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The Feri Tradition (which is a different tradition from Faery, Fairy, Faerie, or Vicia) is an initiatory tradition of Witchcraft distinct from Wicca. It is an ecstatic (rather than fertility) tradition stemming from the experience of Cora and Victor Anderson. Strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression. The Feri Tradition has very diverse influences, such as Huna, Vodou, Faery lore, Kabbalah, Hoodoo, Tantra, and Gnosticism.
Among the distinguishing features of the Feri tradition is the use of a specific Feri power or energetic current. Feri witches often see themselves as "fey": outside social definitions and intentionally living within paradox. They believe that much of reality is unseen, or at least has uncertain boundaries. Within the tradition there is a deep respect for the wisdom of nature, a love of beauty, and an appreciation of bardic and mantic creativity.
Core teachings acknowledged by most branches of the tradition include the concepts of the Three Souls and the Black Heart of Innocence, the tools of the Iron and Pearl Pentacle (now commonly also used by Reclaiming (Neopaganism)), as well as an awareness of "energy ecology", which admonishes practitioners to never give away or waste their personal power. Trance experiences and personal connection to the Divine are at the heart of this path, leading to a wide variety of practices throughout the larger body of the tradition.
In his study of Wicca, Pagan studies scholar Ethan Doyle White characterised Feri as a "Wiccan" tradition. He noted however that some practitioners of modern Pagan Witchcraft restrict the term "Wicca" to British Traditional Wicca, in which case Feri would not be classified as "Wicca"; he deemed this exclusionary definition of the term to be "unsuitable for academic purposes". Instead, he characterised Feri as one form of Wicca which is nevertheless distinct from others, such as British Traditional Wicca, Dianic Wicca, and Stregheria.
Practices and beliefs
There are several practices and beliefs in the larger body of the Feri tradition that are almost universal:
- The Three Souls. Drawing primarily from Huna (though other traditions such as Kabbalah have similar concepts) Feri postulates the existence of three separate yet interdependent souls as a part of the natural psychic structure of the human being. The Talking Self is that part of humans which is self-aware and deals with language, rational thought, knowledge, and communication. The self often called "the Fetch" is primal and subconscious, being the source of dreams, desires, and drives both instinctual and physical. The name derives from the fetch of Irish folklore. The third self is the God-Self, also called the Higher Self. Of key importance in Feri are practices which are intended to bring these souls into alignment so they may communicate freely, granting the practitioner a more holistic sense of self, and deeper communion with the Goddess.
- The Iron Pentacle. A symbolic and energetic tool that is used to help realign and purify the practitioner. The five points of the pentacle correspond to aspects of human life which Feri believes are often warped by the dominant culture, and which need to be reclaimed. The points are Sex, Pride, Self, Power, and Passion.
- The Pearl Pentacle. It is believed that when the points of the Iron Pentacle are fully present in the practitioner, then the points of Pearl can appear, which deal more with human relationships, both interpersonal and communal. In this move from Iron to Pearl, Sex becomes Love, Pride becomes Law, Self becomes Knowledge, Power becomes Liberty, and Passion becomes Wisdom.
- The Black Heart of Innocence. A state of being in which all souls are aligned, characterized by complete connection to the rest of reality, and liberation from all social restraints. This state is understood as primarily sexual, being likened to the untamed feral sexuality of wild animals and innocent children.
Deities of the Feri Tradition
While some lines place a special emphasis on certain deities or pantheons, there is no one pantheon that is universal among Feri. However, certain deities are given special importance in most lines of the tradition:
- The Star Goddess is the central deity of Feri. Sometimes referred to as "God Herself", She is the androgynous point of all creation, the primal darkness of deep space, the intelligence of the great Void. She can be seen as an ecstatic feminine form of what is called in some theologies "the Absolute" and as such can be seen as cognate with the Star Goddess Nuit of Thelema.
- The Divine Twins. While most branches of Wicca understand the Goddess to have one Consort, in Feri She has two: the Divine Twins. These Twins can be seen as brother and sister, two male lovers, two female lovers, a heterosexual pair, two enemies, or any number of combinations. If the Star Goddess is the great Unity, than the Twins can be seen as representing all Duality.
- The Peacock God is born from the reunion of the Divine Twins back into one Deity. He is seen as holding all duality within Himself, so He is both deeply erotic and seductive, but also destructive and frightening. Many Feri practitioners call Him by the name Melek Taus, the central deity of the Yazidi. In some lines of Feri, the two deities are, in fact, understood as the same being.
- The Feri Guardians are seven beings associated with the seven directions: north, east, south, west, above, below, and center. The Guardians serve a function in Feri ritual similar to the Watchtowers in Wicca, but in Feri each Guardian has special associations unique to the tradition.
