Sunday, September 22, 2019

Feri Seekers & Students

"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


It wasn’t too very long ago that my existence as a Witch was a guarded sec­ret. It isn’t wise to advertise, ran the doggerel of my people. Once in a while, we’d invite an outsider to hear the words of the elders or the Grand Master, but never did we allow people from the outside to witness our rites. Our memories down to the 19th century are long and painful, and we were just coming out of the fear of official persecution.

It happened that, with time, we broke total silence, and we corresponded with some of our kinsmen and women scat­tered around the globe. Much had been forgotten by all; much was irreparably damaged by isolation and wanton destruction. We learned a few basic facts of anthropology, however: No matter how carefully a tradition is preserved, it changes; and no matter how strict and conservative the elders, the coven and the Craft were influenced by the larger society about us. Between traditions long separated, grave differences appeared, thus proving that the Craft was a living, growing, changing entity, rather than a mummified corpse from antiquity.

I greeted the growing publicity of the Craft, and the interest in membership therefrom, with mixed feelings. It was good that the truth be known, even if some would sensationalize it, but the Craft, I felt, was never meant for everyone, nor for many at all. The Old Religion, the old ways, yes; but the Craft was for the very, very few.

In the first few years of the revival of the Craft, I was pleased to learn of the honest concern and interest of so many individuals. It was rather disconcerting to me, on the other hand, that a multitude of traditions were springing up (Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Traditionalist, etc.), but wherever people were genuinely touched by the Goddess as Muse, a feeling of inspiration arose and spread like a rumor. The Old Religion was right, it was good for people, it was non-sexist, and whomever it touched in turn became good people.

And, like Topsy, it just grew and grew! But somewhere along the line, the magic failed to reach into a number of persons, who saw the potential of the Old Religion as a gold mine, and the prophets of profit entered the scene. Someone said, Hey! There’s a mint to be made here!, and the race was on. Cosmic eyes, blessed oils, holy scriptures, anything that could be printed, molded, stamped or sewn was sold. Even the secret writings belonging to the Gardnerians were prostituted by the truly heretical act (if ever there be such in the Craft) of publishing “The Book of Shadows.” The fundamentalist crusades of the 1930’s paled in comparison to the occult revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Now some people are making the current interest in the occult pay off without damaging their personal integrity, or, exposing the Craft to vapid commercialism. But others are making a disgusting mockery of the Old Religion in their blatant disregard for the principles of the Craft, the very personal feelings that must be invoked in the individual, and the very terms Witch, Wicca and Witchcraft.

I received a short while ago a newsprint publication which deals with every conceivable aspect of occultism and spiritualism. It’s published in Houston, Texas, and the mimeo cover letter proudly announces that this publication is centered towards Parapsychology, Metaphysics, Esoterics, Occult, Astrology and Natural Foods. I think the only fad left out was Scented Toilet Paper. The letter goes on to explain how inexpensive are their advertising rates, and that the newspaper is presently distributed to over 450 U-Totem and 7-11 convenience stores. Whoopie.

I was not surprised by the appearance of this publication. A little ill perhaps, but not surprised. Hucksters seek the dollar wherever it may hide, and since there’s a sucker born every minute, this newspaper can claim a circulation of over 7500 copies per month. I remember when the Haight-Ashbury was a big tourist attraction and hippie underground newspapers were being hawked for 50¢ each; neither written nor produced by hippies, they contained absolutely nothing “hip” or underground, but they made some enterprising entrepreneur very well off.

The inside of this occult publication offered an article on esoteric astrology, describing Aries as “the mystery of God the Father”, Taurus as “God the Sun”, and Capricorn as the Holy Ghost. Other articles (all five of them) were written with the same semi-literacy as Jesus-freak tracts.

Numerous ads dotted the twelve pages, from Sister Paula’s appeal to those with problems and evil spells to contact her (send $5.00 donation), to the amazing classified ad which read:

WITCHCRAFT COURSES. Be the center of attraction. People will flock to you. Become a certified witch. Learn how to raise and use your dormant powers. See into the future and live a full spiritual and sexual life. Intro book $1.00 (Name and address of school.)

Wow! What more could you want! And for only a dollar!

L. Ron Hubbard, revered by his followers as if he were a dead prophet, learned long ago that there were only two ways to get rich easily in this country: invent a new religion or invent a new form of psychotherapy. He did both, and he’s made a fortune with the Church of Scientology. It is apparent that he has become the idol and the model of hundreds of would-be mil­lionaires with silvery tongues and suede shoes who want to cash in on the current interest in whatever-the-fad-is.

The shame of it all is that there is a genuine Craft to be explored by a multitude who will be turned off by the hucksterism of the profit-seekers. And unfortunately, it is the most sincere people, the serious adept and the sensi­tive Pagan, who will be hurt.

The Craft will endure, as it always has, a little tarnished and discredited perhaps, but with dignity. But we have no trademark rights to the terms Witch and Wicca (and maybe some clever P.R. man will ensure that for all times), nor do we have the right to tell someone he is not a Witch because he did not do such-and-such. Mail order initiations, like mail-order doctorates in divinity, are already available to the gullible person willing to part with the requisite tuition fees, and the day of the franchise coven appears not too distant.

