Hi all! I’m a Queer-adjacent, Gender-fluid (mostly Femme except when I’m not), musician, spoken-word zine-creator (and occasional writer) in long-term relationships with multiple Disabilities. I’m also a white settler of mostly English and Scottish descent, originally from Toronto/Tkaronto, but currently living in northern Ontario in so-called Canada.
I describe myself as Queer-adjacent because, although my gender and sexuality definitely fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, I often find myself aesthetically out of sync with mainstream Queer culture at least as I’ve experienced it. Although, I’m definitely in strong political solidarity with LGBTQ2SIA+ communities struggles for justice and liberation, and have deep gratitude for the critiques and insights that have come from Queer politics! I’m deeply grateful for how they’ve made space for me to exist in the world, but also for how they’ve informed my own work along-side, of course, the many brilliant insights that have come out of third-wave Feminism, especially Black and Indigenous Feminisms.
My own work is informed by a spiritual-political orientation that I’ve come to call Liberation Gothic love magic. I’m not going to take space here to define it in detail, though, as that’ll take multiple posts to do justice to. But suffice it for now to say that, as mentioned elsewhere, the orientation and the name really grew out of the doctoral work I’m currently completing on the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage-musical of The Phantom Of The Opera. In particular, though, it came out of the impact of the brilliant YA (young adult) paranormal romance novel Phantom Heart by Kelley Creagh on my doctoral work. And yes, Phantom Heart is inspired by Phantom Of The Opera, although it’s perfectly readable to those not familiar with Phantom. It brought certain themes and ideas forward for me in ways that hadn’t been clear before, and just caused them to start to click in my brain and spirit! And then a fabulous academic paper on Disability and Gothic subjectivity fell out of a research rabbit-hole for part of my dissertation, and really helped me put the rest of the pieces together.
Note: I’ll list and link to that paper on the “On-Going Annotated Bibliography” page of this site as soon as I can get to it. Also, if you read Phantom Heart, I cannot recommend the audiobook highly enough!! It’s superbly read and produced!! *Blush* And the guy who reads the “Phantom” part has a seriously sexy voice IMO!!
Anyway, within that broader spiritual-political orientation, my own practice – spiritual and creative – is what I’ve come to call ChristoPagan Phantom Magic. Basically, it’s a Neo-Pagan path rooted primarily in the Lloyd Webber musical of Phantom, but which also draws elements from Progressive Christian spirituality and practice as well as from other Pagan and/or magical practices eclecticly. Thus, for example, my primary deities are The Phantom and Jesus, although I often call on and/or work with Christine (from Phantom) and various other figures from the Christian tradition as well, especially Blessed Mother Mary and Mary Magdalen. Because, when you really dig into their stories from the Gospels, far from the way they’ve traditionally been portrayed, Blessed Mary and Mary Magdalen were actually awesomely revolutionary women!
Btw. Here, I must pause to give credit to Rev. Gena Pond, host of the This Week In Heresy podcast (now sadly discontinued I think). Because, I’d always had one foot in the Pagan world and one in the Christian, having kind of been raised that way (Mom drifted Pagan back in the 80’s but we still went to church at Christmas and Easter) and having had a lot of Christian friends in middle-school. But I always felt like I had to choose one or the other, because they were always presented as incompatible. And then I heard Rev. Gena, as casually as can be, describe themself as both a Christian pastor and a Wiccan priest (they use priest not priestess) and say that their primary deities are Jesus and Hecate. And it blew my mind!! I literally rewound the podcast and listened to that sentence multiple times! And was like “wait, what? That’s a thing?” And that helped me finally feel permission to explore a syncretic path that combined the two.
Being able to combine both has been really important to me, and informs a lot of my creative work as well as my magical and spiritual practice! Because, there are elements of both that speak to me deeply and that I value highly, but also elements of both that I don’t resonate with. For example, I really value and have always been drawn to Paganism’s emphasis on magic, because, the Christian tradition, with its emphasis on submitting and conforming oneself to God’s will, seems to me often to skew too far toward passive self-surrender. It also, in both its Catholic and Protestant incarnations, has a strong ascetic streak which, to me at least, seems to focus on the “bread” at the expense of the “roses” to riff on one of my favourite protest anthems. But Paganism, meanwhile, at least in its post/modern forms, feels to me like it often does a weak job of accounting for evil. And there’s a lot of evil in our world to be accounted for! In addition, I’ve always really powerfully resonated with the Christian story’s emphasis on Creator’s absolute, unconditional, personally specific love for every being that, as the priest at my current church describes it, is willing to walk right into the worst we can do to each other – not as a conquering power but in radical acceptance – if that’s what it takes to call us back to being able to love again ourselves. And of course, that’s an emphasis that I find very strongly paralleled and echoed in Phantom!!
I also find really strong parallels between the Christian story and Phantom in the idea that that immense love should show forth in and as justice – social, racial, gender, economic, ecological, etc. However, where the Christian tradition often manifests that idea in an emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism, Phantom manifests it in a deep demand for, as that great early 20th-century protest anthem puts it, “bread and roses”. And that insistance that the material world – including the creations of human culture – can be sacred, too, finds parallels and echoes in many Pagan practices! Thus Phantom’s strong emphasis on the arts and the erotic, not only as ways to connect with and/or glorify The Divine, but as ways to nurture the human spirit – and not just “community” or “participatory” arts either, but the so-called “high” arts as well. Because, Phantom understands the cultivation of skill and talent as integral to that nurturance.
Though, in fairness, I should say that post/modern Neo-Paganism has its ascetic elements, too, especially among Eco-Feminist Witches.
Anyway, all that gets reflected, explored, and developed in my own creative and academic work. And I’m deeply grateful for having had the privilege – and it is a privilege – of having been able to do both undergrad and graduate work in the Humanities and Environmental Studies through which I’ve been exposed to the critical and conceptual tools that allow me to do that work. So I’m also deeply committed to helping to bust those resources out of the ivory tower so they can become as widely accessible as possible!
Finally, I work primarily in auditory media – music and spoken word audio-zines – because that’s what feels most authentic to me. Because of the particular cluster of Disabilities with which I’m in long-term relationships, the auditory is my primary and most comfortable way of taking in information. Even when I do write for actual print, then, I’m imagining how it would sound read/spoken aloud, not how it will/should look on the print page! Choosing to work primarily in auditory media is also a political statement, though. Because, our Western-based culture still gives primacy to the written/printed word, and tends to devalue the aural/auditory relative to the visual. You even find this in social justice movements, which often tend to really foreground writers and artists in visual media! So I decided I wanted to buck that pressure and uplift art-forms in my own preferred modes of perception.
Plus, of course, I’ve been musical for as long as I or anyone else can remember! I’ve sung and played various instruments (variously well and not) since I was really young. And I realized that, whatever else I do, I need music in my life!