Welcome to Discovering the Male Mysteries with Mel Mystery. This blog is a supplement to my podcast is for and about gay and bi pagan men. My podcasts are about what it is to be gay, what it is to be pagan, what it is to be men — sometimes as separate topics and sometimes all meshed together as one. I started this endeavor after seeing that there were few, if any, podcasts out there on this topic. The podcasts are informative, and present topics that challenge conventional thinking.

Latest

Finding Home

Home

Home is where my heart is.

“Home” can mean more than one thing.  Home might be where you grew up.  It might be the place you go once you get off work.  Home might be a house, an apartment, a condo, a trailer, or some other dwelling.  Home doesn’t even have to be a dwelling.  It can be a time or a place or a people.  Some folks find home in annual events and gatherings like Between the Worlds, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Witch Camp, Gay Pride, and other such events.  Some folks find home in groups and communities—the LGBTQ community, the Pagan community, the Poly community, and various Fet communities. Groups, communities, and events are especially important to those who are marginalized and for those folks who aren’t on good terms with their birth families.  For many, finding home means finding your family of choice.  The most important part of home and family is a feeling of belonging, and a feeling that those there have your back.  Home is where the heart is.  To quote Robert Frost, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

Family

My family.

For me, home is the place I grew up and that was in my family for over three decades.  It’s the house near the lake where I ran through the woods in my youth, and where I first camped just inside the woods at my first adolescent signs of growing independence. Home is were I learned to drive up and down the dirt road driveway, where I played in the creeks catching crawfish and newts, and where I fished in the lake with my best friend, Mark, and my neighbor, Shane.  Home is where I first learned to work on cars with my Dad as I became enthused with the TV show Knight Rider.  It’s where I ran around pretending to be Doctor Who while wearing a long scarf.  And it’s where I pretended to be a Jedi from Star Wars using a tree branch as a lightsaber.  Home is where I learned to love animals.  We had dogs and cats and hamsters and parakeets and ducks and so many more pets.  Home is where my family lived for over 30 years.  Home is the place my Dad always said would pass down to me and my sister.  Home is the place I knew I could always go back to—no matter what — until it wasn’t.  Family were the people I knew I could always count on to have my back— no matter what — until they weren’t.  My Dad passed away in 2009 and my Mom remarried two years later.  A few years after she remarried, she sold our home despite protests from me and my sister, and even after requests to buy at least the lot adjacent to home, if not the home itself, because that’s all me and my sister would have been able to afford at the time.

I have other “homes”—the place I live now, my local Pagan and LGBTQ communities, and I even felt like I found home at some gatherings I’ve gone to like the now ended Coph Nia gathering for Gay and Bi Pagan men.  None of these make up for the feeling of loss at losing my childhood home.  I’m determined to get it back someday—hopefully someday soon.  I’d like to retire there and I’d also like to ensure it gets passed down to my sister’s kids, as I know my Dad would have liked.  In the meantime, I’m hoping to create new homes for myself and for others.  I’m still hoping to found my campground though that might take a few more years and my quest to regain my childhood home might have to take precedence.  I’m also trying to create “homes” for the “alternative” communities to which I belong.  These homes include my local annual “Alternative Pride Picnic” for LGBTQ folks, Pagans, Poly folks, and others.  It includes the Brotherhood by the Bog Retreat for Pagan men.  Soon it will also include the Arcadia Gathering for Queer Pagan and Hellenist Men.

To quote Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor, “My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone’s.  It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I’m going, where I’ve always been going.  Home—the long way ‘round.”

You can find out more about Mel including his podcast and blog at: http://www.melmystery.com

Advertisements

Discovering Arcadia: A Gay Magickal Utopia, Part 3

Arcadia Gathering

Youths and Satyr

Youths and a Young Satyr by Hans Thoma, 1890 (Public Domain)

“Arcadia” has been adopted as the name of a new gathering for Queer Pagan Men in the East Coast / Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.  While there have been such gatherings before, such as the Mid-Atlantic Men’s Gathering and Coph Nia, we are not aware of any current camping gatherings specifically for gay and bi Pagan or Hellenist men in the region.  The closest gathering is “Between the Worlds” in Ohio, and there are many more gatherings on the West coast.

Arcadia will be held October 9-12, 2019 at a state campground in Cumberland, Virginia.  The gathering is open to Queer men of Pagan, Hellenist, and other Earth-based spiritualities.  All respectful seekers over the age of 18 who feel they would gain something from attending are welcome including trans folks, women, and our straight and non-Pagan friends – though all should be aware that most of our workshops, rituals, and activities will be primarily aimed toward Queer Pagan Men.

