A poem for Beltane…

Beltane

As the sun grows hot and bright
And the year-wheel slowly turns.
The veil thins on Beltane night. 
And passion’s fire brightly burns.

Arise in lust and join the dance
‘round the maypole one by one
And as the cup is pierced by lance
The holy union has begun.

Leap across the blazing flames
To bless the coming year
The Eastern Gate now opened wide
And through; the Fae draw near.

Those who shine as stars below
Now dance in revelry
In forest, city, town, and grove
By human eye unseen.

We raise a toast on Beltane night
And make our offerings
To elves and faery, shade, and sprite
Within the sacred ring.

Image

And here’s another…

And now… here's Mari

Inline image 1

Mari is the Great Mother; the soul of nature that gives rise to all life. She is the spirit of the Earth, Moon, Sea, and Sky, the embodiment of all manifestation. She is an “Earth Goddess” in the sense that it is She who gives form. She gives birth to us, sustains us in life, and receives us again at our death. She is the fecund energy of the Universe as it manifests on this planet. The entire Earth is Her body. She is also the spirit of every woman; mother, sister, daughter, lover… and witch. She is the quintessential Goddess. Virgin, Mother, Harlot; She is Three and She is One.

Victor Anderson was reportedly quite adamant that Mari was “the same person as the Star Goddess” and the celestial imagery that is associated with Mari clearly illustrates this. She is the Star God/dess when She becomes pregnant with the divine child, the Dian y Glas, giving birth to the splendor of the world. In this, like the Biblical Mary, She becomes “the Mother of God”.

She is also a Moon Goddess and is the same deity as Diana, Queen of the Witches where her connection to freedom, and to the faerie folk are both firmly established.

I was taught that she had a crown of twelve stars but that sometimes this would actually be thirteen, based on Victor Anderson's poem Quakoralina, the Star Goddess in which the Goddess is described as wearing a crown of "six and seven" blue stars. Here Her crown has twelve stars while a 13th –a seven-pointed faery star– rests upon Her brow.

New Art!

I have been working on handouts for my BlueRose F(a)eri(e) classes and finally got around to making a couple new pieces of art. My Mari is almost finished, but right now I am happy to unveil: Black Ana of the Forbidden Mysteries.

Inline image 2Inline image 1

What we have come to know as Ana is a very ancient power. She has been known by many, many names. Anna, or Annys… The Winter Queen. Hecate. The Morrigu. As the Cailleach we know that She was already ancient when the pre-Christian settlers arrived in Ireland.  She is a primal Dark Goddess. She is the Crone; the Hag. The Queen of the Dead. She is the Spirit of Nighttime; the body of the sleeping Earth in Winter. She is the archetypal witch and all who practice the Craft are of Her order.

She may appear as a very old woman wrapped in a hooded black cloak. Her skin and Her hair are pure white. She holds a great curved silver sickle, and She is crowned with nine (or, sometimes strangely, “9 plus”) stars. Her emblem is a black raven, or the vulture.

Here she is shown spinning the golden threads of fate, Her scythe ready to make the fatal cut. She can also be seen in ‘Grandmother Spider’, the Native American Goddess of creation who steals the sun and fire for the world. As an otherworldy Goddess she is shown here with both belladonna (deadly nightshade) and with fly agaric, the mushroom that grants visions and was an ingredient in many recipes for ‘flying ointment’; a traditional hallucinatory assistant for astral travel.   

Holding the Center: Privilege, Pain, and Pantheacon

So many have been made aware in the past few days of the actions and controversies present at Pantheacon this year centering around gender exclusion and derogatory speech. For those who are not, I point you here, here, here, and here for some different points of view. Because I see all of this as part of an evolving process I am reticent to jump on anyone’s bandwagon of which there are several, preferring instead to cultivate a stance that is centered on loving everyone involved. If those words compel you to judge me one way or another, I invite you to hold that judgment as I am a fallible person just like anyone else. In presenting my words and actions I am decidedly not asking others to adopt my worldview; fully recognizing the necessity of many different approaches. I also humbly ask that you at least entertain the notion that this situation is actually very complicated, though some have chosen to “boil it down” into simplistic notions that, in my opinion, actually threaten the common goals that we all share, which I believe are equality and acceptance.

