The F(a)eri(e) Tradition Nonunion Tour (Now in it’s 40th year!)

I am again hearing about a split in the Feri tradition. “Public” vs. “Mystery Tradition” Feri. Since I am one of those at the forefront of Feri in the public eye I can just imagine that this has at least a little to do with the work that I have been doing, namely in providing Feri tools to a wider audience.

This is nothing new. When I first came into Feri there was a “split”: “Old Feri” vs. “New Feri”. Later there was another, what I call “Red vs. Blue” (or, “those who initiate sexually vs. those who don’t”). And there were others: those who charge money for classes vs. those who don’t… those who initiate and then offer training vs. those who do it the other way round… those who use angelic names for the Guardians vs. those who use animal totems… those who teach the Iron Pentacle first and then the Pearl (“Oh, no! You must teach them together!”, “No! It’s Pearl first!”)… those who teach Liberty on the Pearl Pentacle rather than “Power” (I actually heard a then-student bemoan the fact that Thorn taught “Liberty”, adding that he “tolerated” her doing so). Really? Really? And the list goes on and on, and on, and on, and on… it never ends. It’s kind of like Cher’s consistent farewell tours only far more predictable and far less exciting. It seems that practically from the beginnings of the Feri tradition there have been those who are predicting, perpetuating, or bemoaning this “split” in the tradition. We seem to be pretty good at amputating ourselves and giving away our power.

An old argument that has been brought up again recently is in regards to those of us who offer training over long distances. I can assume that this is the thought behind a recent website (called “FaeryRoads”… you can find it on the links page at FeriTradition.com). Regardless of the thinking behind this particular website, it is being stated that it is impossible to train someone without physical proximity. Nevermind that Victor Anderson sometimes offered this type of training (he offered to teach me this way). And when it is begrudgingly accepted as possible it is quickly dismissed as being less potent than in-person training. Again with the ego. (“My way is just so much better than your way…”)

What’s kind of funny to me is that the people who are stating that you simply cannot teach Feri over long distances are really just showing their own lack of imagination. I can’t exactly blame them; at first I was in that camp; thinking (as I was told to) that the Feri tradition needed to be taught hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart. It wasn’t until I attended a “phone tele-conference ritual” (which, I admit, I agreed to participate in only as a lark!) that I realized that there was a lot more going on than was previously reported. Contrary to what many may have held as belief, I learned that this was all real. Witchcraft… magic… all of it. Absolutely real. If I could feel the energy over a freaking phone call then there was something extra potent going on. I learned that energy did not require physical proximity in order to cause the changes necessary for a ritual to be effective… it just took concentration, determination, and a little imagination. Ahh… imagination. A resource apparently in short supply in the current Feri community.

Those who have consistently reported that it is impossible to transmit Feri over long distances have absolutely no idea what I am doing in those sessions. And not a single one of them has bothered to ask me… they just assume that because they lack the insight necessary to pull it off then it can’t be done. (At one time I made it public that I would speak to any Feri initiate and take the time to explain in detail exactly how I am teaching these classes… now I require that you be nice to me. And a few of you can just suck it.)

So to those of you who feel that Feri tools and training shared publicly are anathema to our tradition: I get that perhaps you think that you are “defending the tradition”… but I think you are doing the very thing that is causing it to be dumbed down. Feri is alive. It is authentic. It invites change, and adaptation, and evolution. By doing what I am doing I am defending the tradition too; Feri as a tradition of bardic diversity and cultivating one’s divine authority. We are all Gods; shimmering reflections of God Herself.

I am God. And in realizing this fact I must accept that you are too. I just wish you’d learn that same lesson and get off your high horse long enough to realize it’s been dead for years. (And really, the stench is overpowering.) Wouldn’t you all rather get back to the business of communing with the Gods? Or is it really better to try and beat each other down with dividing lines and false accusations?

So go ahead and talk of your little “split”. It wont last long. It never does. You’ll find something else to bemoan. Perhaps you’d like to start talking about the Wand system again and how it goes against everything you think Feri to be (I got mine from Cora Anderson, mind you)… or how Feri doesn’t have a Grandmaster (I’ve met her… she’s nice)… or any of the other topics that you use in order to drive further wedges in between people who really should be working together to help transform the world into a better place. But then, that would require imagination. Better yet to get back to your previously scheduled egos and proclaim yourselves the one right and true way of Feri (TM). But I don’t have much time for it… I have real work to do.

