Queer Magic by Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin

Queer Magic: Power Beyond Boundaries
Edited by Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin
Mystic Productions Press, 2018

wp36 queer magic review

Review by Anthony Rella.

While the term “queer” has veered closer to being mainstream, it continues to retain the layers of trauma, danger, and transgressive excitement layered into its historical uses. What is “queer” is that which could not fit into the norms prescribed to us, and thus needed to find its own space to grow on the edges, in the cracks and corners. Queerness exists for itself, and it is medicine that heals and brings wholeness.

Thus queerness is elusive, evolving, and pluralistic. So, too, is this collection of pieces gathered together by editors Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin. They have accomplished an impressive feat, publishing the voices and images produced by a wildly diverse and fascinating array of individuals.

One significant theme threaded throughout these works is the queer magical power of embodiment. In the essay “Living with Attunement with Sensation Rather than Identity,” Z Griss offers a queer praxis in which the sensory body leads in anchoring and producing the self in all its emerging complexity. Rather than encasing our experiences in labels and identity scripts, Griss shows a productive arc in which the body teaches and reveals mysteries of the self. Yin Q’s “Blood, Body, Birth, and Emptiness: Queer Magic in my Life and Work” articulates power and possibility within stigmatized experiences around cutting and BDSM, transforming her experiences of cutting into “rituals that affirmed life, whereas in prior years, [she] had focused on the thrill of annihilation.” In “The Endlessly Unfolding Mirror: An Introduction to the Queer Sex Magic of Traditional Witchcraft,” Troll Huldren offers body acceptance and eroticizing the Abject as a path to magical power.

Another queer theme emerges as the multiplicity of identity and porousness of self. M.C. MoHagani Magnetek’s “thaMind-Sol Lady’s Revenge” tells of an experience of duality between the speaker and an alter-ego, in which both strive to seek effective strategies to maintain dignity in the face of transphobia. The Reverend Teri D. Ciacchi articulates an experience of self as multiplicity, using the pronoun “we” “to express my internal experience of being an individual embedded in an ecological web of relatedness.” Ade Kola and Aaron Oberon in their respective essays explore the fluidity and multiplicity of identity through experiences of ritual possession, articulating ways in which deity contact becomes an unexpected site of queer transformations.

In an anthology of so many gifts, one of the highlights are the interviews of wolfie, who brings in the perspectives of First Nations queer elders Clyde Hall and Blackberri. wolfie’s “Chapter 23: The Plague Years” speaks to their own history and experience of living through the height of the AIDS epidemic. Kulystin and Harrington dedicate this anthology “to our queer ancestors and magical forebears,” and reverence for those who came before permeates the work, particularly in pieces such as Pavini Moray’s “The Glitterheart Path of Connecting with Transcestors.”

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