Sunday, January 09, 2011

The F(a)eri(e) Tradition Nonunion Tour (Now in it's 40th year!)

I am again hearing about a split in the Feri tradition. "Public" vs. "Mystery Tradition" Feri. Since I am one of those at the forefront of Feri in the public eye I can just imagine that this has at least a little to do with the work that I have been doing, namely in providing Feri tools to a wider audience.

This is nothing new. When I first came into Feri there was a "split": "Old Feri" vs. "New Feri". Later there was another, what I call "Red vs. Blue" (or, "those who initiate sexually vs. those who don't"). And there were others: those who charge money for classes vs. those who don't... those who initiate and then offer training vs. those who do it the other way round... those who use angelic names for the Guardians vs. those who use animal totems... those who teach the Iron Pentacle first and then the Pearl ("Oh, no! You must teach them together!", "No! It's Pearl first!")... those who teach Liberty on the Pearl Pentacle rather than "Power" (I actually heard a then-student bemoan the fact that Thorn taught "Liberty", adding that he "tolerated" her doing so). Really? Really? And the list goes on and on, and on, and on, and on... it never ends. It's kind of like Cher's consistent farewell tours only far more predictable and far less exciting. It seems that practically from the beginnings of the Feri tradition there have been those who are predicting, perpetuating, or bemoaning this "split" in the tradition. We seem to be pretty good at amputating ourselves and giving away our power.

An old argument that has been brought up again recently is in regards to those of us who offer training over long distances. I can assume that this is the thought behind a recent website (called "FaeryRoads"... you can find it on the links page at Regardless of the thinking behind this particular website, it is being stated that it is impossible to train someone without physical proximity. Nevermind that Victor Anderson sometimes offered this type of training (he offered to teach me this way). And when it is begrudgingly accepted as possible it is quickly dismissed as being less potent than in-person training. Again with the ego. ("My way is just so much better than your way...")

What's kind of funny to me is that the people who are stating that you simply cannot teach Feri over long distances are really just showing their own lack of imagination. I can't exactly blame them; at first I was in that camp; thinking (as I was told to) that the Feri tradition needed to be taught hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart. It wasn't until I attended a "phone tele-conference ritual" (which, I admit, I agreed to participate in only as a lark!) that I realized that there was a lot more going on than was previously reported. Contrary to what many may have held as belief, I learned that this was all real. Witchcraft... magic... all of it. Absolutely real. If I could feel the energy over a freaking phone call then there was something extra potent going on. I learned that energy did not require physical proximity in order to cause the changes necessary for a ritual to be effective... it just took concentration, determination, and a little imagination. Ahh... imagination. A resource apparently in short supply in the current Feri community.

Those who have consistently reported that it is impossible to transmit Feri over long distances have absolutely no idea what I am doing in those sessions. And not a single one of them has bothered to ask me... they just assume that because they lack the insight necessary to pull it off then it can't be done. (At one time I made it public that I would speak to any Feri initiate and take the time to explain in detail exactly how I am teaching these classes... now I require that you be nice to me. And a few of you can just suck it.)

So to those of you who feel that Feri tools and training shared publicly are anathema to our tradition: I get that perhaps you think that you are "defending the tradition"... but I think you are doing the very thing that is causing it to be dumbed down. Feri is alive. It is authentic. It invites change, and adaptation, and evolution. By doing what I am doing I am defending the tradition too; Feri as a tradition of bardic diversity and cultivating one's divine authority. We are all Gods; shimmering reflections of God Herself.

I am God. And in realizing this fact I must accept that you are too. I just wish you'd learn that same lesson and get off your high horse long enough to realize it's been dead for years. (And really, the stench is overpowering.) Wouldn't you all rather get back to the business of communing with the Gods? Or is it really better to try and beat each other down with dividing lines and false accusations?

So go ahead and talk of your little "split". It wont last long. It never does. You'll find something else to bemoan. Perhaps you'd like to start talking about the Wand system again and how it goes against everything you think Feri to be (I got mine from Cora Anderson, mind you)... or how Feri doesn't have a Grandmaster (I've met her... she's nice)... or any of the other topics that you use in order to drive further wedges in between people who really should be working together to help transform the world into a better place. But then, that would require imagination. Better yet to get back to your previously scheduled egos and proclaim yourselves the one right and true way of Feri (TM). But I don't have much time for it... I have real work to do.


warjustice said...

