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Archive for the ‘Feri’ Category

on becoming human

This was my final working draft of an article to be edited and added to by Helix for publication on the Anderson Faery website.  The final version can be read there, and I recommend you click that link.

———-draft —————-

so you want to learn faery, but you can’t find a teacher?

Faery/Feri is an ecstatic tradition of witchcraft.  That means it’s an embodied tradition, it’s also a lineage passed physically.  By its very nature it requires in-person transmittal. But many of us, for various reasons, will never live near an initiate or be able to travel to visit one.  What do we do if this flavor of the craft speaks to us and we find ourselves without access to a teacher?

The first big thing we must do is let go of expectation. A sure way to get ourselves into the weeds is by trying to compel something to happen.  To learn any esoteric system, but especially one that is left-hand, a trustworthy, responsible teacher with integrity is paramount. If you try to force your access to a teacher you will end up settling for any situation.  That would be a bad and potentially dangerous idea. So, just take a deep breath and let it go. Let go of your expectation around Anderson Faery. Let’s do it together. Ready? Deep breath…and let go. Now let’s chat about some things you *can* do.

A key tenant of Anderson Faery is the divine nature of the human self in its multi-part form.  The self can be developed and explored through many systems and practices. This is not dependent on Faery.  Start here. Begin the task of self-reflection, personal development and resiliency training. You might find an established meditation group nearby, search for a good therapist to explore with, or ask like-minded friends to form a regular sitting group with you.  There are many resources available for personal growth. A healthy, balanced Self is the cornerstone for any human, Faery witch or otherwise.

Another foundational practice within Anderson Faery is the dismantling of cultural world-view and the intentional cultivation of an enchanted worldview.  A good way to go about this is through study. There are several good books available that will help you begin to see a little more sideways, and question aspects of culture you may not hitherto have done.  A list of reading material that might be helpful is below. Don’t rush these books. Instead go slowly, contemplatively, making notes as thoughts arise. It’s by spending time with mind expanding concepts that transformation occurs.  Maybe that sitting group you formed could read through these together?

  • The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a more-than-human world by David Abram
  • Dancing in the Streets: a history of collective joy by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Joy Diet: Ten daily practices for a happier life by Martha Beck
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of a buddha by Tara Brach
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, mind and Body in the healing of trauma by Bessell van der Kolk
  • Sapiens, a brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • The Reenchantment of the World by Morris Berman

Like many ecstatic traditions, Anderson Faery has a strong thread of Ancestral veneration.  We stand on the shoulders of giants. Whether you have a nurturing or harmful relationship with ancestors of blood, their genetic heritage is still yours.  The work of a witch is to explore those threads, heal them so He Hirself is healed, and strengthen their resiliency for the benefit of our descendants. Yet this is not purely imaginal. If you aren’t up to date on the new science of heritability, you might look at It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are And How To End The Cycle by Mark Wolynn.  A practical first step in this process is to create a dedicated space for ancestral offerings. This can be as simple as a clean surface with a little cup for water. Pour fresh water in the cup, and say a little blessing over it, such as, “May my ancestors be blessed, may my descendents be blessed.” There is more elaborate and complex work that can be done but this small step will take you far.

If this all sounds very heady thus far, it has been.  An educated witch is a prepared witch, but the body is included in that. Get out of your box – out of your car, your room, your apartment, your house  – and get your feet, limbs, elbows in the grass. Explore the land around you. This may be a city park, a strip of wild grasses along a curb, or rambling lanes in the deep countryside.  You don’t need to do anything out there, just observe. Be polite, and pick up rubbish if you see it. Say hello to other living beings you meet – in your out loud voice. Witches are uncannily quirky, and psychic, but we rarely read each other’s minds, so don’t expect other-than-human persons (big or small) to read yours.  

Observe the clouds and the winds where you live. Which direction do they predominantly blow from? What does the wind from those different directions feel like on your skin, what sensations do you get, is there a taste?  Write this all down, or make art about it. Record your observations in some way. It doesn’t have to be with words. It can be with movement, poetry, painting, clay or music.  Continue these observations for other living beings, like animals, rivers, birds, insects, trees, flowers.  Be polite, say hello, pick-up rubbish (as an offering) and spend time with them. You’d be surprised at the strong friendships you build by just showing up and sitting with someone, whether they are human or not.

