The atmosphere was playful and very queer. Roughly 100 people of every shape, color, gender, age and size gathered in a field beneath a towering (and phallic) maypole, next to a barn filled with vibrant clothing people were encouraged to wear, a camping grove filled with goats, two butterfly-filled gardens and an art-filled bathhouse with an outdoor shower and deck for sunbathing and yoga.
Various attendees played drums, bantered, danced about, stripped naked and sang as the moon eventually blocked the sun entirely, sending the crowd into wolf-like howls as the green landscape was suddenly thrust into twilight. After a moment of darkness, the sun’s first rays broke around the moon’s right edge, glimmering like a cosmic diamond ring and everyone erupted into applause, some comically chanting, “One more time! One more time!”
It was magical indeed. Never before had I found such a weird, wonderful, peaceful and playful place. It also had a beautiful communal house with an open kitchen, lots of board games, a do-it-yourself apothecary and a large library. The grounds also contain a two-and-a-half-hour hiking path and countless surprises around every turn.
You can find Short Mountain Sanctuary in Tennessee, but there are also a handful of other Radical Faerie sanctuaries filled with fun, magic and interesting folks. You can head here for a complete list, but we’ve highlighted four others below.
All require a daily monetary contribution and a call ahead of time to let the sanctuary residents know you’re coming. Visitors should also bring their own camping equipment, food, costume wear, a good attitude and willingness to help clean or heal when necessary.
This Sanctuary, located on 300 acres of land, just celebrated its 20th anniversary and is open all day, every day, year round. In addition to the “house meetings, heart circles, hiking, creativity in the studio, meal preparation, meal time, dish-washing and firewood runs,” the sanctuary also hosts ongoing projects and sightings for meteor and asteroid showers.
They’ll host a big event Sept. 1–10 for “workshops, twerkshops, skill-shares, professorships, queericulum, symposium, craft circles, wildcrafting, ceremonies, witchuals, study groups, sangha sisterhood and classes accredited at all levels.” The daily contribution is a sliding scale of $10–$30 per individual per day.
Nestled in a 166-acre property, Destiny is a “three-season intentional community” whose educational offerings “help queer people cope and heal from a hostile Default World.” It offers classes on personal health and wellness, sexual health for queer and trans folk, chainsaw workshops, timberframing techniques, gardening and permaculture methods.
In addition to hiking trails, Destiny also hosts an annual weeklong ritual theater where Radical Faeries from around the world “create stage magic in the woods.” The daily contribution is a sliding scale of $25–$50 per individual per day, and they’re also holding a fundraiser to help maintain costs of operation.
The main common buildings at Nomenus include a garden house, barn and Elder Cabins. They encourage people to attend their weekly Tuesday land meetings and Open Heart circles to help plan upcoming projects and share wisdom among faeries. You can also read about their guiding social fae-losophies and “seeds of change” to understand more about their way of life.
In general, visitor stays are limited to two weeks during gathering season (from May to November, or “Beltaine to Samhain” as the Faeries say) or one week from November to May. Anyone who stays longer than three days is encouraged to help maintain the space and its upkeep.
The daily contribution here is $20–$35 per day, and you should contact them before arriving to let them know you’re coming.
Blue Heron Farm is a part-time sanctuary that hosts an annual week-long gathering of Faerie folk that includes “veggietastic meals, relaxation, reflection and frivolity.” During that time, you can enjoy the sauna, sweat lodge, massage circles, a Hawaiian-style Luau and ukulele orchestra and ice cream social. In fact, their 37th annual event goes from Aug. 28–Sept. 4 this year. You can head here to read more about it.
The sanctuary is also an actual farm the owners of which raise sheep, goats and chickens and produce maple syrup. There are fields, woods, meadows, a pond for swimming, decent biking roads and even water for kayaking and canoeing when the water permits.
The daily contribution is $20 a day.
Featured image via Kwai Lam