Hmmm...this is very interesting. And gives me ALOT to much on. Thank you for your insight.

veedub said...

hellz yeah, you tell 'em!
if those who want to keep feri secret would just stay off the internet and communicate privately among each other, using smoke signals or jungle telegraph or whatever methods they prefer, and leave the rest of us alone, what a wonderful world it would be....

faerywolf said...

I know, right?
I mean... that new website... FaeryRoads... they started a public website in order to help not promote Feri to the public. Does anyone else here see the irony in this?

cangelo said...

Gods I love you both.

veedub said...

i know! and they used the name of the old website which told what some folks believe is way too much. (but which is still available on the wayback machine, and in fact i link to the wayback machine version on my website).

loveandpower said...

I'm biting my tongue so hard I have literally chewed a hole through it.
You know I like to "measure" my responses so tonight, I have nothing to say other than I do see the irony there.

happydog said...

I don't think it's ironic as much as it is just plain funny. It could have come straight out of the script for Dinner for Schmucks.

royalbananafish said...

At times, I wish LJ had a "like" button. (Because then I could just press the "like" button when I have nothing else to say.)

satyresque said...

You have a way with words.

feri_hearted said...

Oh dear gods I get the concept of this new website its like the door hangers in Labyrinth.... supposed to scare the newbies with how scary and awe inspiring Feri is and how if your cruising the intrawebs you need to step away from the shit cuz that is sooo omg powerful and speshul.
There always seems to be the mindset of the I am more Feri then (insert pronoun here)it goes on with the students as well as the initiates. It feels like desperate attempts to be different but in reality its the same old insecurity you can go anywhere to see.
We may all be gods but some of us are pretty damn small and petty gods

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone advocating less "public Feri" would have created a website if that wasn't necessary. There are far too many websites out there now on Feri and how to pay for things related to it (so far, I count dozens), and there needs to be some balance.
Many people seeking things go to the internet as a their first place. There needs to be some sort of indication that this is not completely approved of- and that there are alternatives if Feri/Faery is truly the path for you.
I wouldn't be so scared, Storm. I am sure your marketing savvy will overcome this little hiccup!

pitch313 said...

Honestly, I don't understand this insistence on a standing division within the practitioners of the Faery community. I didn't understand it when I affiliated with the Trad and its practitioners. I didn't understand it as I nurtured my own Faery practice. I don't understand it now.
The way I see it, the way it happened to and for me--Faery practice is all about direct relationships with Deities and Guardians. It's not about any other human being getting in the way of those direct relationships. For any reason. Because, dare I say it, the Deities and Guardians are who They are, and human beings are who they are.
For several years, I made kind of a lame distinction--for Faery practice--between what you did or tolerated to be done in order to take part in the community of human practitioners and what you did to get on with Deities and Guardians. But it became clear to me that only some practitioners tried to get between me and the Deities and Guardians.
But they won't and they don't. I know Who my little Black Heart loves!

faerywolf said...

Hi there, Helix.
Those are really good questions. In response to the first one, it assumes that there is some set of lore that is universally recognized and specifically set aside as intimate other than the core initiatory material, and there is not. The material that we dealt with at Camp that year would have been powerful regardless of whether or not you had been exposed to it prior. (I can say this with certainty because it was powerful for me and I of course had already worked extensively with it.) It was also previously published in The Spiral Dance and I can be certain that at least most of the participants had read it prior. The difference is the container and the focus involved at the time.
I recognize and appreciate that some people may not want to be exposed to something before their teacher gives it to them. To that all I can say is then they should not read books or surf the internet, and those teachers should ask their students to refrain from the same. This used to be the law of the land in Feri: teachers demanding that students not read books, magazines, attend pagan events, or even speak to other initiates. One particular teacher even sometimes required that their students not visit Victor & Cora. It made for a bad climate in Feri; even worse than what we have now. (So you can see I'm not on board with this idea... I think it's bad for people and their spiritual and magical development.)
The second question: I have been very clear that my long distance classes DO NOT lead to initiation precisely so that students will let go of that idea from the beginning. My classes are about the training. After that is done it would follow the same set of rules that any other Feri training would... namely, if I as the teacher felt that the student was ready then we would make arrangements and go from there. But it's off the table in the beginning for a very good reason. Part of the class ends up helping me sift through potentials. I currently have students who are on the path toward Feri initiation, so the accusation that I have sometimes heard that training with me will never lead to initiation is just another story made-up by those who are invested in making sure that their particular view of the tradition is the dominate one. This is one of the reasons that I have invoked the word 'fundamentalism' in the past. It fits perfectly.
As for a non-Feri initiation... it's certainly possible. I have been working with a group of people on something similar to what you have proposed.
I can understand some feeling like they are being "duped" by paying for classes that stretch on for a long time... all I can say is that in my experience I have seen students who feel that they should be allowed to progress much faster than what their efforts allow for. I have students who work through the material very slowly, but I also have some that are much faster with it. It's self-paced and everyone starts at the beginning.
I hope that helps. I look forward to your other questions!

darkferi said...