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28 responses to “The F(a)eri(e) Tradition Nonunion Tour (Now in it’s 40th year!)

  1. hellz yeah, you tell ’em!
    if those who want to keep feri secret would just stay off the internet and communicate privately among each other, using smoke signals or jungle telegraph or whatever methods they prefer, and leave the rest of us alone, what a wonderful world it would be….

  2. I’m biting my tongue so hard I have literally chewed a hole through it.
    You know I like to “measure” my responses so tonight, I have nothing to say other than I do see the irony there.

  3. Oh dear gods I get the concept of this new website its like the door hangers in Labyrinth…. supposed to scare the newbies with how scary and awe inspiring Feri is and how if your cruising the intrawebs you need to step away from the shit cuz that is sooo omg powerful and speshul.
    There always seems to be the mindset of the I am more Feri then (insert pronoun here)it goes on with the students as well as the initiates. It feels like desperate attempts to be different but in reality its the same old insecurity you can go anywhere to see.
    We may all be gods but some of us are pretty damn small and petty gods

  4. Hi Storm,
    I’ve started observing the discussions about public vs. private philosophies of teaching Feri relatively late in the game, and I’ve experienced both kinds of teaching. As you know, I’ve organized workshops for multiple Feri teachers in multiple US cities (yourself included — and we enjoyed having you). Reading this bothers me, though, because it doesn’t frame the issue in a way that acknowledges my concerns as a Feri student of, oh, about six years now.
    Here are some issues I would love to hear your thoughts on.
    1. I understand that Feri liturgy and lore have been published and probably will continue to be published. When I was an early student, I had no context for the idea that liturgy and lore can be much more powerful when revealed after a period of anticipation, under special circumstances, and in a certain order. Some of the published lore can act as “spoilers” that lessen the impact of those moments. You and I both attended a powerful ritual at a Feri camp where, I’m convinced, a lot of the power came from the fact that about twenty students were having that experience of anticipated revelation. I would really like it if public teachers were to include an explanation of this concept in their published materials — preferably in the introduction or on an introductory web page — so that aspiring students can make a more informed choice about whether to expose themselves to potential “spoilers.”
    2. I feel that non-initiatory training in Feri is creating a lot of tension, even a perceived crisis, around the issue of initiation for many distance students. It’s been my experience that even though teachers explicitly tell students “This training is no guarantee of eventual initiation,” many students enter the training thinking either that they will be one of the special few, or that the training will lead to meeting their initiator. Sometimes this happens, it’s true. And sometimes students are happy and satisfied with the training they get and don’t feel the need for more. But I have spoken to many distance students, and I know that in many more cases, students end up feeling abandoned when a cycle of training ends and they’re left on their own; or they get frustrated and bitter after years of slow progress with no symbolic recognition of their hard work in sight; or they begin to feel led on and and as if they’re being given the bait-and-switch (perhaps you saw the comment in Anaar’s new blog: “Yeah, Thorn said to just keep kala too as she kept taking our money for years and workshop after witchcamp. I wonder just how much you have to pay to get initiated into this pyramid scam wicca.” http://whitewand.blogspot.com/2011/01/happy-new-year.html#comments). This happens frequently enough that I think it may simply be a feature of trying to offer non-initiatory training into a tradition where initiation is so important. Many of you who are teaching publicly are very creative; might it not be possible to offer a training that *can* lead to an initiation, even if it isn’t Feri initiation — an initiation that is appropriate for a much wider range of people?
    I have more to say, but I think I’m getting close to the length limit for comments. As I said, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on the above, and on a number of other issues as well, and the thoughts of some of the other public teachers. Perhaps I will also bring these issues up in a wider forum than your journal.
    Best,
    Helix

