Category Archives: Columns

WC80 – Andrew Ramer’s Praxis

Andrewramer_sep_3Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

By Andrew Ramer

Earth spins and wobbles. Landmasses drift, shudder, slam into each other. Waves hiss, thunder, and crash. Wind whips through trees, whispers through grass. Rain patters, thunder rumbles, ice cracks. Rivers rush, streams babble. Animals sing, chirp, bray, hiss, bellow, howl, buzz, croak, roar. Our bodies throb, gurgle, inhale, exhale, cough, sniffle, wheeze, belch, fart. And we chatter, laugh, sob, scream, moan, wail, chant, hum, sigh, cry out in ecstasy. All of which contribute to the music we’ve created on our lovely damaged traveling sphere. Many years ago a disembodied friend told me that one of the reasons he likes hanging out on this planet is that more different kinds of music are played here in an hour than are played on most other planets in ten thousand years.

In honor of music and its diversity I offer a variety of spiritual practices.

If you were to describe yourself as a musical instrument, which one would you be? (I envision myself as an old dusky pink cello.)

What musical instrument would best represent each of the people in your life?

Is music purely mental for you? Do you listen to music without moving, or are you a rocker, a swayer, a dancer? Finger snapper, head bobber, foot tapper?

Do you like to sing? Alone or with others? In the shower? In concert? What do you like to sing? Do you sing the same songs or add new ones to your repertoire? If you don’t sing, why not? Did you ever? What were you told about your voice? What keeps you from singing now? If you don’t sing, start. If you do sing, keep singing.

Plato said: When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.

What was the first piece of music that shook your walls? (Mine was Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child.”) Do you still like it, or are you embarrassed by it now? Do you still listen to it, or do you no longer need to, because it’s encoded in your DNA from playing it so many times? What else has shaken you, sent shivers up and down your receptive undulating spine?

What music are you listening to these days? Do you listen to music at all? What are your favorite pieces of music from the past year? Several friends of mine make CDs of their annual favorites and give them out as holiday gifts. Do you? Might you? What would your choices say about you and your year? (My last year’s treasure was bluegrass, “From the Windows of a Train,” by Blue Highway. I listened to it over and over again for weeks, to the great distress of my easy-listening housemate.)

What kinds of music do you avoid, hate, wish we’d never played on this planet? What are your associations with these forms of music? Too loud, too slow, too emotional, too cold? What aspects of your life might they represent?

Chart your coming out, love life, sex life, breaking up, marriage/s or ritual equivalents if you had any, through the music that you were listening to then. Are there common themes, issues, recording artists, musical styles in your choices? What does this tell you about yourself and your romantic/sexual/intimate life?

Write your autobiography by listing the music you listened to in each stage of your life, or the music that describes each chapter of your life. Record these pieces of music and share them with others, perhaps on your birthday. Many of us have photos that document our lives. Why not create a document in sound of your life?

Would you like music played at your funeral or memorial service? Record it and give copies to your dear ones. Weddings have rehearsals. Consider having a funeral rehearsal and playing these pieces of music for others. If you do this, how does it feel to hear your musical choices as if they were being played in your physical absence? Do they adequately express the ‘you’ that you want others to remember, or do you need to make other choices?

Do you play an instrument? What or which? Did you play any in the past? Why did you stop, if you did? Consider taking up an instrument again. It’s one thing to listen to music, but quite another to make it. Like making love. What music can you make?

Are there musical eras that you prefer? Are you a fan of music from particular cultures, regions, groups, composers? What does this tell you about yourself? Are these past life clues or evidence of expanded aspects of your personality?

Recently I visited the home of a newish friend who’s thirty years my junior, and was startled to discover that he

Andrew Ramer is a writer and educator.  He is the author of numerous books including Revelations for a New Millenium, Little Pictures: Fiction for a New Age and the Gay classic  Two Flutes Playing: A Spiritual Journeybook for Gay Men  from White Crane Books.

Ramer lives in San Francisco. Praxis is a regular feature of White Crane.

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WC78 – Praxis by Andrew Ramer

Andrewramer_sep_3Community Trust
Andrew Ramer

What does it mean to be held in community, held and nurtured and encouraged to grow? That was something I yearned for, as a misfit boy few of the other kids wanted to play with, who ended up most afternoons by himself in the rhododendron grove in our large backyard. When I was seven or eight I started having a dream that recurred for years. It’s night and I’m watching a group of men dancing together around a fire in a clearing in the woods, while I stand alone behind a tree, afraid to join them. While the waking me longed to be part of a community, every group I tried to join rejected me, offended me, or fell apart. Even my attempts to fit into the gay world failed. I don’t like opera, never saw a Bette Davis movie, flunked Cruising 101 and Bathhouse Etiquette. And then in the summer of 1990, I received a short letter in the mail that changed my life. The writer, Raven Wolfdancer, wrote from Atlanta to tell me that he’d read a copy of my book Two Flutes Playing and found it moving. That letter led to more letters, phone calls, and then Raven invited me to speak at the first Gay Spirit Visions Conference, of which he was one of the founders.

In those days I was living in Brooklyn, had never spent time in the South, and never spoken at a conference, let alone as a keynote. How could I ever be a presenter, especially with Harry Hay and Atlanta poet and therapist Franklin Abbott? I was terrified to go but a voice inside me said “Yes” to Raven’s invitation to spend three days in the mountains of North Carolina with 75 gay men. It never occurred to me that all these years later I would be the only person to have attended every subsequent annual gathering – because it’s my spiritual home, the community that has fed me, raised me, shaped, molded, held, challenged, and blessed me, for more than eighteen years.

Raven, Peter Kendrick, Ron Lambe and the other men who organized that first conference welcomed me into a Southern gay and faerie core community whose roots went back more than a decade. As a New York Jew I found something unexpectedly familiar about the South and its outsider tradition, a kind of American cultural queerness that I identify with and have grown to love. True, the deep and painful divisions in Southern culture trouble and grieve me, but they are part of my extended family’s history. And when people say that they are spiritual but not religious, I understand, although I consider myself both. Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco is my religious home, but GSV is my spiritual home. I’ve met some of my dearest friends there, men I rely on to keep my tent pegged to the rocky soil of a wobbly planet and a windy existence.

