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Archive for the ‘Feri’ Category

A widely popularized witchcraft tool that had its inception in Faery / Feri is the Iron Pentacle (IP).  This tool, originally employed for something a bit different, is now used for internal examination and self-inquiry.  It explores aspects of self and the divine that stir us and speak to our innate nature as human persons: Sex, Self, Passion, Pride and Power.  Self-inquiry is an important practice in Faery witchcraft, for in understanding and remaining curious about our own fundamental awareness, our deepest essence, we understand the nature of divinity (you can work in the opposite direction, as well).  It also allows us the opportunity to untangle mind stories and release energetic (emotional) knots or constricted areas, which is important because as we engage practices that increase our life force we want clear channels for that energy to flow smoothly and with ease.

Remember that Faery seeks to emphasize our divinity, to stress that everything in the universe is divine, and that we are all God Herself – there is no distinction.  The IP can be useful in pursing this inquiry.*   In a culture or family where sex is seen as shameful, or our innate interests and capacities are diminished,  we need a practice to assist our examination of those essential energies and the judgments shaped around them in order to reclaim the parts of self that we ourselves have marginalized.

Our reclamation of self applies to all the parts of us.  God is self and self is god and god is a person like my self.  When engaged in self-inquiry we discover things like grief, pain, and fear.  These parts, or emotional impressions, were imprinted because we felt shame, or feared we were not enough, we felt unworthy or somehow inherently flawed.  This imprinting can be deep, and our minds can rush to create stories around them, often in a bid to protect us from feeling them.  Our stories frequently kick in if we get too close to the original wound, or something in our environment feels too similar to that deep grief, pain or fear.  These are wonderfully protective measures we adopted long ago which are probably not serving us now.  Also, as life force flows into us it is shaped at a pre-cognitive level by these impressions.  They then influence how we express life force in the world.  In the present moment we might  find ourselves in cycles of stuckness where the story is activated but the life situation does not warrant the response or accurately reflect it, or likewise we are simply caught in repetitive behaviors or thinking patterns.  Until we process – feel and integrate – the deep feelings, our body remains in a state of self-preservation and alertness, engaging its stories for protection. As we begin to journey inward during self-reflection and inquiry we bump up against our stories, and they may deflect our gaze, wishing to remain hidden.

Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you. – Rumi

A practice I have found helpful on my path of releasing stories, in order to feel the deep pain, fear and grief and then integrate it (a key part of the reclamation process) so I can fully express my inherent nature without restriction, is an acronym I learned from Tara Brach called RAIN (to learn more about this beautiful practice I recommend Tara’s book Radical Acceptance. I also recommend this book if you experienced past trauma and, like me, utilized the effective tool of freezing, also known as dissociation).

Recognize what is happening;

Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;

Investigate with interest and kindness;

Natural loving awareness (non-identification),  with self-compassion.

These are deep practices that I’m not going to outline or explore here but I do want to emphasize the importance of acceptance – allowing the experience to be, just as it is.  We are accepting all that we find, all that we feel, all that we are.  Don’t worry, acceptance is not resignation.  It is an opening that allows us to bloom.  It  allows those innate traits of the IP to flow freely in us.

 From you all things emerge 

Let’s go back and recall how this whole thing started.

She looked into the curved mirror of black space and saw by her own light her radiant reflection, and fell in love with it. She drew it forth by the power that was in Her and made love to Herself.  Their ecstasy burst forth in the single song of all that is, was, or ever shall be, and with the song came motion, waves that poured outward and became all the spheres and circles of the worlds. The Goddess became filled with love, swollen with love, and She gave birth to a rain of bright spirits that filled the worlds and became all beings.

