Numinous and Concrete
The Sundering of Feri
The second reason is that, as a public teacher of Feri, I felt I had stretched the tradition as far as was possible at the time. This was causing some of my brothers and sisters pain. Yet to not do my work, to curtail my vision and guidance because of their discomfort, would have been to deny the work of my God Soul, which is the spreading of light and liberation. So I decided it was cleaner to simply say: "I no longer teach Feri." This caused bewilderment to some, though I had tried to prepare my students, and helped many others to breathe a sigh of relief.
If I am honest, there was also a third reason: many people who had come to me for initial training were continuing. I had expected that most of them would fall away, would take a few foundational tools to better their lives, and then return to other practices, traditions, and ways of worship. Many did, which frankly is what I did early on in my Feri training. I worked with a teacher for a year or so, then left. It was only years later that I circled back. But here I was with many, many dedicated students, working very hard, and yet, were all of them right for the giant wallop that is Feri initiation? No. Could I possibly take each of them through the gates even if I wanted to? No. And yet, ostensibly, I was teaching within an initiatory tradition. No matter how much I told people that the initial two-year class did not lead to initiation, there was still, within some, an expectation. We can blame culture, we can blame tradition, we can blame assumptions, we can blame my lack of foresight. That conversation—like every point I will mention in this essay—would take hours to unpack.
Part of the trouble is that Anderson Feri/Faery Tradition conflates four types of initiation, three as outlined by the late Isaac Bonewits:
Type One: Initiation as a recognition of a status already gained.
Type Two: Initiation as an ordeal of transformation.
Type Three: Initiation as a method for transferring spiritual knowledge and power.
And another, spoken of by John Michael Greer:
Type Four: Acceptance into the fold of the community or clan.
I wrote a whole article on initiation that I will not reprise here. I encourage you to go read it, but in summation, in my mind, there are as many varieties of initiation as there are human beings. The Mystery cannot be taught, and can never be bought or sold or spoken. The Mystery can only reveal itself in time.
There are Feri initiates who say that no matter how long someone has studied, no matter the rituals and devotions they offer, no matter their relationship to the Gods, unless they have initiation—this four-in-one rite—they are not Feri and never shall be. There are other initiates who disagree with this. I felt that tension in the tradition and decided that I had to change my approach or stretch things to a breaking point. Two years later, that break I feared is a reality.
There are so many strands woven into this broken fabric. There are those who would tell you that it is about secrets shared indiscriminately. And while there are things I still hold close, and that some initiates have shared which do indeed make me squirm when they are shown in bright light, I remind myself, "Cora herself said there were really only three secrets in the whole of the Craft." There are others who say we may teach practices, but should not teach of our Gods. And yet I say, "Victor himself said that anyone may approach our Gods and Guardians. He also said that all Gods are Feri Gods, because Feri is the religion of the human race," it is—in a poetic and metaphysically true fashion—as old as time itself. It beats in our blood. Who are we to deny anyone access? I could go on to write another essay on the power of the Gods and the reality of the Guardians and how they are their own entities, never to be held within the grasp of one tradition. And yet I also respect those who wish to hold things within a smaller container than those of us in the public eye are wont to do.
T. Thorn Coyle is an internationally respected visionary and teacher of the magical and esoteric arts. The author of Make Magic of Your Life, Kissing the Limitless, and Evolutionary Witchcraft, she hosts the Elemental Castings podcast series, writes the blog Know Thyself, and has produced several CDs of sacred music. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!