, breathe it all out upon the embers. Breathe life into them and watch them kindle into flame, turning the pinecone into a torch. Take hold of the staff and raise this torch up as its flames illuminate the space around you. What does the light of this fire reveal? Who are what appears in the play of the light and the shadows?
Take some time to look around you and to observe whatever you can perceive. Speak to or interact with anyone present. You may also wish to gaze into the fires of the torch you bear and to see if any visions come to you in these fires of the Queer Spirit. You can also offer up anything you wish to release to be safely and harmlessly consumed within the cleansing fires. Know that this fire is yours, born from within you, and its revealing light is yours to call upon even outside of this vision.
[Once some time is allowed or participants to experience their own visions.] Give thanks to those you have spoken and interacted with and prepare to leave this space and return. The torch you carry lights the way, making your journey back to the world tree and easy one. Bear the flame from within and carry it out with you. Thank and honor the world tree and then step back, back through the screen of your mind, where the world tree becomes only an image before you allow it to fade, and we begin to return, return to this space and time.
Bring the participants out of trance using the count-up method or according to your practice, encouraging them to ground and center, and checking-in to see that everyone is awake, aware, and well.
Beginning with the same person who first held the flame in the Speaking Truth portion of the ritual, that participant relights their candle. As before, while they are holding the flame, they are the only one to speak, and all other participants should actively listen, hold space, and witness. The participant has the opportunity to share insight from their journey and vision, without judgment or censorship, prompted by the question: “What insight did you receive from the illumination of the Fires of the Queer Spirit?”
Once that person is finished speaking, they light the candle of the person to their left (proceeding clockwise around the circle) except, this time, each participant keeps their own candle lit. Each participant in turn has the opportunity to share their insights from the journey before passing on the flame. As before, a participant may choose to pass their turn or not speak, as they wish. The facilitator may want to ask participants to be mindful of time, particularly for a large circle, without rushing or pressuring anyone.
When the circle is complete, everyone should be holding a lit candle, forming a circle of lights. A ritual facilitator may pronounce a final blessing, such as:
“Behold, the Fires of the Queer Spirit, the lights of illumination: Each from the same source, each unique in their own right. Our fires bring light into the darkness and help to guide our way, and offer light and understanding for each other. Although we go forth from this space, we each carry this flame and its illumination in our spirits. Blessed be.”
Closing the Space
Close the ritual space by thanking the Divine, the Queer Ancestors, and the Queer Spirit, using the following devocations or whatever means suits the facilitator and the community. Also thank any specific named divinities, spirits, or powers called previously. Generally, the ritual facilitator does this, although you can have individual participants take parts of the task or perform their own devocations, if desired.
Calling the Divine
“We thank the Powers who walk with us: our divine guides and guardians, who have joined with us to witness and support this rite in Perfect Love, Will, and Wisdom. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell!”
Calling the Queer Ancestors
“We thank the Ancestors of Queer Spirit; you who walked the path before us, you who opened and eased the way for us. May we follow in your footsteps, to open and ease the way for those who will follow us. You who stand in shadow at the edges of our circle, know you are always welcome here in love and in community. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell!”
Calling the Queer Spirit
“We thank the Queer Spirit, the holy formless fire that burns at the center of our beings, in all of its many colors and aspects. We go forth from their circle carrying a part of that sacred flame with us as our birthright. May it guide and illuminate always. Blessed be.”
This completes the rite. If a ritual circle or other sacred space has been cast, release its boundaries and quarters and then open the circle as well. Ritual facilitators should check-in with participants to see if any are in need of after-care or spiritual counsel following the rite, and remind participants of the sacred responsibility of confidentiality before thanking and dismissing them from the ritual space.