There is more than one issue at hand; this is far more than simply a case of gender exclusion, although that is a part of the argument for some. For others it is about what has rightfully been called “hate speech”, and a prime perpetrator of such who has held a position of honor and even of reverence to some within the Pagan community. For others it is about tradition… for others, fear… for still others, it is about that invisible privilege that those of us in our communities might share and take for granted. And along with all of this there is anger. Some anger is righteous, but some is just hateful and quite frankly beneath the common principals of human dignity, an extreme position that some might be surprised to find exists on both sides of this great divide.

But even as I speak of opposing sides I am reminded that even this is not that simple. Duality is the very thinking that got us here in the first place and we crossed that boundary long ago into new territories of pluralism and multiplicity.

While Z Budapest, founder of the women’s-only[i] branch of the Dianic tradition, was scheduled to lead her ritual for “genetic women only”[ii], another Dianic ritual was also scheduled, and one that was inclusive of all genders, orientations, and lifestyles. “The Rite of the Bear Mother” was conceived by Devin Hunter, founding member and Head Priest of the Living Temple of Diana, and Yeshe Rabbit, founding member and High Priestess of CAYA and the Grove of Artemis. This ritual was conceived as a means to bring healing to the community after the events of last year. Together these distinct manifestations of the Dianic tradition (the female-only Grove and the gender-inclusive Temple) came together in the spirit of love and cooperation to open to the presence of the Goddess as the ‘Bear Mother’; that fierce and compassionate force of wild nature that protects Her cubs with every last ounce of Her indomitable being. But the very core of that fierce protection is a core of love; the love of mother for child, the love that would give its life for the life of Her child… the love that heals all wounds, that sooths all pain.

As we gathered for our ritual we were told that Z was going to be making a statement about the events, and it was decided that since our ritual was one of inclusion and healing that we would be remiss if we did not open our ears and hearts to what showed promise to be a significant step forward, and one that was not expected. It was decided that we would move into a space aside from both those who sat in silent and respectful protest, and those who had elected to participate in Z’s rite, honoring both for their decisions and projecting a sense of love in the hopes to remind us all that beyond our hurt, our pain, our joy, and our gender, we are all one in the eyes of the Goddess.

Shortly after we arrived, Z did as well, along with another group which included Rev. Hyperion, and they moved into the space across the protestors to stand alongside those who were waiting to participate in the ritual. Z assumed at first that we (along with the other group standing across from the protestors) were standing in support of her; an assumption that was quickly corrected when both Rabbit and Hyperion spoke on behalf of the individual groups, stating unequivocally that they (and we) stood neutral to hold a space of love and to bear witness to the events about to take place.

Some have expressed confusion as to what the different groups were doing there, and I must admit that the presence of the other group at first confused me as well. Where people expected just one group aside from the ritual participants, we were given three, and we were all there for different, yet overlapping reasons. Much like the Occupy movements across the world, there was no central authority, no one position that was being expressed by all. It was spontaneous, organic. It was also loving, raw, peaceful, and authentic. The meditating protestors openly beamed love and thoughtfulness while others openly wept and shared their pain, also a tremendous act of love for the community. I was struck at the bravery of those who chose to sit in respectful silence to show to Z –and to everyone else—just how important these issues really are.

While some have argued that our decision to hold that liminal space of neutrality is akin to “siding with the oppressors” (a stance that I find dangerously close to Bush’s “You’re either for us, or against us”) I think it’s important to point out that a neutral space is a necessary part of the process of rendering justice; we need the space of calm thoughtfulness in order to ensure that everyone is heard. Only then can we engage in right action. Only then can we see the whole picture for what it is. We were there to project love to everyone and to hear and witness Z’s statement. I hold that space in order to hear what transwomen and everyone else has to say. This is a process that requires listening, dedication, and thoughtfulness.

