The Law of Polarity (by Willow Moon)

“The old Kahunas would transmit their power from one to another via sperm. To be a Kahuna was to be bi-sexual because their relationships with their Gods was sexual. Homosexuals are so greatly feared in our culture because of an ancient memory of the awesome power of homosexual sorcerers.” –Victor Anderson 2/21/1995

The so-called “laws” of magic are descriptions of how magic works. There are many laws which are used singly or in combination to produce spells. The law of polarity is one description of the way in which magical body force is generated. Magic, in the traditions I am heir to, is of the body. The body is the battery, conduit and shaper of the power of the witches. So, it is no surprise that polarity is grounded in the body and is such a wonderful, delightful and powerful force. Freely accessible to all, everyone has the potential to feel it; the only requirement is to have a living body.

The Law of Polarity, like sex, is a straightforward function of the body. Unfortunately, it seems that many people make it more complicated than it is. By straightforward, I mean it’s easy for people to understand once the complicated social issues are stripped away.

The conceptual edifice that often accompanies the word “polarity” is fraught with emotional tensions. Rigid social conventions around gender and gender roles are overlaid onto a simple sexual attraction. The way that polarity is explained in some circles causes some to freeze their understanding of power into a small box and others to feel that it is a ridiculous concept that alienates many worthy people.

Image by Filter Forge via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

My understanding of the Law of Polarity is simply that it describes how sexual attraction can generate a lot of power. By power, I mean the energetic juice that exudes from our bodies and flows throughout the world around us. It is a power which fuels our magics. When there is sexual attraction between people, a joyful force is generated by the bodymind which is noticeable: noticeable in facial expressions, movements, and other changes in their bodies. The power is palpable to others. It’s called “polarity” because it’s like charged electrodes which are separate and yet emit a force around them. It is in the magically charged gap between the poles where the discharge happens, releasing the built up charge. When the charge is released, the deed is done and the spell is sent.

Simple biology! However, as humans, we have a need to elaborate, which in this case often confuses the issue. Some conflate the build-up of sexual tension and its release with unrelated issues of gender and sexuality. Yet power is power no matter what form it takes, and no matter what human form we happen to be in. In the womb, each and every one of us starts out as female in form. All the diverse bodies we see around us are manifestations of the female body, even the most apparently male ones. This reality is also expressed by the simple fact that every body contains both female and male sex hormones. Each person, of course, has their own unique mix.

A well-respected American Gardnerian high priestess of the most conservative line once used pheromones to explain why polarity must alternate only between females and males. As a medical professional, I kindly explained that in fact pheromones are a good explanation for why power doesnt only flow between females and males. Pheromones are hormones that are excreted into the air around us. Pheromones work like hormones. Hormones are spread throughout the whole body equally. They operate in specific locations in the body because that’s where the receptors for the hormones are located. In terms of sexual attraction, the sexual pheromones emitted by every person present permeate the whole room equally. Pheromones do not travel in a straight line from person to person; they disperse into the whole space. Yet they only activate sexual/emotional feelings in those who have the proper receptors. Homosexual men and heterosexual women have receptors that are activated by male pheromones, so naturally both might experience sexual attraction for a male. Sexual attraction is sexual attraction regardless of gender.

An Alexandrian priestess once told me that her coven felt the energy of a circle moved only between the women and the men of their circles. It seems natural to me that would be the case in groups of heterosexuals, who are attracted to the opposite sex, but it isn’t natural for non-heterosexual members. Preconceived and learned ideas of social relationships come into play when we perceive power and may prevent us from perceiving realities we do not expect.

Some practitioners of witchcraft believe that the Goddess can only possess a female body. This belief seems to me to be based on the same narrow view of gender polarity that I have questioned above. It seems inconsistent to me to believe that the Great Goddess, who is the mother of all, can be found everywhere and in everything, except inside a man’s body! In fact, I know from experience that the Goddess can be wherever She wants! In Faerie witchcraft, which is historically older than Gardnerian witchcraft, it is common for both men and women to be possessed by both Goddesses and Gods. This practice does not harm them, it enriches their lives and the lives of those around them.

Some may wonder how non-gendered roles would work in traditions that have specific roles for women and men. In Feri witchcraft, there are typically no specific roles based on gender or sex. In some traditions of witchcraft, however, it is believed that women and men must fulfill certain ritual roles in order for the rite to be effective. Although women are allowed to fulfill the role of a man, men are forbidden to fulfill the role of a woman. Some have said in the past that women must rule the circle to counteract the harmful effects of living in a male-dominated society. That surely has a healing effect on the psyches of both women and men. For women to claim power and men to release control is most certainly an important part of healing our society by redressing wrongs. However, I personally feel that at this time in our history, equality is a more powerful longing and a greater force of positive and deeper change in our social structures.

One advantage of conceiving the power generated by Polarity as based on something broader than gender or biological sex is that power can be generated and recognized by everyone present regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. There is no need to try to trap the power into flowing in narrow lines between specific participants. Power can thus be raised exponentially because there are no barriers to power. Energetically, pheromones cause the power to boil like water in a cauldron, roiling in all directions! Thus trans, non-binary or intersex members of the circle can fully participate.

In popular imagination, Gardnerians are famously connected to the concept of alternating female/male polarity. Once, I was in a California-Gardnerian coven meeting with some friends. The tradition is one that allows same-sex initiation. In that circle was a woman (a guest, not a priestess in the circle) who insisted that my male lover and I should not stand together even though she was standing next to four other women. Niklas and I refused to separate; the circle continued, and the Gods were pleased. The enforcement of the alternating female to male “rule” is an example of how these guidelines are social rather than magical or spiritual: it is as unequal as the distribution of women and men in that circle. Too often, such policing of behavior in witchcraft circles only pertains to and affects queer men.

Some say alternating female participants with male participants is the tradition that Gardner passed and thus it must be adhered to. However, what Gardner “passed” and what he did were not always the same. I once had the chance to ask Dayonis, who was for a time the high priestess of Gardner’s coven, if a man could cast a circle. She replied, “Of course; Gardner did!”

Clearly, such “rules” are adapted to suit an occasion. They can be used to uphold the integrity of a tradition or to denigrate and disempower members. The reality is that each of us is unique and valuable. What does it mean for our integrity if we don’t uphold that belief when we stand before the Gods?

Some covens hold the belief that a woman must teach a man and vice versa. If that is the case, then a woman must know the man’s parts and the man, the woman’s. A part or role cannot be known by reading it a few times. In order to know a role, one must perform it repeatedly. So, ironically, the only way for a woman to teach a man or a man to teach a woman is for there to be no gender-based roles at all.

Social concepts and rules that deny reality do not last. The Law of Polarity as I teach it acknowledges the power of people of all gender expressions and sexual orientations. I am confident that this view is the future of witchcraft.

Feri and View Teachings (by Helix)

In religious studies, a cosmology is a collection of sacred stories and philosophical teachings about the origin and nature of the universe. A cosmology helps practitioners of that religion to orient themselves in their lives. It describes what social harmony and right relationship with natural and divine forces look like. For example, many traditional Christians look to the biblical book of Genesis for their cosmology. The creation stories of Genesis tell them that the world is good, that human beings are caretakers of that world, and that humans get themselves into trouble when they violate the edicts of the biblical god.

For better or worse, beliefs such as these help many people navigate the confusing, inconsistent, and often unjust mess that is an actual human life. Cosmologies help the world feel like it makes sense even when the facts before our eyes do not. In this way, religion can help people deal calmly with adversity, or it may keep them passive when they should demand change.