Hi Helix,
Speaking to your point #1 above: Do you not think that what happened that night occurred because the deities that were called actually showed up? I had at no time gotten the impression that it had anything to do with the students as much as it had to do with the initiates who had already built a relationship with those deities and called them. I know a number of students who had already read the names in Spiral Dance (which actually surprised me) but had never worked directly with them, not really knowing where they fit in the scheme of feri-things.
Regarding point #2: Doesn't what you're suggesting in training-without-initiation already exist in Reclaiming?

queenofhalves said...

> The material that we dealt with at Camp that year would have been powerful regardless of whether or not you had been exposed to it prior.
I am sure that is the case. On the other hand, based on other, similar experiences, that anticipatory nervousness seems to really energize the ritual container. I know it makes a difference for me; perhaps I assume too much to think that having a number of circle participants in that state also makes a difference for the entire group involved? (John Michael Greer has a really interesting discussion of this effect in _Inside a Magical Lodge_ -- wish I had the book so I could quote it.)
I do know that there's no core of shared intimate material, but in my perfect world, I would just put a "POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT" on most of the Feri websites and be done with it. As I said, when I was an early student, I didn't realize how much I would love the moment of revelation later on, because no one had talked to me about it -- I didn't know I might feel sorry later if I read everything I could get my hands on, so I couldn't make an informed choice. I'm very much in favor of informed choices.
> I have been very clear that my long distance classes DO NOT lead to initiation precisely so that students will let go of that idea from the beginning.
I understand that. It just seems like many students hold out hope anyway. And rather than thinking they're all deluded or just have bad boundaries, what I'm suggesting is that non-initiatory training in an initiatory tradition really lends itself to that kind of wishful thinking and potential disappointment. What I'm wondering is how such trainings could be tweaked -- or perhaps some ritual of closure created -- so that we don't have a culture of non-initiated former Feri students who just feel somehow... less... since they didn't make it "all the way." It just doesn't feel healthy to me.
Thanks for your responses! I posted more extensively to WitchEye; I hope you'll say more there.

queenofhalves said...

> Do you not think that what happened that night occurred because the deities that were called actually showed up?
I think they showed up so strongly partially because we were all so primed for it. I mentioned Greer's book _Inside a Magical Lodge_ above -- it has a really interesting explanation of how the expectation of something hidden being revealed can empower the energy of a ritual or initiation. I know even the initiates considered the working to be exceptionally special, and the way the large group was prepared for the ritual -- with the expectation of revelation -- stands out to me as something that probably doesn't often happen, and might be the cause. (It's worked for me in other rituals as well -- the prospect of revelation, of intensely wondering what's about to happen, seems to kick up the energy.)
> Regarding point #2: Doesn't what you're suggesting in training-without-initiation already exist in Reclaiming?
Can you clarify? Reclaiming has an initiation that's not terribly hard to get if you want it (depending on which part of the country you're in). Reclaiming witches do seem to be more okay with not being initiated, but I think it's partially because initiation isn't seen as important, the way it is in Feri. I think Reclaiming was that way from the beginning; trying to convince students that initiation isn't actually that important in Feri... well... from the many conversations I've had about it with other students, I don't think it's working.

queenofhalves said...

> As for a non-Feri initiation... it's certainly possible. I have been working with a group of people on something similar to what you have proposed.
I expect it will be some time before I hear more about this, but it sounds like an exciting prospect. :)

faerywolf said...

I'm not scared; I think it's funny. Kinda weird to post a proclamation and then not sign it. :)

padraig_sioga said...

Identifying myself
That was me in the previous message. I messed up the log-in and sent it in anonymous. Sorry Storm.

Anonymous said...

anticipation and power
In my coven, @ dedication, @ 1st, @ second... Jade and I sit with our student and read and explain and argue and discuss every word, aspect and detail of the rite they are about to undergo. Magick is not a psychological process, so, of course there is no attrition of power @ one of these important rituals. I fail to see your point, Helix. --ps this is Shen-Tat,... who despite his other abilities cannot seem to get this reply thingy to work.... ;)

muninnskiss said...