All beings, that’s us – you and me – all that we are, all that we feel, all that we ever will be, think or do, are not just part of her …. They Are Her.  We are her.  She is us.  God is self, Self is god.  All of it, all of us, birthed into the world through love. The black space and the radiant light.  Ecstasy and separation.  My pain is her pain.  Her joy my joy.  There is nothing in me that is not of the gods.  Nothing wrong, nothing broken, nothing shameful.   Nor was there ever anything wrong with our experience, our reaction, our response.  All experiences, all emotions – the joy, sadness, fear, anger,  longing – all of it is divine.  There is a tricky catch here, because placing value on any one emotion over another will inevitably lead us to self-judgement, or even a type of spiritual bypassing.  Naming one this or that is just a story.

There is an invitation to go deeper here.  These emotional impressions arise within us, or are imprinted, due to past experiences. My fear of judgement and reprisal was laid down on top of my sense of self, and this experience left me with emotional impressions that produce fear, doubt and mistrust.  As I explore, especially within my own body, I can discover the stories I use to protect me from the pain and sadness of feeling judged,  recall or find my self buried there, and embrace who I am without self-judgement, radically accepting all that I am, all that I feel, all that I have experienced, knowing the story is not me.   If this is hard, use RAIN.   The steps of RAIN help us maintain openness and clarity, so we can see that our stories aren’t us – even the “good” ones (be careful here because stories are tricksy).  Labeling one story good (I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m determined) and another bad (I’m sad, I’m no good at this, I never get it right) has the same impact as labeling emotions.  Not all the stories the mind creates to keep us safe from the deep feelings are “bad” stories, but all the stories impact us the same way.  Believing the story keeps it us identified with it, and hinders the integration process.

There are also physiological causes of pain and sadness,  such as experiencing chemical depression or seasonal affective disorder (I experienced SAD while living in Ireland), or physical illness.  I felt grief and fear when parts of my body became paralyzed in 2015.   There was nothing wrong with my body because I experienced an illness (that’s a story), it didn’t mean I was bad or had done something wrong (another story), and there was nothing amiss in feeling the naturally arising emotions associated with my experience (more story making possible).  It just was.  The human possesses a wide spectrum of emotional capacities that are inherent (i.e., divine).   There is also nothing better about feeling healthy or happy – it’s just another story.   (I know, I know, but when we place a value on health over pain we risk self-judgement when we don’t feel healthy all the time – and how in the world could we.)  Acceptance is not resignation. It is an opening to bring clear and kind attention to our capacities, our experience, without giving fear based stories the power to shut down our lives.

from you all things emerge

Spiritual growth is not about feeling happy or overcoming deficits (that thinking arises from a morality system not part of Faery).  Personal growth is not about achieving all my dreams. These are all just stories.  Natural growth is a process of unfurling and it includes eventual death and decay.  Radical acceptance of all that I am, all the world is, all that She is without judgement allows me to be fully human, and being fully, freely human is growth. Faery is rich in this world view. In Faery we know that all things, experiences and beings emerge from Her, and to her they will all return – are continually emerging and returning.

Am I saying we should just accept all the horrible things happening in the world?  To never strive to be better?

Yea, kind of.   Striving is different than open engagement with the things I’m passionate about, it’s different than investigating with love those tender parts of my self that react out of pain, it’s different than remaining curious about myself and the universe I am part of.  Acceptance also means opening to my natural outpouring of compassion and love for a hurting world. It means staying open, not closing myself off.   Accepting and loving my experience of paralysis and recovery means opening to my curiosity about my own body and my relationship with it and the world around it.   These may or may not change my physiology, but they do open me to life. The Life I am living right now.

Be gentle with yourself.  We’re all in this together.

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*There are experiences of the IP that are vibrational, and more subtle, but that gets into an esoteric discussion not appropriate here.

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I wrote yesterday about the Faery SeedOak-acorn-sprouting and while everything I said is true, that the essence of this lineage can be found within that seed, most of us need help accessing it. I also mentioned one of the possible obscuring layers that can hamper our embodied knowing or realization of the seed. We don’t remember who we are.  Note the verb tense. We “are.”  Not will be or hope to become.  We are, everything is, I am, all things are, divine.  Right now.  But this forgetting piece is deep and often requires assistance and years of practice to unfold.