The theme of the first gathering is “Discovering Arcadia: Empowering Queer Men’s Spirituality.” The patron deity for our first event is the Greek god Pan.

Because this is a first-time event and because our planning committee is small, we are asking folks attending the event to help us co-create the space and to help us spread the word.  We are specifically looking for folks to help with planning and running the event.  We are looking for workshop, ritual, and activity presenters.  We also have a contest going on to help design our event logo.  If you’re artistic, please consider participating (see website for details).  We want this event to succeed, not because it is the idea of any one person or group, but because the Queer Pagan community sees it as something valuable and because individuals within the community are willing to step up and do their part to make it a success.

For more information and to register: http://www.olympuscampgroundresort.com/index.php/events/arcadia

Discovering Arcadia: A Gay Magickal Utopia, Part 2

Virgil’s Ecologue and Plato’s Symposium: A Greek View of Gender

In Plato’s Symposium Aristophanes talks about the origins of mankind.  There were originally three species – male, female, and androgynous.  Because of their pride, the gods punished them by dividing them in half so that they would always walk the earth looking for their other half in their quest to be whole.  Those who were of the divided male species were always looking for their other male half – thus male-male homosexual love; those of the divided female species were always looking for their other female half – thus female-female homosexual love; those of the divided androgynous species were always looking for the other sex – male for female and female for male, or heterosexual love.

“Those who dwell in Arcadia seek out that secret Eden because of its isolation from the troubled world and its safety from the arrogant demands of those who would deny freedom, curtail human action, and destroy innocence and love.” – Byrne R.S. Fone

Arcadia as a Uranian Ideal

During the European Renaissance, Arcadia emerged as an ideal of unspoiled, remote, wilderness. It was further idealized by Uranian (their contemporary term for homosexual) men as a homosexual Eden or a utopia of male-male love.   To these men, Arcadia was a metaphor for what homosexual life could be without the stigma and constraints of mainstream heterosexual society.  They pictured Arcadia as a hidden and isolated leafy grove, a remote pastoral land, or even as an island far from the hustle and bustle and every day cares of the mundane world.  For them, Arcadia feeds the homosexual spirit. The love of men for men is natural there.  It is even divinely sanctioned as a means to understand all that is good and beautiful. In Arcadia, homosexual love and sexuality is the ideal.   It is noble, inspired, virtuous, and spiritually uplifting.  Arcadia features untrodden paths, secluded spots, and hidden waters.  There are rivers flowing through the land and the element of water purifies and enhances the innocence of the place. Rites of the sea, purification, and transformation by water are central to the rituals of life in Arcadia.  Symbolic sexual consummation takes place in or near the water.  These rituals celebrate male friendship, our mythologies, the union and consummation of lovers, coming together in a loving and sexual fraternity of men, and washing away any sense of guilt brought on by society at large.  These rites often include offering gifts from nature and purification by water.  The men of Arcadia are naturally nude, or at least they wear skimpy clothing.  The climate is such that this is comfortable.

These Renaissance men idealized Arcadia as a place where homosexual sensibilities, love, and sexuality can be practiced without fear or punishment.  In Arcadia, it is safe to come out and to be gay.  In this Utopia of male love and sexuality, gay and bi men are free from the stigma and the “outlaw” status that society confers on us.

Look out for part 3 coming soon… To find out more about the Arcadia Gathering, please visit:
http://www.olympuscampgroundresort.com/index.php/events/arcadia

Latest Podcast Available — Episode 17B: The Conspiracy Show, Part 2

My latest podcast episode is now online.

This is a continuation of the “conspiracy” episode.  Part one came out in January.  In this episode, I’ll be talking more about the Web Bot and possible biases in the algorithm.  I’ll be exploring why conspiracy theorists are so obsessed with pedophilia.  And I’ll be explaining my own system for evaluating conspiracy theories.

You can listen to this episode directly from my website (below) or through iTunes or Podbean.

http://www.melmystery.com/

Discovering Arcadia: A Gay Magickal Utopia, Part 1

What is Arcadia? Arcadia was an ancient Greek city with its own mythology and patron deities, but it was also the ideal of a homosexual utopia in European Renaissance literature.  It is also the name adopted for an East Coast / Mid-Atlantic gathering of Queer Pagan Men that is set to take place October 9-12, 2019 in Cumberland, Virginia.

