Archive for the ‘faery tradition’ Category

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?
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; Francisco Goya

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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)


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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I  am an initiate and abiding student of the Faery Tradition of witchcraft (also known as Feri), which was passed through Victor and Cora Anderson.  This tradition is a beautiful, and uniquely American, order of Old Craft.  There are many things I feel and believe about my practice of Faery witchcraft, and I do not speak much publicly about those.  However, I want to express a few things I feel are important, and make them available publicly in the event they prove helpful to someone seeking out this tradition.

1.  There is no ‘one’ way of practicing Faery.  There really aren’t any agreed upon ‘core’ beliefs or practices within the tradition.  The only fundamental and congruous element is the unique Faery Current.  However, having said that, each initiate has a very specific way of working and practicing, and anyone studying with an initiate will first learn their way of practice, just like the old apprentice model.

2.  The majority of Faery initiates teach for free, in a rather old school ‘in-person’ way, or at least more one-on-one. There are a handful of very public initiates who teach according to a large classroom model, some of whom teach via the internet and charge a fee. [Edit: There are, within the handful of more public initiates, those who teach fewer students, using various methods, and charge a fee.]  But most initiates within the tradition are more private, and take students as they meet them, or not at all.

3.  Since the fundamental thread of the tradition is built around a living current, in-person contact with an initiate is paramount.  My one and only advice to anyone interested in this tradition of witchcraft is to ASK, ask, ASK if an initiate lives anywhere near you and contact them directly, or indirectly (through an initiate willing to make introductions) if they are private.

4.  There are now Feri initiates located all over the world.  If you have heard of this wild, queer, androgynous, non-degree system of witchcraft, and are drawn to it, I suggest you ASK, ask, ASK until you find an initiate close enough to your location to visit in person, and contact them. [Edit: Since the majority of initiates are private, you won’t be able to find them doing a google search.  You will need to ask around.  You can even email a more public initiate and ask them to introduce you to an initiate living closer to your area.  We initiates have ways of contacting each other.]

Luminous : Æ

Luminous : Æ

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help, protect, and defend thy Brothers and Sisters of the Art

There is an ancient story that in days long ago Wytches met in secret.  That to come among them, you swore a fearsome Oath.  Your measure was taken, with cord Hallow and Mighty, upon your promise to “keep Secret” and “Protect” the Art and those who practiced it.

A dread Oath to swear.  For, if the oath be broken by a Witch, his or her cord was buried with curses, so that as it rotted the traitor would too.

How many of you have mused on that time, and imagined yourself called to betray the names of your coven or your neighbors?  Would you…under torture, speak their names?

Bessie Dunloptumblr_m5gzspxhAN1qatqtto1_400

Elizabeth Knap

Marigje Arriens

Johann Albrecht Adelgrief

Goodwife Bassett

Giovanna Bonanno

George Burroughs

Lasses Birgitta

Michée Chauderon

Nyzette Cheveron

Elizabeth Clarke

Helena Curtens

Jean Delvaux

Catherine Deshayes

Thomas Doughty

Anna Eriksdotter

Ann Glover


Perhaps we understand, all too well, what heinous physical cruelty these healers, midwives, cunning folk, and mystics endured.

                       Perhaps we hold mercy for those who screamed the names of others.

But in our day and age?

What is our modern equivalent?

A subpoena?

Would you “out” your brothers and sisters if a court demanded it?

What of MONEY?

Would you make known the secrets of the Art for payment?

What of prestige?

“I am High Muckety Muck Raven Claw” …. “I was told by the Goddess Spank Me that THIS is the only correct way”

I am a Witch heart-broken, enraged, and determined.  Someone has revealed.  Someone has made known.  Someone has not protected her brothers and sisters of the Art.

What would you do?

