OK… I really feel the need to vent about something and since this is my personal journal it feels like the best place to do it. I realize that many (most) of you are not familiar with the Feri tradition. For my Feri students… well, maybe after reading this rant (yes, a rant) you will decide that I’m not as enlightened as you thought I was. That’s OK. I have never claimed to be anything other than human (and right now I am a royally pissed-off one.) For those of you NOT affiliated in any way with Feri, then this might shed a little light on what I have been dealing with lately. Of course you’ll probably just think I’m stupid for having put up with people like this for so long…
All comments will be screened… I just don’t want to deal with the crazy element.
But first a little history…
I have been practicing Feri tradition Witchcraft since my first “official” exposure in 1992. What originally drew me to this wildly varied path was a brief mention of the Blue God in Starhawk’s book, The Spiral Dance. Later I would find that this path was based upon an actual inner practice, something that the other forms of Witchcraft I had been exposed to were severely lacking. After my first few months of classes I retreated into solitary practice, born more out of circumstance than anything else. Later I would find my teacher and once again begin the formal training, this time determined to see it through. After several years of training I was initiated and in 2005 I began teaching using the classroom style in which I was taught. I love the Feri tradition, and the tools that I have learned from it. I have found it to be a powerful catalyst for growth and healing, for (re)claiming my power and communing with the Divine. So if I feel that the Feri tradition is such a positive and powerful thing, why do I feel it is necessary to warn my potential students about the Feri community?
Interestingly (perhaps paradoxically) the very diversity that I believe to be at the heart of Feri’s power also serves to be a source of much toxicity within the community. Some people, such as myself, were trained with the idea that Feri could be a powerful practice toward the goal of one’s spiritual evolution. By using these tools, and forming a relationship with these spirits and powers, one could tap into a greater source of Divine energy and channel it toward personal growth, as well as to mediate this power into the world at large. My personal belief is that if I have found these tools and powers to be helpful, then it is my responsibility to provide them to a wider audience in the hopes that others will find them similar. If more people aligned their Three Souls, and made Kala everyday, then the world would be a better place. It is from this space that I offer Feri training. But others see this as a threat to how they relate to the tradition…
Feri, traditionally, has certain secrets. But this changes from line to line. It is pretty much agreed that the initiatory material is secret, but after that all bets are off. Some lines feel that it is ALL secret, and because of this actively attack or condemn those who feel differently. Not much different than other religious communities, I guess.
Another (major) problem with the Feri community that I have seen is the inability to confront abuse within our ranks. One elder priest has been a sexual predator for over 30 years and very little has been done about it. When this person perpetuated sexual coercion upon my partner and myself I eventually came forward with it only to be shot down by a good number of ‘the on-line Feri initiates community’. So two years ago I went public with it. The fallout is still being felt.
Recently another conflict has been brought to light (or at least to my attention.) Whereas I paid for my Feri training, there is a group that feels that this is wrong. While I can respect different takes on the subject what I do not appreciate is being judged for it. What I appreciate even less is being told that because I offer classes for pay that I am somehow “abusing” my students by doing so. Let me clarify…
In an initiates only space the idea was posed that charging for classes was forbidden because we have a rule about taking advantage of ‘brothers and sisters of the Craft’. I pointed out that I paid for my Feri training and never felt taken advantage of and (I thought rhetorically) posed the question, “Was I somehow taken advantage of because of this?” I received the following answer from a woman who has been a Feri initiate since the early 70’s (her quotes are bold italic, my replies are italicized.):
Yes, Storm, *I* think you were Abused. (not just taken advantage of)
And, Just like kids who are Beaten in a culture where beating is ‘Normal’ and Even a sign of ‘Love’, you see nothing wrong with your abuse.—-and fully intend to perpetuate it. Its how You were taught, after all.
When I pointed out that this was actually condescending I was simply told it wasn’t. Apparently the fact that it is how she honestly feels alleviates the fact that it is actually a condescending judgment. Um… OK.
