WOLF CREEK, Ore. – Wildfires have come within 20 miles of The Wolf Creek Radical Faerie Sanctuary in Oregon. The wildfire danger will persist until rainfall comes to the area.
Nomenus, a Radical Faerie church, has organized Wolf Creek. The Wild Hunt spoke with Happy Worker, the Nomenus Corresponding Sexytary, about how these wildfires have affected Wolf Creek.
Nomenus describes Radical Faeries as “a national and global network of faggots, farmers, workers, artists, drag queens, leatherfolk, political activists, witches, magicians, rural and urban dwellers who see people of gay, queer, and trans identities as a distinct people with a distinct culture, way of becoming, and spirituality.”
Happy Worker described Wolf Creek as 94 acres of meadow and forest, nestled in a cauldron of hills. About a dozen caretakers and temple keepers live at the site year-round.
The Nomenus describes the Wolf Creek Sanctuary as “a place for Radical Faeries and friends to explore and co-create radical Queer spirituality, culture, and community. … Our intention is to explore and celebrate Queer ways of being, to dismantle structures of oppression within and between us, and to co-create a culture based on gratitude, generosity, equity, and love.”
According to Happy Worker, Wolf Creek means different things to different people. “For some, it is fully spiritual, for some a place to make connections with like-minded humans, for some a sanctuary from the dominant hetero-capitalist culture, [and] for some a refuge to reflect and/or recharge.”
Relatively isolated, only two paved roads lead out of the sanctuary. It would take people 30 to 45 minutes to get to the nearest evacuation center if they had to evacuate. Those 30 to 45 minutes might be a drive through firestorms to the right, left, and above.
Happy Worker said, “Our major impact is heavy smoke. Our buildings are rustic and not airtight, so indoor air quality has been an issue for our caretakers.”
Happy Worker said that some caretakers traveled 25 miles to breathe filtered indoor smoke. Happy Worker described the effect on breathing as ranging “from the feeling of a weight on one’s chest to a general wooziness from lack of oxygen along with carbon monoxide, etc.” He said that residents are “keeping activity levels to a minimum, moving slower, and hydrating.”
Some evacuees have made inquiries about Wolf Creek as an evacuation site. Its indoor air quality has prevented that. He said, “A nearby women’s space with better indoor accommodations has taken in about ten people from another wildfire.
Happy Worker said, “The current regional fires and acrid smoke stretch for 300-500 miles.”
Wolf Creek has survived other wildfires. Several years ago, people at Wolf Creek had to evacuate for two weeks. Since then, they have had to put “procedures in place to safeguard irreplaceable items and portable altars, and have set up a small network of emergency hosts.”
According to Happy Worker, flying embers pose a greater threat than the wildfires. They are regularly watering their meadows and buildings.
Happy Worker said, as more frequent and more intense wildfires have become the norm, “We may look at adjusting some annual summer and fall gatherings and activities to reflect the changing climate.” Another long term impact will involve “upgrading our equipment and systems for fire containment and suppression.”
Wolf Creek has taken a pro-active stance on fire prevention. Happy Worker reported “We always have fire/water stations throughout the land. Our standard is to educate all visitors both on and off gathering in fire safety and the quick containment of any fires. The local volunteer fire department is five miles away, so we are on our own for firefighting for, at least, 30 minutes.”
About 10 years ago, they began to have a “winter queer forestry camp and work party. Sustainable forestry practices are shared through active fire mitigation work.”
Happy Worker felt that the natural cauldron-like landscape had been protective in the past. The dirt road circling the meadow can act as a grass fire barrier.
Wolf Creek Resilience
Happy Worker said that he has been working with water and cedar from the land. He said “Fire is a natural force in our world. We respect it’s many powers and usefulness to the earth, and ask it to work with us in flowing us to continue to steward the sanctuary space.” He also said that some of the ancestor spirits had contacted him. “The heightened energy and stress locally due to the severity and breadth of the nearby fires” had caused those spirits to reach out to him.
The Radical Faeries at Wolf Creek understand their land and sought magickal protection. Many people in the Wolf Creek community have been re-energizing their protective spells.
Happy Worker said, “Wolf Creek remains a Radical Faerie Sanctuary.” They were looking forward to the rains. Without vegetation holding the soil, the rainy season tends to bring mudslides after wildfires. He said, “The natural landscape has gone through many burn cycles over millennia, so slides are expected and not often a major issue.” The landscape has evolved with both.
Disasters can lead to demagogic scapegoating. In this case, that did not happen. Happy Worker said, “We generally have a good relationship with the local community. We have been a continuous presence here for almost 50 years. A number of our community members have come to live nearby over the years, so there is generally a Faerie presence of some sort at most events and meetings.”
Happy Worker appreciated all the community support. Happy Worker said, “Thank you for your energy and support of our community and the Wolf Creek Radical Faerie Sanctuary. We plan on being a continuing local and regional presence for a long time. Let us grow in tandem, through subject-subject consciousness, and in right relation with Mother Earth.”
How to help Wolf Creek
At present, Happy Worker said Wolf Creek specifically needs “a 1-2 HP gas-powered water pump, 4kw or higher generator for emergency electrical service, as well as any HEPA air purifiers for indoor use.” If anyone can offer these items, contact information for Wolf Creek is on their website.
Wolf Creek said they can use some financial support during this time. Anyone interested can go to the Nomenus website to offer a donation. They should specify in the comments that the money is for recovery from the wildfires.
According to Happy Worker, people in wildfire affected areas need “air filters, particulate masks, eye drops, and other smoke related health impacts.” Some people have lost homes, livelihoods, and all possession. “Spiritual support is welcome at all levels to help with stress and trauma processing.”