After that first conference Raven and I began to collaborate on a book about the sacred role of gay men in the world, his art inspiring my words, which evoked further images from his rich imagination. After he was murdered I assembled what we’d done into a desktop version, knowing that Stories of Our People would remain both the unripened fruit of our friendship, and none the less a deep expression of my life in the loving family of GSV.

What I know about community I learned from our faerie/pagan/Native American- influenced rituals, our heart circles, and from small group discussions and long walks in the woods with friends. As a recluse by nature, with a dark teal gregarious streak, GSV taught me the truth of John Donne’s words: “No man is an island, entire of itself.” Oh, and there was the year when Hurricane Ivan struck and we were up all night baling water, building sandbag walls, watching cabin roofs fly off, all the while in mourning for the recent death of one of our beloved members. Then two days later we were called upon to support the community who run the conference center we meet at, as they mourned the death of the family of one of their staff members, who were killed in the storm.

What I know about eldering I learned at GSV, from rambling conversations with Harry Hay that began at the first conference, from our other presenters, and from nearly two decades of exchanges with the devoted men who sustain the gathering year after year. We’ve grown from 75 men to 140 each Fall, adding Winter and Spring gatherings – not without struggle, pain, despair, fear, rejection, conflict, and the constant presence of loss and grief. Men have come and gone, gone and sometimes returned. Why do I go back year after year? That’s easy. When I first arrived at Little Scaly Mountain and was wrapped up in the Southern warmth of GSV, I felt that I had finally come out from behind that tree and joined the circle of men my recurring dream had foretold, and I’ve felt that way ever since.

What I know about decision making I learned from being involved in a community run by consensus, a slow and marvelous process that unfailingly creates a perfect conference every year, even its warts hairy and witch-perfect. Into this non-hierarchical space we have welcomed keynote speakers including Harry Hay, James Broughton, Malcolm Boyd, Mark Thompson, Tom Spanbauer, Will Roscoe, Don Clark, Christian de la Huerta, and Toby Johnson, to name a few. Our speaker this fall will be Clyde Hall. Not bad for a gathering of queers in the mountains of North Carolina.

The mountain we meet on is also home to a lush communities of rhododendrons, to which I always retreat for some time of meditation, comforting me as they did when I was small. And we also share that mountain with a family of ancient dwarf oaks, the descendants of survivors from the last Ice Age, whose glaciers slowly advanced from the north but stopped just before they reached Little Scaly. I’ve learned so much from that community of trees, which seeded the East Coast woodlands after the last of the ice receded, and it’s those wise ancient oaks who are the inspiration for this issue’s praxis.

Take a blank 8 ½ by 11 sheet of what we used to call typing paper, that’s now called copy paper or printer paper. On this blank sheet draw the outline of a tree with a nice broad trunk and roots and branches spreading out above and below, mirroring each other.

This tree is a map of your communities, now, in the past, and stretching out toward the future. Start by going down to the roots of your tree and writing in along them the names of the communities, good and bad, nurturing and stifling, that you belonged to in the past: family, religious groups, schools, glee club, drama club, track team, summer camps, out crowd, etc. On the edge of the roots write in the names of the groups you didn’t belong to but longed to be a part of. And beyond those groups, near the bottom of the page, write in the names of the groups you didn’t belong to and didn’t want to belong to.

Now move up to the trunk of your tree and write in, right in the center: ME. Sometimes we think of ourselves as individuals, but as Whitman said, “I am a large, I contain multitudes,” so I invite you to include the community of yourself/yourselves, as part of your tree. Above and below yourself write in the names of the communities you are most intimately connected with, family, friends, spiritual/political/educational groups you belong to, your coworkers, all the communities you are involved with on a daily basis. These can be cyber communities, and please keep in mind that your communities may not just be people. Pets, flocks, herds, parks, gardens, nature spirits, disembodied friends and angels also belong on the list of your most intimate communities.

Next go up to your tree’s branches, and write in the names of communities you are less involved in, that you connect with from time to time. The people from the annual yoga retreat you see once a year. Your dentist, doctor and the people in their offices, the people in the salon where you get your hair done, and the workers in your favorite health food store, belong on this list. And don’t forget the family around the corner who you run into at the park three or four times a year, whose names you don’t even know but who you always enjoy seeing, watching their kids grow. And your never-married Aunt Minnie, who you visit every few years, the one who tells you the truth about your family that you parents never would.

At the very tips of your tree’s branches, on different limbs, write in: the names of communities and groups you want to belong to, groups you don’t know how to get into, and groups you suspect wouldn’t want you that you still feel drawn to. People with homes in three different locations, close friends of your favorite celebrity, enlightened beings who have burned away all of their karma. Out beyond the branches, near the edge of the page, write the names of communities you don’t belong to and don’t want to belong to. Born again Wiccans, Bio-diesel fundamentalists, unrepentant Republicans, people who eat steak, may all be on your list. 

When you are done, draw a line right inside the very edges of the entire page. This rectangular box represents All of Life on Earth. It includes the communities you belong to and the ones you don’t belong to. It includes all the groups you don’t ever want to belong to, that wouldn’t want you anyway, all of which we are still connected to, and must learn to live with, for we share the same small orbiting sphere and the same destiny – to live together, or die together.

This tree is a portrait of the communities of your life. It may take you several days or longer to create it. I spent over a week working on mine. I kept remembering communities I’d belonged to. That meditation group in the early 80s, those friends I used to go bird watching with, the food coop I went to with my first boyfriend in Berkeley, that class for post bar mitzvah nerds our rabbi taught in his study.

Tape your tree up over your night table, on your refrigerator door, on the wall across from your toilet. Put it somewhere where you can meditate upon it, feel your way into it, and see and sense how this tree of yours is connected to the trees of everyone else in the world, including everyone who’s done this bit of praxis – because hopefully somewhere on your tree, on a branch if not on the trunk, you have written: “The White Crane community.”

