The Feri Tradition (sometimes spelled Faery, Faerie, or referred to as Anderson Feri) is an oral, initiatory tradition of modern Neopagan witchcraft. It is an ecstatic, rather than a fertility, tradition stemming from the teachings of Cora and Victor Anderson . Strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression.
Among the distinguishing features of the Feri tradition is the use of a specific Feri power or energetic current which characterizes the lineage. Feri witches often see themselves as "fey": outside social definitions, on the road to Faeryland. 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 many branches of the tradition include the concepts of the Three Souls and the Black Heart of Innocence, the tools of Iron and Pearl Pentacle, as well as an awareness of "energy ecology", which admonishes practitioners to never give away or waste their personal power, and emphasizing techniques to transmute "negative" energy into a pure, more useful form to be reclaimed and stored. 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. Much of the practices and lore are considered secret and are transmitted only to students and initiates; however, more material has become publicly available over the last several years, on the Internet and elsewhere.
It should be noted that Feri is not a tradition of Wicca.
There are Wiccan groups and traditions sometimes calling themselves "Fairy" (Faerie, Faery, etc.), but these are distinct from the Feri Tradition.
Practices and Beliefs
There are several practices and beliefs in the larger body of the Feri tradition that are almost universal:
- The Three Souls. As in Huna, from which this concept is derived, Feri postulates the existence of three separate yet interdependent souls as a part of the natural psychic structure of the human being. Although a multitude of different names are used to describe them, they are sometimes called the fetch, the talker, and the Godself. The talker is that part of humans which is self-aware and deals with language, rational thought, and the gathering and dissemination of knowledge. It is the first line of communication with others. The fetch is emotional, pre-verbal, primal, and childlike. It is concerned with generating and storing energy, with the maintenance of the physical body, with housing memories, and is the first to feel deep emotions, such as fear or falling in love. Finally, the Godself is the eternal part of humans, a direct connection to the Goddess. It is said that the talker cannot speak directly to the Godself as they do not speak the same language; therefore, Feris approach the Godself by way of the fetch using symbolism (art, poetry, music, visualizations, etc.). A central practice of Feri concerns bringing these souls into alignment so they may communicate freely, granting the practitioner a deeper awareness of their own personal Godself and the Goddess.
- The Iron Pentacle. A symbolic and energetic tool that is used to help realign and purify the practitioner in relation to certain concepts with which mainstream culture often has an unhealthy relationship. The points are Sex, Pride, Self, Power, and Passion, and each are meditated on in various ways in order to bring the practitioner's awareness into a state of deeper self-understanding.
- The Pearl Pentacle. Another energetic tool which takes the essence of the Iron Pentacle (microcosm) and expands it outward (macrocosm). The points of the Pearl Pentacle are Love, Law, Knowledge, Power or Liberty (depending on the lineage, both are traditionally valid), and finally, Wisdom. It is understood that both pentacles are the same pentacle viewed from a different perspective.
- The Black Heart of Innocence. The human being in its natural state, unfettered by the restrictions of society. The Black Heart is primal, sexual, honest, and innocent; some lines teach that its core burns with fierce compassion. It is taught that the Black Heart is achieved only after diligent self-work and comes into being when the points of the Iron and Pearl pentacles are purified and in balance.
Deities of the Feri Tradition
It is often stated that "All gods are Feri gods", and the truth of this is one of the paradoxes of the 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", S/he is the androgynous point of all creation, the light that divided the first dark, the intelligence of the great Void. Feri belief states that it is from Her whom all things emerge, and to Her whom all things return.
- The Divine Twins are the children of the Star Goddess and can manifest as a male/female pair, or a same-sex pair of either gender. Together They can represent either the power of polarity or resonance. In Feri theology they are often a sexually active pair, regardless of Their gender. It is said that each can perform the other's function and can merge together as easily as two candle flames merging into one.
- The Blue God is frequently said to be the first born of the Star Goddess. Sometimes He is seen as being one of the Divine Twins, although like much of Feri this varies. He is the spirit of youth and of eroticism and often appears as a somewhat androgynous male figure with blue skin and peacock feathers in His hair. He is related to the Yazidi angel Melek Taus and indeed some lines of Feri see the two as a single being. One of his names, "Dian y Glas" (which means Dian the blue or blue Dian in Welsh), is said to be a Feri name for the God Self, and as such some see the Blue God as being humanity's collective Godself personified.