    • Hi there, Helix.
      Those are really good questions. In response to the first one, it assumes that there is some set of lore that is universally recognized and specifically set aside as intimate other than the core initiatory material, and there is not. The material that we dealt with at Camp that year would have been powerful regardless of whether or not you had been exposed to it prior. (I can say this with certainty because it was powerful for me and I of course had already worked extensively with it.) It was also previously published in The Spiral Dance and I can be certain that at least most of the participants had read it prior. The difference is the container and the focus involved at the time.
      I recognize and appreciate that some people may not want to be exposed to something before their teacher gives it to them. To that all I can say is then they should not read books or surf the internet, and those teachers should ask their students to refrain from the same. This used to be the law of the land in Feri: teachers demanding that students not read books, magazines, attend pagan events, or even speak to other initiates. One particular teacher even sometimes required that their students not visit Victor & Cora. It made for a bad climate in Feri; even worse than what we have now. (So you can see I’m not on board with this idea… I think it’s bad for people and their spiritual and magical development.)
      The second question: I have been very clear that my long distance classes DO NOT lead to initiation precisely so that students will let go of that idea from the beginning. My classes are about the training. After that is done it would follow the same set of rules that any other Feri training would… namely, if I as the teacher felt that the student was ready then we would make arrangements and go from there. But it’s off the table in the beginning for a very good reason. Part of the class ends up helping me sift through potentials. I currently have students who are on the path toward Feri initiation, so the accusation that I have sometimes heard that training with me will never lead to initiation is just another story made-up by those who are invested in making sure that their particular view of the tradition is the dominate one. This is one of the reasons that I have invoked the word ‘fundamentalism’ in the past. It fits perfectly.
      As for a non-Feri initiation… it’s certainly possible. I have been working with a group of people on something similar to what you have proposed.
      I can understand some feeling like they are being “duped” by paying for classes that stretch on for a long time… all I can say is that in my experience I have seen students who feel that they should be allowed to progress much faster than what their efforts allow for. I have students who work through the material very slowly, but I also have some that are much faster with it. It’s self-paced and everyone starts at the beginning.
      I hope that helps. I look forward to your other questions!

      • > The material that we dealt with at Camp that year would have been powerful regardless of whether or not you had been exposed to it prior.
        I am sure that is the case. On the other hand, based on other, similar experiences, that anticipatory nervousness seems to really energize the ritual container. I know it makes a difference for me; perhaps I assume too much to think that having a number of circle participants in that state also makes a difference for the entire group involved? (John Michael Greer has a really interesting discussion of this effect in _Inside a Magical Lodge_ — wish I had the book so I could quote it.)
        I do know that there’s no core of shared intimate material, but in my perfect world, I would just put a “POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT” on most of the Feri websites and be done with it. As I said, when I was an early student, I didn’t realize how much I would love the moment of revelation later on, because no one had talked to me about it — I didn’t know I might feel sorry later if I read everything I could get my hands on, so I couldn’t make an informed choice. I’m very much in favor of informed choices.
        > I have been very clear that my long distance classes DO NOT lead to initiation precisely so that students will let go of that idea from the beginning.
        I understand that. It just seems like many students hold out hope anyway. And rather than thinking they’re all deluded or just have bad boundaries, what I’m suggesting is that non-initiatory training in an initiatory tradition really lends itself to that kind of wishful thinking and potential disappointment. What I’m wondering is how such trainings could be tweaked — or perhaps some ritual of closure created — so that we don’t have a culture of non-initiated former Feri students who just feel somehow… less… since they didn’t make it “all the way.” It just doesn’t feel healthy to me.
        Thanks for your responses! I posted more extensively to WitchEye; I hope you’ll say more there.

      • > As for a non-Feri initiation… it’s certainly possible. I have been working with a group of people on something similar to what you have proposed.
        I expect it will be some time before I hear more about this, but it sounds like an exciting prospect. 🙂

    • Hi Helix,
      Speaking to your point #1 above: Do you not think that what happened that night occurred because the deities that were called actually showed up? I had at no time gotten the impression that it had anything to do with the students as much as it had to do with the initiates who had already built a relationship with those deities and called them. I know a number of students who had already read the names in Spiral Dance (which actually surprised me) but had never worked directly with them, not really knowing where they fit in the scheme of feri-things.
      Regarding point #2: Doesn’t what you’re suggesting in training-without-initiation already exist in Reclaiming?
      B*B,
      Ray