Feri as an esoteric spirituality

Esoteric spiritualities like Feri (or tantric Buddhism or Western ceremonial magick or alchemical Daoism) also have cosmologies, but they function differently. These spiritualities are non-ideological in nature and are often critical of social norms and conventions. Their teachings are meant to be conveyed mouth to ear or in small groups, and they are easily distorted when co-opted by broad social or political movements.

Concepts that may be liberating for individuals in a particular time and place may have a different, even destructive resonance if they become part of a rigid ideology that is meant to order a whole society. A famous example of such distortion is the use of Friedrich Nietzsche’s esoteric notion of the will to power by German fascists. Nietzsche, a sensitive and passionate literary artist and thinker, is often remembered for his confrontational remark that “God is dead,” but he also wrote that he would only believe in a God who dances. His ideas, which were framed in the Romantic tradition of seeking individual freedom and artistic expression for the self, were part of his personal search for spiritual, intellectual, and artistic freedom. Nietzsche’s writings were published as part of his ongoing relationship with other artists and philosophers who were on a similar journey. They were never intended to prop up a political party or justify mass violence or warfare. I can only imagine the ugly use to which his writings were put was terribly painful to those who loved him and had benefitted from the artistic risks he took. [EDIT: An initiate friend tells me that Nietzsche’s sister, a proto-fascist and anti-Semite, inserted her own political statements into some of his works before publication. This occurred while she was his caretaker and literary executor and he was not able to handle his own affairs. I was not previously aware of this particular history and am saddened to hear it, though it expands my point.]

Like Nietzsche’s philosophy, esoteric teachings are high-context concepts that are meant to be conveyed within a framework that is not solely, or even primarily, intellectual. Esotericisms are not primarily systems of belief, but of practice informed by thought. Esoteric ideas conveyed outside of a container of guided practice can easily be misconstrued.

Sacred stories and philosophical concepts have a symbiotic relationship with practice in esoteric traditions. Esoteric concepts inform, support, and correct practice, and practice produces an embodied state that allows esoteric concepts to be understood in a way that deepens that practice. Additionally, healthy esoteric traditions are often said to have a “current” that can be received or experienced in a variety of ways. The experience of a tradition’s current awakens the understanding of the student or initiate, not intellectually, but through embodied knowing. The presence of such a current in the student helps them to encounter the tradition’s teachings in a life-affirming way, one that is harmonious with the tradition’s understanding of the universe.

View teachings

In some Eastern esoteric traditions, the vision of reality that practice harmonizes with is called the view. The view is similar to a cosmology in that it presents a model of the universe. Unlike in religious traditions, however, the view is for use on an individual spiritual path; it is not intended to help maintain social stability.

Christopher Wallis, a Western practitioner-scholar of nondual Śaiva Tantra, emphasizes the concept of the view in Tantra Illuminated. He writes:

In the Indian tradition, the first and most crucial step is getting oriented to the View (darśana) of the path that you will walk. The Sanskrit word darśana is often translated as “philosophy,” but the connotations of that English word miss the mark. Darśana means worldview, vision of reality, and way of seeing; it is also a map of the path you will walk. We may understand the importance of View-orientation through an analogy: You might have all the right running gear, a snappy outfit and the best shoes, and you might be in great shape, but none of that will matter if you are running in the wrong direction. (Second edition 2013: 51)

In Feri, our creation myth is a view teaching. Because Feri is an oral tradition, there are many versions of this myth, but the most famous was published by Starhawk in her 1979 book The Spiral Dance:

Alone, awesome, complete within Herself, the Goddess, She whose name cannot be spoken, floated in the abyss of the outer darkness, before the beginning of all things. As She looked into the curved mirror of black space, She saw by her own light her radiant reflection, and fell in love with it. She drew it forth by the power that was in Her and made love to Herself, and called Her “Miria, the Wonderful.”

Their ecstasy burst forth in the single song of all that is, was, or ever shall be, and with the song came motion, waves that poured outward and became all the spheres and circles of the worlds. The Goddess became filled with love, swollen with love, and She gave birth to a rain of bright spirits that filled the worlds and became all beings. […]

All began in love; all seeks to return to love. Love is the law, the teacher of wisdom, and the great revealer of mysteries. (20th anniversary edition, 41)

Hubble Telescope: The Butterfly of the Galaxies (Public Domain)

The Feri creation myth and practice

At the risk of repeating myself, I want to emphasize again that esoteric teachings are non-ideological. They are not meant to be the philosophical basis of widespread political or social movements (although they may inspire or empower individuals within those movements). Esoteric teachings and lore are easily distorted when co-opted for ideological purposes.

The Feri creation myth does not present a philosophy or moral system by which people can be judged as worthy or unworthy. It is meant as a frame for practice that leads into the mystery of our embodiment.

The creation myth conveys much about the qualities of Feri. Ours is an embodied, fundamentally relational tradition that affirms the erotic nature of being in all things, especially the interdependent ecosystem of which humans are a part. The life force that we move in our practices arises from love and desire between Self and Other, who are part of each other, reflections of a divine and holy birth. We know that the universe began in lovemaking, not by word or commandment. We honor these ways of being not just in our overtly spiritual practices, but in every breath and moment of our lives. To practice Feri is to seek the constant awareness of God Hirself’s unfolding in us.

In Feri as I learned it and as I teach it, spiritual practice is at minimum a daily setting of intention that the whole human, embodied self be aligned with and under the guidance of the Godself, the individual’s reflection of God Hirself. What we are each doing on this earth is manifesting our individual divinity, as collectively all of being is manifesting divinity.

Spiritual practice does not always have to be complex or formal. In fact, during the householder phase of life, when we are focused on professional and family responsibilities, by necessity it is often quite ordinary: a morning prayer, a quick breath directed to the Godself in a spare moment, an offering made with minimal ceremony, or mindfulness practiced during a commute. It is not always a good time for the formalities of “witchcraft” to be a major life focus, with all the ritual and spellwork and trance journeys and other elaborate practices that can entail. But the commitment to manifesting the Godself must be consistent. Only regular contact with the Godself gives us a choice to do something other than simply recapitulate the patterns received from our families of origins or our life experiences (especially traumatic life experiences).

Refining the self to allow one’s divinity to manifest is not about spiritual accomplishment or impressing others or being a “priest” or a “witch” or an “adept” or any such social or intellectual achievement. It’s about being present to this one precious life, to the one unique manifestation of God Hirself that only you can bring through.

The role of view teachings in practice innovation

Many parts of the Feri tradition were held close by the Andersons and only shared in one-on-one or small group conversations in their home. However, they published their practices for aligning the parts of the human self with the Godself, initially in an article and later in the book Etheric Anatomy. I believe this reflected their feeling that these practices can be widely helpful for people, regardless of whether they are studying with a teacher of Feri. In my own training, I also benefited from the alignment exercises given by T. Thorn Coyle in Evolutionary Witchcraft.*

As my practice has deepened, I have come to understand the importance of view teaching in the evolution of an esoteric tradition. View teachings help to form the container of a tradition’s practice. They shape our creativity and help initiates to ensure that any new practices they innovate will help other initiates and students to embody the tradition’s current.

Some new practices, while not “wrong” per se, can be incompatible with the existing body of practice and can undermine students’ progress toward initiation. This is particularly common when non-initiates, or initiates who have not allowed their initiation experience to settle, attempt to create practices to teach to others.

