Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Secrecy, Copyrights, and What's Underneath

Recently I was fool enough to enter into an online discussion regarding material used within the Feri tradition. To the casual observer it would appear that this discussion centers around copyrights of said material, and the moral implications of ignoring them, but as I have been in other venues where different manifestations of this discussion have arisen, my perception is somewhat different.

What follows, is basically a rant. All comments will be screened because this is my journal, and I shouldn't have to deal with people yelling at me here, or otherwise being rude... if you don't like what I have to say then don't read my journal. Simple, yes? ;)

While it would appear on the surface that her "request" is a politely worded one, it comes with some insidious "malware". There has consistently been the expectation that others tow the line in terms of what material is secret and what is not. (This is actually where the conversation began, on the Feri initiate's list, when she brought it up in regards to Chas' request for material that he and I are planning to put up on regarding the Goddesses of the Elements.) You see, Chas had posted a link to the site in question ("The Land of the Feri", sometimes called "The Road to Faery") as a means to inspire people who might decide they wanted to contribute. She posted a polite comment in Chas' LiveJournal post (which I now see has been quietly deleted by the moderator of ) asking people to not link to that site as it contained copyrighted material from her teacher.

Sometime after that, veedub posted a link to her Dustbunnies Big Damn Handout Book, vol. 1, which is a collection of her Feri training handouts. This immediately caused a stir amongst the online initiate's surrounding issues of secrecy and "respect". (i.e. 'if you are not as secret with the material as we are, then you are "disrespecting" us'.) Immediately people started rallying around the idea of shared secrecy as a common Feri value (which it is not) and making demands in the guise of requests that everyone else treat Feri material in the same way as they do, or else be considered disrespectful by the "community". This conversation quickly turned to Chas and myself because of our plans to provide more art and information around our work with the Goddesses of the Elements. Suddenly we were the bad guys because we were about to post "secret" (sic) information and it will "ruin" future initiations. I have now been told that I am doing this to "spite the community". (!)


Now here's the thing... "community" is a tricky thing. I remember this issue being brought up when I went through all of that stress several years ago with Gabriel. Here we had a sexual predator priest and very few people did anything about it and you want to know what reason I was given? That we weren't a community and so we couldn't do anything. We were powerless, it seemed.

And now some of these same people are invoking the word community because they believe it will serve them in keeping everyone else in line. Oh sure, it all sounds nice and polite on the surface, "Out of respect I request that you not go public with that information." And that would be fine... if it were actually a request. But it's not. Because to make a REQUEST means that you are willing to accept "no" as an answer. If you are NOT in a space to accept anything but compliance then what you are actually making is a DEMAND, which is also fine, but let's not hide behind false niceties, OK? And don't expect that everyone is just going to roll over and go your way, either.

Just to be clear: The Goddesses of the Elements are not secret in my line. They were passed to us before (WELL before) initiation, and recently I even went back to my teacher to ask his opinion on it, just to make sure that I hadn't gone crazy and mis-remembered anything important. He confirmed that they were not secret, that he learned them very early on in his training with Gabriel and he was surprised to learn that anyone else considered them to be secret. (Especially since they appear in The Spiral Dance and have for almost 30 years now.)

I was using these Goddess names for years before I came to Feri. I had been teaching Witchcraft 101 classes and a series on the Elements using those names precisely because they had been made public. I developed  a relationship with them, and one that certainly grew in new directions when I was properly introduced to them in a Feri context. But to assume that's it's anything short of egotistical to passive-aggressively demand that others not use them publicly just to suit their own comfort zones is absurd in my eyes.

It should go without saying but I feel compelled to spell it out: I have never --nor do I have any plans to ever-- post or write about any of the information or experiences that I have had that were passed to me as secret within Feri. I have also received some lore from other initiates outside of my training and after my initiation that was also passed to me as secret. I will continue to honor the agreements that I have made in relation to that material.

OK... back to the issue at hand: About three-weeks after Chas' call for submissions, she brings it up on the initiate's list, saying that she had already given Chas ample time to "respond" (um... there was no question to respond to) and what happened was pretty much more of them same: A select group of people rallies together to decide what is secret and should be secret! "Let's all take new Oaths to make SURE it stays secret!" (Ahem... not all Feri take Oaths to begin with... Cora said there are NO Oaths in Feri which should give us at least a moment's worth of pause before we start ranting about the universality of them). Oh, let's form committees, and sign contracts, and throw initiate autonomy out the window... because, dammit, people are DISRESPECTING our secrets and therefore DISRESPECTING US!! Let's act like bureaucrats and Christian prudes instead of the wild Feri witches that we claim to be! No, thank you. Not today, please.