Fold your tree up and put it in your wallet. Slip it in your desk drawer at work and sneak looks at it during the day, when you’re supposed to be doing something else. Ask yourself how this tree appears to you. Is it bottom or top heavy? Is your trunk bare or filled with loved ones? How would you like this tree to look? What would you like to see upon it? If there isn’t a GSV in your life, consider joining us. And if GSV doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy – four days in the Southern woods with men in leather and tee shirts and skirts, sharing a moldy old cabin with a view of the mountains that will feed your living breathing soul – then ponder this question – “What is my cup of carrot-celery-beet juice?” And if you’re not drinking from it, not even sipping from it – do something every day to seek out a community or communities that will feed your thirst, so that in a year’s time you can draw a new tree, one that mirrors back to you your connection to others who hold you and nurture you and encourage you to grow.
Raven Wolfdancer was an artist, gardener, teacher, and spiritual visionary, featured in the Fall 2008 issue of RFD magazine, our cousin publication, grounded too in Southern faerie culture.

For more information about the Gay Spirit Visions Conference, please visit their website:, or write to GSV at PO Box 339, Decatur GA 30031-0339.

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journaland need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Andrew Ramer is a writer and educator.  He is the author of numerous books including Revelations for a New Millenium, Little Pictures: Fiction for a New Age and the Gay classic  Two Flutes Playing: A Spiritual Journeybook for Gay Men  from White Crane Books.

Ramer lives in San Francisco. Praxis is a regular feature of White Crane.


WC77 – Praxis by Andrew Ramer

Andrewramer_sep_3Racing to the Finish Line
(and probably/possibly being politically incorrect at the very same time)

Praxis by Andrew Ramer

When I was a little boy growing up in New York City I would hear older relatives using two different terms to talk about what I eventually realized were the same people: “Americans” and “White People.” As in, “White people eat white bread. We eat rye. Americans take their hats off in church. We keep ours on in synagogue.” Mind you, these aunts and uncles of mine were all American born. And while their English had a certain inflection that even without the Yiddish sprinkled through it would have given them away as New York Jews, English was the language of their education, the language they dreamed in, and the only language that they passed on to their children: “Yiddish not spoken here.”

A few years ago someone wrote a book titled something like, How the Jews Became White. While I’ve never read it I can only imagine that the author’s conclusion was similar to mine. Some time in the middle of the last century, when the dominant culture decided to consider the possibility that “Negroes” were human, the color bar slid over and suddenly people like my relatives, who spoke of Americans and White People, found that they were now also talking about themselves.

About a decade ago I wrote an essay that I only showed to one other person, the by me (a Yiddishy turn of phrase) Very White (i.e. British-descended) Lesbian member of a small writing group I belonged to. I called the essay: “Things we’re not supposed to talk about.” Her slightly horrified response to it was, “Andrew, you’re really not supposed to talk about that.” In it I discussed my opposition to legal marriage for same-sex and two-sex couples, my lack of sympathy for the late Princess Diana and Mother Theresa, and I decided to tackle the subject of Race and Smell. This is what I had to say:

Many years ago when I had a practice doing bodywork, a Japanese client very nervously told me after our second or third session that the only reason she could work with me in my little office was that I didn’t smell bad like most white people. She thought it was because I was a vegetarian, and didn’t “stink” from eating meat like most whites. She also told me that she and her Japanese friends called white people potatoes, this “Because you’re pale, lumpy, shapeless, and you all look the same.” (The “But I’m not white” part of me was offended. The newly white part of me was amused.)

Tobias Schneebaum, one of the great uncelebrated Gay American Jewish authors, (of Keep the River on Your Right and several other amazing books,) tells a similar story, of being accepted by natives in the jungles of New Guinea because he didn’t smell bad. I don’t know what white people smell like, or Jews. (Growing up in the 20’s my father didn’t think of himself as white but he may have smelled bad to some of his non-Jewish classmates, because my grandmother sent him off to school each day with garlic around his neck, to ward off a terrible disease called “Spana-mana Jesus” that’s spread by Christians.) But I have noticed that some black people smell different to me than anyone else. This smell somewhat reminds me of how my wool sweaters smelled when I was a boy and got rained on on the way home from school. Which makes me wonder if the smell I detect has something to do with differing oil gland secretions.

Some black people don’t have this smell and some have it very strongly. An African American friend told me he wears heavy scents to cover a smell he can’t detect himself, afraid that white people will otherwise react to it. I have found that this smell takes me some getting used to with some people, but not everyone. Sometimes, like fragrances, I like one person’s smell but not someone else’s. On a few occasions I’ve smelled it in the air on an empty street where someone has passed a moment before, smell lingering like perfume. (But I don’t think I’m supposed to say this, and I’ve never asked anyone black, “Do I smell?” Do I smell bad to you? Not my personal smell, but my white person smell. Even though I’m still not entirely convinced that I’m white, and I’m not a vegetarian anymore either.)

There’s only one other group of people I’ve met who have to my nose a distinct smell. I’ve met a few Indians, and briefly dated one, East Indian not Native American, who have an odor somewhat like a subtle blend of muted spices, similar to the smell of certain cooking spices, but not exactly, perhaps what happens to them when they’ve run through a human body: a mixture of pungent, tangy, and a bit sweet too, that registers differently to my (possibly class and race inflected) nose than the smell of some black people.

I can’t believe I said all of that. But I did. Again. In public. Which makes me remember an afternoon about fifty years ago, when I was passing through the kitchen of one of my best childhood friends (Jewish but not yet white.) His mother and Matty the “colored girl” who cleaned for her five days a week were sitting over coffee and cake, chatting, gossiping, and laughing like two best friends. But when the “girl,” who was a decade or so her senior had gone, my friend’s mother took the cup and plate Matty used to the sink, poured a tiny amount of bleach on them and scrubbed them as if they had been contaminated by someone with a rare and fatal contagious disease. I was shocked, stunned, having never seen anyone do anything like that before in my own home or family. And yet, some part of me understood what she was doing, picked up I’m sure by things I saw and heard out in the world.

I get very dark in the summer, perhaps from my lingering Sephardic genes. And I remember a time when I was six or seven and trailing behind my Aunt Rachel and Uncle Bob as they walked through the turnstile into the crowded Long Island beach club they belonged to, which had only very recently allowed newly white Jewish people to become members. But the very white and blond young man behind the turnstile stopped and said, “Little boy, you can’t go in here.” I panicked as my aunt and uncle continued on ahead of me. Finally I called out and my aunt came back. To this day I can remember the look on the face of that (cute) young man when my aunt said, “This is my nephew.” He sneered then shrugged and let me through. But even at that age I could read his look, which said, “Lady, I know this is your cleaning girl’s kid. It’s nice of you to bring him here, and there’s nothing I can do to stop you, but don’t do it again.” Maybe I understood because of all the times I’d heard my parents play and talk to my brother and me about these lines from a song in South Pacific: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you’ve got to be carefully taught.”

