Edited 11/22/2011, 5/16/2018
(NOTE: Many of the referencing links cited in this response have been removed from the internet, some only hours after I posted them. One can only assume that my accuser wishes to cover her tracks by obscuring the truth about her actions. My intention was to allow this statement to stand on its own, but it has come to my attention that my accuser has as recently as a few days ago been actively repeating her accusations against me and so I have updated the links given here with screenshots and/or cached versions of the evidence that I cite.)
One of the things that I have learned about certain factions of the Feri tradition is that some of them feel it is entirely appropriate to twist the truth in order to get their way. In particular Machiavellian fashion, the end justifies the means, and for a tradition in which there are certain branches that want everything to remain secret (whether or not it was passed that way in other lines) we find some who will step into the realm of defamation and outright lies in order to “protect the tradition” from those who practice it differently than they do.
This is honestly the only conclusion that I have been able to come to in regards to a recent accusation leveled against me: plagiarism. Dubbed by some “the sexual allegation of the writing community”, plagiarism is a very serious charge and one that’s sometimes hard to prove… in a court of law, that is. Far easier if you wish to just have it play out in the “court of public opinion” where it can do the most damage.
What follows is a rebuttal to the recent allegation made against me. In a nutshell I can’t imagine that the people involved even believe what they are saying because the particulars cited are far from original works that can be owned by anyone. But I’ll let you be the judge.
Before we begin a couple of points need to be made clear. First, I have decided to name my accuser by her real name in this rebuttal, even though she has not used it in her accusatory posts. [Edit: Why? Because so far she has used multiple screen names to publicly attack me and I think it is important to know that these are all the same person.] I know that this will make some Feri initiates uneasy, but I think that for people to make public accusations against someone’s public career and then expect that the custom that some have of only using one’s Craft name in public will then magically protect them from taking responsibility for their actions is a sad state of affairs and one that I reject wholeheartedly. If you are going to volley attacks in public, be prepared to own them. Besides, she has already used her real name publicly in connection to her status as a witch and Feri initiate, so I am outing no one.
Second, it might interest the reader to know that my accuser is part of a faction of Feri that has called for a “split” in the tradition, making her motives far more political in my mind than might otherwise be suspected.
To begin, here is the most recent incarnation of the accusation:
You will notice that the author, Sarsen (aka Elorie, aka Sara Amis, a teacher at the University of Georgia) begins by explaining the ins and outs of plagiarism which would on the surface seem to give her argument some weight.
She then cites an email conversation that reportedly took place on an email list in which (then Feri student, now initiate) Elf of Elfwreck, supposedly spoke about the wands and talked about a few specific colors. Sara presents a side by side comparison as “proof” that one was derived from the other. Here it is copied for your perusal. (I present it here under the terms of “fair use” of copyright law, for those who are interested.)
Elf of Elfwreck, 2005
Storm Faerywolf, 2007
Red wand for sex workers and sacred whores Red wand for “sex magick” Yellow wand for loremasters Yellow wand for teachers Blue wands for “counselors for other witches, who interface between communities and the Gods.” Blue for “counselor or mediator…spiritual, psychological, or emotional counseling” Purple wand for “spirit-workers: trance workers, those who favor possession, dreamers” Violet wand for those “skilled in various forms of divination and/or psychic techniques” Rainbow wand for sacred clowns, plus glitter wand for drag queens and children Iridescent wands for “Queer Mysteries” and tricksters.
For those who are not familiar with Western Magical traditions, American & African folk magic systems such as conjure & hoodoo, or even basic Wicca, this might seem to give her argument some limited weight. But if one is even remotely familiar with these numerous traditions then you immediately can see that what is presented here derives from basic color magic. These associations have become almost standard and have been so for generations. Red is often cited for use in love and lust spells, making it the obvious choice for a sexual magician. Blue is used to bring peace, harmony, and mediation to a situation. Violet is often used for psychism, and dreams (in my system possession is the Gray Wand)… yellow, the color associated with the element of Air, is used for communication, increasing mental facilities, and the like (while in my system it is the Black Wand that is the keeper of lore).
For the last wand listed here, the Rainbow or Iridescent, one need look no further than the rainbow flags of the current GLBT rights groups. Unless Elf and Sara wish to claim that they were the ones who came up with that as well then I think enough is said.
I can assume that since this accusation is labeled “Part One” then there will be at least a “Part Two”. Perhaps Sara will then repeat her other public accusation about my Hoodoo article that she claims I stole material from her in order to write (but then goes on to say that I couldn’t have or else it would have been better.) I cite my sources in that article, as well. She just isn’t one of them.
I always give credit where credit is due. If I use an idea that came from you, I will cite it. But this idea that Sara (or anyone else!) has ownership of these particular ideas is absurd, even if I had seen this alleged conversation. But for the record: I don’t remember ever seeing the conversation in question and certainly never saw any handout. No one has even bothered to tell me what list it was supposedly on! I’m not saying that said conversation didn’t take place (perhaps it did) but I have no knowledge of it whatsoever, save for what has been said in the accusations against me. I’m not sure how my membership on an email list or social networking site means that I automatically see and read every thing that is discussed on it. Most of my lists are set to “web only” and I only really participate in those that directly concern me and my work. I just don’t have time to follow all of the various Feri lists out there!
