By Daniel Cox | Instagram
I was born in 1978 in a busy town in the UK. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I was quite an androgynous child, far too pretty to be a boy, some people had said. As a child, I experienced what all queer kids my age experienced, bullying. I had the usual name-calling, and of course the physical abuse. I not only got verbal abuse from other kids but from adults too, strangers on the street would comment, the odd crass remark from a shopkeeper, the occasional teacher, nothing better to crush a kid’s confidence than being called ‘poof’ in the morning register.
I felt powerless, scared, and angry. Behind the rage was shame.
I felt other things too, I sensed the presence of ‘others.’ I knew things I shouldn’t, I sometimes heard other people’s thoughts. Sometimes, if I wished hard enough, stared long enough, felt the red-mist descend within my eyes strong enough, bad things would happen.
I think a lot of LGBTQ+ people come into the craft this way, feeling powerless and scared. Being unique to the majority of people, I felt what could only be described as special – and that was a good thing – yet I couldn’t celebrate this. I couldn’t celebrate who I was, instead I hid from the world, I ran to the back of the gay broom closet and slammed the door shut.
Somewhere inside me, I felt beautifully unique and yet I was unseen and unheard. Or, if I was seen, it is something monstrous and deviant, something broken that needs fixing.
When I finally came out in my late teens, I exploded out of the closet in full regalia. I was a fashion student and so my creative outlet expressed who I felt inside; otherworldly, deconstructed, genderless, I owned the monstrous and the deviant, the demonic and camp. I loved to scare people as I walked about in my bondage trousers and mohawk, with spikes through my chin and nipples, smiling through my white contact lenses.
I was Wiccan, for a long time, but, back then, I didn’t feel like I fitted in. Wicca is essentially a fertility religion, so where does a young, angry, gay man fit into that?
It was not all that long ago it was illegal to be gay. Oscar Wilde was imprisoned in 1895 for two years for being gay in my own hometown. In 1967 it was no longer illegal to be gay, but, you had to be over 21 and only in private. Section 28 was a British law prohibiting any form of homosexual promotion within any of the public sectors. So, no books, no conversations, no help, no support in schools, libraries, anywhere. There is blood on the hands of Conservatives of those young LGBTQ+ who took their own lives or were murdered for being something that was taboo in law. This is why, when I told my teacher that I was being bullied for being gay, nothing was done about it. This is why, when I was being beaten and needed help and support in finding out who I was and what was going on inside me, I was met with silence.
I loved Wicca, it held for the two principles of the Divine I loved. I am still a devout Goddess follower, but I also am in love with Olde Hornie.
But, the rites and rituals represent fertility, through the land and the rites themselves, this never sat right with my young mind; Eew! Straight sex! I didn’t understand where I fitted in with this, I was not able to have children naturally as I was gay, I couldn’t even adopt or go through surrogacy as it was illegal. It was only in 2004 that we were legally allowed to marry in the UK, and in 2002 when we could even have a family of our own. As a young out-and-proud gay man, I remember not knowing any other gay witches, so if I ever met one, it was met with the same excitement a dog feels when it sees another dog in the park; lots of drama, barking and occasional fights, maybe the odd leg hump…but mostly, you were just happy to know another.
After a long time, I moved away from Wicca and witchcraft. I plodded along until shamanism found me, I felt that I fitted in a lot more. There wasn’t a focus on the cycles of the seasons or the fertility of the natural world, it was more about connection to higher realms, healing, and becoming whole. There was an element of tribal and native American philosophy and so the term ‘Two-Spirited’ came up, something I connected with, being a person who has the body of one, but the spirit or desires of the other. I connected to the idea that I had the body of God and the passions, desires, and heart of the Goddess. I learned to heal, I learned to love myself, I honed my skills in all the psychic senses, and learned to travel to the other dimensions. I became more of the essential me that I needed to be.
I can only go by my own experiences within the pagan community, but now, I feel safe and included. I know of many covens and pagan communities who are extremely diverse and inclusive, and I know that there is so much more to Wicca and paganism than just the obvious fertility aspect.
I know I am privileged, don’t get me wrong, I am lucky enough to live in a very inclusive community. I live openly with my husband of nineteen years and our adopted son who is now seven. I even know some Christians who love me as I am, gay arse and witchy warts and all! I have even recently come ‘out of the broom closet’ to my neighbours, who have already begun requesting spell work from me!
It’s strange, looking back over the last decade, what I thought I was learning was shamanism, what I was actually learning was a deeper form of witchcraft, hedge riding, spirit communication, mediumship, healing, working with shadow, working with the sacred and even spell work.
I have noticed that there seems to be a higher amount of LGBTQ+ people within the traditional craft of witchery than Wicca. Compared to Wicca, the more traditional world of the craft tends to have an androgynous aspect in the spirits that are worked with. Bucca and Baphomet, for example, are both very androgynous, being both and neither male or female, they seem to be something else entirely. Also, LGBTQ+ people have grown up with hurt, abuse, hate crimes, or simply excluded from communities. I personally feel held sacredly by traditional witchcraft rather than Wicca, because it holds the darkness too. When I want to rage and scream and curse the world, it holds me still, in this place. It knows me, it hears me, it does not judge me. If I want to heal or cause harm, I can, and in that space, I mostly choose to heal.
A part of my work as a healer is to speak to the higher aspects of the soul, to work at the level of spirit, energy. Here, there is no gender, no race or sexuality, no judgement or labels, you simply are.
On this note, I’d like to honour a beautiful soul who lost her battle with depression.
A young and deeply troubled lady came to me for help, and whilst working with her it came to my attention she was carrying within her luminous energy field, another being; an intrusive entity.
In my line of work as a psychopomp, I often experience this. The practice is to go within the client’s energy field (aura) and travel past the hedge into the different levels of death. In essence, they are like the Bardo planes in Buddhism. In each level, I try to find an aspect or soul fragment of the soul that hasn’t passed on. Once I have them, they are reconfigured and brought back at the client’s level, (at this point I have two clients I am working with) where I will then heal the lost soul and send it on its way.
What I see is the soul of who it was before death, in its last incarnation. My client knew who it was straight away. It was her best friend, a trans woman who lived in such shame she, unfortunately, couldn’t live this life anymore, and sadly took her own life. I expected, as I always do, to see her spirit. Knowing she was born male, I made the assumption I’d be looking for her original self, who she was born as, a man. This was not the case. I did not see a man, I saw a beautiful woman. This took me, pleasantly, by surprise, and I became overwhelmed with emotions and burst into tears of grief as well as joy. She had the spirit of a woman; despite being born within the body of a male. Knowing that she died without knowing this, really hurt my heart.
In reality, I know she knew this already, it was her truth after all. Fortunately, I told her before I sent her to the place of our ancestors, that I knew she was a woman, and that I will one day tell others of her story.
About the Author: Though he is trained as a P’aqo, a shaman of the Inca tradition, Daniel is more of an animist, with a focus on traditional European witchcraft. Through life-changing events in childhood and near-death experiences, he sees life through a different lens. He is a soon-to-be author, artist of the sacred, bone reader, seer and channel. Daniel lives with his husband Tom and their son Kai.