The Black Heart of Innocence is something of a ‘holy grail’ in F(a)eri(e) tradition. It is a symbol in our Craft that is said to be the natural state of the soul, unfettered by societal conditioning. In Feri we understand this natural state to be sexual because, in our understanding, everything begins (and ends!) with sex. (Insert Iron Pentacle reference here.) Sex is opening to life-force; the animating principle that in living beings tends to be expressed in a sexual way. Desire that inspires action… Life opening to life, merging with life, to create something greater than the simple sum of its parts.
When we open to life-force we are soon confronted with our own complexes and fears… all the things that we have spent so much time and energy trying to bury. When this comes to the surface this often leads to bad feelings and judgements about others since it is far easier to see imbalances in the behavior of others than it is to look into that mirror and truly see ourselves.
We say this heart is black because that is the “color” of the Void… the night sky filled with stars that contain all possibility. It is like a scrying mirror –shiny, curved, and black– which reveals the unseen… the previously unknown… the mystery. We can’t perceive it directly. In much the same way as with dark matter; no one can really see the Black Heart… it can only be inferred by the influence it has on those around it.
While some have focused exclusively on (a misunderstanding of) the sexual elements of the BHOI some now see it as being an excuse for behavior that is socially suspect or even taboo. It is important to understand that to be in the state of the Black Heart is not the same as simply reacting from our base nature… we acknowledge our deep and sometimes even darker desires and drives… but it is alignment that allows us to express these energies in a way that is healthy or, as is done with Kala, to transform them when necessary.
I have often said that the BHOI burns with the blue fire of compassion… but what does that really mean? The blue fire is a current of energy that we recognize in Feri as permeating everything; it is the life-force that we draw into our lungs as well as that force which is the energy behind all the matter we see and don’t see. It is “the blue ray”; the Will of God Hirself directed through our own. This energy is first and formost connective as it is omnipresent. All things are said to be comprised of this basic energy and so it is through this power that we begin to experience the world not in terms of separation, but in terms of wholeness. It is this holism that leads us into a space of universal compassion, or experiencing the other as self.
Compassion is a tricky concept in our society. We often think of it in the form of sympathy or in offering comfort to those in need. While it certainly can take those forms, true compassion is something more… something deeper… something far more difficult and at times even disturbing.
Compassion can be disturbing?? This is a long way from the simple words of comfort we might share with a friend or family member who is having a difficult time. True compassion asks us to be authentic… and to recognize the oneness of all life. True compassion operates from that aforementioned space of connection. It is empathy… and then right action stemming from that state of being. This is were the disturbing part comes in. Right action can often be speaking the truth that no one wants to hear… or taking actions to protect yourself or another from harm… actions that invariably place us at odds with the intentions and actions of those from whom we feel the need to defend.
Lest we begin to think that the BHOI is simply an excuse to “tell it like it is” or otherwise tear someone down in whatever snarky way in which we are inspired, consider that the BHOI is a state that exists in pre-consciousness; a state-of-being as opposed to a state-of-knowing. One of the reasons we work toward alignment is to be able to access this deeper, primal state while still being able to direct that power in a way that reflects our true Will… which is ALL of our parts in concert; divine, human, and primal. Or as I sometimes like to say, “With open mind, open heart, and open sex.”
When we are in alignment the BHOI is that same sate that has elsewhere been called, “sovereignty”. When we stand in the center of our own aligned self we burn with that blue flame and our hearts beat the rhythm to which our souls can join the universal dance. We stand in our power; not to coerce or control… but to be aware. Our eyes truly open, we see that action –and resistance to action– are as one. By simply being in this state the magic spell has begun, and we often find that resistances fall away, as well as the burning need to act… by simply observing ourselves the Great Work has begun. This is self work on a quantum level… what is observed, changes.
We are all our own divine authorities. If I learned just one thing from my many years training in F(a)eri(e) it is that basic truth, along with a set of tools to make this knowledge manifest. Each of us are asked to wear the Crown of our own GodSoul; our holy daemon. In Feri, the BHOI is us wearing that crown, proudly and soberly, knowing full-well the responsibility that comes with the power it affords us.
Getting to the Black Heart is a lifetime of work. Certainly we can step into this state at times –and this is exactly the point of much of the work in our tradition– but as the saying goes, “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” This refers to the deeper state of ecstasy that is a part of this work. Achieving ecstatic states can be useful for our deepening our knowledge… but not so useful for picking the kids up at school, or getting the shopping done. We need to be able to fully embrace the mundane as well as the spiritual in order to live a balanced and healthy life. If we focus exclusively on the “spiritual” (i.e read “transcendent”) then we can often find ourselves walking the path to spiritual addiction; the concerns of our “normal” lives falling by the wayside, such as friends, family, and responsibilities. We need to find healthy ways to embody that transcendence; to fully realize that even the most mundane of tasks are pathways to God Hirself.
Our rites and exercises encourage this state-of being so that we can call upon it when we need to… and then, invariably, something in life will knock us off our center. It is then that we must get up off the ground… dust ourselves off, and try again. With repetition and practice we learn how to return to our center more easily and smoothly than we had in the past; calling back to ourselves our sense of true self so that we can address the world accordingly. Living in that state full-time, I think, is beside the point. We are all human and no one is asking that we give up our flaws. They are, after all, what makes us human and that is beautiful all on its own. We must learn to look into the eyes of God Hirself and see our own reflection in the mirror of Hir eyes. “Behold how beautiful I am!” the Blue God teaches us to say. And in this we must also remember that state of connection… that each of us are also the reflections of God Hirself… and we are beautiful because of our flaws… because flawless perfection, besides being unattainable, is also boring. We are asked now to have compassion for ourselves; even for (especially for) those parts of us that are weak… are “petty” and “unenlightened”. We must have compassion for our own flaws because only then can we have compassion for them in others. Otherwise we often move into a space of condemnation, dominance, and war.
To wear the Crown of our Own Black Heart we must first let all of the ego-driven judgements fall away and simply exist in a space of connection. When we acknowledge the omnipresence of divinity then we are better prepared to operate from this compassion… for ourselves as well as for others. Wearing the crown is to fully accept our own power and to act accordingly. But it can also be a burden… we find ourselves in a precarious place of becoming an example for others… a role to which we may or may not be suited. We must remember to mindfully respond with compassion rather than mindlessly react from ego. And thus begins the practice part of our ongoing work. And on it goes.. and on it goes.
The Royal Heart
by Storm Faerywolf
Heart of coal,
heart of pitch,
heart of onyx,
heart of witch
Heart of warlock,
heart of stone,
Upon the Throne.