At the risk of calling out a well-meaning but misguided teaching effort, I will give an example that illustrates my point. I once was given a handout written by an initiate of different witchcraft tradition, one that was heavily influenced by ceremonial magick. The handout appeared to be a variation on a chakra-aligning technique, except instead of chakras, the exercise used the names of the Feri parts of the self. The exercise instructed the student to “align and purify themselves” by running elaborate bridges of energy, not in a single line from root to crown, but up and down the middle pillar of the body, looping back and forth between different energy centers.

While this may have been a fine ceremonial magick exercise—I am not familiar enough with that system to know—it badly misconstrues how Feri understands the relationships within the human self. Alignment with the Godself is not a strenuous, mysterious, or difficult-to-achieve state requiring occult knowledge of energy centers or a specific pattern of visualization. It is a natural human birthright, one our dense and energy bodies are inclined to return to with gentle intention and presence. Alignment is also not a process of purification. Alignment, instead, is a state of communication and communion—warm, embodied, erotic relationship. To seek alignment is to evoke love, mutuality, and pleasure within and among the parts of the self.

In our natural human state, all our souls “speak as one” because they ARE one. No elaborate energy bridges or secret techniques are needed to connect them. They are not separate or alienated from each other; instead, they permeate each other. As Victor Anderson remarked to Willow Moon, “Talking to the Unihipili [Fetch] is like talking to yourself, because you are!” (personal communication 4/25/1995)

Every time we return to a view teaching like the Feri creation myth, we remind ourselves of what the experience of embodying our tradition feels like. Such teachings provide anchors that can keep us from getting lost in elaborate theological models which may titillate the Talker, but do not lead us deeper into the mystery of Self. Keeping the view in mind helps us to retain the energetic integrity of our tradition and ensure that, when we choose to guide students along this uncanny path, the transmission of our gifts will be robust and of benefit to all.

Love is indeed the law. Let us walk this path with all the care, grace, and attention we can muster.

* If you desire to train with a Feri teacher, it is best to avoid reading books or websites on how to practice the Feri tradition. A good teacher will tailor your training to your particular needs, and any habits you have developed from attempting to practice out of books will have to be undone. If you must read books from the Feri tradition, I recommend Etheric Anatomy by the Andersons, Cora Anderson’s autobiography Kitchen Witch, Cora’s biography of Victor In Mari’s Bower, and Victor’s two books of poetry, Thorns of the Bloodrose and Lilith’s Garden.

Is Feri an eclectic tradition? (by Willow Moon)

“Our Pagan community is growing and showing much bright promise. The Craft is a tough weed that will grow many strange flowers and bear strange fruits, so we must try and tolerate different ways of practicing it. Learn from what we see and if we cannot use it, let the others try, even if they eat bad fruit and go balls up!” 

Victor E. Anderson, copyright © 1993, 2001, 2004. First publication in Green Egg, Vol. XXVI, No. 100, Spring 1993.

Feri can seem eclectic because it is still an oral tradition. We don’t use a book as a standard. As an oral tradition, our circle casting rite changes with each performance. The tradition morphs and grows as each initiate makes it their own and adds their own knowledge.

However, as all initiates know, there are basic understandings/approaches/exercises passed from one Feri practitioner to the next. That is the definition of a tradition. Yet our tradition is not static or stale; it lives and puts forth shoots from deep roots. Our roots are Feri’s cultural milieu. 

The basic psycho-physical exercises passed from one generation to the next are like the scales in music which make further musical development possible. Without the experience of scales as a muscle memory, there is no musical creativity. Different cultures have different scales which inform their musical forms and thus their culture. Our traditional psycho-physical basic training informs and is informed by the cultural milieu of Feri. The basics provide a structure upon which creativity can thrive and yet still be a part of the traditional milieu. That is what is meant by a “living tradition.”

Of course, there are those within the circle of initiates who say this or that teaching of some initiates isn’t Feri. They may not recognize other lineages as kin. That is to be expected with any group of folks. To me, it seems to simply boil down to “How big do we want our community to be?” Some opt for a smaller group; some are more inclusive. As with any community, each of us has to figure that out for themselves depending upon what one finds comfortable and sustainable. However we may squabble among ourselves like a family, like a family we all have one thing in common. For a blood family, that is DNA; for us, it’s initiation. 

Andy Goldsworthy – Montage by iuri – Sticks Framing a Lake (CC BY 2.0)

Feri is different from an eclectic tradition. Eclectic, I define (based on Merriam-Webster’s dictionary) as a collection of various diverse cultural artifacts. It has the connotation of being an indiscriminate mishmash of unrelated elements. Although Feri folds various cultural artifacts into our milieu, for those who are well trained in Feri, items are not added indiscriminately, but with a purpose. Typically additions come from a personal gnosis based on knowledge gained with integrity: that is, knowledge based in traditional forms that the initiate is heir to, not something solely gleaned from a book. 

Feri is also different from a literary tradition. Literary traditions often judge inclusion into the corpus of a tradition by how closely the accepted literary forms are followed. Some literary traditions do not allow for changes in the corpus (in other words, the corpus is closed and new works cannot be added). In Feri, we do not use a book as an arbitrator of inclusion. However, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t literary folks. In fact, we don’t have one Book of Shadows, we have many! In Feri, any initiate can add to the corpus of their lineage.

We also have diverse lineages, some of which practice and teach in radically different ways. Yet, in the same way that one can recognize a story to be of the Arthurian legend milieu, even though the individual stories can be very different as told from different characters’ points of view, Feri initiates can recognize each other. In this way, Feri is similar to a literary tradition.

According to Albert B. Lord in The Singer of Tales, literary traditions arise from the belief that one specific performance of an art form is a “real” form of the art, even though the form changes with each performance. This is just like life: even though something may appear the same from day to day, each day that thing is subtly different, even if the difference isn’t noticed. The real form of the art is in its performance. 

I don’t understand Feri to be an eclectic tradition, but instead a multicultural one. Perhaps because it has thrived in American soil for so long, Feri is yet another manifestation of America’s multicultural identity. For thousands of years, many various and diverse cultures have found a home here. Maybe Feri is a reflection of that. Or perhaps, Victor Anderson was correct when he suggested that Feri is the source of all magic, and its repository. 

In Memory of Raymond Allen Moore (1961-2021)

Raymond Allen Moore, known for his keen love of occult lore, his passion for learning in and of itself, and his scorchingly dry wit, died at age 60 on Thursday, April 29, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina.

Ray was born on February 13, 1961 in Chicago, Illinois. He was preceded in death by his parents and is survived by his two sons, wife, siblings and many friends in his spiritual community.

Ray as a young man in Chicago

Ray was deeply spiritual, curious and enthusiastic about life. He loved to read and collect books. He was passionate about math and science and had degrees in physics and mathematics.

Ray was a member of the Spiral Heart community in the Reclaiming Tradition and was an initiate of Thorn Coyle in the Feri Tradition. His friends and loved ones in these communities deeply mourn his loss while remembering his beautiful smile.

