My Logical Family.

Ten of Pentacles from the Son Tarot
by Chris Butler.
 Schiffer Books 2012
I recently attended a Faerie Gathering to celebrate the festival of Imbolc. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movement, Faeries are an LGBTQ collective with an emphasis on community, spirituality and counter-culture. 

My discovery of the Faerie movement became the embodiment of the Ten of Pentacles for me. When I designed this card for the Son Tarot some years back, I sought to depict the 'Logical Family' as defined by Armistead Maupin. Often, this is our network of close and trusted friends who through trial and loyalty, become our second family. For someone within the LGBTQ community like myself, Logical family is everything.  

For me, the Ten of Pentacles has always been about wealth in all forms, as shared through the network of family, whether that be blood family or logical family. Faerie Gatherings are always such sharings but this one would teach me a more important lesson. If you're part of the family, you share the rough and you share the smooth. Ultimately, they are both part of the riches.

I felt sad and heavy within half an hour of arriving at the Gathering. Old insecurities around ageing, isolation and loneliness began to re-surface and though surrounded by love, laughter and trustworthy friends, I felt totally isolated.

If I couldn’t feel happy here, where the hell could I feel happy? The sadness persisted for two days, along with an increasing sense of irritation growing towards a number of individuals that both worried me and saddened me further. One sentence sums up my experience so far:

“Welcome to the Family!”


Logical family isn't always comfortable

No one can be happy all the time and just because I was unhappy didn’t mean I wasn’t in a powerful and healing space.

Lesson no.1: Some of this shit may be ‘them’ but a lot of it is very much ‘me’ so let’s call it quits.

I began to see the people pressing all my negative buttons were also having their own buttons pushed for different reasons. I’m learning if my inner child hits out, then for the most part I’ll only be hitting another vulnerable child. It’s taught me that by and large, hugs are much preferable.

Ten of Pentacles from the
Time Between Times Tarot
 by Chris Butler. Lo Scarabeo 2017.
Lesson no.2: Reliance on friends.

My wobbly start to the Gathering has only served to reveal the extraordinary depth of care that flows from certain Faerie hearts. I experienced the unconditional love of one of my tribal elders and his gentle, almost unshakeable wisdom helped me navigate through the minefield of my own feelings. I also discovered everyone needs a Faerie Godmother from time to time. Mine has proved to be more of an Angel Godmother in this instance and she carefully wove a safe protective space around me during my time of vulnerability.

Lesson no.3: Role reversal – even my towers of strength can have feet of clay.

On several occasions, the very people who kept me afloat during my own crisis began to crumble for varying reasons of their own. Ironically, I found myself as their pillar of strength, giving the same love and support they had given me. Lesson learned? Neither my friends nor I need be perfect to be strong. Being weak for much of the time is inevitable and maybe it’s time I accepted that. My hope is we won’t all be weak at the same time and there will always be someone to lean on for the person who needs support the most.

Lesson no.4: Most families are dysfunctional - Get over it.

Through the course of any gathering I generally botch my way through a variety of interpersonal issues. I don’t always get it right. I very often get it spectacularly wrong. As a community, we also grapple with important issues, sometimes with heated or frustrating debate. This gathering was no exception. My lesson learned? I’ll never agree with everyone and I’ll never see the world through their eyes. Nor will they see the world through mine. I may upset you and you may also upset me. What matters most is that I learn to forgive and learn to permit difference. I may even learn to be more sensitive, when I learn to respect your wishes, even if I don’t understand where you’re coming from.

Lesson no.5: If it all gets too confusing, just bloody well escape for a couple of hours!

On the afternoon I hit rock bottom, my Angel Godmother suggested we go for a walk to clear our heads. This walk was probably the most important event of the Gathering for me, for by that stage I needed solitude and detachment to navigate through my own emotions. We walked up Glastonbury Tor and from that incredible vantage point I could see for miles around and also spot Paddington Farm, looking small and insignificant in the wider landscape. For whatever reason I felt lifted and changed by the time we returned and better still, I felt less isolated.


Constructive struggles

Having periods of struggle in such a community makes you appreciate the magical times so much more. These special times with logical family and tribe have to be experienced first hand. They cannot be fully described. The joy of this particular family is that it’s always growing, for each gathering I attend brings new and special individuals into my life, as well as strengthening and re-affirming previously forged connections. The most potent magic however was to be found walking up the Tor and around the fires with the drums. Faeries come alive when there’s drumming and especially this time as we invoked Brigid on the eve of Imbolc, the first flowering of Spring.


I may have begun the Gathering with a heavy heart but I left with a grateful heart. Partings and goodbyes are always sad but I know the Logical Family is always there for me, even though we are scattered throughout these Isles and further. Like its sister card, the Ten of Cups, I'd always subconsciously seen the Ten of Pentacles depicting a utopian kind of family perfection. Thankfully, that's no longer my view for my week with the Faeries taught me that family doesn't have to be perfect to be healing. What matters is a willingness to be honest and a basic respect for the value and integrity of each family member. I'm truly blessed, for that's what  my logical gives me.

Chris.


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