Neutrality does not mean that we have no opinions. I certainly have them. I have been an outspoken critic of Z for some time. I feel that her words have been hurtful –even hateful—and have no place in the new paradigm of love and acceptance that we have been collectively creating as we move into the Aquarian age. She is a Pagan leader and as such she needs –needs— to be held accountable. But she is also an old woman. When I saw her emerge shortly after we arrived on the scene, I saw a woman who was hurt, scared, and defensive. She was confused and very much reacting. I was not pleased with her apology which seemed to me to be more about being sorry for how others reacted to her, rather than for her actions themselves. To me, that is not much of an apology. I was disappointed, but I also felt that this was all we were going to get. Disappointed… but also hopeful, since this was in itself actually a huge step forward. Not enough… but a step.

I don’t think that the answer is to vilify Z. I have seen much anger in the past year, and much more so in the past few days, that is directed toward her. Some of this anger is righteous. I myself have anger on this issue. But I also know that anger and violence (of action as well as of word) will only serve to escalate and infect those wounds that we share. Do not mistake love for apathy. Do not mistake thoughtfulness for inaction.

What is the answer in this? I know only of the first step: listening. It is a theme that has come up for me again, and again. In order to truly heal our wounds we need to be heard, we need to know that our feelings have been truly witnessed. I was there to bear witness… to Z… to the protesters… to those who chose to participate in Z’s ritual. I was there to witness them all… and to them all I send my love. I will not choose the road of hate. While that is an easy road to follow I know all too well where it leads. I choose the road of love.

But even this is just part of a larger process; there will come a time in the very near future where the information has all been gathered, the stories will have been heard and the time then will be to act. But it usurps the process if I were to declare what that action should look like. For now I continue to hold that space of love for everyone who has been hurt as I meditate, gather my feelings, and take a deep look at everything that has come up.

One of the things that really struck me while we were processing into the space was a sign that one of the protestors (who is also a friend) was holding. It read, “ALL women are Real”. This, I think, encapsulates a very important argument that needs to be carefully addressed by those who are more educated on the subject than I am. I am not a trans-person. I cannot speak to the pain, to the joys, to the mysteries of that particular manifestation of the Goddess… what I can speak to, however, is the commonality of the heart. And what I felt was pain. And that pain needs to be addressed, along with ways to ensure that it will not happen again. Z hurt these people… with her words (a powerful tool for a witch, to be certain), with her actions, but most of all with her ignorance. But it is ignorance. And instead of vilifying her for it I will remember one of the most important messages that I have learned in my tradition: to have compassion, even for weakness. I hold a space of compassion for Z, just as I hold that compassion for everyone involved. I will hold that compassion even as we move into the space of action. Perhaps that action will include boycotts, or policy changes, or declarations, or Gods-knows-what, but right now –in this moment—I simply don’t know the answer. We’re still talking about it and trying to figure it all out. All I know is compassion is all I really have to offer right now. And it is my hope that compassion will serve as a foundation upon which we can collectively build a future together in which everyone has a space at the table. Evohe! Blessed be.

Storm Faerywolf
F(a)eri(e) priest, BlueRose
Dianic priest, Living Temple of Diana
2/22/2012


[i] It seems obvious at this point that a better description might be cis-women’s tradition, a term that refers to non-trans women. It should be noted that not all who are downline of Z adhere to the cis-gender criteria.

[ii] This term appeared in the official description of the rite as advertised in the Pantheacon program guide.

