Will the ‘real Feri’, please shut up?

If you are one of those who is concerned with the ‘purity’ of Feri and the need to ‘protect’ the tradition from becoming ‘diluted’, then you will likely wish to skip this rant although it might do you some good.

There is no way to dilute Feri. Nor can you protect it. Feri is not a collection of techniques that can be codified and shared. Feri is a personal relationship with the Omniverse. Sure certain techniques have been seen to be effective and so have been handed down, but the second that we think that these things are Feri means we have missed the point.

The time for blindly accepting what our teachers hand us (no matter how popular they may be, or how eloquent they are, or even how long they have been in the tradition) is long past. I know it’s tempting, but none of us can really afford that. I have a deep respect for my teacher, but I do not idolize him, and if I notice that a student of mine is looking at me with that starry-eyed wonder particular to potential cult-members then I will quietly usher them off into the world of freedom to find someone else to play with… I just don’t have the time nor energy to foster those kinds of negative relationships and wish to stay way clear of Nikes and Kool-Aid, thank you very much. I often tell my students that, ultimately, my way is only right for me… what I teach is a way of figuring it all out for yourself. In the end your practice will look different than mine, because you are, in fact, a different person. “If you’re doing it my way, then you’re doing it wrong!” (No, really! It’s true!)  πŸ˜‰

It’s extra frustrating because some adherents of Feri cite certain “truths” about our path, but when we look at those statements in relation to the various claims being made then we see how something just doesn’t jibe up.

“Feri is a primal, wild path focused on achieving states of ecstasy.

OK… I rather like this one. This is one of the reasons that brought me into Feri in the first place. The statement, unfortunately, begins to break-down when you hang out long enough with a large group of Feri practitioners as there always seems to be a faction that is more concerned with “the TRUE Feri tradition” as opposed to what you can actually do with it. How can you simultaneously praise the form-dissolving nature of ecstasy, and then turn around and disparage others for not adhering to the same forms as you? And don’t hand me that “Feri is paradox” bullshit, because that’s a cop-out. (Yes, I know… Feri is paradox… but I really think many of us are abusing that term in order to not have to deal with the glaring logic-hole staring us in the face.)

“Feri rituals are often spontaneous and diverse” and “Feri has no pantheon.”

Really? Then why are there people arguing over whether or not the use of particular Guardian names are an indicator as to whether or not someone is ‘really Feri’. Why then do some people seem to freak out when you say that you might have a different relationship with a Deity/exercise/symbol/tool/fill-in-the-blank, than they do? (“What? You don’t work with __________? How can you call yourself Feri?”)

The sad thing is that it’s all been done before. Every religious group breaks into factions that start warring with each other at some point; leveling the charge of being “impure”, “misguided”, or simply “not correct”. In my naivety I had thought that perhaps with all of the emphasis on diversity and spontaneity that we would be less likely to have to suffer from that particular mindset. But, no. Apparently spontaneity has its limits… and those limits are usually defined by the opinions of ones’ teachers. So much for thinking for ourselves, I guess.

But let’s not throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater… There is a lot in Feri that when used consciously will serve to allow the practitioner a space in which to evolve and to touch the deeper powers, and there are a lot of people doing just that. Let’s all just try to remember that if we are busy poking our noses into other peoples practices, then it likely means that we are not spending enough time on our own.

‘Real Feri’ has nothing to do with what names you call, what gestures you use, or which tools inspire your work. On one level it is the same as what has been called ‘the Sabbatic Craft’; ‘the Nameless Arte”. It is that immanently transcendent experience of communing wholly with the ‘Other’ and allowing that communication to inform your unique and growing practice. Victor reportedly said, “Perceive first, then determine what is to be believed”. Good advice!

On another level Feri is chaos magick. We can adopt different ritual modalities on a whim depending on the needs of the moment. If Mari comes to me and I have a relationship with her then I will invoke her in my rites. Later, if it is Hecate who comes through then it is certainly no less Feri for me to be working with her. Likewise if I use techniques from Thelema, Qabbalah, Hermeticism, or any other set of magickal technologies. Feri embraces them all because Feri is magick. 

In the spirit of your unique and growing practices, I ask, “What does your practice lead you toward? Why Feri?”


52 responses to “Will the ‘real Feri’, please shut up?

  1. Hi there,
    Your post made me smile. I can’t imagine any practicing Feri Witch looking at their teacher with starry eyes. That just seems incongrues to a Feri practice.
    My practice leads me to dance naked with the Gods in my living room at just past midnight. Then walking around the next day with a huge satisfied smile on my face.
    The Gods have me singing more and more these days. And I can’t sing!