      • > Do you not think that what happened that night occurred because the deities that were called actually showed up?
        I think they showed up so strongly partially because we were all so primed for it. I mentioned Greer’s book _Inside a Magical Lodge_ above — it has a really interesting explanation of how the expectation of something hidden being revealed can empower the energy of a ritual or initiation. I know even the initiates considered the working to be exceptionally special, and the way the large group was prepared for the ritual — with the expectation of revelation — stands out to me as something that probably doesn’t often happen, and might be the cause. (It’s worked for me in other rituals as well — the prospect of revelation, of intensely wondering what’s about to happen, seems to kick up the energy.)
        > Regarding point #2: Doesn’t what you’re suggesting in training-without-initiation already exist in Reclaiming?
        Can you clarify? Reclaiming has an initiation that’s not terribly hard to get if you want it (depending on which part of the country you’re in). Reclaiming witches do seem to be more okay with not being initiated, but I think it’s partially because initiation isn’t seen as important, the way it is in Feri. I think Reclaiming was that way from the beginning; trying to convince students that initiation isn’t actually that important in Feri… well… from the many conversations I’ve had about it with other students, I don’t think it’s working.

      • anticipation and power
        In my coven, @ dedication, @ 1st, @ second… Jade and I sit with our student and read and explain and argue and discuss every word, aspect and detail of the rite they are about to undergo. Magick is not a psychological process, so, of course there is no attrition of power @ one of these important rituals. I fail to see your point, Helix. –ps this is Shen-Tat,… who despite his other abilities cannot seem to get this reply thingy to work…. 😉

      • Re: anticipation and power
        > Magick is not a psychological process
        Oh, I disagree with you. Magick is not *solely* a psychological process, I would say. I find my state of mind has a major impact on how effective my work is — otherwise there would be no point in all this meditation and stress reduction work. ;>
        Incidentally, I’m fairly sure Victor Anderson’s use of the word “complex” stems partially from the tradition that begins with Freud. It would be a mistake to say that magick is entirely psychological; but how can you do magick while leaving such a large part of the self (the personality) out?
        All of which is to say, I find the element of surprise to be a very effective magickal tool for me. If you haven’t tried it, try it and see! (Or for that matter… compare the energy of the crowd at a film on opening night to the crowd three months later. Big difference… although the crowd that knows a movie backward and forward also brings a special boost to the event, I think. Surprise *and* deep familiarity are both useful tools.)

    • as mentioned in other places before I scurried away… agree w/ 90% of this ^ but the teachers I went to all REALLY CLEARLY mentioned that they were not going to give initiations! But people ARE wacko about the issue… what gives?!
      It seems they want to Belong to something, so badly, so so badly.
      Isn’t that all the more reason to give them something they can learn and do on their own, including some sort of self-dedication rite? No, not the full boogie, obviously. But something? Come on people, let’s get our thinking caps on. There are some cats that are out of the bag and 90 blocks away already. But the tension is caused BY those who keep emphasizing initiation and secrecy endlessly. I do not see why MUCH of the curriculum needs to be secret.
      (Edit: out of respect for whichever teacher I am with, I don’t redistribute their stuff or forward it or anything. I did show (not copy) another initiate a binder once — some material that was all cobbled together from others’ stuff –looked like a lot of Paul Huson, and things available everywhere by the 70’s, no secret names and not very “Feri” — by a person now long gone, but it felt ooky. So I never did it before or since. That’s me being honest!)
      I agree with you about spoilers, the technicalities of sacred theater, the energy generated in the ‘big buildup’, getting out of the habit of telling the world EVERY thing, and a nice long courtship. I use what I was given and don’t throw in lot of other stuff. When I am inspired, I’ll write my own invocations.
      But when I was initiated, although I recognized some elements, nothing was spoiled. It was powerful.
      I was initiated first and am now training, and maybe I’ll always be training. It was a ‘real’ initiation in the NightHares line. It gave me wonderful things.. but no advantages. None, nada, zilch. And I am going to gently but firmly keep telling this to everyone that overly emphasizes ‘initiation’ (To begin) as an Ending.

  5. I don’t think anyone advocating less “public Feri” would have created a website if that wasn’t necessary. There are far too many websites out there now on Feri and how to pay for things related to it (so far, I count dozens), and there needs to be some balance.
    Many people seeking things go to the internet as a their first place. There needs to be some sort of indication that this is not completely approved of- and that there are alternatives if Feri/Faery is truly the path for you.
    I wouldn’t be so scared, Storm. I am sure your marketing savvy will overcome this little hiccup!