I’ve talked elsewhere in this blog about the importance of examining cultural and familial beliefs, impressions and world view.  Part of that examination may uncover layers of trauma, pain or energetic adhesions.  This is where a teacher comes in handy.   A teacher can suggest tools or exercises to free up adhesions, and they can see blind spots where we unconsciously hang onto culturally shaped and familially ingrained patterns.  But we don’t all have a teacher.

One of the things we can do on our own is to cultivate the ability to notice our internal landscape.  When I started training in this lineage one of my teachers was a big proponent of sitting meditation for this purpose.  While this is an excellent practice, those of us who have experienced trauma may have a difficult time, especially with mindfulness practice.  One of the tools this teacher used for herself was something called God Soul Listening.  In this exercise you imagine awareness rising up into the god soul above your head and fanning out, like a cobra.  I engaged this practice like an expert, or so I thought.  What I was actually doing was dissociating.  Not only that, but I didn’t have hours per day to sit in front of my altar.  I was the mother of four pre and early teenage children.  I needed a practice that kept me in my body and didn’t take additional time.

This is when Cora Anderson became my hero. Cora was a powerful, insightful practitioner yet she was practical, informal, and above all – engaged in the everyday business of life.   What some traditions call a “householder.”  Her concerns were a clean kitchen, food on the table, and children that were tended to.  So began my journey into myself.

I started to engage with my breath while washing dishes.  This was immensely satisfying because the view from the kitchen window was of the green back garden. I grounded myself as I stood, paying attention to the feel of the water on my hands, the smell of the lavendar scented soap, and the visual field of green trees and plants. I would breathe down the cooling starry energy from above, follow it into my pelvic bowl, and then breathe up the warming energy from the fire in the earth all the way to the outer edge of my energy body.  By incorporating the embodied practice which was practical (washing dishes), with the intention in my breath work,  I began to unfold layers.

There were many other day-to-day activities I eventually stirred my tools into, such as cooking, sweeping, riding my bike to work, and brushing my teeth, to name only a few.  I increased the complexity of the breathing practice adding pauses and patterns, I added other tools for self inquiry into the mix and eventually incorporated what I would consider more advanced energy work – all while doing daily, embodied activity.   The main take-away for me was that all parts of me, no matter what I was thinking, feeling or doing were part of the Star Goddess – there was no part of my Self that needed changing or fixing (a notion I had come into meditation practice with) – and that deep spiritual work, and personal growth, could be integrated into my nuts and bolts life. As I went about my day, internally working my tradition’s tools, I began to feel myself as part of the divine weave of the world.

I did have specific trauma work still to do, in order to calm my central nervous system, as well as other work targeted at the release of energetic adhesions, but this practice took me far. In fact, I still do it.  As I sit here at work I am intentionally running my breath down and up, pause and notice, down and up, pause and notice, grab the phone, pause and notice, down and up, look up that award, pause and notice, grab the budget, down and up.

 

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Faery Seed

There are many articles floating around on the internet that attempt to express what particular Anderson Faery / Feri generated tools or concepts mean and how they are used for practice.  Often these articles are written by non-initiates, and thus a key component of experience is missing.  To complicate matters it is difficult for a non-initiate to know exactly who the initiates in this lineage are (Faery does have a lineage keeper who tracks initiations and maintains the genealogical tree)… but I digress.

The main misconception in many of these attempts is focus. That’s because Faery / Feri is not about the tools or the practices.  It is not about deities or rites or other esoteric components, though these are present.  It is informed by key concepts and a particular view but it isn’t them. What it is about is remembering that you are god.  As Victor Anderson said, “God is Self and Self is God and God is a Person like my Self.”   Yet this remembering is not for grandiose pretentiousness, for as Cora Anderson said “to be Feri is to be a good person.”  So what does it mean to be a  good person and what does it mean to be god?

Some would say that meditation on the pentacles of Iron and Pearl might lead you to an answer. I might say meditation on the Creation Myth would.