  2. I agree with you, we should always question our teachers. I know you’re talking specifically about Feri, but i think the best way to learn anything is to question it. πŸ™‚

  3. The stuff does seems to be wildly different than what some other folks seem to think of as “Feri”…far less emphasis on the Gods, for example. He includes things like shapeshifting as part of Fetch work. I, of course, have taken what he gave me and mutated it once again. Both of us have blended in a lot of the Southern hoodoo stuff that’s all over the place here, which works beautifully I might add.
    I notice nobody tries to start “more Feri than thou” fights with him or me. Possibly that is an advantage to being on the other side of the country from most everybody else, or maybe there are other factors at work.

    • I notice nobody tries to start “more Feri than thou” fights with him or me. Possibly that is an advantage to being on the other side of the country from most everybody else, or maybe there are other factors at work.
      I’ve noticed that no one does it to my face… Although I wonder if anyone levels that charge to someones face when they do. Each and every time I have heard someone try to make the claim that someone else isn’t really Feri it’s when the accused is nowhere near to hear and/or defend themselves. Hmmm… not really the Warrior Ethic that I was taught. πŸ˜‰
      I love to hear that you guys are doing shapeshifting as fetch work. That’s exciting!

      • I think I’m still trying to work my head around the idea, actually. Because I guess my idea of what Feri is, is “I know it when it bites me in the ass”.
        What I was told, by , is that MOST PEOPLE work with the IP and PP, and there are some simple things passed at initiation, and…the rest is negotiable. Because, according to him, Victor told different people different things at different times, in the first place.

      • I’m surprised to hear shapeshifting as fetch work being highlighted as apparently unusual… I normally work with fetch in shapeshifting… I guess this is a nice example of more than one thing being able to be Feri/Magic/Right.
        I’ve just stumbled across this page, I thought your rant was beautiful.

      • What strikes me as unusual is not so much that the shapeshifting work is done in conjunction with the fetch, as I think historically we can see a pretty strong connection between what has sometimes been called the astral body and the ability to take on another form. My interest is more due to the fact that shapeshifting was not a topic that was specifically covered in my Feri training; at least not in terms of actual techniques that are ‘traditional’. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I haven’t invented my own. πŸ™‚ My fetch takes on different animal and/or energetic forms depending on the ritual and the given situation. I’m just not familiar with any modern techniques on the subject, other than my own intuitive ones, and would love to hear what others do in this particular area of interest.

  4. There seem to be two different forces at work here. One is the nature of our Craft, F(a)eri(e), as an Original Magickal Craft (which means it includes absolutely everything, just like the Universe from which it springs!). The other is ‘my line of Feri’. I’ve said for years that I am so OK with someone saying to me, “you are not BloodRose Faery”; that is perfectly true. And I am also OK with them claiming that certain exercises and deities are *required* for working BloodRose Faery. Yes, Yes…
    and. Feri, as an Original Magickal Craft, is so far beyond our ability to quantify that it’s laughable to try. Now that I mention it, laughing is a great way to respond!
    For my own well-being, I have cut ties with pretty much the whole online ‘community’, as it were. I love to stay connected with the Persons I respect in the trad, but I’m so over F(a)eri(e) as a group.
    Yr on my short list! πŸ™‚

  5. “And don’t hand me that “Feri is paradox” bullshit, because that’s a cop-out. (Yes, I know… Feri is paradox… but I really think many of us are abusing that term in order to not have to deal with the glaring logic-hole staring us in the face.)”
    *applauds* – that and your whole post.

  6. …but I also think that the concerns some people have with Feri becoming diluted are valid, and can’t be dismissed just as them being dogmatic.
    I’m not sure it can be diluted, and I think the tradition protects itself. I do on the other hand think that people who aren’t initiates going around teaching “Feri” is a Bad Thing, and that that is one of the things people have in mind when they express fear that the tradition might become diluted.
    Change and growth are inevitable and are, paradoxically, the best way to make sure the tradition DOESN’T become diluted…because what makes it what it is has to do with the spark of a living tradition. But that’s a different thing than some 20 year old in North Carolina who read EW and decided she could teach Feri and charge money for it.
    I say nobody has started that kind of fight with me…but really, I haven’t seen anyone challenging someone else on the basis of things like what Guardian names they use. Who IS doing that?

    • “But that’s a different thing than some 20 year old in North Carolina who read EW and decided she could teach Feri and charge money for it.”
      ….or some fifty-year old, for that matter…. πŸ˜‰

    • Well, I’m a student, so I’m not certain about everything in the tradition, but I HAVE seen the Guardian name thing; there’s a LOT of “name” lobbying going on from what I can see.
      Because of it, I’ve had trouble balancing my Sabbatic work with my Feri tradition studies. It’s nice to hear someone in the tradition tell me I’m not a fuckup antiFeri for seeing the parallels there. Thanks for this post, Storm, I really needed to read this from a reputable Feri. Makes me feel like I’m still on the right path.

