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Posts Tagged ‘Faery Tradition’

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 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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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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