I can look upon this wholesale pandering for only so long without anger welling up within me. Thus far, only esoteric bull-shit has been pushed as “witchcraft” by the occult peddlers. I don’t doubt that they are capable of peddling even nude orgies and bestiality under the banner of “witch sabbats”, but I become livid when I think of the possibility, the very great possibility, of the discovery and disclosure of the secret names and writings of varying traditions, and their sale in U-Totems and 7-11’s. Lady Sheba, who swore an oath of secrecy, published the Gardnerian rites; if an initiate might be so base, what might a non-initiate be capable of? Not that the secrets need be understood, mind you. All that is necessary is that they carry a tidy profit.

Perhaps we should go back to those days of utter secrecy, before what secrets remain are exposed in Playboy opposite the centerfold: the Goddess in a bunny costume. Or perhaps we should make a more concerted effort to let the public, and especially those attracted to the Old Religion, know that there are places to go and people to contact in order to learn more about the true Craft. As of this writing, several of our sister covens, organizations and individuals are making very concerted efforts to expose the occult-pimps. But this is only a start, and the profiteers have more money into promotion than may be imagined.

I could not bring myself to title this editorial, as originally planned, “The Selling of the Goddess”. The idea sickened me so that I could not write. But somehow, I can’t help seeing in my crystal a pack of smooth-talking, misogynous promoters plotting rape. And I don’t like it. How about you?
Copyright © 1973 by Nemeton.

Clearly I agree with Gwydion about not charging for instruction but here is another point that he makes, that I agree with: Witchcraft is NOT for everyone but Paganism is.  First of all not everyone is "gifted for the work", a term used in the practice of Hoodoo to describe Rootworkers. The same applies to witchcraft. Not everyone is gifted or has this mark upon them. I know this is a highly unpopular viewpoint and especially so for those who depend on students but I believe this to be true and I will tell you why. Once you start to be involved in the Pagan community you will see a large number of folks who identify as "witch", who are broke, sick, have terrible interpersonal relationships and who always seem to be troubled. A witch worth her salt could easily conjure up $70 for that parking ticket, make a rude boss more pleasant or get fired, make court documents disappear and manifest basically what ever they desire within a reasonable time frame and reference of skill. A witch could walk into a football tailgate party, a 5 star restaurant with movie stars or down a dangerous street in Oakland and not be noticed...or be noticed if that was their intention. A witch is not identity politics or glitter or tattoos or black clothes or pentacle jewelry. A witch isn't there to force your face into an activist sentiment. A witch could go to church every week and none would be the wiser. All of these states of being are secondary to the witch herself. Because a witch walks her own path known only to her. We don't act in accordance with the social pressure of the Pagans or Christians around us. A witch MUST be able to produce results and must be able to walk in all segments of their society because it is their WORK that is important, not the perception of they themselves. All of that is external noise. In her core a witch is strong and stable and knowing. A witch you see is a true shape shifter. 

While this path is hard, treacherous and dangerous, the road of Paganism with its ethos and religion is not.  Here you will find community, healing, rituals, groups, magic and even miracles. Here you will find a home if you are different, or run against the grain of society at large. Here you will find a belief system that is congruent with the healing of our beloved Earth. I believe that only a Pagan ethos will save the world as the Death Faith of Christianity seeks to destroy it. So yes flock to Paganism. I think that is a good thing. Witchcraft and Paganism as a religion are not the same thing. 

Now, I want to briefly touch on the lineages in Feri. I will not list them all out because some are known and some are not known publicly. It is good enough that you know that each Feri initiate is part of a lineage that leads back to Victor. Some teachers created names and practices for their lines or created a new line and each student initiated by a teacher is in the line of their oath mother or father. Here we have two lineages The Draconian, of which Ed is the Magistar and the Elencin which is my line but belongs to my teacher. We teach from both lineages but our students would be considered part of the Draconian line. Students and seekers come to us from time to time and there are some areas that we are firm on as "nos". I put these here with the purpose of clarifying for seekers areas to heal and work on prior to instruction as well as a guide to other Feri teachers who have commented to me that they started instruction but things did not work out because the student had problems in one of these areas.   

Hard No's:


1. The seeker is not dependent. In other words they depend on someone else for their basic financial needs, a parent or a partner typically. We don't consider government assistance to be this type of dependancy.

Why?: This is a no because the seeker is not walking in their power. They do not have the freedom and often the space to do certain study and exercises. Often the person holding the money has demands and expectations of the seeker (a power over) and this always impedes the Work. Be independent. Whether that means with roommates, in a motor home or a mansion, be able to pay for your basic survival needs without having someone being able to make demands of your energy. 