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journaland need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Andrew Ramer is a writer and educator.  He is the author of numerous books including Revelations for a New Millenium, Little Pictures: Fiction for a New Age and the Gay classic  Two Flutes Playing: A Spiritual Journeybook for Gay Men  from White Crane Books.

Ramer lives in San Francisco. Praxis is a regular feature of White Crane.

WC77 – Owner’s Manual

Just Say Hello
Feeling Welcome as a Health Concept

By Jeff Huyett

Many of us live in a state of dis-ease. This is not to say that we have an illness that eats away at our body. But we often exist with feelings of nervousness, worry, and just not feeling comfortable in our surroundings. The focus of these columns has been the exploration of the concepts of health. I like to challenge us to think outside the dominant paradigm of our capitalist, sickness treatment model of health care. When we view wellness as a dynamic, multi-faceted state toward which we strive, we must attend to our selves and also to the world outside ourselves with which we interact each day. We have all had the feeling of “not belonging” somewhere. How do these feelings impact our health, especially when they are a recurring sensation?

Recently I visited friends in Puerto Rico. We spent lots of time walking around and going out to eat. During the course of our excursions, I noticed that most of the other Puerto Ricans would nod or say “hola” to my friends. When I mentioned this, one friend said, “Isn’t it great! When I lived on the mainland, I missed that most. People here, all over the island, greet me. I don’t get that anywhere else in the US.” It reminded me of when I moved from a moderate-sized city in Missouri to rural Kansas. When my family would drive down a country road or small highway, people would lift a finger off the steering wheel, wave or nod. At first, we were tickled. But then we realized that this was a great way of making us feel comfortable in this place. It said, “Hi, I see you, I’m here with you, have a good day.” It is a ritual that I see expressed in country Kansas still today.

As queer people, we may sense feeling “out-of-place” over and over each day. There are seldom times when strangers nod or wave welcome to our big Gay self. Naturally, we don’t want to feel this dis-ease so we try to adapt. We may just avoid places or situations in which we don’t feel welcome. We may alter how we act or look or even lead a dual existence. In our “Gay places” we are one way, in “straight places” we are different. What work it is to keep this up! That is where coming out is a lifetime experience. We try to find places of comfort and ease. Often, it is about deciding not to really care about how people perceive or react to us. We can change how we respond and react. We try to control our own internal processes as a way to feel comfortable. But again, so much work!

Some of us don’t adapt so well. We get stuck in culturally imposed values and often turn them in on ourselves in hurtful ways. We begin to develop maladaptive ways to feel comfortable. It can happen on all realms of our being. We may drink or use drugs, including prescribed versions. Our sex acts may express themselves in ways that respond to our homophobic culture. Instead of acting on our desires in public, like straight people can, we may keep our sex in dark places out of any view of others. We may build muscles to appear more strong and manly—more “straight.” These acts of hiding may fuel our shame and guilt; compounding our dis-ease. Sometimes just “keeping up appearances” is plain exhausting.

Workplaces are another place that queer people can face daily challenges of feeling unwelcome. We all have the experience of near-mandatory participation in wedding or baby showers. We endure talk about fiancés, boyfriends or girlfriends, bridezilla experiences, often without being able to share in the same way. Sometimes, though, we should just share. In “butch” work environments we might have daily fear of disclosure of our Gayness and the impact on our colleagues. We can even fear for our safety.

As a nurse, I’m keen to the impact of these issues on one’s health. It can present itself in so many ways. So I assess queer patients for maladaptive behaviors. Identifying these types of health patterns gives information about the work to become healthy. Typically, there aren’t a lot of physical disease states that occur specifically related to our Gay sex. But our health is impacted by homophobia or transphobia and potential maladaptive behaviors develop.

What is your comfort zone about being Lesbian, Gay, bisexual or transgender? How much work do you put into “passing” in the greater world? How do you get support around being LGBT? Who knows? How is your family?

LGBT health and political activists are aware of the impact of homophobia on an individual’s health. The last three decades we’ve witnessed their work to make our society more civil and welcoming to queer folk. Mainstream culture has responded to this activism in positive ways that lets us be Gay in more places. Clearly, there is plenty of work yet to be done. Some of this happens on grander, policy and legal levels. But much of it happens in our individual relationships with the non-Gay people around us. When we are comfortable and authentic with ourselves then we can share that with the majority straight public.

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Owner’s Manual is a regular feature of White Crane. Jeff Huyett is a nurse practitioner in NYC. His clinical work has primarily been in Queer health with a focus on HIV, rectal and transgender care. He is the Radical Faerie Daisy Shaver and is involved with the development of Faerie Camp Destiny Radical Sanctuary in Vermont and can be reached at

WC75 – Praxis by Andrew Ramer

Andrewramer_sep_2Bear Essentials
PRAXIS from Andrew Ramer

Bears were on my mind for the Winter 2005 issue, when our theme was Totem Animals. Oscar Wilde must surely have said something about the pleasure of quoting yourself, so I shall, from that issue, which seems a perfect introduction to what I have to say two winters later:

My spiritual life began two weeks after my mother’s mother died, when I was in fifth grade. I’d just gotten into bed and was about to turn off the light on the bookcase beside me – when my beloved grandmother appeared at the foot of my bed. Nothing like a movie ghost, she was solid and looked younger than I’d ever seen her, wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a dress more elegant than anything she’d worn in life. Smiling, she said one sentence to me, then vanished: “Always remember that we belong to the bear clan.”

Even though I had no idea what she was talking about at the time, my grandmother seeded in me a love of bears that continues to this day. A small black iron bear that I bought on Castro Street sits among pictures of her and other ancestors. Not too long ago, stroking my facial hair, a friend said, “You’re too thin to be a bear. What are you?” Taking into consideration the habitually dark circles under my eyes, (a genetic trait according to my doctor; a sign of chronic stress by my acupuncturist), the friend decided I’m a raccoon.