Speaking of art, explore yours.  How do you express your creativity?  Do you move your body, perhaps through ecstatic dance, yoga, line-dancing or ballet?  Do you paint, draw, sew or knit? Dedicate time to the cultivation and expression of your creativity.  This is life force, and Anderson Faery focuses strongly on feeding and expressing this part of our Self. You don’t need to spend money on this pursuit, but it should be something you create a regular practice around.  Allowing our creative expression to flow keeps our channels open and clear.

So does healthy sexuality.  This is a sex positive tradition because Sex is Life.  Not for procreative purposes but for pleasure. We value pleasure.  We value personal responsibility. We value knowing and owning our choices, behavior, and actions.  Hopefully part of your study on dismantling worldview has led you to question cultural norms around sexuality, and to ask yourself what your own inherent views are.  What is your sexuality and how can you nurture it and express it in healthy responsible ways? Another simple practice for exploring sexuality in its many subtle forms is to take a bath or shower and feel the water moving over your skin. Simple huh?  But really experience it. What does the water trickling over your ankle bone feel like, or the small of your back, or your shoulder? Try laying on the ground under the full sun. Spread your body out, expose a bit of skin, and feel the rays of the sun absorbing into the flesh of your bicep, your thigh, your stomach.  The fleshy parts.

You might not know it, but you have just learned some of the mysteries of Anderson Faery.  Hold them with care, cherish them, and let them unfold in your life.

May it be so.

 

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Time of Vulture

In Central Texas Vulture arrives on the North Wind.  We felt the first fluttering a week ago. In the Tejas Faery Working Group vulture is associated with the ancestors, the Llano uplift, bone, and is a stellar person of power.239px-Vega_in_lyra.svg.png

Circles & Cycles; Guardian & Gateway

Esoteric associations with vulture go back into human prehistory.  The celestial pole figured as an early conception of the divine, at least in the northern hemisphere.  In fact, many of our Elder Gods were stellar. Around 12,000 BCE the northern pole star was Vega, the falling vulture.

Watcher & Transformer; Earth & Sky

vulture_stone.jpg

Vulture stone from Gobekli Tepe ~10,000 BCE

In Egypt the predynastic (6000-3150 BCE) vulture goddess Nekhbet is one of the oldest deities and is connected to the dead, as well as birth.  In fact, her city was one of the earliest necropoli.  Vulture, soaring high overhead, was among the first raptor type birds to be associated with the “eye of god.”   In Egypt, the goddess Nuit swallowed the sun each evening, it traveled through her body, and was reborn from her vulva each morning. The dead also became stars along the body of Nuit, the Milky Way, as she nourished them..

Beak & Talons; Sun & Wings

Many cultures have a history of defleshing the dead so their bones can be used for sacred purpose.  This was often accomplished via what we call sky-burial. The bones could then be transported by family members, placed in the floor of a dwelling, or worn by a person as an amulet. It has been argued that metempsychosis was accomplished during, or at least aided by, the defleshing process, specifically as the bird of prey consumed the flesh, taking the dead into their own body then flying into the sky – the vault of heaven.

IMG_5635

Crux, an important vulva constellation, disappeared below the horizon in the northern hemisphere ~2,000 BCE;  Nuit arched

Above & Below

fig-1-boiiRoman writers associated vulture with the bird of prey that devoured dead bodies on continental Celtic battlefields.  Even Dhumavati, the Hindu goddess, is considered to be a vulture goddess, known as the Smokey One.  She is the remnants left over from the destruction of the universe. These remnants are themselves (or Hir self) the sub-basis of the elements that create the next universe.

 

 until we buried them, Vulture ate all our ancestors

Vulva and Vulture

Egtved-Girl-burial-reconstruction-Edit.png

Egtved Girl

In  ancient Japan the goddess of dawn, Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto, jumped up on an overturned tub near the cave where the sun goddess was hiding and danced on it lifting her dress to reveal her vulva.  The gathered gods found this very funny and the laughter brought the sun goddess from her hiding place. In ancient Greek stories, the fertility goddess Demeter was in mourning following the loss of her child. Nobody could cheer her, so Baubo lifted her skirt showing her vulva to Demeter,  helping the goddess to laugh again. In ancient Ireland, after the Dagda escaped the Fomoire by eating a lot of food, he drug his large penis along the ground, had to empty his swollen belly into a pit, and then had sex with the daughter of Indech, who had been taunting him this whole time, after she jumped on his back and her pubic hair tickled him.