Some practitioners use the infinity symbol as a cosmological glyph to illustrate the other main deities of the tradition, sometimes called The Infinitum. As an infinity loop has two lobes, but is in fact one continuous line, so the Divine Twins appear separate, but in the universe manifest as many gods, who are still mysteriously interwoven into one: the Star Goddess. The gods of the Infinitum include beings similar to gods known in more conventional Wicca, such as the Horned God, Green Man, Mother Goddess, and Crone, and others who are unique. Some of these gods have names and attributes of deities from diverse cultures, such as Nimue, Mari, and Krom, but they also have many aspects and attributes which are distinctively Feri.
Founders and major figures of the Feri Tradition
- Victor Henry Anderson was a blind poet and shaman who began teaching the Feri Tradition (then reportedly known variously as Vicia or simply "The Craft") more or less in its modern form in the 1940s. He began initiating people into the tradition on an individual basis before the 1950s. According to Cora Anderson, Victor received a letter in 1960 from several witches in Italy, among them Leo Martello, asking him to form a coven in California. Victor taught openly for several decades before dying in 2001.
- Cora Anderson met Victor in Bend, Oregon in 1944. By her account, they had met many times before on the Astral Planes, so upon meeting on the earthly plane recognized each other instantly and married after only three days. Cora was an Ozark kitchen witch whose folk magic has been credited with helping many. She was best known for her teachings on putting magic into food, her Pagan Rosary, and her books on her life and the Feri Tradition. Cora died on May 1, 2008, 64 years to the day after meeting Victor in person.
- Gwydion Pendderwen, Anderson's Craft "foster son", worked with him during the 1950s and '60s, helping to edit and publish Victor's book, Thorns of the Blood Rose. Gwydion brought in the name "Faery" (later changed to "Feri" to avoid confusion with other groups using similar terms), emphasized Celtic origins almost exclusively in his own practice, with a smattering of Vodou; other teachers have emphasized the Hawaiian, the African-diaspora, or even traced the lineage back to the Attacotti, who were small, dark, possibly southern European settlers in Scotland thousands of years ago. Gwydion later purchased and moved to Annwfn, 55 acres (223,000 m²) of land in Mendocino county he later deeded to the Church of All Worlds as a gift, and worked psychedelic group shamanic and Vodou rituals. Gwydion produced a large number of articles, rituals, poems, and songs before his death in 1982.
Books and publications
- Victor Anderson, Thorns of the Blood Rose. A collection of his poetry, much of which has found its way into the liturgies and rituals of the tradition.
- Victor Anderson, Lilith's Garden. A companion volume to Thorns of the Blood Rose, is another collection of mostly liturgical poetry, including some that was considered too "scandalous" for inclusion in the original volume.
- Victor Anderson. Etheric Anatomy: The Three Selves and Astral Travel, (Harpy Books | http://www.harpybooks.com). A look at the psychic structure of the human being, with intuitive insights into some of the practices of Feri magick.
- Cora Anderson, Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition. Musings about the Feri tradition and community.
- Cora Anderson, Kitchen Witch: A Memoir –her life. (Harpy Books)
- Anaar, The White Wand. Looks at the artistic foundations of Feri. It also includes an interview with Victor Anderson. (available as pdf from http://www.whitewand.com/)
- Storm Faerywolf, The Stars Within the Earth. Collection of liturgical poetry, visual art, and spells inspired by the work and mythos of Feri.
- T. Thorn Coyle, Evolutionary Witchcraft. Training manual in Feri written primarily for a non-Feri pagan audience. Contains poetry, exercises, and lore.
- T. Thorn Coyle, Kissing the Limitless. Expands on and continues the training in Evolutionary Witchcraft, for use with whatever spiritual path the reader follows.
- Francesca De Grandis, Be A Goddess. Comprehensive training in Fey (not-Feri) shamanism. The better portion of its liturgy, worldview, and cosmology was channeled by the author, who came from a family tradition, with feedback from Victor Anderson on parts of the manuscript.
- Francesca De Grandis, Goddess Initiation. An experiential initiatory journey into Goddess spirituality and Fey shamanism.
- Starhawk, The Spiral Dance. Early and influential liturgical codification of Anderson craft.
- Feri Tradition Community Resources Feri Tradition Community Resources
- The Faery Tradition The Faery Tradition
- Lilith's Lantern Lilith's Lantern
- FireDrake Feri FireDrake Feri
- Reclaiming Official Reclaiming Collective homepage
- The Feri Tradition: Vicia Line by Phoenix Willow