by Tony Allicino

The idea of a retreat for gay men who practice shamanism came from a shamanic journey I had during the New York City Gay Men’s Shamanic Circle’s (NYCGMSC) annual visioning circle in 2007. In January of each year, members would journey for information on the goals the group would undertake that year. In the summary notes for the 2007 circle I stated my vision: "Plan and organize a gathering of two-spirit shamans for purposes of supporting each other."

Retreat Group in temple

Around that time my shamanic practice began incorporating journeys to the Void, a fertile place of potential, and a place I plant seeds of possibilities. It was in the Void that the vision for a gathering was revealed to me. While I cannot recall the particular details of what happened next, I must have acted quickly – recruiting David Conneely, NYCGMSC founder, and Tom Cowan, our mutual friend and noted teacher, to join me as retreat organizers and facilitators. I pitched the idea to Easton Mountain. They welcomed it and put the retreat on their schedule for the July 7th weekend.

Praying at a circle of stone

David, Tom and I developed and crafted the 2007 retreat’s theme: “Shamanism as Gay Power: Gay Men Living on the Edge.” We used shamanic journeys, poetry, and ritual to tap into the participants’ “unique power as outsiders, innovators …” and to celebrate our roles living in the “betwixt-and-between state” of existence. Nineteen gay shamans attended, including the three facilitators. While most came from the northeast, some traveled from Alabama, California, and Colorado to join us, including a transgender man.

A shamanic walk by the pond

A Fire Ceremony took place on Saturday night during which an attendee spontaneously shared a Celtic water ritual he carried. We closed that first retreat breathing and speaking our prayers for our community into a large rock, binding and affixing our prayers to the rock with strings and wax, and then ritually having the rock placed into the pond by Sunfire, a retreat elder and Easton Mountain community resident. I often think about and journey to that rock sitting at the bottom of the pond where volumes of water are constantly flowing over it and spreading our prayers.

Temple altar during shamanic retreat

The vision and intention for Gay Men’s Shamanic Retreats were set in motion. The gathering was blessed by the spirits of Easton Mountain’s land and of the ancestors who were remembered. The blessings have continued, and this year we celebrate our tenth retreat.

The tenth annual Gay Men's Shamanic Retreat will be held September 22-24, 2017.