The Egtved girl, a young woman buried in Denmark in 1370 BCE, was found wearing a revealing fringe skirt with a solar disk over her belly.

There is a beautiful connection between the star constellations association with vulva imagery such as Vega and  Crux, vulture, the dead, the Milky Way, and rebirth — the Starry Vulva which the ancestors enter to travel through the otherworld to be reborn.

 

References

http://www.rigelatin.net/vulture/

https://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/nekhbet.html

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/catubodua-queen-of-death/

http://www.tsubakishrine.org/history/ame-no-uzume-no-mikoto.html

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm

 

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During a recent conversation I said that the Anderson Faery/Feri lineage of witchcraft is helpful for trauma survivors  because it is an embodied lineage with a focus on ecstatic experience – all things that steer us out of over intellectualizing and into body awareness – but only insofar as we work to heal our trauma, else it will retraumatize us.  I’ve been pondering that statement ever since, because while I feel it to be true I have never upacked it.  I’m going to try and do that a bit here.

What is trauma, and what does it mean to be retraumatized?  We often think of trauma as tied to emotional, physical or sexual abuse, war, or natural disasters, but there are a whole range of life experiences that can be traumatizing, like surgery, the loss of a loved one, etc.  Trauma happens when our nervous system is overwhelmed and our coping strategies don’t work.  If the trauma is not processed or if we aren’t able to fight, flee, or in some way manage what is “attacking” us, then we freeze in a way that the unprocessed fear gets locked into our body.

A way some of us deal with the trauma locked in our body is by dissociating –  we try to get away from our body, and thus the traumatic situation — but other expressions of trauma are anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, avoidant behaviors, and addiction.  These expressions of trauma are almost always enveloped by  a sense of shame.  Something happens, we get traumatized and we cope the best we can, then hate ourselves for it because it doesn’t look or feel good.  It’s the shame that binds the entire process together.

Effects of early trauma are a laundry list:  a disrupted sense of self in relation to others, emotional instability, social dysfunction, difficulty recovering from stress, disorganized thinking, a limited window of tolerance, a limited capacity for relationships, poor impulse control, low self-worth, core shame, inability to recognize one’s own needs, a sense of isolation…. Oh, so much!  And oh so many of the very reasons we seek out spirituality, even witchcraft; we are searching for healing.

If that search leads a person to the Anderson Faery/Feri lineage of witchcraft before therapeutic work with a qualified therapist has been done to address past trauma the very tools of the tradition could be dangerously retraumatizing.  In this lineage we are asked to be present in our bodies, to be fully present for Sex, Self, Passion, Pride and Power.  Meditators are now realizing that mindfulness meditation is retraumatizing for the same reason; in mindfulness practice we are asked to be present with the feelings and sensations of the body.  If we have unprocessed trauma fear locked in our body, our own breath and body awareness can be jarring, flooding us and popping us right out of the body.  We feel the trauma all over again and dissociate.  In fact, we will happily watch our body sit and breathe on the cushion – we are well used to dissociating –  thinking we are engaged with the practice, when in actuality we are not experiencing embodiment at all.

Retraumatization is a conscious or unconscious reminder of past trauma that results in re-experiencing of the initial trauma itself.   It can be triggered by a situation, an attitude or expression, or by certain environments that replicate the dynamics (loss of power/control/safety) of the original trauma. – by Patricia Shelly, MSW, Shelley Hitzel, MSW, and Karen Zgoda, MSW, LCSW, Preventing Retraumatization: A Macro Social Work Approach to Trauma-Informed Practices & Policies

For those of us who dissociate, clearing the mind and entering stillness is a familiar state of numbness.  It can be a blissful state, and hard to distinguish from altered states of consciousness.  Yet, it is not the mindfulness taught in yoga, and it is not the embodiment required to engage Faery witchcraft safely.  Embodiment is the beginning and foundation for more advanced practices in Faery.