Not much chance I’ll be at the forefront of a new movement. Bears have a certain clout that raccoons lack. Bear skulls have been found on stone altars in some of the earliest archaeological sites. Several years ago one of my guides told me that when Earth was deciding to generate sentient land life it chose primates as its first choice and bears as the backup, should the primate experiment fail. To this day, I was told, bears stand at the doorway to possibility for all of us, not to mention that they do stand, rendering them humanish in form, unlike most other animals.

Researching bears I discovered a few things I didn’t know. There are seven species of bears which evolved from dog-like ancestors. Imagine that! Male and female bears look alike. They are omnivores. In cold weather bears retreat to their caves or dens, but they don’t actually hibernate like some species. Instead, bears enter a period of torpor, which has inspired cultures all around the planet to connect them with dreaming and dreamtime.

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journaland need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Andrew Ramer is a writer and educator.  He is the author of numerous books including Revelations for a New Millenium, Little Pictures: Fiction for a New Age and the Gay classic  Two Flutes Playing: A Spiritual Journeybook for Gay Men  from White Crane Books.

Ramer lives in San Francisco. Praxis is a regular feature of White Crane.

WC73 – Praxis – Andrew Ramer


Andrewramer_sepI spent the first years of my life in a large vertical village called an apartment house. The summer I turned five we moved to the suburbs, where I encountered a whole new kid culture, with songs and games that were very different from what I learned in the city. Friendless, shy, I watched the kid clan around me, which inhabited an area two blocks long and up and down two perpendicular streets. You could recognize anyone in that clan because they called the last large undeveloped parcel of land “the back woods,” and the smaller lot around the corner “the side woods.” The kids who lived as far up the street or around the corners as I was allowed to go called the side woods “the front woods,” and lived too far from the back woods to be allowed to play there.

Those kids spent lots of time in shifting groups, wandering from house to house, yard to yard, woods to woods. They dared each other to break into the abandoned farmhouse on the far side of the back woods, which everyone but grownups knew was haunted. And played street games in the firefly evenings, like Ring-O-Levio, (a word I’ve never seen written, so I’m not even sure how to spell it.) They all had friends, and best friends. If two boys really liked each other, even more than even being best friends, they went out in the back woods with a pin, pricked the tip of their index fingers and mixed their blood together, which made them blood brothers — for life.

Being new to the area, and coming from a kid culture where such things did not exist, it took a while before I found out about blood brothers, and then I wanted one. I was slowly getting friendly with two boys on my block, but they were already each other’s blood brother. I spent more time with the twins, who by virtue of birth were already bonded. I tried to befriend some other boys in the neighborhood, but even at five they knew that I was “different.” The only one who wanted to do it with me was my new friend, Janie. She had never heard of two girls doing it, or a boy and a girl, but one of us stole a pin from our mother’s sewing basket, and we went out to the back woods. “You go first.” “No, you.” “I’ll do it if you do it.” In the end we spit on our fingers, mashed our saliva together, and decided that counted.

That’s the only friendship ritual I know. Sadly, blood is now dangerous to share, and even if it wasn’t, we live in a culture that has a wide range of rituals for dating, lovers, domestic partners, married couples, and everything in between, but views friendship as a second class affair. Occasionally I read an obituary that says, “Raul is survived by his French bulldogs and a loving circle of friends that include Tashi, Walid, Pat, and Marisa.” But most often we read, “Bob is survived by his husband Marco and their Jack Russell terriers.” If you go to the cemetery fifty years from now you will find Bob and Marco buried side by side. But what about Raul and his circle of friends? Will there be any monument to the way they supported each other during Walid’s long journey with HIV, Pat going back to college at age fifty, Marisa’s house burning down, or all the years they co-parented Tashi’s three children?

It amazed me when I lived in Jerusalem to see men walking in the street arm in arm, hand in hand, both Arab and Israeli. They had a different idea of friendship than we do. This is the case in many other cultures, and I’m sure that there are places where friendships are celebrated ritually. But here, weddings cost tens of thousands of dollars, and we gay people are working hard to secure the right to legally marry for ourselves. Sadly, this emphasis on marriage perpetuates the lie that we are not whole unless we are partnered, and that if we can’t be partnered we ought to at least be sexual. Times, in my singlehood, I have to stop and remind myself that I still have friends from high school, am close to two professors from college, and that two of my most beloved friends, Steve and Michael, are men I roomed with in college more than thirty years ago.

On and off for three decades I had a friend who was sometimes a lover. At a shifting point in our relationship one of us turned to the other and asked, “How do you consummate a friendship?” We can’t remember who said it, but it remains a great question, impossibly koan-ish in its implications. Why do so many of us take our friendships for granted, stop calling our friends the moment we’re in love, and only remember them when our relationship is in trouble or ended? Photo albums and videos from weddings, commitment ceremonies, and anniversary parties abound. How do we remember our friends? Sometimes it’s only on the refrigerator. With a post card Molly sent, faded, that’s been up there for years? Or the picture of you and Harold standing side by side on the beach in Maui, the time you went there with your soon-to-be ex-boyfriends, two years before he died? Do you remember your friends on Valentine’s Day? Do you fill each other’s houses on Passover, Pride Weekend, and Christmas? Do you tell stories about how you met your friends, the way we tell coming out stories and stories of how we met our lovers?

I mourn the lack of friendship rituals. In kindergarten I married Anne in her parents living room. Her mother played the piano. Her little sister was the flower girl. When I was in high school boys gave girls their ID bracelets when they were going steady. I never gave mine to anyone. It was way too soon to invite another boy to the prom. But in seventh grade a girl who liked me borrowed a bracelet from a boy named Andy who lived in the next town, and told people it was mine. I don’t know what teens do now, but I’m sure they do something.  Tattoo their lover’s name on their perineum. Get a new piercing in their honor. There are engagement rings and wedding rings. “How about necklaces for friends?” I once thought. Then I realized it could become a competition. “I have more necklaces than you!” “Yeah, but yours are plastic and look like Mardi Gras leftovers, while mine are rose quartz, turquoise, and amethyst.” No, it’s probably a good thing we don’t have friendship tokens. Many of us will not have, by this society’s standards, “successful long-term relationships.” Yet we will have decades-long rich and enduring friendships that may or may not ever be celebrated. So I invite you to examine your life, to look deep into your heart for a few moments, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the place of friendship in my life?
  • How do I consummate a friendship?
  • Do I recognize and celebrate my friends, or do I take them for granted?
  • What rituals or ceremonies might I create to consecrate my friendships?

