It breaks my heart and causes me much pain to see the current schism within my tradition. The schism came over issues that could have been discussed and worked out, had there been any urge to listen to each other. Unfortunately, isolated voices on both sides dominated the discussion, and this refusal to listen, combined with the desire of some individuals to have power-over the tradition, led to this schism.
These are my thoughts on some of the issues that have been brought up recently, and some of the issues that allegedly brought about the schism.
I do not believe that it is helpful to offer non-initiatory training in a tradition that is initiatory. I think it’s OK to teach about certain elements in Feri – the Pentacles, keeping Kala, soul alignment – but to teach more than that is to lead people on, because, I believe, not everyone is fit for Feri. And I think it does make people angry and bitter. I also think it leads to people trying to snatch initiation for themselves when they are absolutely NOT right for the tradition.
Equally disturbing: There are people who are perfectly capable of going through class after class and using their influence and charm to collect Feri lore and information. They then use that information and their charm to pass themselves off as initiates and even teachers to the unwary. (That last, by the way, has actually happened recently – people claiming to be initiates when they are not.)
I actually agree with some – but only some – of the things that the “Feri Fundies” are saying. I do not believe in the commercialization of our tradition. I’m not comfortable with the Books of Shadows online and the information that can be gotten and used. I’m uncomfortable with students trading information with one another online just to see who can collect the most lore. I definitely am extremely uncomfortable with “Feri Self-Dedication,” as most people are NOT capable of understanding the distinction between dedication and initiation.
That being said I am not interested in splitting the tradition for political reasons and calling people “oathbreakers,” or attempting to banish them from Feri. I believe that some of these people promoting the split are doing so for political reasons, because they want to gain power-over in the Feri tradition. I think there are one or two people who see this as a way to become Black Wand Grandmasters themselves.
I am very concerned about the inadvertent promotion of Feri as a “sex-cult,” “left-hand” path. I agree that this image attracts people who are unstable, to say the least. Again, there was a recent situation that is a perfect example of this – an unstable person drawn to Feri training because, they believed, it gave them license to live out their sexual morbidity.
This kind of “left hand path” imagery tends to draw people who are unbalanced, and unlikely to actually want to attain balance – narcissists, histrionics, and people with personality disorders. I think anybody who has been involved in witchcraft for any length of time has met their fair share of mentally ill people who come to witchcraft hoping it will be a substitute for medication and therapy. It is not.
Feri is even less likely to work as a substitute for mental health care than other varieties of witchcraft. We need to turn those kinds of people away from Feri, and back toward professional help. Stopping our self-promotion as black-clad occult sex ninjas would be a step in the right direction.
I absolutely do not believe, as some do, that Feri is the Island of Misfit Toys. I am going to say something uncomfortable, but I think this has to be said. In the past, Feri has been presented – even by some initiates in the Tradition – as being *the* tradition for sexually alternate and diverse people. Some of those initiates have given the impression that sexual diversity is the main, if not the sole, criteria for entering into Feri.
Victor and Cora accepted and celebrated sexual diversity, but NOT sexual morbidity. Although sexual diversity is accepted and celebrated in Feri, sexual diversity is not a *requirement* for Feri, and any kind of sexual pressure being placed on anyone is wrong. And certainly sexual “pay for play,” that is, “fuck me and I’ll teach you,” is dead wrong and against everything that Feri stands for.
And last but not least, I don’t believe anyone should be paying for Feri training toward initiation, at all. If you’re training toward initiation, that is WITHOUT COST in my book. If I’m giving a seminar on the Pearl Pentacle at a bookstore, then, yes, I think it’s OK to charge $5 or $10 a head (that’s all the market will bear down here anyway). I won’t present it as Feri but as something from The Spiral Dance.
But, if I’m training a student toward initiation, there is NO WAY I am charging ANY money. Victor and Cora never charged for training toward initiation. Anaar never charged me one thin dime for training toward initiation. And I myself am not going to do it.
I don’t claim to be an authority. I’m not here to put anybody out of Feri. Once someone is initiated they’re initiated. I don’t have to like them, but I will respect their initiation even if I disagree with what they do.
I don’t believe in saluting flags or taking loyalty oaths. My word is my bond, and to me, there is but one Law, and that is Love Under Will. The Law of Love is what I am obedient to – alone.
If I vow to keep secrets, out of love, they are kept. I do not make vows except in love, for the sake of love. I do not need to join a club and wave a flag telling everyone I can keep a secret. I am a Witch of the Craft and a Feri Initiate; I revere the Mysteries and their Sanctity; that is all anyone needs to know. Take me at my word or leave me alone. I will sign no paper and hail no flag.
I see no point in making a website about Feri to tell people that you can’t learn Feri from a website, and, in fact, find it more than a little ridiculous.
I also do not believe in using fear to make people obedient or to make them join a cause. Fear and intimidation are not going to keep people away. Some it draws nearer, because they enjoy the challenge, or because they enjoy being threatened and demeaned out of some masochistic lack of self-esteem. And anyone who joins a movement out of fear will quit it as soon as the fear goes away. In any case, fear and intimidation are not going to help.
The Craft has existed outside of space and time, and existed before it was called Feri, or the Craft for that matter. Victor and Cora referred to it as the First Religion of mankind, and Victor refers to the Goddess in prayer as “(the) Eternal First Love of Man.”
Union with the Star Goddess – with the Divine – is not something that can be patented or copyrighted – by anyone. And it cannot be taught online or in books – by anyone, on either side of any argument. It must be experienced, through yearning, through the Work, through delight and sorrow.
Keeping the souls aligned, keeping Kala, respecting the Gods and the Kami, meditating and working the points of the Iron and Pearl Pentacles – these are things that can, in the end, mark us as true practitioners of the Craft. Politicizing, splitting, and drawing sides will not. And regardless of whether we politicize and split, the Star Goddess is still there, the Earth is still here, the Work yet remains to be done.
The question remains not whose side are you on, but whether or not we are willing to do the work of the Craft and draw closer to the Star Goddess, in whom we live and move and have our being.
As Leonard Cohen put it:
“This I mean to whisper to my mind
This I mean to laugh within my mind
This I mean my mind to serve
Till service is but magic
Moving through the world
And mind itself is magic
Coursing through the flesh
And flesh itself is magic
Dancing on a clock
And time itself
The magic length of God.”