In recent weeks I have been re-entering some very familiar aspects of my own spiritual growth with the aid of some new tools. I first engaged with Gestalt therapy techniques in the 1980s; now I am seeking to adapt and add these techniques to my existing approaches to spiritual enquiry, using what has become known as 'Gestalt pastoral care'.

What has called for attention most clearly in this work has been my Anger. I have worked with feelings of anger on several previous occasions. I have explored those critical incidents where anger has either been suppressed or released in my life. I have looked deeply at the triggers for my feelings of anger. And I have sought to get in touch with the original childhood events that led to my patterns of anger response. All this is familiar ground - emotionally, therapeutically, and spiritually. I 'know', for example, that the three main triggers for my feelings of anger are:

  1. A childhood moment of perceived 'abandonment'
  2. My growing up experiences of sexual awakening, fear, and homophobia
  3. Particular moments of feeling strongly judged (disapproved of) by others in positions of perceived power.

Consciously applying some new Gestalt techniques to these feelings has made me aware of quite different aspects. I have known for many years that the root of much of my anger lies in early experiences of homophobic prejudice and judgement (even if I didn't have the language for this at the time). What I now see - as with a fresh shaft of clear light - is that these experiences have a far deeper root. My anger also carries a historic and generational energy. At the soul level, I am carrying a memory of historic prejudice against men-loving-men that is encoded within my experience. This is akin to Soul DNA: it is not just my own personal experience that is surfacing in my consciousness, but the similar experiences of many generations of men who have gone before.

As soon as I 'saw' this, it felt immediately true. This is not just my hurt that is fuelling my anger, but that of past generations of groups and individuals. My commitment to reclaiming the long history of gay men's spirituality makes complete sense when viewed in this light. Through faith imagination, in prayer, in visualisation, and in spiritual connection, this historic dimension is very much present now. It shows up in many forms in my spiritual practice:
  • Recurring visualisations of 'conclaves' of gay men, across generations, offering affirmation and support
  • The channelled writings of an ancient (mythical?) gay men's community known as Thelki in the writings of Andrew Ramer
  • The appeal of the ancient legends from Greece and Rome
  • The appeal of the shamanic and tribal traditions of sacred male teachers / healers / priests
  • The calling of the gay poets and mystics
  • The subtle awareness of unfulfilled gay men in my own family's history - the 'black sheep' of the family, the marginalised members, and others.

I look again at my own forward commitments, to the work of Stonewall and the Peter Tatchell Foundation for gay equality, and the work of various non-profit organisations to establish tangible gay communities and co-living enterprises. These all contribute to the same process of awakening, change and healing.

With these new insights, two avenues open. The first is to embrace this awareness of the historic and generational experiences and to use it as a nourishing pool from which to draw strength and commitment to engage in this work in the future. The second is to consciously create pastoral ministry to offer generational healing for all the historic hurt that has occurred.

I have been strongly reminded of an 'anger incident' that happened to me in 2010. During the Men's Rites of Passage that year I was engaged in a big process of grief and release. By nature, I am usually relatively quiet, but in this particular ritual I found myself releasing great shouts of exploding anger about my earliest experiences of homophobia; these had led me to suppress many of my natural instincts at the time. A day or so later, another participant on the Rites came up to me and offered an amazing apology: "Throughout my career I was one of those people whose attitude was judgemental and prejudicial to people like you. Although I never met you before, I can now see the impact of my behaviour. I want to apologise - to you, and to all the other men that I treated like this, for what I did. What you have said has opened my eyes."

So it feels right that this is the time to create a ritual for the healing of historic and generational homophobia. I have been constructing a shrine-altar of appropriate symbols. Around this focus, there will be prayer, meditation and visualisation for healing. This ages-old hurt can be released. The anger which I have been holding for several decades is already shifting and 'feeling' different; this is the power of Grace to transform and heal.