A provocative thinker and long-time friend of Kindred Spirits raised the question: “What is the mission statement of Kindred Spirits?” While we may lack the sort of corporate imperatives that require such a definitive statement, we thought it worthwhile asking some of our past participants: ” What does the Kindred Spirits organization mean to me?” Here’s what came back.
Just to know that there is sacred space for trangendered people and their Friends to gather in spiritual healing circles, has been a special comfort to my heart. To take part in these circles has been a special joy. For those of us who recognize thc role of thc transgendered as keepers of a spiritual flame, as perpetuators of the visions of peace, beauty and joy, the concept of Kindred Spirits and its wonderful events fills a great need. (1 must add, I never thought of Kindred Spirits as an organization.., but rather as a “spiritual movement”.)
— Alison Laing, Sun Coyote Teacher
I thank Holly and Zantui for bringing us together, but I really want to speak to the Kindred Spirits — the people who, through their beautiful spirits, are my kin. Our kindred souls gather together in the only time and place I can go and just be who I am, without needing to explain myself, my middleness, my “both but neither”-ness. I have other places where I’m accepted and can be myself, but this is more than being accepted. It is being with people who ‘know from their own experience where I come from, what I am about, and who are sharing with me a journey of becoming. Becoming what, we don’t know, but we know that we are becoming something special, something more than, some-thing that is about love and healing. We come together to share our journeys; our hopes and fears, our laughter and our tears, our love for one another and for our journey. 1 love you all.
— Annie Johnson
The Kindred Spirits gathering that I attended in 1993 was a pivotal spiritual experience which catapulted me forward with bolstered confidence and insight onto my transgender path. l found the environment singularly conducive to enlightening reflection, cooperative exploration, and an appreciation of alternative spiritual realities. Kindred Spirits is probably the most vibrant resource for meaningful spiritual exploration available to trangendered people today. Kindred Spirits and the people who make it happen have my deepest respect as true pioneers of transgender nature and wisdom.
— Nancy Nangeroni
Kindred Spirits, especially the retreats in Hot Springs, starting with the first gathering in ’93, was one of several vehicles that supported my gender transition. Of all these at that time, it was an open Christian congregation and Kindred Spirits that best encouraged my spirit, the soul of my es-sence, the very part of my whole self that holds the remain-der together. The former offered the strengths of my soul’s communal heritage. But the latter yielded its new blessings in curious motivations to reach beyond thc constraints of any one form of systematic spiritual expression: to trust the process of my spirituality beyond its content, however remembered or respected. Kindred Spirits is not a church to me, it is more an impromptu congregation, a gathering in kind yet diverse, a group bath of affectations. 1 rather experience the gathering than understand it. I rather enjoy meaningful kinship than define its meaning. Yet, when we are together in kindred spirit, in the simple joy of the shared moment, it is all the more meaningful — a splendid, unknowable mystery.
— Carla Pridgen
The hummingbird that flew in and out of Merissa’s tent in New Mexico. The strong and honest feelings of my feminine instincts and spirit, without having to put on makeup or stockings. The sharing of ceremony with other non-traditional people of faith and spirit. Thc ability to see why being transgendered is a gift from the Creator, and to have the ability to make that gift work for me. The vision to under-stand my visions, of bridging differences in a world that needs the unity. The chance to enjoy visions with others like myself, who believe that we are specially gifted. The joy in sharing a campsite, a fire, a song, a swim, a hike in the woods, and the tears of joy that come from the song in my heart that plays to my spirit. Kindred Spirits is friends who, although I may not see them for years in a row, when met again seem as though we have never left each other’s side.
— Angela Brightfeather Sheedy
When Liana and I found Kindred Spirits, we were well into my gender transition. While transitionlng had held many wonderful things, it also brought an increasing sense of isolation. Attending the Kindred Spirits retreat at Glade Mountain in May of ’96 helped close that gap, and our lives haven’t been the same since. Amidst the beauty of the ancient Appalachian mountains, I found safe haven not only to manifest in physical form, but more importantly to explore and express my spiritual needs more openly. I found lovely folks who enriched my life and encouraged me to go on. Here, finally, was spiritual community based on celebration rather than shame. And though we came from very diverse backgrounds, here we shared sacred space. Whether Celtic, Native American, Wicecan, mystical Christian, whatever.., our differences were embraced, allowing us to discover our inner selves through love.
— Aubrev Cox
Kindred Spirits has given me hope and inspiration that others honor the journey of transformation and re-creation as a manifestation of spirit. It has given me supportive, loving friends who 1 can share my heart with. It celebrates the wonderful spark that makes each of us unique, at the same time providing me a community to explore spirit with others. I greatly respect that Kindred Spirits has not tried to pin itself to any one definition of spiritual manifestation — that it practices the celebration of diversity. By providing “sacred space” and not “sacred dogrna”, it invites me to dance at my own rythm to the music of my own spirit while joining hands with others. The beauty is in the sacred sharing and the witnessing of hem space with others.
— Liana Cox
I have finally found home and family within the many diverse faces of Kindred Spirits. It is a safe place for me to be naked in my being, without the trappings of a fear-based society, without the gender-masking that frequents our experiences in that society. For the time I’m with Kindred Spirits, 1 feel the connection of deity within myself, and accept myself and those with whom I share that space as divine beings, as the gods themselves.
— Marc E. Eden
Kindred Spirits is safe space. It is any place where my panner and I can gather with others and be openly, fearlessly WHO WE ARE in our genderedness. This means who we feel to be at the moment, and how we feel like enacting our roles at the moment. Our relationship is dynamic, and Kindred Spirits accepts its mutability. Gender is not the defining factor of our relationship, but at Kindred Spirits it does not have to be denied as a component of our relationship. I value any time and space where my partner is safe and accepted, even when fully uncloseted. Kindred Spirits meets this need ideally.
— Chrysse E. Everhart
Kindred Spirits is the forum to learn and teach in the world of the “two-spirit”. It is a place to explore ancient healing traditions, as well as a celebration of other types of healing and understanding. For me, it provides access to the way of life of the Shaman, and the many techniques that thc shamanic circle embraces.
— Yvonne Cook-Riley
For me, Kindred Spirits means a space that is created spontaneously by the gathering of souls. That the sacred value of transgendered souls is recognized by that space, and that within the Circle of our gatherings we rely on Spirit to empower us in our work, and in our lives. Kindred Spirits, simply because it exists, reminds us to have the courage to be free of forms, to be led by our intuition and be open to whatever happens. By being free from delusional bounda-ries, Kindred Spirits becomes a wellspring for new thought, healing, and a fun loving community.
— Christina Comeau
Every time I come to a retreat in the Appalachians, I get something different. It is never what I expect, but always seems to fit just what I need. I have learned to arrive with no expectations. The mountains talk to me, and I need to be willing to listen. I was born in these mountains, just a little farther north. There is an energy that lives in these mountains that breaths like a great and deep wind. When I return to the mountains, and when I become silent, I begin to feel my breath inhale that great and deep wind. There is a deep and timeless strength in the granite that lies just under the rolling horizons. That strength is a strength of timeless wisdom. I come to listen and to learn.
— Penny Huggins
When I was 4 years old, I revisited the Void (what yogis call “samadhi”), that realm of non-being from whence I had newly arrived. My first 30 years were largely spent in the refuge of Nature, spiritually grounding, but still non-being in the human realm. I didn’t really become a human being until I broke through the gender system. The void of wilderness is my home, but I cannot be whole without dancing my passion in the realm of human being. Circling with Kindred Spirits has been my doorway to this new home, my place of healing and wholeness.
— Holly Boswell