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I belong to two ecstatic neo-pagan traditions.   These two traditions of witchcraft, Feri and Reclaiming, consider themselves ecstatic rather than fertility based.  This means they do not focus on polarity or duality of gender.  [In fact,the extreme (odd) polarized conditions of ultra feminine and masculine (Mother and Father) deity are atypical conditions, present for very specific purposes (creating new life), that do not reflect the expression of most deity forms or humans (which are nearer the androgynous unity of the universe).]   Instead,  they actively encourage Otherness – in sexual expression, philosophical thinking, approach to magical work, and personal development.  What they focus on is an immediate and personal experience and expression of divinity; of Self as Divine.

Reclaiming’s ritual style is said to be (EIEIO) Ecstatic, Improvisational, Ensemble, Inspired, and Organic (Starhawk, The Pagan Book of Living and Dying).  In this context, ecstatic refers to free-form expression of an immediate and personal engagement: with divinity, with life, with spirit.  Reclaiming strives to be non-hierarchical and encourages shared power and equal participation.  This focus on equality, with an expectation of stepping into personal power, creates an atmosphere that fosters ecstatic experience.  Reclaiming rituals are not scripted, though some, like the Samhain Spiral Dance, are shared and recycled.  This freshness allows for ritual spontaneity which opens another pathway into ecstasy.  Another element is Reclaiming’s use of the possessory style called aspecting.  This tool allows for direct experience of god forms.

Since Reclaiming has its roots in Feri, you find much of this same flavor within the Feri Tradition, though with a bit more diversity; however, due to the very private nature of Feri as a tradition, I will make my comments brief.  There are some Feri lines which use scripted material while others do not, all are hierarchical (certain information is initiates only), some lines are more free-form and public while some are very secret, but all place emphasis on personal power and responsibility, direct and immediate experience of spirit, and all make regular use of possession as one of several tools for direct experience of god forms.

For me, it’s all about the directness and immediacy.  For me, the ecstatic…experiencing ecstasy…..is itself a tradition, and one that is the very essence of life and what it means to be alive.

It is a primal, personal expression.  The snap of twig and smell of crushed herb under foot.  The tingle of cold rain pattering bare flesh.  The sound of hawk soaring, feeling of eyes watching, taste of sweat on….. my…. lip.  Pouring  milk on the ground, liquid white, licking the spilled droplets from my fingers.  Succulent butter..pat, pat, smear….on stone, on lips, on hands.  Glossy.  To run through the field under the cold stars, to spin … breathing in the green fire of LIFE.  Into my very pores it seeps, infusing me with the quickness of life springing from itself.  I writhe; in the tall grass my body is caressed.  My Being expands and I no longer feel the edges of my skin.  Outward I venture until within me is all of the Universe…. like Her.  I drift, pregnant with possibility.

Union.  The ecstatic union of Self with self, of Self with Other.

28.  None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.

29. For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.

30. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

In an instant, from this expanse I am filled.  Thrust into my soft flesh the warm fire of the Gods.   Emanates, Imminent.  He sees…. through my eyes.  She touches….with my hands. They sing speaking words of animal wisdom…. with my lips.

I need no “high” priestess, for I am She who birthed all life from her womb.  I have witnessed the Great Mystery and kissed its mouth, though my legs would fall from under me.  I have stood tall and proud in the presence of the Powers.  I dared name myself….and Them.  I have strained with the sweat of blood to push a slipping, shiny Life into the World of Form.  I have wept alone in the bitter night of loneliness and suffering.  I have tasted the pain of death, the joy of orgasm, the warmth of community.  All of this and more is the ecstatic pulse that rushes through my veins.   To embrace Life, in all its shades and tastes, is the Charge. I can say it no better than my first Feri teacher, and I will close with his words…of ecstasy.  (blessings to you, Caradoc.  what is remembered lives)