Other deities worshiped may vary among the different lines of Feri. Some use the lemniscate (infinity symbol) as a cosmological glyph to describe seven main deities of the tradition, sometimes called The Infinitum, but this is far from universal. In this system it is taught that all gods and goddesses can be placed somewhere on the glyph, underscoring the Feri aphorism cited above, "All gods are Feri gods".
Lines and Teachers of the Feri Tradition
- Victor 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 passing away 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 Appalachian 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 crossed over 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. There is a line of Feri descended from him, known as Watchmaker. Not much is known about this line, as its practitioners are quite reclusive.
- Alison Harlow was initiated by Victor and Gwydion in the early 1970s. She became a third degree Gardnerian many years after her Feri initiation and training, bringing a current of Gardnerianism to her lineage, Vanthi. The original coven in this line, Wings of Vanthi, disbanded; some of the original Wings of Vanthi members still work as a coven under the name Vanthe. Alison was an influential figure in the modern neopagan movement. She died in 2004.
- Eldri Littlewolf met the Andersons in 1969 and was initiated into Feri four years later. She, along with Brian Dragon, Gabriel Carrillo and Steven Hewell founded coven Silver Wheel in the winter of 1975-76. Together they initiated Loki and Brigid. Silver Wheel disbanded in 1980.
- Gabriel Carrillo, a.k.a. Caradoc, taught his first classes under the aegis of his school, Korythalia. In 1983 he changed the school's name to BloodRose; eventually his line became known by the same name. Perhaps the most influential branch of Feri, BloodRose was initially comprised of materials co-written by Carrillo and Hewell, and expanded on and reworked by Carrillo over the years, first with Zephyr Starwater and Valerie Voigt, and then on his own. He died January 1, 2007.
- Steven Hewell, initiated by Anderson in 1976, currently lives and teaches in Atlanta, Georgia. His teaching focuses closely on the core practices of Feri, incorporating elements of southern folk magic.
- Compost Coven, founded by Craft priestess Starhawk, was formed in the early 1970s. A one-time student of the Andersons, Starhawk, along with her fellow coven members, wove together several Witchcraft traditions with original material and feminist politics, creating a web of unique design which was to have a major influence on the development of modern Paganism. The original coven has since disbanded, but lives on in the (non-Feri) circle of the Winged Toads and in the (Feri) DustBunnies line taught by Valerie Walker in San Francisco. Starhawk later helped organize the Reclaiming tradition of witchcraft.
- Mandorla Coven was founded by initiates of Victor and Cora Anderson, and teaches a form of Feri known as Vicia. This line uses material taught by the Andersons in the '80s and '90s and differs somewhat from the majority of Feri being taught today. They trace their lineage directly to Victor and Cora. They tend to initiate first and teach afterward, and their practices are largely improvisational and less scripted than some.
- T. Thorn Coyle is a Feri and Reclaiming priestess who studied directly with Victor Anderson. She blends many influences into her line, Morningstar Feri, offering 2-year apprenticeships in cities worldwide; she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of the book Evolutionary Witchcraft.
- Reclaiming Feri is a line of Feri which integrates Feri and Reclaiming Tradition. Deborah Oak Cooper, an initiate in both Feri and Reclaiming, teaches and initiates from this perspective. Deborah Oak has been part of Reclaiming from its early days, a member of both the covens Windhags and Matrix along with Starhawk, Rose May Dance, and others. She was then in coven Triskets, along with Thorn Coyle. Coven Triskets formed from a small group of Reclaiming priestesses and teachers who were studying Feri. This coven was instrumental in infusing Reclaiming Tradition with their particular strain of Feri. This lineage is most active in San Francisco, but exists elsewhere as well.
- FireDrakeFeri is a line of Feri developed by J'té Argent and Alison Harlow as they co-priested and taught, beginning in 1993, two years after J'té began her studies with Alison. Currently taught by J'té Argent in the Santa Cruz, California area, FireDrakeFeri combines the teachings of Wings of Vanthi Coven, Grandma Julie of the Tower family, Underworld/Overworld workings and connective magick of the Great Redwoods. Emphasis on personal union with Elemental Beings and Guardians; deep rapport with the Dark Goddess; direct intercourse with the Earth; profound relationship to Feri Gods (all Gods are Feri Gods); folkloric compact of the Fae; consistent use of the Feri Pentacles and basic Feri Practices. Courses taught in Boulder Creek, California take place in a Great Redwood Grove year-round.