Arcadia: The historic place

Historic Arcadia was a region located in the central highlands on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece.  The Arcadian tribe that originally settled the area is considered one of the oldest tribes to have settled in Greece.  Because it was a remote, mountainous place, Arcadia was a cultural refuge.  Its language and culture remained unique.  Arcadia had numerous towns in both the mountains and in its fertile valleys.  The landscape included mountains, forests pastoral land, and rivers.

Arcadia is mentioned in works by ancient writers such as Herodotus and Homer.

Mount Lykaion is one of the major historical places of the region.  Mount Lykaion is the home of the ancient Lycaean Games dedicated to Zeus and Pan.  These games were similar to the ancient Olympics and took place very four years.  The mountain featured an altar to Zeus which featured two pillars topped with statues of golden eagles.

Mythology related to ancient Arcadia

Arcadia is named after the mythological character Arcas.  Arcas was a hunter who was the first king of Arcadia.  He was the son of Zeus and Callisto.  Besides hunting, Arcas is associated with weaving and baking bread.  Arcus and his mother Callisto are also associated with bears. Arcus was later turned into a bear and put into the heavens among the stars as Ursa Minor, the Little Bear.  His mother Callisto is Ursa Major, the Big Bear.

Arcadia is the home of the satyr God Pan.  Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, rustic music, fields, and groves.  With his ever erect endowment, Pan is associated with sexuality and fertility.  Pan was said to lust after and chase nymphs and shepherds alike.

Zeus also had a special place in Arcadia, especially at Mount Lykaion.  The place is said to have been the birthplace of Zeus (aka Zeus Lykaios or the Wolf Zeus).  Zeus and King Lycaon, the first King of the area, also play into one of the world’s first recorded werewolf stories.  King Lycaon wanted to test to see if Zeus was really a god.  To do so he invited Zeus to a feast and fed him the roasted flesh of the king’s own son.  Zeus didn’t fall for it and punished Lycaon by turning him into a wolf.  Speaking of wolves, the Lycaean Games mentioned earlier featured a secret rite of passage for young men.  In this ritual, the men were said to become wolves for nine years.  In some of these rituals, the youth would take off his clothes, swim across a river or marsh, and become a wolf on the other side – again for a period of nine years.

According to mythology, Atalanta, a Greek heroine, was the daughter of King Iasus of Arcadia.  Atalanta was a virgin huntress who refused to marry.  She was a fierce hunter who swore an oath of virginity to the goddess Artemis.  She was so fierce that she slew two centaurs who tried to rape her.  She also took part in the hunt for the Caledonian Boar and was the one who eventually killed it.

The god Hermes was also honored in Arcadia.  One of Hermes oldest temples was on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, and Mount Cyllene was said to be his birthplace.

The wilderness of Arcadia was said to be the home of various magickal and mythological creatures including satyrs, centaurs, dryads, nymphs, and other spirits.

Look out for part 2 coming soon… To find out more about the Arcadia Gathering, please visit:
http://www.olympuscampgroundresort.com/index.php/events/arcadia

Arcadia Gathering for Gay and Bi Pagan Men

Just wanted to share an exciting event for Queer Pagan, Hellenistic, and Earth-based spirituality men that is coming up in October of this year.

The first ever Arcadia Gathering will be held the week of October 9-12, 2019 at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland, Virginia.  We are hoping this will become an annual event and that it will fill a void for such gatherings on the East Coast and mid-Atlantic U.S.

The theme of our first gathering is “Discovering Arcadia: Empowering Queer Men’s Spirituality.”  Our patron deity this year will be the Greek god, Pan. Pan was one of the primary patrons of ancient Arcadia. He is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, rustic music, and sexuality. Pan is known for chasing both nymphs and shepherds alike.

The event will also be very affordable.  Early registration (before June 1) is a flat fee of $75.  After that, the cost goes up to $100.  This includes a standard tent space, basic breakfast and dinner (lunch on your own), and a parking pass for the campground.  There is an add-on fee for folks wishing to have large family-size tents or extra tents, as space may be limited.  We may also consider renting out a bunk house at the campground, if we have enough interest.  The bunk house would also be an add-on cost.  For details, visit our website.

We are looking for workshop and activity presenters, and for folks interested in helping to plan or staff the event.