New Workshop

Spiritual Cleansing: Purification Rites for the Self and Home
with Storm Faerywolf
Saturday, August 27; 3-5pm
$20
Location: The Mystic Dream, Walnut Creek, CA

Every religion and spiritual path has knowledge of practices for the purpose of cleansing the soul of that which ails us. Whether this be in the form of anger, grief, worry, negative energy or “evil sprits”, we can take control of our selves and our environments to banish unwanted spirits and energies and attract those things that are beneficial. Together we will discuss herbs, stones, symbols and rituals from various cultures and traditions and combine what we have learned into a simple rite to cleanse ourselves leaving us feeling purified and free.

Call 925-933-2342 to register with a credit card over the phone, or visit above link for more info.

Many threads within the Cord

Owning a magical and spiritual supply store has been my dream since I was a little boy. I remember always being fascinated with magic and the occult, and told my mother when I was 2 years old that when I grew up I was going to be a witch. So now, today my husband and I own our own shop, The Mystic Dream, where we are happy to provide magical advice and instruction to those in need, as well as quality blended magical products from our apothecary, drawing from the various magical traditions that we each practice. 

First and foremost, I consider myself a priest, which I define as someone whose spiritual calling is to be a “mediator of Divine presence”. My approach has been to combine the knowledge gained through my study, practice, and initiations into various witchcraft, magical, and spiritual systems in a way that honors them all, underneath the umbrella of my own conscience and divine authority.

Some see all eclectic and syncretic approaches to magic as being shallow, but this is a judgment based on observing only those instances in which such approaches are lacking mastery in their work. While it is true that some “dig many shallow wells”, instead of a single one deeply, this does not preclude the possibility of digging many deep wells… or if you prefer, drawing from many threads of power and weaving them together into a singular cord of powerfully informed practice.

We have been working with a lot of different ideas lately. Different lines of magical thought and products… different styles of poetry and approach… I love being able to use the tools and current of the F(a)eri(e) witchcraft tradition and folkloric-faery practice, alongside Reiki, Shamanic work, Hoodoo & Conjure, just to name a few of the traditions and spiritual systems that I am a part of. In Feri it is taught that “All Gods are Feri Gods”, and I believe that this approach is appropriate when extended out into the various cultures and practices of which many of us can claim genetic or spiritual lineage. I draw from Irish folk-tales in my spiritual work, as well as use Hoodoo Conjure Oils with Feri exercises and Daoist-inspired energy work and Reiki. Feri is syncretic and will use whatever gets results. I find my best results come from using what inspires be in the moment, instead of constantly drawing from the same source over and over again. Feri in this respect is a type of “chaos magic” in that different mythical and artistic paradigms can be employed at different times and still be seen as traditional within the Feri worldview. Sometimes this is hard for some people as it can be seen as “moving away” from traditional established norms; but let us remember that Feri is not about dogma, but about creation. We shouldn’t be “re-inventing the wheel”, but instead inventing new forms of travel altogether. I’ll see that wheel, and raise a car.

So then have we been creating vehicles for our various artistic and spiritual approaches:

Modern Conjure is where we are highlighting the magical work that we offer to clients. Here you can find oils, salts, waters, mojo hands, and more… all for your particular magical needs. Schedule a tarot reading… have a magical consultation in which we help create a spell for you to perform –or have us perform it for you. We are happy to Dress candles, Set Lights, perform private rituals (either in-person or remotely), and cast spells on your behalf.

BlueRose is my lineage and school of F(a)eri(e) tradition witchcraft, which stems from the teachings and lineage of Victor & Cora Anderson. Initiates and students together are building a space for Feri practitioners who wish to explore and deepen our understanding of this wildly diverse form of American Witchcraft. 

Witch Eye is an annual magazine devoted to the F(a)eri(e) tradition, full of art, articles, spells, and lore of interest to practitioners of our tradition. 

BlueLotus is our school and lineage of Reiki. The energetic lineage that I pass draws from multiple sources: First, Usui-Tibetan, which provides the traditional Japanese tradition of Reiki with additional symbols and material for spiritual development and healing, and second, Blue Fire which originated with Carrie Hammond in 2006 and combines the practices and approach of Reiki with the energetics of blue fire from the Feri tradition.