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Andrew Ramer, author of the classic Two Flutes Playing (available from White Crane Books).  Praxis is a regular feature in each issue of White Crane.

White Crane #70 – Eric Riley – re:Sources

Charlatans & Chicanery

by Eric Riley

This was an extremely hard list for me to compile, because it seemed to overlap so tightly with the skepticism issue not too long ago.  So, I had to go for a bunch of titles that are brand new, many of which I’ve just stumbled across, and about which I have no firm opinion.  All that said, the first thing that immediately came to mind when thinking about “charlatans and chicanery” was televangelism.  How could anyone forget the amazing amount of scandals and breakdowns that plagued American television preachers in the 80’s and 90’s?  I remember vividly watching the very public breakdowns and crying for forgiveness for various sins; Jimmy Swaggart for sleeping with prostitutes or Jim Bakker for embezzling millions from unwitting PTL followers.  This all came as a shock to my grandmother, who is a very devout Southern Baptist, and who watched these programs for the longest time.  My aunt even bought the playboy magazine where they interviewed Jessica Hahn (there’s a name you probably thought you wouldn’t hear in White Crane), just to show my grandmother the whole dirty truth of the story.  Where am I going with this list?  To the land of believe in me and you shall find the way, only to be dragged through the mud. 


The Pharisees Amongst Us  Rod Brannum {BOOKSURGE}
I just found this book two weeks ago.  Though I’m a little put off by the excessive use of the word “Pharisees” as a catch-all term for hypocrites I get where the author is going.

The Profits of Religion  Upton Sinclair {PROMETHEUS}
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Jungle (1906) and The Goose-Step (1923) goes after “The Church of Good Society” “The Church of the Conquerors” “The Church of the Servant Girls” “The Church of the Quacks” and all the others, all but naming names, taking no prisoners and leaving a scorched Earth in his path.  A visionary Socialist, Sinclair was ahead of his time.  Sinclair’s critical analysis is an “Emperor has no clothes” must-read.

EX-Gay Research:
Analyzing the Spitzer Study And Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics & Culture

Jack Drescher, M.D., Kenneth J. Zucker, Ph.D {HARRINGTON PARK PRESS}
Another librarian friend pointed out this series from the Harrington Park Press.  These books are reprints of peer-reviewed journal articles from various Haworth Press publications.  Quality is impeccable, but reads like a journal article.

Faith Beyond Faith Healing: 
Finding Hope After Shattered Dreams

Kimberly Winston  {PARACLETE}

This book focuses on those people who still retain their faith in God after having a failed experience with Faith Healing (from many different traditions). Written by a newspaper journalist, kind of meanders in the reading and doesn’t draw any hard and fast conclusions. 

Prophetic Charisma:  The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities
Len Oakes  {SYRACUSE}

What is chicanery if not a cult of personality?  This book looks at the psychological aspects of some of the biggest charismatic religious leaders, and how quickly we can go from revolutionary and inspiring to flat-out crazy and dangerous.

Red State, Blue State: Defending the Liberal Jesus and Blue State Morality from Red State Religion and Hypocrisy
John Grevstad   {IUNIVERSE}

The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right 
Michael Lerner  {HARPER}

These two titles go to my favorite pet peeve, and the main reason why I left Christianity in the first place.  Jesus in my mind was the most liberal, love everyone, feed everyone, social justice personality of all time, but every time I went to church (the Southern Baptist church of my family) all I got was hate and damnation for all these weird political issues.  Hopefully with these books and the burgeoning move for a “religious left” we can all start to at least talk about the things that don’t make sense.

Hitting Hard:  Michelangelo Signorile on George W. Bush, Mary Cheney, Gay Marriage, Tom Cruise, the Christian Right and Sexual Hypocrisy in America
Michelangelo Signorile {CARROLL & GRAF}

I think I’m the only queer person left who hasn’t read anything by Michelangelo Signorile.  But given that I’m on a political hiatus for my sanity I’ll chalk this one up to a future read.  This is a compilation of his previous articles on all sorts of topics.  If you’ve already read his regular work this may not be of interest to you.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye {UNIVERSAL}
I couldn’t resist putting in this bizarre documentary about the life of Tammy Faye Mesner (formerly Bakker).  I saw this in the theater when it came out in, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  If only for the sock puppet transitions you should see this movie. 

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are reader-supported and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Eric “Fritter” Riley lives in Washington, DC.  A professional librarian by trade and spirit, he is a contributing editor to White Crane.  re:Sources is a regular feature of White Crane.  You can reach him at 

White Crane #70 – Andrew Ramer’s PRAXIS

Airfreshener PRAXIS
Air Freshener for the Soul

by Andrew Ramer

I believe it was Jesus who said, “Don’t hide your light under a bushel.”

This is very good advice.

Too many of us walk around with genius inside, which we hide from the world as if it were something to be ashamed of, or keep from the world because we don’t even know it’s there, forgetting that our gifts aren’t ours alone but belong to everyone.

Only sometimes we go too far with this advice. We shine our light in every corner, broadcasting our supposed enlightenment to the world. When we do that or see other’s doing it, it may be useful to recall these words, which I found in a book of sayings by  Hasidic masters: “The greater the light, the greater the shadow.” This explains to me what happens to spiritual teachers whose actions turn out to be the opposite of what they’ve been preaching. I’m not talking about those gurus who were charlatans, frauds, con artists, all along, but the genuine spiritual guides who were overwhelmed by internal issues they hadn’t dealt with or healed, who plunged into denial, deceit, megalomania, and abuse.

Maybe it was different in Jesus’ time, when a large percentage of the world was still enslaved, but our culture pushes us toward accomplishment and achievement. We all want our fifteen minutes of fame, and then some more. Talk shows and reality shows turn ordinary people in celebrities, so no wonder gurus of all kinds get into trouble.

