|"Eat Willingly" by Maya Grey|
From time to time people may be drawn to witchcraft. Their reasons vary. Perhaps they were struggling from Christian religious abuse and are looking for something different. Maybe they have the spirit of activism and wish to find something more in alignment with those views. Maybe they have always been counter culture and are looking for a practice that honors this or perhaps they are just looking for acceptance and healing because they have been rejected from the arms of mainstream status quo society. All seem to be looking for some sort of power. All are valid reasons to seek in life and find a "tribe" to join. However, witchcraft and specifically Feri witchcraft are well off the beaten path and may not be appropriate for all seekers. That being said, because of the commercial nature of Feri as of this writing, I fully expect the tradition to become more mainstream as additional books, workshops and webinars emerge. We here at House Grey find that particularly problematic because witchcraft is the moon-lit path. It is shadowed and occult. It is not for the gaze of the profane and the masses. We cannot help what will become of the tradition at large but what we can say is that each lineage or stream is very different. Many do not teach in the old way nor were taught this way themselves and much has been lost and confused with Pagan religion. There are bi-laws, cannon, churches, prison ministries, classes and workshops. All of that makes me cringe. It's all rather Christian wouldn't you agree? Theistic. I am reminded of the Pagan Romans who had outlawed witchcraft and were afeared of it. Especially the Thessalian witches. In those days people practiced magic (folk magic), they worshipped many Gods, there were miracles and oracles and omens but none of that was witchcraft. It was Pagan religion and folk magic. The witches were something else and they were feared.
To add to the confusion for seekers as they assess approaching this tradition they will find many streams. First they will come across the flashing lights of the public Feris who teach for pay and who are well known in Pagandom. The web sites are easily searched on Google. Access is easy, if you can pay, $10 to $15 bucks will get you a book of "secrets". Advanced and trusted students may study from time to time in the house of the teacher, even become their lovers and initiates. I have taken such classes when I too was seeking, although not of Feri. They can be more comfortable for new students because they tend to be a classroom setting with notes, hand-outs and exercises. They are familiar. It wasn't until I began my Feri training in the home, one on one with my teacher that I realized how different things are in the old method of teaching. Think Mr. Miyagi vs Cobra Kai. Is public Feri bad? Is it wrong? No. It is just a different way of doing things. It works for most but not for all or for those who desire something "else".
Once the seeker begins to learn and read more about Feri they will find that in 2011 the tradition split into two main branches. Those who are public, write books and profit off of teaching and those who are vehemently against teaching for pay and prefer the apprenticeship model. Both are Feri. But the type of instruction or curriculum is vastly different in method and although they do overlap with some lore, deeper secrets and the history of the tradition, the have a completely different ethos.
Non-public and not for pay teachers (of which I am one) are less easy to find and for the most part like it that way. Many of us are deeply involved in our Work. Teaching is not the focus of what we do. In the early days of the split we argued back and forth and it proved to be a messy type of family break up. Many of us "to be silent" Feris were expected to never be seen or heard from again. I suppose that would be convenient for those who are public to hold the entire narrative of the tradition, however, there are many paths leading to the Current and there is more than one narrative. Remember too that all traditions eventually split...Catholicism and Protestantism, Sunni and Shia, schools of Tantra etc. Seriously though, study ANY religion or spiritual path and see that they ALL split eventually. I believe seekers should know that, which is why I write from time to time. I do not share lore Feri lore or expose my brethren. My writings are my own opinions. Agree with them or do not. I do, however, share personal experiences, my take on what is already published and a wide range of occult topics. Honestly there is so much to discuss about the occult. Another thing to note is that we "to be silent" Feris never had a problem with someone teaching say a tarot class or a class on herbs. Our contention was with the public teaching of the Tradition itself. Witches have always funded themselves with working for clients but never sharing what it was they were doing. Yes I will make you a love charm but I am not going to tell you what is in it. We are silent about our work.
I wrote an entire blog post about being silent which you can read here. This ethos of silence is in-fact married to the of payment for the instruction of witchcraft. This is not a new phenomenon or problem in the Craft and was written about by our late Feri Bard and Brother Gwydion Pendderwen in the 1970's when the witchcraft revival, civil rights and women's movements were in full swing:
The Selling of the Old Religion
by Gwydion Pendderwen
from Nemeton, Volume One, Number Two: Lady Day/Beltain, 1973