As far as anyone thinking that because Elf reportedly had this email conversation in 2005 (as stated in the accusation above), 2 years prior to my article in 2007, that it would constitute “proof” of wrong doing on my part, I offer the following public link that shows that I was part of a semi-public conversation about this in 2004, mainly with a friend of mine who has since unsubscribed from the website. In this conversation it is I who offer the idea of additional wands and even cite the Red and the Violet (as I was crafting the system even then.) You will notice that none of the people mentioned in the accusing article participated in this conversation, though they certainly had access to it (as Sara and Elf are both members of the Feri group on Tribe where this took place):
http://feri.tribe.net/thread/09fec663-70fd-4efe-a461-54cc62ba12c4 [Edit: this discussion has been removed from the internet as of 2/17/2011. A cached version can be found here.]
We see that I was developing this a year before Elf’s email conversation reportedly took place. Given the same logic as is presented in the accusation against me one might conclude that it was actually Elf who took my idea and then used it to create her handout! Should I then accuse Elf of plagiarism?
No… that would be absurd. The colors of the wands as given in my article are simply based on basic color magic, nothing more. It’s actually (I think) the least striking part of the article! Conversations about the Wands have been going on for as long as there have been people in the Feri tradition. If anyone has any claim to being part of the process for my article then it would have to be my husband, Chas Bogan, and our friend Philip Wells, who were both with me when I wrote the article and had to listen to me go on and on about color magic, the wands, and Feri for several days. Those individuals actually contributed to my creative process, unlike Sara, whom I can only conclude is attacking me for personal and political reasons, as she has previously and publicly stated negative feelings towards met. As someone who is very public about my relationship to this religion, I represent quite the juicy target for those who wish to assert that the “real” Feri tradition cannot be found in public classes or long distance teaching. Those are allegations that Sara has made for quite some time. This is nothing more than another attempt to silence someone who disagrees with them on religious issues. This is a face of fundamentalism, and I find it sad.
Plagiarism in Paganism has become a hot button issue, and with good reason; intellectual theft is rampant among Pagans and as a community we need to have open and honest discussions about it. However, in her desire to champion the cause against plagiarism Sara Amis has attacked my character based on nothing more than biased assumptions and baseless allegations. Far from being the champion for scholarly integrity, she is trying to gain a name for herself by attacking my work and my character. Given my personal history with her I find it hard to believe that she is sincere in believing that I have plagiarized her work and others, but is simply using this as a tactic to continue a personal vendetta she has pursued since ending our friendship.
To me, this is all really simple. If you honestly think that I plagiarized your work then you need to sue me. Plain and simple. Sue me. Take me to court. I will gladly bring all of my information to the table and will win because I’m telling the truth. A court will look at all the information and see that there is an established tradition of using those particular colors for particular purposes and will conclude that anyone with a familiarity with said color system could have easily created those purposes for those wands. No one “owns” those associations, as they have been in the public for at least several decades in their current forms, if not longer, and are not protected by anyone’s copyright.
As for the charge about the Black Wand not being that of a Grandmaster, I cite the lore as was given to me by Feri priest Dominic, who is cited in my article. In that manifestation of the traditional lore the Black Wand is synonymous with a grandmaster, a title that was passed to me by Dominic in 2007. I do not publicly claim the title as it seems confusing, and am somewhat perturbed that I need to do so here, but the lore surrounding the title is cited in the article for historical accuracy. Visit the above link to see Dominic explaining this bit of lore in a public forum back in 2004. [Edit: Sara’s own teacher also wrote publicly about the Black Wand being that of a Grandmaster in his (now deleted post) on Witchvox.com. You can find this by searching the internet archive or by clicking here.] [EDIT 5/16/2018: The page has been removed from the Internet archive. A screenshot of a portion of the Witchvox article is preserved HERE.]
The accusatory post also goes on to claim that I am passing this on to my students without having worked with it first. I’m not sure how she would think to know this, or not. The wands are post-initiatory and so far I have only two initiates, who have not been called to claim any wand. My husband, Chas Bogan, also a Feri initiate is working with me with the Bone Wand. I have had a few Feri initiates who have approached me for various wands and I have passed the Black twice. I have worked with this system as it was being developed for several years before it manifested in the current form which I first wrote about in 2007. I have continued to work with it and have watched it evolve since that time.
In the end I feel that this is simply an attempt to cast doubt on my credibility, and maybe in some circles there is nothing that I can do about that. I know who I am and know who they are, and that will have to be enough. I will not be deterred from my work by a few individuals who have nothing better to do than to make up lies in order to stop others from publicly practicing and teaching Feri. Like it or not, I will continue to do what I have always done. And if you have a problem with it, then sue me.
©2011 W. Storm Doyle (aka Storm Faerywolf)
Essay: The Colors of Power: Exploring the Wands of the F(a)eri(e) Tradition, by Storm Faerywolf
Hoodoo and the Roots of Feri Tradition, by Storm Faerywolf
Well. Apparently some people have no ideas, so have to steal other people’s by Elorie. http://elorie.livejournal.com/1405335.html (accessed Dec. 1, 2010) **This is the post in which Sara first accuses me of plagiarism regarding the Wand article, as well as my Hoodoo article. This once public post is now locked.**
New Post on Free Feri, by Lillitu Shahar. http://community.livejournal.com/feri/168431.html (accessed 2/15/2011)
Finally! by Sara Amis. http://deadmadorpoet.blogspot.com/2011/02/finally.html (accessed 2/15/2011)