Recently my co-workers and I had to attend a two-day training called, “Excellence in Programming.” We thought we were doing a good job, but lots of flip charts, power-point displays, and indoctrination on the importance of using words like “output” and “outcome”, came at us with a very unsubtle subtext — “You could do better. You should do better. You will, in fact you must do better!” But it seems to me that the rewards for good work and living a good life should be found in the work itself and the way it makes the world a better place, not in the adulation our culture tells us we deserve and should strive for. And if we don’t achieve, if we don’t live up to our potential, we can plunge into despair and question our very existence, especially we queer folk, who are vilified by the dominant culture simply for existing.

So the question is: how do we live meaningful lives? Lives in which we don’t hide our light under a bushel, nor fan the flames of our egos so strongly that we commit the opposite mistake, increasing our light and thereby our shadows?

How do we know when we have enough light? How do we look in the mirror each day and know that we are created in the image of God, at the same time remember that we are made from clay that we will crumble back into? How do become transformative global citizens, who are grounded and humble as well?

Gay American writer and editor Donald Windham was a friend of Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and pen pal to E. M. Forster and Alice Toklas, among others. He wrote these words in his openly gay novel, Two People, first published in 1965— “It is ordinary to love the marvelous. It is marvelous to love the ordinary.” If you haven’t read Windham, seek out his work, both fiction and non-fiction. He’s a forgotten master of language and explorer of the creative process. And think about his words. “It is ordinary to love the marvelous.”

Everyone does that.

Turn around to look at the Greek god sauntering past, the Mogul prince standing regal on the cross-town bus. But Windham went on to write: “It is marvelous to love the ordinary.” The down-to-Earth. The real. The weary office worker sitting across from you on the subway, in crumpled jacket and pulled down tie, magazine open but unread on his lap, whose bloodshot eyes still sparkle. The multiply-pierced fellow with chipped black nail polish, hunched over the counter at your favorite health food store, who never makes eye contact with you but always puts the fragile tomatoes and delicate cilantro on top of your grocery bag.
Windham’s prescription is a key, as far as I can tell, to walking the path between “Don’t hide your light under a bushel” and “The greater the light, the greater the shadow.”

Here are his words again:

“It is ordinary to love the marvelous. It is marvelous to love the ordinary.”

It’s easy to be seduced by excellence. But Windham is inviting us to live in the world in a different way, grounded in the ordinary, the everyday, the mundane, the real.

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are reader-supported and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. LetheramerbookThanks!

Andrew Ramer lives in San Francisco.
He is the author of the gay classic  Two Flutes Playing
(available from
Praxis is a regular feature in each issue of White Crane.

White Crane #69 – Donald Engstrom – Everyday Sacred

An Excerpt from the Summer 2006 Issue of White Crane  Col_everydaysacred_2

A Report from Witch Camp

We stood once again in Freya’s Hall. We had come to deepen our relationships with the Mysterious Ones of Place; Wind, Water, Fire and Earth, with Red Bloods and Green Bloods, with Rooted, Branched and Blossomed, with Furred, Finned and Winged. The Hearth Fires were relit, the Folk regathered. Our joyful obligations to each other held us in the strong arms of compassion. It was time for us to continue the on going work of Winter Camp.

We began our time together by dedicating Winter Camp’s new prayer bead set. The bead committee stood encircled by the beads facing outward towards the community. Mary held up the prayer book for each of the six members to read two pages at a time. The prayers beads truly awoke and found a place in the hearth and hearts of the Folk.

That first afternoon we also moved into our cabins, made announcements, formed affinity groups, met the teaching/facilitation team, met the three kitchen Witches that prepared our daily meals, listen to path invitations and renewed our delight in each other’s company. We welcomed old timers and new comers alike. From the beginning of camp till it’s last closing song, the graciousness of Hostess Law permeated the very air we breathed.

That first evening we set our camp’s intention.

In love, we open our hearts and minds to the spirits of the lands around us, listening deeply and respectfully to their stories. We seek to move ever closer to a co-creative relationship with all beings in our landscapes. We choose connection and courageously step forward into the new stories we create together.

Each evening’s ritual was a coming together of the whole community. The teaching team so skillfully held the work that each piece flowed invisibly into the next. There was a sweet blending of styles and of tools. There was always a spaciousness that left plenty of room for the community to actively participate in improvisational co-created magic and spell work. The teams commitment to beauty, love and joy was tangible. This team obviously held the growth and development of the community as paramount. They were courageous enough to truly be servants to the clan house.

The first morning we chose our path work:

1. Living the Moment
2. The Dance of Desire Lives Here! Mapping our Inner & Outer Worlds
3. Aligning, Attuning and Earth Healing With the Intelligences of Nature

Our resource teacher, Christine, moved confidently from path to path while feeding each evening’s work.

I have heard life changing reports from people participating in all three of the groups. I have heard stories of the work feeding and nourishing both the individual and the community. From my perspective, it was obvious that yet more components of the sustainable cultures of beauty, balance and delight were fully formed by the work done in each of the three paths.

I chose to join the "Aligning, Attuning and Earth Healing With the Intelligences of Nature" path. It was a brilliant choice for me.

We tranced with our Allies. I listened and heard:

Wind and Water
Bone and  Branch,
It’s all life
That we enhance.

Wind and Water
Stone and Dream,
It’s  all life
That we esteem.

Wind and Water
Womb and Web,
It’s all life
That must be fed.

We each wrote a poem with a shared common title; “When Water Becomes Frost.”  Strong work flowed from each of our pens. It led me to write:

When water becomes frost,
Human lovers spread flannel sheets
  On their beds of pleasure
  Knowing that desiccated lusts shall be restored
  By the frozen breath of icy lips on a hot belly.

We practiced trance postures. We worked with among others, the Corn Mother, the hawk and the bear poses. We gathered information, visions and instructions.

For instance, this came to me while in the bear pose:

My body flushes with pale green lightnings and storms.
    Dreaming a memory?
    Remembering a dream?

I listen to my bowel’s healing rumble with bear ears.

Singing Bear calls for his song to be sung.
I sing;
With just his voice
He heals throughout my body.
With just his voice
He shatters the virus.
With just his voice
He builds crimson blood,
He makes red blood healthy and vital.
And the ancient queer
Were bears,
Bear shirkers,
Bear healers,
Shake and tumble,
Dancing to bag pipe and drum.
The hurdy gurdy’s strings

Take us to a dream restored in bone and blood,
Stone and wood,
Tears and cum.
We breath deeply together;
In through the nose,
Out through the mouth.
Honey cakes are our healing desserts.
Dreaming a memory?
Remembering a dream?