She went on to tell me to ‘get a job’ to which I replied that I HAVE one… I’m a caretaker, an artist, a writer, and a teacher. My magick is practical… I do not expect that money will just appear in my mailbox without me working for it. But that wasn’t enough for her.
OK, then write, that Will make the money magically appear in your mail box–or paint or go out there and Sell Magic—tarot or herb lore, love spells, what ever–but, please, don’t sell Sacraments for Cheap! I have no respect for Cheap Whores! Get ALL you are worth, or don’t sell it!
My exact response to her on this was, “Wow. Can you even imagine how little I respect you or your opinion right about now? A cheap whore, huh? Take your whackidoodle self-righteousness and shove it up your ass.”
Again, Very hostile, Storm
I tend to get that way when called a ‘Cheap Whore’ you patronizing, arrogant bitch.
Can you tell I’m simply done with this?
Another aspect to this particular conflict is that I see a definite need for some people to have access to the spiritual tools of Feri tradition as a separate thing from Feri initiation. In fact I actually feel that very few people are compatible with Feri initiation. I think we have more than our fair share of dangerously insane people. One conclusion is that since Feri is geared toward helping people develop, then those who have had really fucked-up lives tend to credit the Feri tradition (the version that they were taught, mind you) as the be all and end all of their existence. Another is that it is the current of power passed at initiation that is to blame. If people are not properly prepared for it then it simply drives them crazy (if they weren’t to begin with). And I’m not talking eccentric-happy-fruit-loop-necklace wearing crazy. I’m talking religious zealot will-curse-you-for-religious-differences or promise-to-kill-for-others-in-the-cult crazy. Eeek. No thank you. Check, please.
So now what I am teaching is being called into question by some. (I’m sure there’s more than just this woman, she’s just the only one stupid enough to pick a fight with me about it.)
If you want to start some feri-flavored something , go ahead , just call it something else Please– If you like –I’ll hand you a black wand!
What is the most condescending about this is that she assumes that her Feri is somehow “more right” than other takes on it. As I told her:
Oh, fuck off, [her name]. What I do *is* Feri tradition. I have worked with (and continue to work with) initiates from many different lines. I incorporate exercises and ideas from many different strands of the Feri web. What I do is Feri, so no… I wont call it anything else just to please you and your fundamentalist views. You don’t own Feri. And you certainly don’t own me.
If I am a ‘Cheap Whore’ in your eyes, why are you offering me what some lines of the tradition consider to be the mark of a Grandmaster? No thank you, [her name]. If I were ever to receive the Black Wand I would want it to come from someone whom I honor and respect. I wouldn’t touch your supposed Black Wand with a ten foot pole.
Of course, she is also the person who gave the Black Wand to the aforementioned abusive priest, in an act that was “marketed” to the Feri initiates community as having been “blessed by Cora Anderson”. When I went to visit Cora recently and we asked her about it she said that she wasn’t told that the wand was for this priest until the end of her visit with this woman and was quite clear that she would NOT have blessed it for him. Yo! Crazy Feri woman! You just manipulated an elderly woman in her sick bed! Have you no shame? I guess that’s rhetorical… your actions speak loud enough for themselves.
In the end of my email I told her to ‘go to hell’. I am so done with her and people like her. Over the years I have heard similar stories… people who are doing their work being driven away from Feri community by the crazies. The thing for me, though, is that I will not stand for it. So let this be a lesson for you, crazy woman (and for all those in your one-true-path camp): Every nasty thing you say to me will be made public. I took an Oath to protect initiatory secrets. Fucked-up behavior was not a part of that. I do not accept your narrow cult-like view. In fact, I oppose it. If anything I think that it is YOU who represent what is wrong with the Feri community. I don’t care that you were initiated when I was a child. I don’t care what things you have done in the past. I don’t care how respectful you are to people who agree with your take on things. I see you. I see your toxicity. I see your manipulation and your fundamentalist dogma. And I oppose it. Joyously, unabashedly, and completely. With anger when necessary, and with laughter when that feels right too. Why would you expect any less of me? I am Feri.