For additional information and to register, please visit our website and Facebook pages below:

http://www.olympuscampgroundresort.com/index.php/arcadia-main

https://www.facebook.com/events/631847647255456/

Mega MAGA Wimps

Many Trump supporters who spent their entire lives never questioning their societal privilege are finally learning what it’s like to be an unpopular minority, and many are not handling it very well.   Back last June, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant because of her role in the Trump Administration.  She left gracefully, but then complained about the restaurant not treating her nicely.  In January, following a confrontation between teens from a private boy’s high school and a Native American elder, one of the teens who was seen in viral videos wearing a MAGA hat is suing CNN for misrepresentation saying that he was falsely accused of escalating the situation when he was actually trying to “defuse” it.  Earlier this month, a man in Arizona reported that the tire on his SUV was slashed because he had a MAGA hat in the window.   Another Trump supporter was kicked out of a New York City restaurant for wearing a MAGA hat.   It’s apparently gotten so bad for some of these people that there’s now an app where Trump supporters can find “safe spaces” free from liberals and where they can also bring their guns.

It’s really a misnomer to call these Trump supporters a “minority” since they have societal privilege and since their guy is in power in the White House, but that hasn’t stopped them from claiming “victimhood” and outrage for being treated the way real minorities are treated every day.  There was a time when African Americans and other People of Color weren’t allowed in “white” restaurants, to go to “white” parks, or sit in “white” sections at the front of public transportation.  And in recent years many conservatives have rallied around the “right” of cake shops and other businesses to deny service to LGBT individuals.  There was a time when LGBT individuals had their names posted in newspapers after police raids on gay bars thus destroying their reputations, careers, and lives.  A certain “faux” news network still makes its fame and fortune by misrepresenting marginalized communities – Muslims, People of Color, LGBT folks, immigrants, and so on.  In college, my car was keyed because I was active and vocal in my campus LGBT group, and many others have had their cars or homes vandalized for being LGBT.  LGBT teens have deservedly sought out safe spaces because of unaccepting parents and bullying peers.

If these aren’t enough to make the MAGA complaints at least seem like karma or poetic justice, other things that minorities deal with make these complaints seem just trivial.  Just last week there was the mass shooting at a Mosque in New Zealand.  In 2016, there was a mass shooting at the gay Latino Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  In 2015, there was a mass shooting at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina. I really haven’t heard about any mass shootings at MAGA events or in conservative venues.   In addition to these mass shootings, many minorities live in real fear of being targeted for being who they are.  In 2017, there were at least 29 Transgender deaths due to violence against them.  That number doesn’t include how many who suffered violent attacks and lived.  Trans People of Color are especially prone to be victims of violence and hate crimes.  Matthew Shepherd is just one of many gay folks attacked and even killed for being open about who they are.  And, of course, suicide among LGBT teens is much higher than suicide among the general population.

Many minorities live in fear of violence, harassment, being denied service, being fired from their jobs, or being challenged for who they are or what they believe.  Fear is often used as a tool to keep minorities in their place.  Being in a place of fear is not something that most MAGA supporters are used to.  While I believe there is some karma involved, and while I’m a big fan of poetic justice, I really don’t think we liberals should be slashing MAGA folks’ tires or escalating violence against them.  For one thing, a crime is still a crime no matter who commits it, and for another, we really don’t need to be fueling the fires of their “victimhood” and indignation.  One thing I’ve learned both through my college activism and because my Dad was a cop, is that you don’t really want to be the one to throw the first punch in an argument.  The moment you throw the first punch, you become the attacker and you’re legally liable as such.  It doesn’t really matter how much the other party provoked the attack or whether they started the argument.  When we throw the first punch, it also just looks bad on us.  As liberals, we promote diversity and non-violence, and we really need to walk the talk.  At the same time, if you are attacked, I definitely support your right to fight back and defend yourself.  Just don’t throw the first punch.  Also be aware, that many professional conservative trolls are trained to provoke you to the point of violence, so they can make an incident of it – whether a legal incident, a viral social media incident, or a news media incident.  Don’t fall into the trap.

I don’t support violence against MAGA supporters (unless it’s self-defense). And while I find their views distasteful, I do support their right to wear their red hats, sport conservative bumper stickers on their cars, and share their views on Facebook and their personal blogs.  I think denying prominent Trump supporters service at restaurants and other businesses is more of a grey area.  I definitely support calling out conservative politicians and those in the Trump White House for their views and complacency.  It is their job to listen to citizens, even if they would rather hide or insulate themselves from those who disagree with them.  What I also support is civil discourse and calling out individuals on their negative and harmful ideologies. You might be able to change the minds of at least some middle leaning folks.  While you may not be able to change the hearts or minds of extremists, if they’re called out enough, perhaps they’ll at least think twice about being so vocal about their unpopular views.