So we celebrate the wheel of the year and the waxing and waning of the moon, the rhythms of night and day, the rhythms of sex and the breathing patterns of childbirth….The universe itself is dancing with and about us; that dance is the dance of our very nature, and that dance I accept wholeheartedly. In that joyous assent to life and death is the seasons’ round, the wheel of the year, the promise of the seed, the replanting of the oak; in that assent lies our dreams, our power, and our promise….We have this world and this life, and nothing else — at least nothing else that is certain, that we can feel and touch. The question, perhaps the only question that has ever been worth asking, is how best to live it.
The answer I have come to is play. Experiment. Do what feels good without regards to the tortuous rhetoric of long-dead saints like Origen, who said, “I believe because it is absurd,” and, to stem the sexual urges that made chastity a burden, severed his own genitals. Such men and women were probably psychotics living out their sick fantasies.
The answer, my friends, is to just say YES. Yes to the whole bloody, joyous, messy, painful business of birth and life and death, yes to the fragile and transitory exquisiteness of moonlight on water and flesh moving under your hands. Accept the whole journey from newborn babe to dead meat.
Did those last words give you pause? Good; they were meant to. Don’t flinch and turn your eyes away; look it square in the face: dead meat. We all have an appointment in Samarra someday. Undying spirit or not, your flesh and mine, my friend, and all the lovely flesh we have ever cherished, will one day in a span of time that will seem in retrospect the twinkling of an eye be transformed into piles of dead meat, with as likely as not some bozo dressed in white pumping formaldehyde into them in a grisly, meaningless attempt to provide some semblance of immortality by keeping them from rotting.
No one may stay the hand of change. We are impermanent, yes, but we are not illusion. We may be sparks burning as we fall through the night towards that final darkness, but for that span of time in which we fall burning, we are.
Rather than fearing death, let it be the light spur of urgency reminding you to live to the fullest, without holding back, to shine as brightly as you can against the dark. As a Chinese poet whose name I forget wrote, “This moment will not come twice; an inch of time is worth a foot of jade.”…there is benefit to be derived from the certainty that there is nothing in the end but rotting meat. It reminds us not to let life with its infinite possibilities pass us by while we watch passively from the sidelines hoping someone will want to dance with us.
But you may say, accept pleasure and you must accept pain. Yes, I nod sagely, smiling a crooked smile, that’s right. Very good; you’re paying attention. But reject pleasure and you will still have pain to endure; fight pain and you make it worse.
Pain only hurts; there are worse things. Things like fear and guilt, which paralyze the will and rob life of the joy and spontaneity of free-flow.
Pain hurts and pleasure pleases. Take them together. But fear and guilt, shame and restriction, these have no place, at least in my life. They are the false inheritance of systems of thought aimed at controlling us, aimed at making us good sheep ready to follow the Judas goat up the ramp to the slaughterhouse.
They are the tools of those who claim power over us, who hold power over us only because we give it to them, and whose real interest in us is limited to how much wool, meat, and tallow they can make from our lives. …
Fear and guilt and shame: they alienate us from ourselves, from our very nature and bodies, even from our dreams. Estranged from ourselves, we spend our lives searching for the approval of others, or for power, money, position to shelter us from their disapproval.
Driven by insecurity, by fear of ourselves planted at the very deepest levels of our being by the most well-meaning and loving parents and teachers (themselves victims of an ugly inheritance) we run, we hide, we learn to be good, productive, and uncomplaining citizens-as if the highest good to which we could aspire is to spend our brief precious flicker of time building better automobiles, scrubbing other peoples’ floors or praying on our knees to the God who taught us shame, the God who in the legends of his own faith drove us out of the garden for tasting the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge lest we should be tempted to taste of the Tree of Life and become too much like him for his petulant comfort….The machine runs, as it has always run, on fear and guilt and shame, chewing up human lives and hopes and dreams and spitting out poisoned air and earth and water, always taking reality and giving us symbols in return. To the machine alone, I say No! with the resounding finality not of words but of the substance and pattern of my whole life.
My life is my life; I will not waste it knowingly, nor give it up to any other…. I have seen much of life, and of death, and of change, and I say if I had it all to do again, I would not only do more, but my regrets , such as they are (for they are not a thing I feed) are almost all for the chances not seized, the risks not taken, the pleasures refused.
Just say yes, did I say? Don’t just say it; shriek it with every fiber of your being. Roar it with your whole body so that its echoes will resound long after your voice has fallen silent. …Flinch from nothing; dare everything.

(excerpts from ‘Just say Yes!’, Gabriel Carrillo, 2000)

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