I sit in a circle of my own design, making call to the powers that surround and guard us.
I listen for their answer and from beyond the firelight it comes. Forces from the outer darkness make themselves known to me; Dian na Glas, the Blue God, comes with childlike vigor, dancing silken spirals, the music of the spheres alive in his footsteps. Mari, full-breasted and powerful, complete and bountiful, emerges from within my cells, and calls to me, asking that I walk with Her feet.
Through my breath, I commune. My fetch, pulsing, glowing, delicate and fierce, throbs with power, it’s undulating rhythm lulling me into a place where I know power. The Blue God- no longer separate from myself- flows like silver water from the depths of my GodSelf to quench the thirst of my souls, bringing with His sweet nectar the drunkenness of the Divine, and I dance. I dance in circles and rejoin the spinning of the universe with each step. I am touched by the Gods, and my dance is theirs.
When I first heard of the F(a)eri(e) tradition of witchcraft, it was in the pages of Starhawk’s book The Spiral Dance. I remember being almost entranced by the (brief) description of the Blue God, the laughing god of love, as she described him, wondering about his stories, his touch, and longing to look upon his face. For me there was a connection. Although I couldn’t have known it then, I was touched by His power; this Deity who dances in the springtime of the soul. It was this touch that eventually led me to find a teacher and to study the wild road we call Feri.
When listening to the stories of others I find certain ideas that are commonly used to describe personal experiences of the tradition. Of the tradition itself, it is often referred to as a “Chaos” tradition, referring in part perhaps to our particular relationship to the Star Goddess, the raging cosmos pregnant with possibility. Being a “left hand path” we embrace the fullest spectrum of possibility; we bask in the sunlight of the body, and revel in the darkness of the soul. The natural state of the soul unfettered by conditioning and restraint is sometimes referred to as “The Black Heart of Innocence”, and is a phrase that poetically evokes the raw-ness of pure experience, forming the basis of what may be called the Feri perspective. Far from being a mental construct, this is a personal relationship to the universe, a relationship which does not seek to contain or even necessarily to define our experience with it. At it’s core it is simple. We open, and the power flows through us, taking what form it will. It is a form of shamanism in the truest sense of the word.
In a tradition that is inherently shamanic, practitioners draw inspiration from many sources. Whether these are an established liturgy, the appearance of a certain plant or animal, a ritual given by a teacher, or a song learned while in trance, they do not in and of themselves define the practice as a whole. It is the experiential perspective relationship to them that is the unifying factor, and it is this relationship with which we are most concerned.
We are guided by those beings who are attached to this tradition: the Guardians, the Feri Gods, and join with them in spirit, allowing them to move through us, changing us forever. Our view that the Gods are real (as opposed to being simply psychological constructs or metaphor, as seen in many branches of the modern Craft) reflects our relationship with them, revealing it to be both personal and dynamic. When we call on our Gods, and they move through us, we have been changed even to our deepest levels. We know, in our bodies, the joy of Nimue at the Summer Solstice, or the dark power of the Arddu in the dead of winter’s night.
Unlike most other branches of modern witchcraft Feri is not a safe tradition. As seekers into the outer dark, bringing only our wits with us into these uncharted territories of the spirit, we find ourselves most often vulnerable and alone. Searching for avenues to power and healing for both ourselves and for the land, we scratch and claw our way through ourselves, being confronted by our demons, our fears, and our true desires. Through preparation, both psychological and spiritual, we are taught how to touch the source of the Faerie power, and how to handle it once we have.
Another distinguishing factor of our path is initiation through the passing and use of the Faerie current of power. When we are initiated we are connected to the living current of energy that is unique to the tradition. We become conscious channels, allowing it to flow through us and into the world around us. This is the true function of any priest/ess: to be a mediator of universal power.
But what is the Feri tradition? How do we know when we are practicing Feri or we have moved into another realm? If Feri asserts personal experience over established liturgy, then how can we be certain that we, as a whole, are even practicing the same thing?
It has been suggested, in some circles, that material which varies from the original (or current) teachings of Victor Anderson is not part of the actual tradition. Being the GrandMaster of Feri, the initiatory lineage of each practitioner traces ultimately back to him. He is, in one sense, the origin of our tradition, being responsible for bringing it into the world at large, through his teaching and training of others who have carried the power outward to share with even more. Does this mean that material and insights created and used by other initiates of Feri should be viewed as being separate from the tradition itself? If we are practicing a tradition that is at it’s core an energetic relationship with the Feri power/Deities, then we cannot expect the outer forms to remain unchanged if we want the tradition to evolve and flourish. By asserting that we must always use the same outer form constitutes a type of dogmatic thinking that is dangerous in a shamanic tradition. To do so requires that we invalidate the unique experiences that we have when mediating the Gods; powers that are very real and alive.
The Feri power when mediated into the world through each of us, takes on other forms as deemed by the power, the Deities, and of course the individual practitioner themselves. To expect it to always conform to earlier forms/teachings is to deny it’s very real life-force; it’s ability to evolve as we each come to understand it’s beauty and simple complexity. Without the outer forms of ritual, invocation, and symbolism, we are left with only one thing that defines us as Feri: our relationship with the energetic current. It is this point that marks the validity of our tradition; we are Feri because we are of Feri; we have been remade into willing vessels of its’ power. It must, by it’s deeply personal nature, touch each of us differently. It is these differences which, I believe, validate the path, not detract from it. By sharing our experience and perspectives with each other we become stronger for it. May we have the courage to always do so.