The last morning of class found us standing in the midst of the Whitewater River declaring how we had changed the world as if we were years into the future. We dared this work knowing that it is by our conscious choices that we give Skuld the materials that will build the worlds that we shall all live in. Here is a sampling of our declarations.

Larry declared:

I chose to honor and nurture the healing powers of water and dirt.
I pulled the old bandages off my heart and stretched those scars.
I determined to become an athlete of love.
Most importantly I learned to see success.

Madelon declared:

I healed the world by opening my heart and healing myself.

Diane declared:

Opened heart, shed tears, touching, loving;
Daily discipline and Divine connection.
Blessings, blessings, blessings!
Compassion and hospitality, humility and healing, fairness;
Intention manifest in all that I did.
Spells, spells, spells!

Ashland declared:

I gave the world my full attention.

I declared:

I am an Engstrom.
I planted sunflowers, tomatoes and corn.
I made my bed every morning.
I planted wild weeds in every crack in the pavement.
I drew spirals at cross roads, on churches, on boulders, on hearts that risked to actively heal, knowing that each spiral transformed all the others.
I danced in bars,
  At weddings and picnics,
  In parks and in palaces,
  In hovels and caves.
I danced in the arms of my lovers and boyfriends,
  Tasting their tastes,
  Celebrating their glory
  As we dared to dwell in beauty, balance and delight.
I planted sunflowers, tomatoes and corn.
I made my bed every morning.

I must also say, that Freya’s Bower was consecrated daily with an offering of sighs, sweat, and cum from many in the community. The  Bower brought us both earthly delights and the healing of hearts. Praise be the powers of sex and it’s mysteries!

This Winter Camp has been for me a high light among high lights. It is one of the most powerful, nurturing, sustaining Reclaiming events that I have ever been a part of. I am deeply grateful.

We left with the words of the Norns still singing in the winds and the waters:

Listen to the stories.
You choose your own lives!
You provide us the weft with the choices you make.
We all co-create these worlds together!
May abundance and joy flow through our lives
like a wild untamed river.

Blessed Be.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt from White Crane.
We are a reader-supported publication. To read more from
this wonderful issue we invite you to SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Donald Engstrom/Reece is a hero of ours.  A longtime activist in gay spirituality, Donald’s work dates back to the mid-1970s when he took part in early consciousness raising communities in the Midwest — communities that foreshadowed later Radical Faerie developments in the early 1980s.  In the 1980s he began doing work with the Reclaiming Community and hosted the first Faggot Witch Camps.  He lives in Minneapolis with his partner and travels around the country doing work in the Reclaiming Tradition.
A frequent contributor to our pages, we are now delighted to have his wise insights as a regular feature in White Crane under the title “The Everyday Sacred.”

White Crane #69 – Praxis by Andrew Ramer “Elderlicious”

An Excerpt from the Summer 2006 Issue of White Crane



You’re not happy about your appearance, and are considering plastic surgery. Some of your friends are for it, others against. Finally you decide that you don’t believe in reincarnation, you only have one life to live, and you want your outside to match your inside. Anxious, eager, you go under the knife during the long Labor Day weekend, and take a week off on the other side. “Oh my God!” your coworkers say when you get back. “You look fantastic. At least ten years older.” You’ve been coloring your hair gray for a while, but the new wrinkles around your eyes, the added creases in your cheeks, and the enhanced wattle beneath your chin are so sexy that you get cruised on the street like you’ve never been cruised before. “It was worth it,” you tell your smiling best friends over dinner. “I wish I’d done this a long time ago.”

Whatever age you are right now, take off all your clothes, and look into a mirror – in a world where Age = Beauty. Frankly, a hard stomach is only half-formed. Your pecs won’t be ripe for anyone to sink their teeth into until they’ve drooped. And if the flesh on the bottom of your arms doesn’t sway when you swing them, your beautiful elderhood will have to be grown into. Get used to being ignored when you enter rooms filled with handsome older men, bald and gray and magnificent. Accept the fact that you’ll be walking down the street feeling invisible for a while longer. You’re going to age like fine wine, slowly, but doing the following things may augment your inner fermentation and prepare you for your own luscious future. 

An elder is like a mighty tree, with a ring for every year of his life contained within his gorgeous aging body. As you move through the world, pay increasing attention to older men, and allow yourself to feel and know that you are part of a tribal chain, going back through history, linking elders and youngers, a chain which helps to hold the world together.

Whatever your age is, find a mentor, a man at least ten years older than you are. Spend time with your mentor on a regular basis. Take him out to lunch in lovely places, buy him small things that will enhance his physicality, and treat him the way that you would like to be treated when you’re his age. Bask in his beauty and wisdom, and be open to his guidance.

If your mentor has no heirs, no children, show him by your integrity and devotion that you are a worthy recipient of anything that documents his life as a man who loves men, such as photo albums and old love letters. These you will cherish, learn from, and one day pass on to your own spiritual son or sons, along with material from your own life, so that the tribe of men who love men doesn’t have to reinvent itself, over and over again, in each generation.

If you laughed your way through this piece, because you don’t believe a word of it, look at yourself in the mirror again. Stare into your eyes and know that if you’re lucky and live long enough, your butt will droop, your belly will hang, hair will vanish from some places and appear in others – all of which will herald your mature perfection in physical form. And if you think or know that you will not live to have an older body, remember that anyone who stands near the doorway out of this world ages and ripens into wisdom and grace no matter what his age is, and becomes an elder for all the world to honor.

And if you still don’t believe that when you are older you will be beautiful, cherished, admired, and turned to for guidance, ask yourself why not, and ask yourself what it will mean to you to cultivate these ideas, and invite your own inner elderhood to blossom within you, day by day.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this
excerpt from White Crane.
We are a reader-supported publication. To read more from
this wonderful issue we invite you to SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Andrew Ramer lives in San Francisco.
He is the author of the gay classic Two Flutes Playing (now available from  Praxis is a regular feature in each issue of White Crane.