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FAQ: General

Why aren’t your rituals on the traditional dates?

In traditional Wiccian/neo-pagan traditions, the Sabbats are eight holy days designated by the cycle of the Sun. These “Great Days” are somewhat “fixed” in the calendar year in that they are astronomical events and deemed as auspicious for working rituals and linking personal energies to the Land, to each other, and to the Gods and spirits.

By holding our events after these holidays (during a Sabbat’s “season”) we recognize the influence of that Sabbat and its energies upon our celebrations while also acknowledging that our rituals and events are not exactly one-for-one comparisons with the traditional holidays. Additionally, for those members and seekers who are part of another tradition or group, this arrangement allows them to be present and active within both organizations.

What’s with your holiday names?

Because our celebrations are not directly connected to the traditional sabbats, we chose to give them new names that better reflect our experiences of the holiday’s energies. These holidays celebrate the life cycle of the Phoenix, the aspect of the Queer Divine being honored, and our own queer experiences of those mysteries.

Additionally, we have named our holidays to better reflect us culturally. Our tradition may be rooted in many cultures but it is flowering in our own, queer lives. The usual Sabbat names are rooted in Celtic/Northern European cultures that our tradition doesn’t singly identify with. The names of our celebrations are part of a conscious effort to avoid falling into nominally Eurocentric tradition.

How can I get in touch with Members near me?

Most of our membership is concentrated around either of our Temples in Chicago or Seattle. If you are outside of those areas, you may look into Radical Faerie gatherings or similar groups. If you know of other queer pagans in your area and would like some direction on how to start a group practice, contact us!

Is the Fellowship an ancient tradition?

The Fellowship is an emergent tradition that seeks to combine ancient and modern practices and thought into a framework that speaks to the needs and experiences of the queer community. While certain aspects and concepts within our work (The Three Primes, the Labyrinth, and the Phoenix) have primeval and historical roots, the Fellowship as a whole makes no claim to any ancient lineage.

Does the Fellowship limit member participation in other religious traditions?

Some members are practicing neo-pagans from a variety of traditions. There are also members and seekers who in their personal lives ascribe to Abrahamic or other world faiths. Nothing in the Fellowship requires our participants to renounce or abandon their own beliefs or practices. Since our celebrations don’t tend to coincide with other Neopagan observances, we don’t usually force members to choose between commitments.

Are Fellowship events places to hook up?

No, not explicitly. Members and seekers at our events come together for spiritual teaching and experience. We also offer fellowship and some social time – particularly during our potlucks that happen after our public rituals. We offer a place to meet others that you may not encounter otherwise. But the goal is certainly not about dating or sexual encounters.

This is not to say that dating and sexual partnering doesn’t happen – it does and we don’t have any rules against it. We don’t exclude it. But it is not the purpose of the gatherings or the Fellowship.

Am I going to find my new best friends at your events?

Not necessarily. While social engagement is part of what we do, we are primarily a religious organization. You will probably meet some people at Fellowship events that are not like people you would meet in other contexts. Some of them will be free-spirited and quick to encourage and show affection. You may find people who you share common interests with. But remember that here, just like anywhere else, friendship is a process, not a promise. Friendship outside of Fellowship events may or may not happen.

FAQ: Ritual

Who is invited?

Our rituals are open to members of the LGBTQ community aged 18 and over. Some of our rituals, however, are open to anyone over 18 regardless of gender or orientation. Check the information on an individual event to be certain.

What should I expect?

The ritual content and form may vary, but the typical ritual will involve some representation of the Fellowship’s cosmology, including key symbols and stories, as well as a message from the god of the season. The rituals often involve chanting and free-form celebratory dance. Rituals are typically followed by a potluck feast and social time.

What should I bring/how should I dress? Will the ritual be skyclad?

The dress code is always whatever makes you feel sacred/holy/sexy/powerful. Some attendees will be in full ritual garb, some will be in street clothes. Both expressions are completely appropriate. We do, however, require dress of some sort – our rituals are never skyclad.

Will the ritual be accessible?

We are dedicated to working to make our events accessible to anyone wishing to attend. Making sure that our spaces are wheelchair accessible and that we have a quiet space for all who need it are always priorities, but we’d like to hear from you about other aspects of accessibility that are important for your experience. Please don’t be afraid to e-mail us at info@botp.org to discuss how we can accommodate specific needs.

For those with fragrance sensitivities: Please be aware that all of our rituals involve the use of both smudge smoke and incense, and sometimes the use of essential oil blends. You may always decline being smudged or anointed with oil, but please be aware that these things will be used in the space.

We also use clear labeling on all of our potluck foods to denote common allergens or triggers.

Will there be alcohol or other substances?

We do not use or allow alcohol or any other controlled substances at our events.

What should I bring to potluck?

Something tasty! It’s always nice to have something home-cooked, but that’s not an expectation. Bring whatever you can manage – from drinks or desserts to fabulous feasting dishes. Consider bringing foods that can be shared with people who have food sensitivities.

No one will be turned away from potluck for lack of an offering – there’s always more than enough to go around.