As for the copyright issue: I've been told that it plagiarizes "some material", but that's as much as anyone will say. One of the tricky problems, however, is that I remember Gabriel himself trying to claim that every exercise that had to do with Blue Fire in connection to Feri was under his copyright, whether or not he had actually written it. (He claimed ownership of a lot of material, actually, that has been found in published writings that pre-dated him, according to a couple of my sources.) Up until recently I honestly thought that this was the only problem, but am now told that indeed there is material there by Steve Hewell that he would like removed. OK... but here's the thing... I'm not in charge of that website. I did not post it. I certainly can't take it down. I do not post or reprint other people's material without their permission.  I DO honor people's copyrights. But I am not interested in joining a boycott because quite honestly it would appear to me that the copyright issue is merely a convenient foot-hold for those who would prefer that less information about Feri be publicly available. People are always upset when Feri stuff is "out there". People were up-in-arms about Thorn's book, for Gods sakes... "How DARE you put the Guardians in there?!" I also hear they were upset about The Spiral Dance, back in the day... "How DARE you put the Pentacles in there?!" I'm so over that argument. Be secretive if you want, but the second you start telling others that they need to be as secretive as you are then you have fallen off your self-made pedestal and fallen into dogma. All I can say is I hope you're happy there. I'm certainly quite happy where I am.

I'm an artist. And an author. And I run a magazine. I have a lot of work that is copyrighted. I have even seen some of my work used without my permission and so I have worked to get it removed or credited. (It's actually REALLY EASY to get stuff taken down from a Yahoo site... I'm just sayin'.) That is my right as the holder of the copyright. But I do not feel that it is my right to expect that others will stop linking to websites that might be using said material. That is between me and the violator and it would be inappropriate for me to try and coerce others into taking up my cause. I would feel that to do so would be a form of censorship. Your mileage may vary... but that's where I am coming from. (So hopefully it tells you a little bit more about my position on the subject.)

Incidentally, that website is a piece of Feri history at this point, as it's been online for almost 10 years, and so I feel it is relevant to the overall community, whether you agree with it or not. It causes discussion. It's relevant. It's news. Much in the same vein as we carry books in our store, or allow fliers to be posted for groups that we do not necessarily agree with, but they are part of the overall spiritual movement, and so we feel that it is important to make them available. People should have all of the information available to them and be able to make their own decisions about it.

Steve is apparently taking legal steps to have his alleged material removed. Good! I hope he succeeds, if indeed it is his material. I really only have the ranting insistence of one of his students to back that up, and based on how she has conducted herself (and been unwilling to talk about any specifics) I just don't believe her at this point. No... I'm not calling her a liar... but I think that people who are that zealous can easily be mistaken. Either way we will see what happens.

I'm going to keep doing my own thing, which includes practicing and teaching Feri as I learned it: a path of individual spiritual evolution and personal power. Real community will happen organically around that path. False community, based on ego and initiatory status will inevitably breed more of the same venom and I just don't have time for it anymore. It's old. It's tired. And it bores me.

In other news, Chas and I would like to invite anyone who wishes to engage in respectful Feri-related discussion to check-out our LiveJournal community: . Not much has been posted there yet, but we're hoping to start discussions beginning with the various Gods, Goddesses, and Spirits that populate the Feri continuum. We've begun with a post about Nimue. I'd like to get people actually talking about how they work and practice Feri... not just in abstract or theoretical ways... but in how we are actually doing the work that we are called to do. Then we can see where it goes from there. We are planning on embedding it on since we get about 10,000 visits per month and this might make a good place for a wider discussion and certainly a good way to promote the various classes and happenings that are cropping up in various places.

**EDIT: As of a couple days ago the copyrighted material has successfully been removed from the website and contrary to popular belief I am glad for it. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Iron Pentacle Class - TOMORROW NIGHT!

Crossposted to: :

Just a little reminder that I will be teaching an introductory class on the Iron Pentacle at my store in Walnut Creek, CA tomorrow night. Class starts at 7pm. Cost: $20.

The Iron Pentacle is one of the most important tools of self-transformation that the Feri tradition has to offer. In this class we will delve into each of the five points of our beloved pentacle to see how they play out in our lives, as well as invoke this symbol in ritual to see how and where we are in or out of balance so that we may then begin to reclaim our lost power.

Limited street parking available. Parking validated for 2 hours at the nearby Cypress St. garage. Call the shop at 925-933-2342 for more information.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Meme's Pawn to Meme's Pawn 4

Your result for Which Chess Piece are You Test?...

The Queen's Rook

The Queen’s Rook is a pensive, analytical individual. They don’t mind spending long periods of time on their own to work through problems. They may venture so far into thought they appear vacant or detached; often they really are oblivious of the world at that moment. These wayward princes are precise about descriptions and by habit correct others (or feel sorely tempted) if the shade of meaning is slightly off. This is annoying to the less concise, but this is what gives the Queen’s Rook a gift for gab, especially in writing.

This Rook is relatively easy going until their principles of truth, knowledge and justice are violated. Because of this they hate the formalities of bureaucracy, politics, and authority – which tend to mask the truth of operations. They will respond with a flip of the switch and become outspoken and inflexible. They will eventually drop the issue, because they do prefer a reserved and benign ambiance. The problem with the Queen’s Rook is when they are debating a point; they may be convincing themselves as much as their opponent. They spend a considerable amount of time second-guessing their abilities and may come to multiple conclusions that offer plausible solutions.