Ray with friend Sue in Chicago

“One memory I have of Ray is at Light Haven in NC. He was calling the Star Goddess for ritual, walking the floor in the ritual space, hands upraised. I could feel Her presence around him.“ ~Thorn Coyle

Ray and Darrah on Samhain

“I was touched when Ray surprised me one year when we met up at PantheaCon with a present of a beautifully preserved old 1960s issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine. It had a wonderfully rendered painting of Barnabas Collins on the cover. I was so delighted and thrilled. I just remember Ray’s shy sweet smile as he watched me geeking out over the mag. He seemed even more pleased by my response than I was to receive such a memorable gift. That is a memory that will stay with me.” ~Shimmer

“He was really observant, and that made him the consummate gift giver. And you could see the triumph in his eyes. So sweet.” ~Cholla

Ray with friends at Feri Camp

“Ray sent and gifted DRGN with a copy of the Viridarium Umbris.” ~Ed Novem Grey

“Ray bought me a copy of Tom’s book. I didn’t have enough money at the time, and by the time I could afford it, all the copies were gone. Then Ray sent one to me and now I’m crying, as it will remind me of all the generosity of both of them. Graveyard Wanderers indeed. Ray did these things just randomly that were so generous and dear. It always caught me off guard. And it delighted me, to be honest. I delighted in the surprise of it.” ~Cholla

Swan, Carrie, and Ray at PantheaCon

“Remembering the time that he bought a bronze Ganesha statue in Berkeley California when we were visiting friends. He sat with the heavy statue on his lap on the airplane all the way back to East Coast.” ~Swan

“I remember him calling me and Ed at the shop to tell us he really supported what we were doing. He was also downsizing his library and knew we had a public occult library in our shop where folks could come and research/read/hang. So he donated 3-4 big boxes of books. It was the most generous donation we had ever received and it meant a lot. We still have many of the books he gifted us in our personal library.” ~Maya

Ray and Friends

“Ray would reach out regularly and check in. He was so good to me and really really supportive. Even when him and I would disagree, usually around something socio-political, he always always would keep reaching back and keep the connection going, even if I was PISSED. He took the connection very seriously and he was always so good at bringing things back to a relational place of care and love and some of our talks were just growing pains for him. He would actually hear me sometimes and he his opinion would shift. He also was a good teacher for me in regards to holding compassion, even when you don’t agree. We never stopped revisiting our connection and it was because he was relentless!!” ~Justin

Ray during the holidays

“I remember when he had aspected Krom in ritual and that was a profound experience for me.” ~Dalton

“Ray and I first got to know each other on a long bus trip after a workshop. At the time, I had only studied witchcraft in a workshop format, and I didn’t yet understand that there were other, family-based cultures of witchcraft with a different ethos. Ray was ahead of me in grasping how intimate witchcraft could be. We talked quite seriously on that bus ride, and while he didn’t immediately change my mind, I remember how he engaged with me, his patience. Later, through other experiences, I came to share his point of view. He could be prickly at times, but I always felt it was because he was so soft inside. I remember the last time I saw him, how his eyes sparkled when he smiled, and how potent it was to feel our kinship despite having seen each other rarely over the years. I will miss his generous spirit.” ~Helix

Cyn and Ray

“Looking at pictures of Ray and feeling his radiant smile and spirit make my heart both heavy and brilliant at the same time.” ~Susan

Thorn and Ray at Light Haven

“Things I remember most about Ray: Ray’s smile. Ray’s curiosity. Ray’s grateful attitude. Ray’s dedication to study and the Craft. Ray, calling the Star Goddess for ritual. Walking the magic, calling Her name.” ~Thorn

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Ray and Swan in front of the western gate that he helped Niki build for Samhain one year

“Raymond Moore, when I met you I knew you were Awesome!  You helped me build the Western gate; now you are on the other side of that gate flying free! Fly free as a Bird! Now you are with Your Ancestors & The Ancient Ones in the Circle of Life! I am glad I have met you & we have crossed paths, that memory now sits with me in my Heart. I am so glad I have met you. Fly free, Brother.” ~Niki Popovic

Cyn, Ray, and Swan

“I fondly recall studying tarot with Ray.  He flew many times to California with Cyn and I to study with Thorn. He was a thoughtful and fun travel companion and my best friend.” ~Swan

In San Francisco, going to a ball with friends

“We had those big falling outs as well. But we worked hard together. And even though on any given day maybe we were talking, maybe not, we knew we loved each other. We laughed about it. I told him that I would never be so angry with him that I didn’t love him. He taught me a lot about that aphorism of Victor’s about always leaving that door open.” ~Cholla

Letters from Ray to Thorn

Hi Thorn,

I hope you’ve been doing well!

I completed all of my coursework towards my B.S. in Physics degree last semester and am almost done with my B.A. in Math! Spring 2015 will see me graduating with both. It’s been a long journey, but worthwhile.

Much Love – Ray 

* * *

Hi Aeptha and Thorn,

I just wanted to check-in with you to say thank you for the energy that was sent my way from the Naga ritual last weekend…

I had been texting with Swan the morning of the ritual. While I was in the shower, I felt myself filled with energy that made me start trancing and chanting… not something that usually happens there! The word that came to me was Bucca, which is a Cornish Witchcraft deity that I’ve been working with of late. He symbolizes the snake energy of the land and has a light and dark form, basically a Twin god form. I felt the top of my head open up, too, which tends to happen when I’m connecting to an energetic stream. When I got back to my computer, Swan had texted me with a simple message ‘Did you feel it?’ Wow… did I ever! Thank you both, as well as all who participated in the ritual, for what you gifted me with. I’m very grateful!

Saturday night, bursting with gratitude, I placed a Naga Kanya statue I’ve had for a number of years in the center of my living room and thanked the spirits for their help… chanting Naga to honor them. It felt very transformative!

Much love to you both!

— Ray

To think that you are gone, over the crest of the hills
As the Moon passes from her fullness, riding the sky,
And the White Mare took you with her.
To think that we will wait another life
To drink wine from the horns, and leap the fire.
Farewell from this world, but not from the circle.
That place that is between the worlds
Shall hold return in due time. Nothing is lost.
The half of a fruit from the tree of Avalon
Shall be our reminder, among the fallen leaves
This life treads underfoot. Let the rain weep.
Waken in sunlight from the Realms of Sleep.

~Doreen Valiente: “Elegy for a Dead Witch”

“May God Herself hold Ray close, and may Her light of wisdom and renewal guide him on his soul’s great journey. So be it.” ~Shimmer

We love you, Ray! In love may you return.

A Working for the Earth (by Willow Moon)

We like to pride ourselves (often with good reason) on our ability to effect a change in our situation. Cora Anderson, shortly before her death, told me that the purpose of Feri witchcraft is to become a better person, which is to effect a change in ourselves. 

I was talking with some Feri initiate friends the other day and the idea was expressed that this is a good time to do some collective magic to help heal the earth and our societies. Our societies are not separate from the earth because it is through our societies that we affect the earth. 

To that end, it was proposed that those who are so inclined and able perform rites around this time of Earth Day and Beltaine for making right with our relations. Since all living beings are children of the Great Goddess, we are all relatives. 

By this, I mean rites of offerings to nature spirits, rites of reconciliation of differences and atonement for mistakes. Many societies that still maintain a close connection to nature contend that when we pollute the environment, we harm the spirits of nature who then retaliate, in an attempt to stop the damage. 

It is often believed that making appropriate offerings to the nature spirits and asking for forgiveness for our species’ harm to the natural world can help to heal the spirits and our relationship to nature. This in turn is a balm to the spirits of the world who then cease their justified attacks of pestilence and natural disasters.

However, it doesn’t stop there, because we also need to correct our relationships with each other as individuals, as societies, and as countries. Hatred and fear poison our relationships which then kill people. This is true on a personal level and a governmental level. Thus, it was proposed that we include working for establishing right relationships between nations: to encourage cooperation between countries, since each country is affected as well as their people. Cooperation is our only path forward from the path of destruction. 

This includes justice for criminals regardless of their influence, because justice for one is justice for all. This also includes governments fulfilling their mandate to protect and benefit their citizens to reestablish harmony within their borders. Harmony within a society can only happen when its citizens are respected, treated fairly and with dignity by those in power. Thus authoritarian administrations must be dismantled by the people they wish to dominate and destroy. 