Carnivalia  is the website, workshop, and mad dream of my husband, Chas Bogan. Here we sell occult items of a aesthetically darker nature, including Spiritual Talking Boards, original altar statuary, and blended oils & waters for various magical purposes. I am happy to contribute art for talking boards and written spells for this project. 

The Modern Witch Podcast is the vehicle for our boyfriend, Devin Hunter, to which I am a regular contributor. Enjoy discussions of a magical nature, along with music and interviews with some of Pagandom’s most interesting and creative artists & teachers. I am often a guest, participating in round-table discussions centering around issues relevant to magic and witchcraft.

We’ve also been thinking a lot about art and products made specifically with gay practitioners of the Craft in mind… our new line, “Dandy Warlock” will soon have oils, bath salts, creams, soaps, ritual tools, art, and accessories for the discerning and stylish practitioners the Black Arts (and by Black Arts I of course mean those that are slimming.) ;) 

And all of these projects and services are available through our store, The Mystic Dream, and of course through my own website, www.faerywolf.com. In the weeks and months to come we hope to streamline them together to make it easier to navigate and find exactly what you are looking for.

So… we’ve been busy. Stay tuned for further developments!

Interviewed by Witches of Salem…

For those who are interested, this past Wednesday night I gave an interview about Feri tradition, secrecy in the Craft, and the use and politics of the word ‘warlock’ to the hilarious Christian Day for his podcast Hex Education. Check it out if you are so inclined.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hexeducation/2011/07/07/feri-tradition-of-witchcraft-with-warlock-storm-faerywolf

New BlueRose F(a)eri(e) Class starts June 18

My upcoming 2 year in-person F(a)eri(e) class has only a couple of spaces left. If you are interested, please send me an application by May 1st, 2011.  More information can be found at www.BlueRoseFeri.com

BlueRose F(a)eri(e) Level One
with Storm Faerywolf
(4 semesters: Roughly 2 Years, monthly sessions)
$200 per semester, pre-paid -or- $40 per month
New Class to begin June 18, 2011.
We will meet on the 3rd Saturday of each month, from 12 noon to 6pm
(September 2011’s class moved to the 24th)
Submit an application to be considered
Class held at The Mystic Dream in Walnut Creek, CA

This foundational class deals with the basics of Feri practice. Using discussion, guided trance, energy work, art projects, and ritual, we will experience various aspects of the tradition culminating in the establishment of a Feri tradition spiritual practice. Students who complete this course will receive a certificate of completion. This class does not offer Feri initiation. All Three Levels are required for consideration of initiation into Feri tradition.

Covered topics include:

  • History of the Tradition
  • Meditation     
  • Cleansing/Kala
  • Aligning the Three Souls
  • The Iron and Pearl Pentacles
  • The Black Heart of Innocence
  • The Elements of Feri
  • Opening the Crossroads
  • Spellwork, Sorcery, and the Left Hand Path
  • Basic Feri Ritual/Casting the Circle
  • Working Tools
  • The Guardians
  • The Divine Twins
  • Basic Sex Magic
  • Ancestral Work
  • The Infinitum (Gods of the Feri Lemniscate)

Storm Faerywolf is an artist, writer, poet, teacher, and initiate of the F(a)eri(e) tradition of witchcraft. He has been practicing the Craft for over 25 years and teaching for more than 15. He has lead open circles, given lectures, and taught classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the U.S. He holds the Black Wand, an honor bestowed by Feri Grandmaster Cora Anderson. He has studied diverse practices from various branches of the tradition which he incorporates into his own line of Feri, BlueRose. He is the author of The Stars Within the Earth, and is the editor of WitchEye: A Journal of Feri Uprising. For more information about his classes or his art visit his website at www.faerywolf.com.