An indicator that a friend may be a Queen’s Rook is an obsession with logic. If a mistake is made, it is because there wasn’t enough data or it was placed out of context. Another indicator you’re friend is a Rook, throw a strategy game at them. They enjoy Risk, Bridge, Chess, and word games. Never rush the Rook. They don’t draw conclusions very quickly. If one were to gather a bunch of Rooks together to form a group they may debate:

1.) Whether or not there should be a group.

2.) Exactly what name should the proposed group choose?

3.) Which of the persons in the group should take responsibility or should they rotate?

Take Which Chess Piece are You Test? at Hello Quizzy

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jumping the Broom...

As Chas posted yesterday, we're getting married.

Actually we've been married in our hearts for 15 years (yes... that's us way back then in the user pic), but only now has the state of California decided to wake up and smell the equality.

We've set the date: August 30th. I wish I could invite a million people... but we have decided to keep it rather small and somewhat casual. Even after all these years of living as married, I'm really excited to have a ritual confirmation. Thank you, Anaar, for agreeing to perform the ceremony for us!

I'm the luckiest warlock in the world... I get to be handfasted to my best friend. :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Part Time Job?

Before putting a sign in the window, I thought maybe I'd post here first that we are looking for a part-time employee at the shop. I'd really like to get someone who has customer service experience, who is familiar with spiritual practices, and who is comfortable providing customers with advice for their magical operations. I'm specifically looking for people who will NOT gives lectures to customers who may be coming in looking for advice on how to perform love spells and the like. (It's been a problem in the past... Ugh.)

A big part of the job is what Francesca De Grandis calls "Frontline Priest(ess)ing". You will need to be (or will need to become) familiar with the spiritual properties of stones, herbs, and hoodoo condition oils, to name but a few of the regularly selling items at the store. You may be called upon to suggest spiritual practices, in addition to books, music, and classes. You may be called upon to listen to someone's problem and then give (reasonable and certainly non-medical) advice. You will need to be pretty secure in your boundaries and also be able to tell people "no". Politely.

I really want to continue to change the vibe of that place.... under the previous ownership things got... well... you could've gone into a sugar-coma, is all I'm saying. We're trying to balance it out. :)

Interested parties should hand in a resume to the shop detailing both your customer service skills, as well as your spiritual/magical interests. You may either turn it in at the shop, or snail mail it to us at:

1437 N Broadway
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Or you can fax it to us at 925-933-9250.

We're still working out the exact scheduling details, but it looks like we will want someone 3 days per week.

In other news... we purchased the new business name today. More will be revealed...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Back to Earth...

I am now officially back from the New Hampshire  and am happy to report that it was a huge success. I met so many wonderful people and I learned a lot. My classes were well received, even when during my Amethyst Pentacle class I completely blanked out on one of the pathways! Thank goodness for ryanfirewitch who was able to invoke the power of technology to summon the page from my website to fill in my blank! I even got an opportunity to learn from the other fabulous teachers and now have some more pieces to inform my own practice. As has been tradition, Michele (mrj15) and I stayed up all night on the last night, much to the chagrin of Thorn (yezida) who apparently didn't believe us when we warned her that it was our intention. Next camp: separate sleeping/hanging-out areas for the teachers, or barring that, earplugs. ;) (Sorry, Thorn! I hope you have recovered nicely.) Karina (loveandpower) did a great job of staying up until 3am, falling asleep while laughing, as is her custom at these things. What an exercise in BlackHearted joy!

I had a great time teaching with Karina again.. upon arriving at camp, and comparing notes, we realized that we were about to offer what pretty much amounted to the same class. So we decided to combine our talents and our efforts to present one class together. We have such similar approaches that at times it's scary, as if we are living in each other's heads.

My Daemon Lover class went really well. I read some Rumi (a common theme for this camp) and we did some energy exercises based on projecting the fetch-body and infusing it with the presence of our holy daemon in the context of the Pearl Pentacle. Tingly!

Michele's Creating a Feri Retreat at Home class was very well presented and it provided the impetus that I needed to get back on track with my visual art. As a result I will re-visit my Tarot art project starting in the next few days. Stay tuned!

I am also going to be re-opening my Feri classes. After seeing so many talented and dedicated people who are really doing the work, I just can't sit back and keep things as small as I have been. I'm also going to be starting a new in-person class as soon as I have enough people. If anyone is interested please send an application and cover letter.

1437 N Broadway
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

I am really grateful for this work. I was blessed to be in the presence of so many people who are really invested in doing the hard (and joyous!) work necessary to become fully possessed by their own divinity. Every once in awhile I hear murmurs of discomfort from the more secretive factions of our community that these sort of things are being publicly offered. But each and every time I see the level of sheer commitment and wild power that these people demonstrate I am even more convinced that this is the right direction for myself, my community, and my tradition.

So... to each and every one of you who is doing this work... whether you are secretive, open or anywhere in between... thank you. You make this tradition the most powerful and beautiful thing I have ever known. Together we will move forward and learn the deep magics. Together we will claim our divinity and our power. Together we will change the world.