      • One of the merits of geographical distance is that I just…miss…a lot of things. It’s also a disadvantage at times πŸ™‚
        But if it helps, the reason I’m acting so boggled is precisely because my reaction to the notion that what names you call the Guardians makes any damn difference is, “Bwuh?” I mean….those aren’t their real names anyway. We don’t know their real names. We have some names we call them, and they often pay attention when we do.
        When dealing with huge, powerful, cosmic beings, the important point about what name you call them is whether they are willing to answer to it or not.

      • That’s kind of how I feel about it too. So far as my teachers and friends have told me, that’s basically true, and really you’re only aligning with certain currents within the Feri tradition by using names, which can be helpful to new students. I know that just from standard witchcraft.

    • Well… people’s perceptions of Feri can be become ‘diluted’, or ‘confused’, but this doesn’t really touch Feri itself, in my opinion.
      I agree with you about the non-trained, non-initiated people attempting to teach the tradition is a bad thing… and if this were the only circumstance that people cite for Feri becoming ‘watered-down’ then I wouldn’t feel the need to bring this issue up every now and again. But we DO have certain strains of thought in some areas of Feri that use things, like the Guardian names, in order to try and cast doubt on one’s “validity” as an initiate or line of Feri. A certain someone (guess who!) teaches his students that Vanthe is not Feri, based on them using a different set of Guardian names than what he was originally taught. It’s disgusting, in my opinion, and has prompted me to bring up the argument from time to time. You know… just to keep people on their toes, so to speak.

      • Here’s a question: Who owns Feri?
        Defining something is a form of laying claim to it, in an exclusionary way. I’m a big fan of boundaries, actually, and I think it’s fine for US, us collectively, to lay claim to Feri in various ways, realizing all the while that it has a claim on us.
        But for one person, or faction of people, to define it in a way that’s meant to undermine everybody else? Nah.
        I am told that in the state of California you cannot legally own a cat, you can merely harbor one. Which, knowing cats as I do, sounds like a remarkably sensible way of looking at it.
        I think Feri is like a cat πŸ™‚

    • I dunno who is doing it now. But about 3 years ago one Gabriel Carrillo tried to do it to the entire Vanthi branch of the tradition. Not kidding, he told us he thought we ought to really be considered a different tradition, and it was, in part, over Guardian names. I’ve only seen that online, nobody has yet shown the nerve to tell me that to my face.
      But as to whatever might have come up recently, no clue for me.

  7. I have said, and often, that any pratice that a Feri priest does and puts their wild Feri energy into becomes Feri. What are the core practices? There aren’t really any, though I would strongly suggest the Iron & Pearl pentacles, Kala, and three souls aliegnment on a very regular basis. I have never viewed the training exercises that my teacher taught to actually be Feri but rather a good magical regimen to get one prepared for initiation. I am very traditionally minded, but that said, I wholeheartedly recommend that those who study with me experiment as much as possible, play with the energy and learn all they can of it by experience. More than anything, for me, Feri is about experience. All the lore in the world won’t make someone Feri, even though I love the lore myself.
    As for students looking at me as the answer to their lives or problems, Ha! I think for the most part I have a healthy relationship with those I teach. Our atmosphere is very open and free, there is a time for seriousness, but beyond that, I doubt any of them would look at me as their Guru. I am too imperfect for that, (and too goofy as well).
    We all sing and dance different, but what is real for me is the fierceness of the energy, the presence of the fey energys. I pretty much look for that in a person who claims to be Feri. I’ll ask their lineage, and if its someone I know I can find out, or I can decide to work with them to see if they are Feri or not.
    Speaking of singing and dancing, I want to get together with you. I am working in Walnut Creek now, and living in Albany… we should hang out!

    • I have never viewed the training exercises that my teacher taught to actually be Feri but rather a good magical regimen to get one prepared for initiation.
      Amen! Er… I mean, Hallelujah! Erm… I mean, Right on! πŸ˜‰
      And we should definitely hang out! What’s your schedule like? Email me at storm@faerywolf.com.

    • I am very traditionally minded, but that said, I wholeheartedly recommend that those who study with me experiment as much as possible, play with the energy and learn all they can of it by experience. … As for students looking at me as the answer to their lives or problems, Ha! I think for the most part I have a healthy relationship with those I teach.
      even when we see flying yellow goats? πŸ˜‰
      seriously, i think one of the hallmarks of a good teacher (of anything), is their ability to weather conflict and maintain trust. while i don’t think knows the answer to everything, i know i can come to him with anything.