2. The seeker is looking for community and needs healing.

Why?: The reason this is a no is because we are not healers and this path is dangerous. Clearly we all need healing from time to time in our lives, but witchcraft will not heal you. That is not its function and especially Feri, which is in alignment with the Fae. These Spirits have a mercenary quality to them and if you are not in your power they will take advantage of you. If you don't believe me just read myths about the Fae. They aren't nice. Witches also are not always nice. We at House Grey are also a family coven and a small group of initiates. We are not a classroom setting. If we meet you we are taking time out of our busy mundane and magical lives to do so. Eventually if we agree to start teaching, you will sit in our home, our most private and intimate sphere. This is a lot to ask of anyone and sometimes takes a while for us to build a relationship with you and for us to trust you and you to trust us. We don't "owe" you instruction and we don't care if people get mad at us. We are witches. Pretty much everyone is mad at us, that is the nature of this work. We worry more about what the spirits have to say. We teach those who we are called to teach. The connection must be deep and right and you must work hard. The Spirits have their say in this as well. They choose and bring to us who they will.

3. The seeker is an active addict.

Why?: We will not train an addict because witchcraft is a path of power and an addict is not in their power,  they are under the thrall of the spirit to which they are addicted to. It will always come first. Go to rehab and get help. Break the thrall. 

4. The seeker is mentally ill or delusional.

Why?: We don't have time to deal with this in our lives. We are not healers or psychotherapists and people who suffer from these afflictions are easily swayed and taken advantage of by the Spirits.  This work is dangerous and you must be mentally strong. The Fae have a tendency to drive people into madness (again read the tales) and we have seen one too many students and initiates fall into madness and suicide who were taught when they shouldn't have been. This is not to say that as we work to get past our hurts and outer layers to be more in our power that people will not be emotionally up or down. We all deal with intense emotion but this is not the same as someone who is so damaged or deluded that our instruction is lost in the noise of their own heads. We are merely guides. Get help if you need it. 

5. The seeker is not currently involved with some sort of learning/education or is not an educational self starter or is not an avid reader.

Why?: We teach, as part of our curriculum, many academic sources that are difficult in nature. Our process is in depth and hard. Years long. Think of it as occult graduate school. We do not require you to be an occult expert when you begin but we do expect you to know how to research primary, secondary and tertiary sources, write and make academic links between information and subject matter and to critically think. Training with us is mentally rigorous. We often work through books written in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries which are hard to read and understand. Ever had to take Shakespeare? We don't have the time to bring you academically up to speed. Go get education if you need to --- at worst you learned some more things and at best you got some education and leveled up in the job world. Skills pay the bills after all. We ourselves are constantly taking college courses, online certifications and classes in the mundane world to better ourselves. You should too. Learning on all levels is a life long thing. It is how to better yourself. It shows will power, dedication and perseverance. So how about learning German or guitar or Java script? Get to work. 

6. The seeker has a desire to be famous, save the masses or to write about Feri.

Why:? There is plenty of that out there already. Seek elsewhere. Perhaps if you work hard enough you can de-throne one of current super stars. There is always some one more beautiful and glittery than one's self to interest the masses eh? Humans do love novelty.  However, if you are interested in accompanying us into the forest to learn about how all of the lichens and mosses that are used magically in our area or how to put down an angry dead that is trying to kill a pregnant woman or how to summon and work with the genii loci, then we might be for you.  We are not gurus, we are not famous (and don't want to be), we do not write books about our tradition. Honestly, you would do better in Scientology or the New Age. I have heard quantum physics is all the rage these days. Add to that some Native American philosophy and you could make some big bucks with a new system! 

7. You are just "curious" or are worried that this is "Satanic" or just want to try it out.

Why:? We don't have time for curiosity seekers and frankly they piss us off. It's like a peeping Tom trying to see us make love. It is offensive. This is our most private and sacred way of life. We have made oaths to our Gods and to one another that you try to violate for your own base curiosity. You are not coming from a place of respect and integrity or boundaries. If you are curious and want to try things out then read. There is plenty out there in terms of public classes and courses. Go explore. Actually we prefer you did so that you can find what you truly are looking for. There is so much! Thelema, Golden Dawn, New Age Gurus, other public forms of witchcraft, public Feri and so much else. Also if you are afraid of the Devil then you should start running now. There are many Devils in the Craft. The ones you know and the Nameless. 

Whew that was long! Thanks Gwydion for your wisdom. So are you still here? Not scared off?

Ok, what's next? We are actually happy to respond to emails and we are rather friendly towards genuine seekers who may have some questions. Many of us corresponded with our teachers first before meeting. This was how it was done in the old days too although, by snail mail. You see, when you wish to approach a private Feri initiate it is the start of a relationship. The beginning is the beginning and as Bilbo Baggins says..."It's a dangerous business stepping outside your front door, you never know where you will be swept off to." And if it is meant to be then it will be. If we are not right for you we can recommend other groups or other initiates. Seeking is not a wrong thing. We all have been there. But there is so much work to be done. So if you will excuse me I must begin to prepare for the feast of Mabon. There is food to cook, candles to lights and wine to be offered. First a walk in the garden and a deep breath of fresh air and a gratitude to the Spirits and all of their wisdom. 

Good Hunting
Maya Grey
of House Grey
Mabon 2019

"Summon" by Maya Grey