      • That is the difference between Trad Craft and Fad Craft. Trad Craft folks don’t need to put their names to things to have them mean something. They also do not need the glory and ego-stroking by signing anything.
        People who are trustworthy will be able to find Faery folk. Others have no business knowing their identities.
        Because you and the company that you like to keep (VeeDub)have no qualms outing initiates and breaking the oaths they made. That’s why names shall remain secret. There is power in Silence.

      • Very clever! I like how you made that rhyme! 🙂
        And how cowardly… to (again) post your convictions anonymously. If you had any power or courage I would think that you would make your allegations and own them, not hurl them from the relative safety of you secret location (which is Oakland, CA if I have traced your IP address correctly). At least when *I* make a statement I have the courage to stand behind what I have said.
        I will no longer accept anonymous comments on my journal.
        As for outing initiates: I took no oath that said I needed to suffer attacks from initiates and let them go unchallenged. This oathbreaking charge is rather ridiculous. Cora said to me that there were no oaths in Feri. If you want ’em fine… but the second you insist that everyone else in Feri needs to have them (or have the same relationship to them that you do) then I think you have veered away from a viable spiritual system and have entered the realm of negative fundamentalist cult behavior. Drink your own Kool-Aid and leave me to my work, thank you.
        Have a great day, O wise and silent one!

      • very brave, to make anonymous accusations.
        but i have to give you this; you are consistent. none of the crew who is howling for my blood, and storm’s has ever written, posted, texted, facebooked, livejournaled, or sent a message by carrier pigeon to me personally to ask me what the hell i think i’m doing and if i have any justification for it, or to check the truth of the many incredibly inflated and trumped-up rumors about me have any truth to them.
        cowards.

  6. Honestly, I don’t understand this insistence on a standing division within the practitioners of the Faery community. I didn’t understand it when I affiliated with the Trad and its practitioners. I didn’t understand it as I nurtured my own Faery practice. I don’t understand it now.
    The way I see it, the way it happened to and for me–Faery practice is all about direct relationships with Deities and Guardians. It’s not about any other human being getting in the way of those direct relationships. For any reason. Because, dare I say it, the Deities and Guardians are who They are, and human beings are who they are.
    For several years, I made kind of a lame distinction–for Faery practice–between what you did or tolerated to be done in order to take part in the community of human practitioners and what you did to get on with Deities and Guardians. But it became clear to me that only some practitioners tried to get between me and the Deities and Guardians.
    But they won’t and they don’t. I know Who my little Black Heart loves!

  7. Look to your Founders
    “There are few secrets left in Feri”
    – Cora Anderson.
    At times like this I find it helpful to review the viewpoint of the Tradition’s founders. In this case Victor Anderson. If Mr. Anderson offered long distance training then that alone should answer the question of its validity.
    The same can be said for receiving compensation. I distinctly remember seeing a post by T. Thorn Coyle where she stated Victor’s viewpoint on the subject. According to Ms. Coyle, Victor Anderson said it is acceptable to receive payment for instruction as long as that instruction isn’t directly tied to initiation. To me this explains why Storm’s third year is by invitation only.
    I’m sorry if this may offend some but when the leaders of a tradition clutch their knowledge to their breast like old misers then that sends out a great big warning flag. C-U-L-T!!!
    On the opposite side of the coin, the information stored within books and websites can only take a seeker so far. One-on-one training is wonderful, but remote training is sometimes the only option available.
    Witchcraft, in its many forms, is a mystery path. Practitioners do not proselytize. People who wish to learn must seek it out. But the lore and those who can teach it must also be there for the sincere student to find without wasting twenty plus years stumbling in the dark.
    Just my 2-cents worth,
    Patrick

    • Re: Look to your Founders
      > At times like this I find it helpful to review the viewpoint of the Tradition’s founders. In this case Victor Anderson.
      I found it interesting looking at the two sites that there is not one quote from either of the Andersons on either site, or barring that, from Gwydion (though I’ve never seen anyone quote Gwydion).
      > One-on-one training is wonderful, but remote training is sometimes the only option available.
      Living in Wyoming and being unable to move at this time, remote training is my only option.
      FFF,
      ~Muninn’s Kiss

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