  8. Heya! First of all, I think this is a great post, thanks so much. But I feel like I should throw a wrench into this discussion.
    How do you, personally and professionally, reconcile the “adopt different ritual modalities on a whim depending on the needs of the moment…” approach with the concept, definition and application of tradition?
    Now I know that you are not advocating an “anything goes” philosophy regarding Feri. But this post seems (to me at least) to beg the question. Because, you know, some things are NOT Feri. Example: giving up your power. Which is, I think, exactly what this post is about. That is, to not give up your power by blindly following. But still…. I wanna ask, where does tradition fit into this rant?

    • I think it’s an excellent question you pose, and I’m so glad to be having the discussion!
      I think that we are really talking about outer forms vs. inner experiences. In terms of the different ritual modalities part of the post, I’m speaking specifically to the enactment of outer forms (such as specific ways of casting a circle, invoking certain beings, methods of raising power, etc.), as opposed to things that are probably better described as being an inner experience or a part of a belief system. For example, the idea that Feries never give away their power is a sound philosophical tenant. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised, however, if I were to meet a Feri that could illustrate a situation by which it was necessary or even preferred to give their power away, at least temporarily. (For example, giving away some energy in order to feed ancestors, or other spiritual beings.) I think that this is different than what you meant, but that’s Feries for ya! πŸ˜‰
      As for where does tradition fit in? I think it honestly depends on how you define tradition! I’m not trying to split hairs here, but in the way that I was taught it is perfectly traditional to adopt new ways of working that perhaps even radically depart from what was originally taught. I know that for me personally, my commitment is to teach everything that I was taught, regardless of whether or not I find it personally useful. In this way I am carrying on the traditional element and passing that on. Then (and only then) can we be in a sound place to be able to move outward from the traditional material, so that we can make more of our own.

      • Can you clarify the second paragraph? I’m afraid that I find this confusing and I’m not sure to what you are referring to.
        As I was showering this morning, it occurred to me to speak of boundaries. Most of us agree that boundaries are not only healthy but vitally necessary to our health. Should Feri have boundaries? Will a set of boundaries (and really, this doesn’t have to be negative or restrictive) serve to create, hold and maintain tradition? Is it better to think in this term?
        And I’m glad to be having this discussion as well!

      • You mean the ‘Where does tradition fit in?’ bit? I think that (to me) the “core” of the tradition is a series of goals (such as learning how to transform, cultivate and not squander one’s inner power, establishing a working relationship with the Otherworld, developing one’s own inherent psychic abilities, and establishing conscious awareness of one’s own Divinity and the Divinity of the cosmos). In order to achieve these goals we are given a very flexible framework with which to work… along with the knowledge that this framework will change and adapt over time. (It is possible, for example, for an initiate to work with the Ancient Egyptian Seven souls model and still be Feri.) Obviously this represents a departure (some would say a radical one) from the commonly held communal understanding of a Three Souls model for Feri. Were I to work this way, then I would first need to teach the established Feri model of the 3 souls to the extent that they had mastered it before moving on to something more ‘experimental’ like the 7 souls model. Should I then work with a group of students with the seven souls model then it would still be Feri, but would reflect a departure that I suppose would be classified as being unique to my line. (I don’t do this, BTW… just forming an example.) πŸ˜‰
        Does that make sense? I might be rambling.

      • I think you are onto something by focusing on GOALS rather than on what each individual Feri considers to be ‘core.’
        Searching for the core of Feri too often causes folks to emphasize a particular time or teacher or teaching as being foundational to Feri, which is relative to each practitioner’s path. Does Feri begin with the teachings of Gwydion, or Harpy Coven, or Harlow, or the Andersons, or Bloodrose… What one Feri considered to be core, such as ‘not giving away one’s power’ or ‘following a warrior ethic’ may be but a shrugged ‘sure, whatever’ by another. Different Feri focus on different issues, and use varying techniques to accomplish spiritual goals.
        I may never find another Feri with whom I can agree on what the core of Feri is, however I can join with other Feri who share my spiritual goals for personal growth and union with the Divine.

  9. In the spirit of your unique and growing practices, I ask, “What does your practice lead you toward? Why Feri?”
    I was told that it had what I needed to become whole and a better servant of the gods — that I couldn’t get what I needed where I was.
    It appears He who told me that was entirely right.
    And I find rich new ways of being where I am here. “Wherever you go, there you are.”