For those who wish it, I offer the following prayer to accompany this work.

Image by ejaugsburg from Pixabay

Ho’oponopono Offering Prayer

By Willow Moon


From primordially pure basic space
The unceasing magical display of your desire
Appears as a Great Queen, enthroned
Whose toes are strong roots deep in the earth
Whose coal black hair streams with stars
All appearances arise as your glorious body!

From your heart, flames flash out, burning all ideas about the offerings into ash
From your heart, wind blows the ashes of doubt far away
From your heart, water washes the offerings clean from limitations
From your heart flows rays of rainbow lights, touching and changing the offerings into the nectar of your wisdom, a balm to all ills!

[pour out fluid offerings onto the earth and burn fragrant wood/herbs, raising the smoke to the sky while chanting IAO for a while. For best results, pray with strong emotions and if possible, mingle your tears with the fluid offerings]

Please accept these offerings as a healing nectar, healing all hurt, all ill intent
Be satisfied with these offerings, all you spirits of the sky, land and sea
Clouds of offerings, as limitless as the sky and pleasing to the senses
Are the form of the wisdom of Godhirself and swell throughout the phenomenal world!

They are all that could be desired for the Gods, spiritual caretakers of the land and to those whom we owe debts of nourishment, home or wealth
To those harmful spirits who create disharmony and pestilence
To those who steal life force, those who cause insanity and fatal accidents
To those who take the essence of wealth and health
To those hostile spirits who live in cities and in the wild!

As the red flames burn and smoke arises, debts are repaid, whatever is desired instantly arises
As long as space endures, we give inexhaustible offerings to all those to whom we are connected and to those we have harmed whether intentionally or not
The evil deeds and harmful actions we have accumulated, may they be purified by these offerings of generosity
May all beings awaken to their original nature and live free from conditioned existence!

May illness, evil spirits and pollutions be purified
May plagues, famine, warfare and natural disasters be pacified
May all enemies and dangers be averted
May calamities and misfortune cease!

May this offering clear mental cloudiness, dullness and agitation
May this offering clear the conflicts of people and nations
May this offering repair mistakes
May this offering clear bad dreams and omens
May this offering clear the quarreling of peoples!

As the smoke fills the sky, it is offered to all the Gods and spirits who fill space
May their afflictions due to our negligence from today onward be cleansed!

As the flames and sparks shoot into the space between heaven and earth, they are offered to all the Gods and spirits who remain between heaven and earth
May their afflictions due to our negligence from today onward be cleansed!

As the flames swirl upon the earth, they are offered to all the Gods and spirits who live under the earth
May all their afflictions due to our negligence from today onward be cleansed!

May obscurations from harmful magic and incantations be cleared!
May obscurations from broken connections with Gods and spirits be cleared!
May obscurations from authoritarian destructive forces be cleared!
May obscurations of demonic possession be cleared!
May all broken and weakened words of honor be cleared!

In this way, all Gods and spirits cleared from the fog of afflictions experience supreme well being
May they all be pleased with these offerings and may their desires be fulfilled
May past debts and stubborn habits be released
Through the power of this generosity, may we all be filled with ecstatic wisdom!

May harmful spirits who remain here
Whether on the earth, above it or below
Always be loving toward beings
May we practice kindness both day and night!

Amanda Gorman, Anti-Racism, and Faery Witchcraft (by Helix)

Cora Anderson’s birthday is next week (January 26), and I have been thinking about her. Not just because of her birthday, which I usually celebrate with poetry or pie (both if possible!). But also because of this week’s presidential inauguration, in which Joe Biden was sworn in as our 46th president, and Kamala Harris as our vice president—the first woman, the first Black woman, and the first person of Indian descent to hold so high an office in our country.

Yet the height of the inauguration for me was the poem read by 22-year-old Black poet laureate Amanda Gorman, a long spoken-word piece that rang with hip-hop rhythms. I kept thinking, Cora would have loved this.

Victor too, I’m sure. But I never met Victor. For that matter, I only met Cora once, when she was bedridden and near the end of her life. Though the Andersons are my great-grandparents in the Craft, I know them mostly through family stories: tales told of their wisdom and their foibles, shared by initiates who knew them whenever we gather.

If you are looking for a witchcraft tradition to connect you with an international community of people who share a consistent philosophy—sorry, this isn’t it. Faery is a family. Families are messy and organic; family members fight with each other fiercely and love just as fiercely. We don’t hang together because we’re developing an ideology or creating an organized religion. We’re together because we recognize each other on a soul-deep level.

Victor Anderson approached the world as a multiracial person. He condemned American racism in interviews and celebrated the cultures and spirituality of Indigenous people and people of color. Learning from world cultures, especially marginalized world cultures, was one of the Andersons’ core values.

But Victor Anderson was not a guru to whom we can abdicate our moral responsibility. I cannot, on the basis of Victor’s life, tell you that “Faery is an essentially anti-racist witchcraft tradition” or give you a ten-step checklist for how to be properly anti-racist. (You can find such materials on your own in any case!)

We look up to the Andersons as we look up to beloved ancestors of blood. They were teachers and our grandparents in the Craft; to some of us, they were cherished friends. Therefore, though we take their teachings seriously, we don’t look to the Andersons to tell us our ethics, beliefs, or political philosophy. Those are our responsibility as individuals, as people who are living in the 21st century. It would be presumptuous for me to try to speak for the Andersons, even if I quoted their interviews. Like all people, they were dynamic and evolving. I know their views changed with the times, and neither of them saw more than a few years of the 21st century. I cannot know how they would have reacted to any current events.

And yet… I think Cora especially would have loved this year’s inauguration.

When I visited Cora, I hoped to ask her about her and Victor’s poetry, and to hear something about her experience of witchcraft. Sadly for me, she was often in and out of her body at that time, and conversation was difficult. But there was one thing that Cora definitely wanted to talk about: the potential election of Barack Obama. She was tremendously excited by the prospect and wanted to know that we shared that excitement.

I can only imagine that the inauguration of Kamala Harris would have thrilled the Andersons. Perhaps they would have seen in her the face of our Star Mother, whom Victor sometimes described as a lovely Black woman wrapped in the imagery of the American flag. As poets, perhaps they would have wept—as I did—at the sight of Amanda Gorman elegantly performing her poetry, calling us through pride into love:

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it

I am thinking of Cora today, and of Victor too. And so I suggest—if you are seeking Faery, if you might want the Andersons to be your teachers, your grandparents in the Craft, or your friends and guides—honor Cora on her birthday next week. Read Amanda Gorman’s poem aloud. And pray that our nation and our leaders be held under the hand of Love.

Running toward Fear, Falling in Love with Self (by Helix)

To be Faery is to fall in love with your Self as you run straight toward that which you most fear.

Most adults move through the world in a state of internal conflict. Their thoughts run in circles of preoccupation with the past or the future; they have emotions but avoid expressing them, or they let them build up until they are expressed abruptly and unconstructively; and they abuse their bodies with drugs, unhealthy food, or lack of movement. Accordingly, their ability to set an intention and follow through on it, or to accurately identify and act on their deepest desires in a sustained way, is severely lacking.

One cannot be an effective witch in this state of affairs. A witch must be able to focus all their energies in a single direction, to pursue goals both mundane and lofty with consistency and passion. This is one of many reasons why the Andersons emphasized integration work, where we return to a natural state where the physical, animal, human, and divine parts of us are aligned. (For an introduction to what is often called “Triple Soul” work, see the Andersons’ book Etheric Anatomy.) Only when the many parts of the self are entwined in an erotic embrace and moving in concert can the witch manifest their Self in the world.