One version of this myth was published by Starhawk, an initiate of the Andersons.

Alone, awesome, complete within Herself, the Goddess, She whose name cannot be spoken, floated in the abyss of the outer darkness, before the beginning of all things. As She looked into the curved mirror of black space, She saw by her own light her radiant reflection, and fell in love with it. She drew it forth by the power that was in Her and made love to Herself, and called Her “Miria, the Wonderful”.

Their ecstacy burst forth in the single song of all that is, was, or ever shall be, and with the song came motion, waves that poured outward and became all the spheres and circles of the worlds. The Goddess became filled with love, swollen with love, and She gave birth to a rain of bright spirits that filled the worlds and became all beings.

But in that great movement, Miria was swept away, and as She moved out from the Goddess She became more masculine. First She became the Blue God, the gentle, laughing god of love. Then She became the Green One, vine-covered, rooted in the earth, the spirit of all growing things. At last She became the Horned God, the Hunter whose face is the ruddy sun and yet dark as Death. But always desire draws Him back toward the Goddess, so that He circles Her eternally, seekintg to return in love.

All began in love; all seeks to return to love. Love is the law, the teacher or wisdom, and the great revealer of mysteries.

All comes from her, is her, and then returns to her. As has been said by many throughout the ages:

Holy Mother, in you we live, move, and have our being.  From you all things emerge and unto you all things return.

 

Another version of the Creation Myth, supposedly from Victor himself, was recounted by Anaar in her booklet The White Wand.

Darkness is older than Light. The sun and each star is surrounded by a vastness of dark. The universe began as a very small tiny seed egg. The seed egg was in the womb of the Natural Mother of the Universe. She is not a necessary cause of creation, the Blessed Virgin of the Outer Darkness needed no help. Creation was just as natural as bringing forth a child in your womb from a fertilized egg. Only in this case, the Blessed Virgin of the Outer Darkness did not have to have any help, because She was the Natural Mother, the natural extension of the universe, just as we are the natural extension in Nature when we bring forth a child.

She is a feminine being, with all the power and potency of Nature, including the Male. Star Goddess, Holy Ghost. She is the Aumakua of the Universe so mine is a part of Her. She is Virgin because She needed no other to create. Her companion the God is brought forth from Her because the male is mutated out from the female. The Goddess took unto Herself Two Bright Spirits and perfected them into God with Her birth. These Spirits are with Her at all times, but we speak of either one of them as the God because they are exactly alike! Identical Spirit Twins, the Bright Dual Consort of the Blessed Mother.

In Victor’s cosmology this story mirrors our human experience, for in his triple soul model we have a god soul (Aumakua) with twin spirits, our animal self and our human self.

Yet the important question for me is this: if all things, all beings, all worlds are birthed and arise from the one divine Mother / god / awareness, then why don’t we feel it? Why don’t we, at a deep level, remember that we are divine and part of the divinity of all things?

That’s a big question, and at first we might get tripped up on this word divinity.  If you were reared in the United States or perhaps anywhere in the West, you likely have an association between the Christian god and the concept of divinity.  Yet the Christian god is transcendent.  He does not dirty his hands in manifest reality.  In fact, the  lush world of flesh was so tainted, in his view, that it required a blood sacrifice to cleanse it.  The Star Goddess, and those of us who are Faery (however you spell it), hold a very different view.  In our view divinity is imminent. She infuses all.  She is active in the world because the world IS her.  So flesh, bark, worms, clouds, molecules, poop, all of it are the very essence of what it means to be holy, to be divine. This, right now, is as god as it gets.

When and if you truly remember all this – that god is you, that god manifested herself in the world as you for the sake of love, and that all you see, touch, smell, taste and hear are manifestations of god which is you – then you will be a good person, just like Cora said.   And that, my friends, is Faery.

Go and meditate on this.  For this is the purpose of all tools, to help you remember.

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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 encourage 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

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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.

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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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