  10. “Feri is not a collection of techniques that can be codified and shared.
    Yes it is. Shut up. I’m not listening.
    I had this with Santeria with people who want it to be Cuba circa 1923 forever. They come to my house for a ceremony and I serve brisket and they are looking for beans and rice and roast pork shoulder (not going to happen in a kosher kitchen). Fuck those people. They want everything to be folklore and are more interested in being mysterious and having a big secret and being vaguely ethnic and a little less vaguely threatening. I’ve seen it in Feri too and it’s a steaming pile of bullshit.

  11. I knew there was a reason I liked you…
    It’s great to read this. I’ve had to roll my eyes far too often at pagans in general who get their panties in a bind over someone else not following their own — dare I say it? — liturgy.
    When setting a deadline for a ritual (eg, it *must* happen at precisely 3:39:40 am on a second Tuesday because then the moon will be in precisely the right phase…) becomes more important than in the results (eg, having time set aside to give thanks to baby woodchucks and what they can teach us about dental hygiene), it seems to me the whole reason for having religion goes out the window.
    But then, quite a few of these people seem to also be in it just to be different (or to rebel against parents they feel angsty about). Then they get gung ho and disturbed that everybody isn’t different in exactly the same way.
    But this problem isn’t limited to religion, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

  12. I’ve a question.
    Coming from a student perspective, it’s often important to me to learn and experience the basic or “core” material as a foundation. I do wholeheartedly agree with what yΓ³u’ve said here about Feri being a relationship with the Omniverse. I also do think that there’s room in any trad of the craft to change, playing with structures, etc.
    My question is – can I really improvize well before I’ve learned to play an instrument? How important is it to start with a fairly familiar and agreed-upon material before we start experimenting with other things?

    • I think that from the student’s perspective this is an important question to raise… and I do think that it is vitally important for one learning to be able to work with the material as given before branching out into other areas. When I teach I require that my students do the exercises my way first so as to be sure that they are exposed to the same basic forms that I was and presumably my teacher was, and so on and so forth, so as to establish the passing on of the tradition. Once a student of mine has mastered the material, then they have my blessing to experiment with other forms to see what works best for them.
      For the record, the problem that I have with the (unconscious?) movement towards homogeneity in Feri has nothing to do with student experimentation (premature or otherwise) and everything to do with the political schemings of various initiates who are simply invested in maintaining their power-structures. In a path that is shamanistic at its core it is unreasonable to expect that these forms will remain constant from practitioner to practitioner. In fact, if the forms did remain constant then a great deal of Feri’s power would be rendered ineffectual.

  13. While I’m not part of the Feri tradtion, I find this post to be particular poignant because you bring up so many problems that people of any faith and practise have within their structures: blind following, idolising teachers, “more _____ than thou.” All potential problems for anyone of any philosophy, and I agree that in being concerned with those things, it severely takes away from energy that should be spent on a person’s own relationship with the divine.
    What I teach is a way of figuring it all out for yourself.
    Which I think is a fabulous perspective to have as a teacher.

  14. I would hope that the departures/innovations/permutations from the core tradition would be “logical” leaps. That you could explain why it makes sense to have changed such and such to better suit your personal practice.

    • I would hope so too! I think at the very least whether or not a person does explain their departures should be an indicator as to whether or not that person’s innovations are congruent with the tradition.
      Ultimately, I believe, the true test would be in its effectiveness… Generically: does it work? And specifically: Does it work better? Growing, learning, and evolving are all integral parts of the tradition. What we learned as our various structures (in all their diverse styles) was a way by which we could deepen our relationship with the Omniverse, the Powers, the Goddess. I just want to make sure that we don’t get lazy and start equating the rituals with the power itself. Human groups have tendencies to do that so I think it begs the question from time to time.

  15. the growing pains of religious groups are always a real drag.
    i’ve worked with mystical, ecstatic, earth-oriented strains of a variety of religious traditions, and settled on feri because it had tools that worked well for me and was particularly welcoming of queer energy. i also felt a pre-existing connection with the star goddess and had found a teacher i really clicked with.
    i think debates over labels like “feri” are difficult. i am somewhat sympathetic to wiccans complaining about the use of the term “wicca,” because the pagan book industry has watered “wicca” down so much that people call anything wicca whether it derives from that tradition or not — and then the term becomes useless as a way to tell other people what your religious practice is like.
    on the other hand, being a label nazi and trying to exclude people from a community is equally unpleasant. further, it doesn’t seem to me that at this point, people calling themselves “feri” are having a whole lot of trouble finding common ground. as long as feris feel like they’re drawing on the same current when they meet to celebrate together, the debate over what “real feri” is seems mainly like a distraction from actually doing our work.

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