“Desire” by Worak via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

It can be difficult to begin this work when so many of us have been raised to be divided from ourselves. Our families or religions of origin may have taught us to repress our emotions or condemn some of them as wrong; we may have been led to believe that some desires are “spiritual” and good while others are dangerous, destructive, or downright evil. This kind of upbringing leads many of us to hide what we really think and feel, even from ourselves. Others may rebel against such systems by chasing desires willy-nilly, allowing our animal selves to run wild without guidance from the human self about how to tend to our own well-being or that of others. Neither of these approaches arises from integration and alignment. An aligned witch should evaluate and govern their own actions, but they are able to accept their emotions and desires without judgment. Without this open-eyed compassion, we cannot fully know ourselves.

Whether you are studying Faery with a teacher or are simply a seeker, one of the ways to begin the work of integration is to identify fears and desires. For those who have been conditioned to hide their desires from themselves, fears are often easier to identify, since anxiety is what haunts and motivates so much of modern life.

Faery initiate and Reclaiming co-founder Starhawk has often been known to say, “Where there is fear, there is power.” Fear is one way the animal self signals that we have given our power away to an external force. The most persistent fears are often the most productive to explore.

I should emphasize, however, that I am speaking here mainly of irrational or exaggerated fears. There are good, rational, survival-based reasons for avoiding dangerous situations or for engaging in them only while carefully calculating risks. The fears that are most productive to run toward are often interpersonal or those that invite creative self-expression. For some people, the fear will be expressed as intense and obsessive disgust. Our aversion to those externalized parts of ourselves can manifest as monomaniacal focus on manageable risks—for example, avoiding sexual relationships out of a debilitating horror of sexually transmitted infections. The persistence and intrusiveness of an aversion is a clue that it is concealing a lost part of the self.

For some of us, fear will manifest as anger or hatred. In my own sheltered youth, witchcraft and Paganism were targets of my contempt and anger. I was articulate and critical and able to find a thousand faults with the people who practiced these traditions. Yet my rejection of these forms of spirituality was actually a rejection of myself. The harder I fought them, the more those traditions appeared synchronistically in my life, attracted and tantalized me. When I recognized this and (initially holding my nose with disdain) began to read books, go to Pagan campouts, and participate in rituals even when doing so caused me anxiety, discomfort, and downright irritation, paths began to open up for me. I found friends who practiced those traditions whom I could respect; I found an ethical, talented teacher I could look up to. I started to make progress and become a bit less divided against myself.

Strong emotions of this type give clear indications of where the risky but growthful path lies for a given individual. Tackling these fears should never be rushed, however, nor should anyone pressure you to engage them prematurely. Claiming the power and Self that you have externalized in what you fear takes time, care, and careful engagement with the rejected object. To prepare, a meditative practice that gives you experience with tolerating uncomfortable emotions is essential. Buddhist or Western mindfulness practice can help us to regulate our emotions enough to curiously discover what is hidden behind our fear. If our fears are associated with trauma, it is a good idea to enlist the help of a trauma recovery therapist when beginning this kind of work.

To fall in love with our Self, we must also unfailingly respond to desire. Integration requires the gentle work of allowing the human self to befriend the animal self, and vice versa. Only when they are in a close, loving, and erotic relationship will the human self become consistently and completely aware of the animal self’s desires. These desires must be acted upon if the trust of the animal self is to be maintained—but they should be pursued with wisdom and guidance from the divine part of the self. Acting on desire should not result in behavior that is careless toward self and others.

However, if ever you find yourself struck speechless, burning with hunger for a new experience, or feeling yourself to be alive in a way you never have before: if you cannot safely move in the moment, you must make a plan to act. Wrap up or put on pause whatever stands between you and the desire. If the desire is inaccessible in some way, reflect: is there some other way you can approach the essence of the desire? If the desire is for a person who is not available for relationship, what elements of that person attract you, and are there other ways to bring those elements into your life? If the desire is to make music or art, are there ways you can lower your cost of living or survive on less in order to spend more time on projects? What loving risks can you take to manifest the desire? Such decisions feed our animal selves and allow the free flow of life force through all our parts—and cultivating the free flow of life force is an essential part of Faery.

Making a commitment to run toward fear and desire is a simple thing on the surface, but if we practice it in earnest, we will experience moments of towering joy and ego-destroying terror. Life will become vivid—and dangerous.

Are you seeking a Faery path? Make your promise now: never turn away from Self.

Surprise: An Initiate Looks Back on Studentship (by Peaseblossom)

What occurred at my initiation caught me by surprise. Until I entered ‘the room’, I did not know the rubric, the appearance of the room, what my Oathmother and their assistants would do, nor what I would be called on to say or do. No one had told me how it would feel or how I would feel afterwards, other than cautions not to expect ‘wonders’.  During my studies I desired initiation, too strongly perhaps, yet I worked quite hard not to find out any of the secrets of that ritual in advance. My Oathmother and those who mentored me obliged by not spilling their beans either. Because I had few expectations beyond ‘this will be important’, I was shocked by the beauty of the ritual, one that began a recrystallization of the sense of my life. Yet was it surprise that made the beauty shocking and provided fuel to power that magic?

More than seven years earlier I received a call from a divinity. It was an instruction, not  a command, perhaps best seen as an offer that would be made only once: “In order to [address a very mundane issue] you must learn use your intensity with ultimate skill.” Accepting that god’s direction led to my taking up study of the Anderson Craft. With considerable serendipity, I connected with a skilled and compassionate teacher, a fine match perhaps not because of our similarities, but because of our differences.

Queen of Cups, author’s design, from their personal tarot deck. (c) Peaseblossom 2018

I was not a particularly wise student and the seven-year process was not easy, nor did this training match what I thought it would be like when I began. My assumed strengths so often were identified as peripheral, even detrimental to my goal, and the areas where my teacher and my mentors focused my training were so often not my strengths but rather where I was, in their judgment, weakest. My multiple decades studying hermetic Qabalah with a skilled adept became beside the point. My skills were worthy of respect, and my teachers were pleased to acknowledge my prior diligence.  Yet it was my teacher’s continually frustrating role to keep saying, ‘NO!  Qabalah is not Feri’, or to emphatically demand I re-do work, because, ‘Rudolf Steiner is not Feri!’ If I anticipated the next piece of work, rather than just doing it, it could simply fail and need to be redone later.

During my seven years as a student, I was nearly dropped by my teacher more than once. These explosions always occurred when I presumed I knew beforehand what was being taught, why it was being taught, and what I was going to learn. I may have been wise enough to not delve too much into the secrets of initiation, yet I had to be hit by the teacher’s stick again and again to learn a great secret: I was a student because I did not know the Craft, while my Oathmother-to-be had been ordained by ‘Our Line’, both the living and those mightily dead, and the Gods, to take me down paths that I simply could not travel myself – that I had to learn to listen!

And I found out the only reason to walk those paths was to know myself. Yes, I made friends (the closest ever in my long life), learned lore and even a few secrets, grievously hurt and lost friends because of my ego, and even began to learn a bit of how to use my intensity with skill (if not yet ‘ultimate’). But that skill was so often not how to enlarge myself, to become more intense, but rather right-sizing, a surrender, above all how to listen and …

… trust in my teacher was required. I was handing parts of my Souls into my teacher’s hands. For though I felt this burning need to study, if I thought I knew where I was going, I would not get there. No, my teacher was not perfect, we argued, I felt they dropped my souls more than once, even broke my heart as I sometimes broke theirs. Yet this surrender to my teacher’s guidance, of allowing them to surprise me, was the essence of being trained in our tradition and the only possible path to initiation.

Shortly after my initiation, I commented to a friend, now a fellow initiate, “This cannot be taken away.” They responded, “No, it cannot.” Have there been ‘wonders’ since my initiation? If by ‘wonders’ one means many shattering spiritual events, I would have to say no. My teacher and mentors were right to say, “Do not expect wonders.” However, the winds of the world seem to blow more strongly, or perhaps I just pay more attention. Intuition arises more easily, synchronicities are more common. Emotions and the effect of what is said and done in relationships on myself and on others are far brighter, and sometimes far darker. Words spoken and actions taken seem to pack more clout. It is both easier to speak truth, and not doing so has deeper consequences. These changes continue and seem to be increasing over time. Perhaps my training is what allowed me not to expect wonders, but rather to gain the strength to navigate the changes in me that continue to evolve and to emerge—and, perhaps, to remain open to being surprised.

Principle 6: Faery is not information, it is the mystery and experience (by Maya Grey)

‘Marker on the Road’ by Maya Grey

So, you read about Kala online and you practice it every day. Same with the Iron Pentacle: sex, pride, self, power, passion. You know the names of the Gods and you REALLY feel connected to Nimue and Crom. You have altars and everything dedicated to them. You read The Spiral Dance until the spine broke, and you have all the Feri books you could find, so you know what the tradition is about. You are debating on going to a witch camp or class with a public Feri Initiate.  You have some initiates as Facebook friends and are in a few student groups online that you sometimes argue on. You have it figured out. All you need now is a convenient geographically located Initiate to initiate you. In fact, you demand it. You know in your guts that you ARE one of the chosen ones. You have worked so hard. Dedicated so much. Now is the time! Why is the teacher not pursuing you? Why are they not emailing or PMing you? Damn it!!

My question to you, friend, is if you have already figured out so much, then why do you need me, or any Initiate? Do you believe that you are owed initiation? I am often amused and sometimes annoyed at the expectations of students and the hurried need to be initiated or to enter into this particular tradition. Perhaps I too was this way—although I would like to think not, and maybe I will get around to asking my Oath Father one of these days. I do know that deep down inside I found every book to be lacking, as if somehow this was not the whole story. It was almost as if there was something that every author was keeping from me. I diligently practiced the rituals. I learned the litany. I created the potions and spells and incense. However, something remained elusive. It was as if the spirits or the contact was not fully there.  A door seemed to be locked.

Back when I was a seeker we had a few books and some underground zines and perhaps a class or two advertised at the local New Age shop or hippy grocery store, and that was it. I can only imagine how it is now with the foreverness and labyrinth of the internet. But this is simply information. It is but one aspect of learning and one third of a puzzle of learning in the Craft.

Information is not Feri. Feri is visceral. It is raw. It is in the body and in the Spirit. It is not simply knowing things. Think of sex. You can read about it. You can watch it. You can know all the terms, lingo and moves and even be a masturbatory pro, but none of that is the same as the actual experience itself with another person or persons. Then take that up a notch. Become a Master of sex. A Tantric force. Then maybe you are getting close to understanding the experience of Feri.

So, when we say Feri/Faery is not information, it is The Mystery and experience, what do we mean? Well, clearly, there is some information to be disseminated in Feri instruction. There is a core of liturgy and shared lineage and history that students will learn. Yes, you will learn the Iron Pentacle and Kala and how your teacher teaches it. Along with this, an Initiate may supplement their teaching with various books depending on how that particular person teaches. This is where the tradition branches in a thousand directions, because each Initiate—who is tapped into the Current, but is their own nexus of power and strange blossom—will add to the tradition in their own way.

The Roads to the Mystery come from different directions, all leading to the source. However, only the Initiate will know the road markers on the way. This is our Current. This is the Craft. This is why you cannot self-teach or self-initiate. These are the roads to Faery land, and trying to traverse them on your own will have you led astray.

Have you read any lore or myths about the Faeries? These myths are virtually in every culture and very pervasive in the West. I encourage you to do so. The information is easily available online and for free. Once you start to read, you will see a recurring pattern in the myths. The seeker goes into the Wild with no guide, no instruction, and no boon, in order to see or capture a Faery. This violates the rules of the Road. It is offensive to the Fae and they will punish you. Seriously, read the myths; they aren’t nice!

Speaking of which, our tradition isn’t ‘nice’ or ‘safe’. We’re witches, remember? We do not heal you. We do not coddle you. Those aren’t our gigs. Check out the priests and gurus for that. Feri isn’t a community of kumbaya, love, and peace. In order to traverse the terrain, you need a guide. Would you travel to the back woods of Afghanistan without a guide? Would you go into the cartel-ridden favellas of Rio de Janeiro without a friend?  Would you cross the River Styx without the boatman?

Once you are a student, the Initiate will guide you. That is their role. They are a guide. Exposure to the mystery is not an easy thing. Your ego defenses and the lies that you tell yourself and others will begin to burn away and to burn you in the process. You cannot hide from the Witch Eye, and the Fae cannot abide a liar even when the liar believes his own lies to be true.

‘Faces in the Smoke’ by Maya Grey

Initiates who teach one-on-one and not for pay know this path is perilous. What do they have to gain by teaching? Certainly not money, and so they can be choosier. They have been down the Dread Road themselves. They struggled and went through their own breakings and challenges. Lives completely rearranged. Their teachers led them and taught them the signposts, the correct answers to the various challenges, and introduced them to the Gods. This is a tradition about relationships. Relationships to the Gods and Spirits. Relationships with the other students, the coven, and with other Initiates in the Tradition at large. This is why one cannot “self-initiate”. Yes, it is an exclusive club. It has to be. We have to protect our own.

This is the night path. It is only sometimes moonlit, but many times it is black as pitch. It is hidden, occult. This is its nature. This is a Luciferian Path of the Left Hand. If that bothers you and you think it snobbish or exclusive, then know that there are plenty of traditions that will welcome you right now with their priests and communities and healing and song and the light of day. They are waiting for you with open arms right now! They too have power and wisdom and magic. They too are just as valid as any other path. Go and be healed. Find love. Find community. Find peace.

Are you still here? You must still think that this path is for you. You must think in terms of relationship and you must think in terms of grit, mettle, and steel. The student/teacher experience is based on relationship. It must feel right to both the student and the teacher. If you do not know the person already and do not have a friendship or are lovers, and it is more of a cold call type of situation, then you (the student) need to have patience. It is not easy to teach. It is not easy to learn.

Students are often layered with pre-conceived notions, emotional and spiritual damage from family and Christianity, addictions, delusions, and even deeper issues like self-loathing and rage. This is where your mettle and grit come in. How well can you deal with facing difficult truths? Can you do the Work? Can you be tempered like a thousand-folded blade? Or are you seeking a way out of life’s pain and sorrow? Are you seeking an easy fix? The magic pill?  Do you give your power up? Are you willing to sell your soul and give up who you are? All of this is not for your Feri teacher or the Tradition to “Fix”. That is your work to deal with before approaching a teacher. Initiation seals many things to you and remember what Initiation means, it means to begin! These issues are YOUR work to address. They are for YOU to resolve.

If an Initiate tells you that the time or fit is not right, you may feel disappointed, but this too is part of the work. This is a lifelong path, a dedication to the Lady forsaking the wrathful God of men. Training on average is between 6 to 9 years and then you BEGIN the work of sorcery on your own, a well-tempered blade that is ready. Not all relationships are meant to be, however. If an Initiate tells you what their expectations are, and you still really want this, then listen. Do not hear this as a dig against you personally. In many ways the Initiate is actually doing you a favor, protecting you, helping you to find a deeper connection to Self and possibly to get the healing you need. You may also find that another Initiate may be better for you, a better connection and a deeper path for you. That is understood by all initiates. Many of us have had several teachers in the tradition, and this is perfectly acceptable.

‘He Waits’ by Maya Grey

Exposure to this tradition in any way begins to change a person. This is the experience. The teacher can see further down this path than you because they are dedicated to it, bound to it. They have been down the road. They are on the road. Those of us who are dedicated to the close-knit relationships between student, teacher, coven, Tradition, and the Gods are protective of it. We have worked long and hard, and we have taken oaths to protect the Mystery and one another even if we do not get along.  The Mystery itself is part of the experience. It is an unfolding. I cannot explain it to you in words because words fail, but it touches all life on this planet and connects the witch to All. All Gods are Feri Gods.

What does this mean to you, oh seeker? Are you simply curious? Want to part the curtain? Do you desperately need healing? Are you looking for cash or ass or to be the next High Witch Queen of Endor? Wanna get the secrets and sell them to the masses? Why are you here really?

Ask yourself, because we will be asking it of you. Go deep within. If this path truly is for you, then you will not be able to stop the roots and vines of it as they tendril around your feet. You will not be able to stop the branches of the trees as they part for you and you see the lantern of Black Man through the thicket. Strange things will be placed on your path directing you to one of us. It is not just we the Initiates and you the students and seekers that are here, it is the Spirits as well, and they see farther than all of us.  It is they who have most of the say in all things of the Tradition, and it is they who guard it well.

Maya Grey of House Grey—Central Valley, California



The Dread Oath: A Different Mystery (by Cholla)

Following up on Helix’s challenge for us to write an article on each of the principles, this piece addresses Principle Five: We honor our oaths to aid and defend our brothers and sisters.

In 2011, the Feri Tradition split. Why that happened will be attributed to as many causes as there are initiates. I have heard people claim that the division is a false one, because we share the same Mystery and Current and we share the same gods. But this is not entirely true. For whatever reasons I hear others give as to why Anderson Faery and Feri split, for me it was that we did not share a crucial mystery. We did not share the Oath as a value across the tradition.

I say this because for me the Oath is a mystery. When we receive the Great Mystery that makes us a Faery witch at initiation, it changes us. It makes us something else. You can see it when you circle with initiates. At some point in the circle, their facial features change. Their eyes become longer; their teeth sharper. They look feral, a word that shares a root with our very name. The Mystery awakens something in us that culture has tried to breed out of us, something precious and terrible.

But the Oath is a mystery of its own, a private mystery that is internal to the initiate. It is a transformation born of submission, the willingness to bend the knee and swear allegiance with powers that are wild beyond imagining, and to the others who have done so before you. It is not surrendering your life force, it is offering it as an act of power, affirming that you are the only being in all the universes who is able to do so.

Doing this transformed me. Where the Mystery that we share made me something else, swearing the Oath made me something more. The Oath bonds the initiate to the tradition and makes that initiate part of something greater than themselves. For those who want to never have to consider others in their actions, or enter into the social contract of a tradition, it is the wrong thing to do. It should never be sworn. But for those who want to be part of something larger, it is the right thing to do, and cannot be omitted.

My Oathmother used to tease me about my initiation. When the time came for me to take my oath, she began the preamble about what I would be swearing to. She asked me if I was willing to swear this Oath. And I just stood there. And stood there. And stood there. She laughed that they were going to grow old there waiting for me to step up and speak. Keep in mind that I had already studied for 7 years in this tradition. Initiation had always been my goal. But in that moment, I still had to think about it. I mean, if you are going to swear to something forever, five minutes might be understandable!

As I heard her speak it, for some reason it occurred to me for the first time, that this was for real. An Oath is a magical act. It would seal my fate forever. The Oath was not a collection of pretty words. It is not a formality. For me, it was offering up all I had and was to the gods I had come to know and adore as my own. It would tie me to a tradition of lore, spirits, and initiates. After I said the words, I would belong to them. They would belong to me. I would never be alone.

My tradition has seen some hard times. Infighting, court trials and issues of sexual exploitation are just a few things that have challenged us. The fighting had grown endless and the lack of accountability was making us hopeless. People had decided to post lore online, were turning Feri into a business, and laughed that none of us could stop them. This was true, we could not. One person had even laughed that my students would be sworn to aid and defend him, but he and his would not have to reciprocate. Which, of course, is not how oaths work.

I will admit that I had a crisis of faith at that point. Was I the only initiate who believed in my Oath? Yet, I knew that something had moved in me, something had happened. I had experienced a mystery. In the end, it did not matter what others thought. In that moment, I understood something that changed how I thought about this forever. The truth came to me as a whisper, and it broke my heart. I realized that this person was not my kin. I was not sworn to him for the very reason that he was not sworn to me. That he and I were different. We were both witches, but we were different kinds of witches. We belonged to different traditions and had a different experience of what it meant to belong to a tradition. When I swore, I had experienced a mystery. I had embraced the part of me that could swear forever and defend with my life. And he had not.

In all the upheaval that happened at this time, it became apparent that I was not alone. There were others who also took their Oath seriously. For all these people, the Oath was a mystery. They too had come away in a sense of wonder, not at some magical happening, but at a realization about themselves. They had found a commitment and ferocity they had not really understood before. That clarity moves something deep inside. You realize in those years you were studying, you had changed. You had become someone you had hoped you would become. You stood there to swear on your own damnation because you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you were up to it.

There are lots of people in the Feri tradition who keep their Oaths. The great majority of them are unaligned Feri who wanted nothing to do with this split. There are many still there who I respect deeply, and many whom I still call friends, even in our difference. At the same time, the lack of accountability in the face of very real crisis saddened me. So, when an elder of the craft bid us to secede, we did. We could no longer conscientiously allow what was happening to go on in our name.

If you think it was easy, you are wrong. If you think it was done in a fit of pique, you are also wrong. It was done in sorrow and despair and was something that should have happened much earlier. It was the effort of last resort, and it took courage to leave. The Oath is for forging those bonds that hold a tradition together, and those bonds were absent. Honestly, if folks had not been so open about how little they valued their Oaths, we would likely still be there fighting. For me the split meant that I knew where I stood and who I could count on. I admit that I was surprised both by those who swore, and those who felt that speaking those words were a formality. It felt right to me. It felt like I could finally stop fighting.

If you do not have what is required to swear the Oath and mean it, you will break when things get hard. That is also what the Oath is for. It is for making a witch who cannot break. It is for making us stronger, a blade of the Star Goddess, forged in a star and doused in the great abyss. So, yes, I took five minutes. And then my eyes grew long, and my teeth grew sharper. And I said, “Yes. Yes, I will swear.”

So no, we do not share all the mysteries. We worship the same gods. We have some lore in common, and some lore that is different. Both traditions are home to poets and bards and sorcerers. The more time we are apart, the more we grow into different cycles. We hold the same Current, we keep the same Names, and have known the same Mystery. But in the end, the difference is woven into our skin and flesh. We are not made of the same stuff. This does not make me their enemy, nor does it make me their kin. What it makes these witches is different. And what it makes me is a witch of my word.