- Storm Faerywolf is an artist, poet, writer, and teacher who was originally trained in the BloodRose lineage of Feri. He has studied other forms of the tradition which he incorporates into his own line, BlueRose which focuses on core Feri practice, trance, artistic expression, possession, erotic mysticism, and queer spirit. He is the editor of Witch Eye: A Journal of Feri Uprising, the author of The Stars Within the Earth, and the host of the Feri Tradition Resources Website. He lives and teaches in the Walnut Creek, California area.
- Anaar was named Grandmaster of the Feri tradition in the summer of 2003 by Cora Anderson,. She was initiated by the Andersons and has studied with them for over 10 years. She teaches the direct Anderson Feri line with an emphasis on the arts. She teaches both publicly and privately. She is the author of The White Wand: Toward a Feri Aesthetic.
- Karina is a Feri intitiate tracing her lineage, BlackHeart, back to the Andersons. She teaches classes both in New England and long-distance over the internet, infusing the core teachings of Feri with an eclectic, shamanic spirit.
- Valerie Voigt worked with Caradoc in Black Hart Circle, in the formative period of the Bloodrose line. Her style of practice and teaching reflect the Bloodrose background while incorporating certain elements learned from Grandma Julie of Tower Family. Her practice is also informed by her studies in Latin, history, and a variety of magical traditions and related subjects. She lives and teaches in Palo Alto, California.
- Dominic Elemirion was initiated by Valerie Voigt in 1987. He is the head of the Elencin (elenkin) line, and has over 20 years' teaching experience. His teaching includes much of what was originally called the Korythalia material, which was co-written by Steven Hewell and Gabriel Carrillo, and later taught and expanded by Gabriel Carrillo in the BloodRose school. Dominic lives and teaches in San Leandro, California.
The following groups have historical links to Anderson Feri but are regarded as being outside the tradition by most Feri practitioners:
- Draconian Pictish-Elven Witchcraft. Developed and taught by Brian Dragon, a.k.a. Tony Spurlock, formerly of Silver Wheel. According to Spurlock, "'Pictish-Elven' is meant to signify a subset or offshoot of the so-called Feri or Fairy Tradition as adumbrated by Victor Anderson and represented by the late Gwydion Pendderwen, Starhawk (especially in the first book), and Francesca De Grandis. The 'Pictish' element is meant to bring back to the fore the legend that the Feri Tradition carries on and embodies the legacy and lineage of the pre-Christian mystery cult of the Picts (the pre-Scottish inhabitants of what is now Scotland).''
- Third Road. Developed and taught by Francesca De Grandis. She states: "I completed a rigorous and rare seven-year training with Victor Anderson, to become a Celtic shaman, by being adopted into Victor's family which had kept the old ways — also called Faerie Tradition — intact."
- Reclaiming. Formed as a collective in the 1970s by Feri initiate Starhawk and a group of friends, with political action as a major focus. Many Reclaiming witches were not and are not Feri, but there is a Feri initiation available for those who wish to follow that path.
Books and Publications
- Victor Anderson's Thorns of the blood rose is a collection of his poetry, much of which has found its way into the liturgies and rituals of the tradition. A companion volume, Lilith's Garden, is another collection of mostly liturgical poetry, including some that was considered too "scandalous" for inclusion in the original volume. His book Etheric Anatomy: The Three Selves and Astral Travel' (Acorn Guild Press) is a look at the psychic structure of the human being, with intuitive insights into some of the practices of Feri magick.
- Cora Anderson's Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition is a book of musings about the Feri tradition and community. Her book, Childhood Memories, is a memoir of her life.
- Anaar's The White Wand is a look at the artistic foundations of Feri. Also includes an interview with Victor Anderson.
- Storm Faerywolf's The Stars Within the Earth' is a collection of liturgical poetry, visual art, and spells inspired by the work and mythos of Feri.
- T. Thorn Coyle's Evolutionary Witchcraft is a training manual in Morningstar Feri written primarily for a non-Feri, Pagan audience. Contains poetry, exercises, and lore.
- Witch Eye: A Journal of Feri Uprising is a twice-yearly paper magazine of art, articles, and lore inspired and/or informed by the Feri tradition of witchcraft.
- By Witch Eye: Selections from the Feri Uprising, Vol. 1 is an anthology of selections from the first seven (and now out-of-print) issues of Witch Eye as well as some never before published material.