Re: Look to your Founders
> At times like this I find it helpful to review the viewpoint of the Tradition’s founders. In this case Victor Anderson.
I found it interesting looking at the two sites that there is not one quote from either of the Andersons on either site, or barring that, from Gwydion (though I've never seen anyone quote Gwydion).
> One-on-one training is wonderful, but remote training is sometimes the only option available.
Living in Wyoming and being unable to move at this time, remote training is my only option.
~Muninn's Kiss

rideout_dbza said...

as mentioned in other places before I scurried away... agree w/ 90% of this ^ but the teachers I went to all REALLY CLEARLY mentioned that they were not going to give initiations! But people ARE wacko about the issue... what gives?!
It seems they want to Belong to something, so badly, so so badly.
Isn't that all the more reason to give them something they can learn and do on their own, including some sort of self-dedication rite? No, not the full boogie, obviously. But something? Come on people, let's get our thinking caps on. There are some cats that are out of the bag and 90 blocks away already. But the tension is caused BY those who keep emphasizing initiation and secrecy endlessly. I do not see why MUCH of the curriculum needs to be secret.
(Edit: out of respect for whichever teacher I am with, I don't redistribute their stuff or forward it or anything. I did show (not copy) another initiate a binder once -- some material that was all cobbled together from others' stuff --looked like a lot of Paul Huson, and things available everywhere by the 70's, no secret names and not very "Feri" -- by a person now long gone, but it felt ooky. So I never did it before or since. That's me being honest!)
I agree with you about spoilers, the technicalities of sacred theater, the energy generated in the 'big buildup', getting out of the habit of telling the world EVERY thing, and a nice long courtship. I use what I was given and don't throw in lot of other stuff. When I am inspired, I'll write my own invocations.
But when I was initiated, although I recognized some elements, nothing was spoiled. It was powerful.
I was initiated first and am now training, and maybe I'll always be training. It was a 'real' initiation in the NightHares line. It gave me wonderful things.. but no advantages. None, nada, zilch. And I am going to gently but firmly keep telling this to everyone that overly emphasizes 'initiation' (To begin) as an Ending.

queenofhalves said...

Re: anticipation and power
> Magick is not a psychological process
Oh, I disagree with you. Magick is not *solely* a psychological process, I would say. I find my state of mind has a major impact on how effective my work is -- otherwise there would be no point in all this meditation and stress reduction work. ;>
Incidentally, I'm fairly sure Victor Anderson's use of the word "complex" stems partially from the tradition that begins with Freud. It would be a mistake to say that magick is entirely psychological; but how can you do magick while leaving such a large part of the self (the personality) out?
All of which is to say, I find the element of surprise to be a very effective magickal tool for me. If you haven't tried it, try it and see! (Or for that matter... compare the energy of the crowd at a film on opening night to the crowd three months later. Big difference... although the crowd that knows a movie backward and forward also brings a special boost to the event, I think. Surprise *and* deep familiarity are both useful tools.)

Anonymous said...

That is the difference between Trad Craft and Fad Craft. Trad Craft folks don't need to put their names to things to have them mean something. They also do not need the glory and ego-stroking by signing anything.
People who are trustworthy will be able to find Faery folk. Others have no business knowing their identities.
Because you and the company that you like to keep (VeeDub)have no qualms outing initiates and breaking the oaths they made. That's why names shall remain secret. There is power in Silence.

faerywolf said...

Very clever! I like how you made that rhyme! :)
And how cowardly... to (again) post your convictions anonymously. If you had any power or courage I would think that you would make your allegations and own them, not hurl them from the relative safety of you secret location (which is Oakland, CA if I have traced your IP address correctly). At least when *I* make a statement I have the courage to stand behind what I have said.
I will no longer accept anonymous comments on my journal.
As for outing initiates: I took no oath that said I needed to suffer attacks from initiates and let them go unchallenged. This oathbreaking charge is rather ridiculous. Cora said to me that there were no oaths in Feri. If you want 'em fine... but the second you insist that everyone else in Feri needs to have them (or have the same relationship to them that you do) then I think you have veered away from a viable spiritual system and have entered the realm of negative fundamentalist cult behavior. Drink your own Kool-Aid and leave me to my work, thank you.
Have a great day, O wise and silent one!

veedub said...

very brave, to make anonymous accusations.
but i have to give you this; you are consistent. none of the crew who is howling for my blood, and storm's has ever written, posted, texted, facebooked, livejournaled, or sent a message by carrier pigeon to me personally to ask me what the hell i think i'm doing and if i have any justification for it, or to check the truth of the many incredibly inflated and trumped-up rumors about me have any truth to them.