This episode is about the magickal land of Arcadia in ancient Greece, its theme as a metaphor for a homosexual utopia among 19th century homosexual men, and it being the name for a new gathering for gay and bi Pagan men on the East Coast.
The rustic, wooded land of Arcadia was home to Greek gods such as Zeus, Hermes, and Pan, as well as satyrs, centaurs, nymphs, and other magickal creatures. The “gay god” segment of this episode will focus on the Greek god Pan.
The Arcadia gathering is scheduled to take place October 9-12, 2019 in Cumberland, Virginia.
You can listen to the latest episode by visiting my webpage (http://www.melmystery.com/) or searching for me on Podbean.
“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.”
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
“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
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:
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:
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: