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.