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Brotherhood of the Phoenix
Age Range/Type: Adult
Located in: Chicago, Illinois
Key Contact: Rev. Matthew Ellenwo
Spiritual Path: Gay/Queer Neo-pagan
Status: Established Group
Community Support: Open Circles... Legal Clergy... Teaching Available
Group Overview: Brotherhood of the Phoenix is a neo-pagan order for Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender men who love men. We celebrate the Spirit of the Divine within, and work for the healing and transformation of ourselves, our community, and the Sacred Earth through a collective and personal commitment to Activism, Outreach, and Education. Together we work to weave the magick that changes lives.
History of the order:
The Gay Men’s Mystery School, which forms the core of the Brotherhood’s clergy training program, was created in 2000 to train gay men in the magickal arts in order to reclaim their rightful places as healers, mystics, teachers, shamans, and ordained priests. In the summer of 2004, several of the school’s initiates gathered with good friends and seekers to envision and build a neo-pagan order for gay, bisexual, and transgender men who love men, capable of existing as a nationwide religious order and beyond.
Neo-Paganism is often identified as one of the most quickly growing religions in the United States. There are religious, spiritual, ecological, and activist neo-pagan groups thriving throughout the country. As a highly-individualized form of spirituality, diversity is necessarily one of the key elements sought out and taught by many of these groups. Unfortunately, despite the open, accepting nature of many organizations and the presence of gay-centric groups such as the Radical Faeries and the Minoan Brotherhood, a great many of our brothers have not been able to satisfy their spiritual needs within the groups already existing.
Reinventing the Wheel
(of the year) :
There are many reasons for creating a new spiritual tradition. Chief among them, religion must understand and respond to the present day needs of the individuals and communities it serves. When a religion fails to adapt its structure to present times, it loses its authority and becomes stagnant. Its symbols cease to inspire and empower the seeker by failing to connect with his experiences or by criminalizing his identity.
When a religion no longer speaks to the community it serves, its role as a spiritual guidepost becomes null and void.
We feel that our brothers are being left out in the spiritual cold by other institutions and we watch as they seek spirituality with mixed results. In response to this absence of meaningful, accepting spiritual traditions we have created a tradition that speaks to the current experiences of our brothers. It is a tradition that has links to what has come before, but roots itself in the present with an eye to the future. It is a tradition that has, and will continue, to adapt to the needs of the community.
Our Founding Purpose:
The mandate of our order is to help our brothers overcome the burden of societal labels. We reject the limiting beliefs and prejudices of modern culture and those religions that preach intolerance and hate. Instead of didactic teaching, we stress a simple neo-pagan principle.
"Find the Divine within your own experience."
The Queer God:
Our Brotherhood recognizes that being “other” is not a cause for shame, but a gift to celebrate. Accepting that we and our brothers have our own challenges and journeys ahead of us, we have seen a vision of the God who is found amongst men who love men. He, like each of us, is on the road of fulfillment and rebirth. Each of his eight faces represents a phase or time in our lives.
» He is the Divine Youth, full of life, joy, potential, awe, and innocence.
» He is the Explorer, traveling beyond his community and their ideals to learn about the world at large, its people, and the mysteries of the universe.
» He is the Lover, who comes to love all men, and wishes to fill their hearts full and give them pleasure.
» He is the Healer, who has experienced sickness and suffering along with wholeness and health. He helps us to learn to heal ourselves and each other.
» He is the Warrior, willing to fight to the death to protect his loved ones from those who sling hate and violence.
» He is the Androgyne, both male and female but more than either; who knows the mysteries of balance.
» He is the Shaman, uniting all dualities and polarities while bringing back wisdom from the places only the spirit can visit.
» He is the Elder, the giver of wisdom, the nurturer of the community, and the one who doesn’t fear death or change. He is the culmination of these faces and he lives in all men who love men.
Our public rituals are open to all gay, bisexual, and transgender men who love men. We celebrate the mysteries of the divine by holding a public ritual near each of the eight great days of the neo-pagan tradition. Our Ritual format provides a context for personal growth, healing, and spiritual experience in a safe, supportive atmosphere.
Activism, Outreach, and Education:
As part of the work of our order, the Brotherhood sponsors workshops, lectures, social events, and activist campaigns. We seek out individuals and organizations allied with our purpose to form positive relationships which benefit our community and our world. We support each other in the effort to heal our environment, conserve our natural resources, and make conscious decisions in everyday life.
Structure and Membership:
The Brotherhood of the Phoenix consists of an Outer Order (members of a local temple) and an Inner Order (specially trained members who serve the spiritual needs of the membership) . Through the presentation of our public rituals, celebrating rites of passage, and the work of the order; we walk as a united community of individuals seeking their own spirituality. We believe that the path of neo-paganism is, and should remain, a path most properly walked by the individual. As part of this understanding, we seek to give our members the opportunity to follow the path (s) that are most suited to their individual experiences and lifestyle, while offering fellowship, support, and guidance.
The Outer Order:
Men who feel drawn to become a part of the Brotherhood in an official capacity are invited to become members of the Outer Order. Membership entails a Rite of Passage into the Outer Order, commitment to our goals of activism, outreach, and education, and support of both time and money in order to keep the Brotherhood alive. In return, we offer workshops and teachings not offered to the general public, support in your journey, and guidance upon the path we are walking together.
The Inner Order:
The Inner Order consists of two levels, the Mystery School, and the Inner Order proper. The Mystery School is a group of committed individuals who are journeying on an individual quest under the guidance of experienced mentors. Those members who demonstrate their commitment to service and are in good standing with the Brotherhood may apply to become a candidate of the Mystery School. Candidates who are accepted will undergo rigorous spiritual and magickal training within the Mystery School as a structured path towards becoming mentors or ordained clergy.
The Inner Order proper consists of the graduates of the Mystery School, the mentors, and the Clergy; who work together as a group to create rituals, explore further magickal studies and practical applications, guide the students of the mystery school, and teach workshops to Brothers and Seekers.
The Council of Guardians:
The Council of Guardians is the local administrative body for each temple of the Brotherhood. The Council of Guardians consists of seven officers who oversee the business and administrative aspects of their particular temple. Positions in the Council last for one year; from Spring Equinox of one year, through Spring Equinox of the next. Decisions are made by majority vote of the membership and Council.
The Council of Elders:
The Council of Elders consists of eight men who act as trustees for the National Order. They oversee the work of each Council of Guardians and issue charters for new temples. Positions in the Council of Elders last either 3 years or 7 years depending upon the position. Together with Magisters from each individual temple, the Council of Elders hold a large meeting called a Congress every August to direct business decisions at a National level.
To request a charter, interested parties should make certain that they are ready and willing to fulfill the requirements for application to the Brotherhood as a Temple. These are outlined in the Constitution of the Brotherhood, Article III.C.
Brotherhood of the Phoenix
PO Box 13352
Chicago, IL 60613-0352
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