Dissociation vs presence?
Table
Meditation instructors and health care professionals who work with trauma survivors are taught to use trauma informed practices which focus on a sense of safety and stabilization (it is not in most of our scope of practice to offer trauma-specific work that focuses on processing trauma).  One thing Faery witchcraft is not is safe, and its tools are notoriously destabilizing.  Some do survive the crash course of a Faery induced healing crisis, others do not.  With so many qualified therapists who specialize in integrating trauma, and so many excellent protocols, like EMDR, there is no reason to risk a student, or risk ourselves.

If you are drawn to Faery, but come from a trauma background, seek out a skilled EMDR therapist first.  Give yourself a year of calming the central nervous system and finding safety within your body.  You will be grateful you did.

*I am not a professional therapist.  My insights come from my own experience and what I have found effective. 

incantation

Incantation; Francisco Goya

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the Urban Hedge

Living in Ireland is one thing, living in an American city quite another.  I find city magic different from the magic of the countryside.  I also find central Texas magic different from southern Irish magic.  This is common sense really, as there are different partners in the work.

The energy of the American city  I live within is one of motion, and literal energy generation.  Perhaps it is more like a stellar nursery, or star-forming region: a dense area of exotic cosmic brew.

I don’t work with the entire city.  I build relationship with the area I can –and regularly do– walk the bounds of.  Boundary walking, and tending, is the age-old habit of the witch.  It’s where we draw our power.  During the liminal times of day, it is easy to find the urban Hedge.  Within my own bounds, those are odd crossroads, where odd numbers of pathways or streets intersect.  Also, the alleyways.

In any Hedge crossing endeavor, caution is needed.  Persons of dubious nature are attracted to liminal spaces, and times.  Do not trust every Person you meet, corporeal or not!  Victor H. Anderson cautioned his students to make such journeys with their Lights on.  That is, have a strong and direct relationship with your own Godsoul, the ancestral spirit directly connected to you.

Also, test the spirits.

Just because some non-material dude chats you up, doesn’t mean you should give him your number.

During urban hedge crossing, I do not sit and trance.  I walk.  This is a skill I developed working with the Reclaiming Pagan Cluster, and learning to use my magic during direct action protest.  I also carry a protective talisman in my pocket, or on my person.  I set an intention, whether that be exploratory or specific.  These forays are not for entertainment.  They are for the purpose of accomplishing my will, and my work.

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The danger in possession is if you let alien beings in to use you — and there are plenty out there that will. They’ll split your personality. They’ll touch certain parts of your personality that you don’t even know you have. And then, you won’t be able to consciously remember when one takes over or when one doesn’t, even though it’s all you. That’s the danger of possession. Another danger is that they can come in with cruel and terrible ideas and infect you with them. Because when someone knocks at your door, and I’m not just speaking about spirits, don’t let them in unless you know who they are. You turn on the light first and that light is right above your head. — Victor Anderson, The Heart of the Initiate: Feri Lessons

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Boston Bloodrose Faery (Feri)

blackgoddess

Quakoralina, the Star Goddess

A lovely black woman is waiting, waiting
In the boundless night.
A river of blackbirds are mating, mating,
In the dim starlight.

Down out of the sky they come winging, winging,
Drawn to Her black flame,
And the melody they are singing, singing,
Is Her holy name.

In the dust of Her feet are the hosts of heaven,
And Her star-sequined hair
Is crowned with a coven of six and seven
Blue suns burning there.

—Victor Anderson

The expression God Herself could be called a Faery koan.  Victor once wrote in a letter that Lilith was honored by the Harpy Coven, to which he belonged in his early life, not as “the Goddess,” but as God Herself.   This is an important distinction.  In a letter to Anaar published in the book, The Heart of the Initiate, Victor clarified:

When we say “Goddess” in my tradition…

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Red Rite

Of all the strange and terrible powers among which we move unknowingly, sex is the most potent. Conceived in the orgasm of birth, we burst forth in agony and ecstasy from the Center of Creation. Time and again we return to that fountain, lose ourselves in the fires of being, unite for a moment with the eternal force and return renewed and refreshed as from a miraculous sacrament. Then, at the last, our life closes in the orgasm of death. Sex, typified as love, is at the heart of every mystery, at the center of every secret. It is this splendid and subtle serpent that twines about the cross and coils in the heart of the mystic rose. -Jack Parsons

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