Storm Faerywolf is a professional author, experienced teacher, visionary poet, and practicing warlock. He was trained in various streams of initiatic witchcraft, most notably the Faery tradition, where he holds the Black Wand of a Master. He is the founder of the BlueRose lineage, with students and initiates across the globe. Author of “Betwixt & Between” and “Forbidden Mysteries of Faery Witchcraft,” he is committed to rekindling the ancient connections between humankind and the Hidden Kingdom. He lives with his two loving partners in the San Francisco Bay area and travels internationally teaching the magical arts. For more, visit Faerywolf.com.
You are a priest of the Blue God in Faery, specifically with the name Melek Taus. When did this relationship start and how?
When I was about 19, I learned of the Faery witchcraft tradition through the pages of Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance. In it, she briefly described a deity she called the Blue God, there named Dian y Glas, and something in me ‘clicked.’ He was unlike any deity that I had previously known. While most gods in modern Pagandom tend to reflect variations of the same rigid gender roles postulated by much of Western society, the Blue God was something “other.” He expressed freedom from shame –specifically the shame that is often attached to non-conforming gender roles or behaviors—and provided an example of profound spiritual awareness and attainment that did not try to erase the sensual. The Blue God is a very sensual and even sexual being. He can represent our desires and our capacity for pleasure. He reminds us that sexuality is holy and that our bodies are sacred… not a distraction from our spirituality, but an affirmation of it. As a young queer boy coming out of the closet, this was a powerful message, for me.
It was years later after I had begun formal training in Faery, that I learned that the Blue God had another form, Melek Ta’us, the Peacock Angel whose devotion and stories originated with the Yazidi, a Kurdish-speaking people from northern Mesopotamia. Where the Dian y Glas is seen as the deity of one’s godhood or our individual “higher self,” Melek Ta’us is the collective higher self of all of humanity. He is “The Lord of the World” and in Faery terms is the spiritual potential –both light and dark—of all humankind. He is a deity of beauty, pride, sensuality, redemption, and free-will.
He also is a god of self-love. It is said that upon seeing his reflection for the first-time, dawn broke in paradise and he declared, “Behold how beautiful I am!” This was what –according to our oral myths—inspired the creation of humankind; not as a “slave race” as some other religions have asserted, but as equals. We are each made unique in the beautiful image of the divine. Collectively, our souls are the adornments of the Blue God. Our light is his splendor.
My formal work in Faery began with learning to see that divinity within myself, with Dian y Glas as personal deity. As I grew, my work took on another aspect, that of community service and action, which can be characterized by Melek Ta’us in his capacity of transpersonal divinity. I now see them both as two sides of the same coin.
I heard the Yezidi people have given the Faery/Feri tradition permission to work with Melek Taus and given their stamp of approval. Is this true?
It had always been my understanding that the Yazidi believed that Melek Ta’us did not belong solely to them, but to the entire world. I even read as much in the pages of “The Truth Behind the Christ Myth” by Mark Amaru Pinkham, an exploration of the different cultural permutations of the Peacock Angel.
The non-proprietary stance of the Yazidi was later confirmed when one of my friends, Faery initiate Tommie StarChild, began working closely with an official representative of the Yazidi people, Nallein Sowilo, the Minister of Justice for the Yazidi’s newly forming provisional government of Ezidikhan. He put Tommie in touch with Baba Salem Daoud, the next in line to become the Yazidi’s supreme spiritual leader. The Yazidi have been facing genocide at the hands of Islamic extremists for some time. Since their religious practice centers around the Peacock Angel whom they see as the ruler and Lord of the earth, their potential destruction also threatened the world with the loss of this divine being, a dire concept for the future of humankind from a Yazidi point of view. Having learned some time ago of Faery’s relationship with Melek Ta’us, Baba Salem expressed a spiritual kinship between our two traditions, and also a sense of relief in the knowledge that they were not the only people keeping the spirit of Melek Ta’us alive in the world.
It’s hard to ignore Melek Taus’ association with Lucifer, who is worked with as well in your Black Rose Witchcraft. What’s interesting about both of them is that they are fallen angels and rising gods, which seems to be very unique in any theology. What is the significance of this?
In Faery, the Blue God is the divine child of the Star Goddess. Sometimes it is taught that this being is the result of “two bright spirits,” (known more commonly as the Divine Twins, often symbolized by a dove and a snake) merging into a singular being within her cosmic womb. Mythologically, the merging of the serpent and the dove results in the peacock: the heavenly bird of cyclic immortality, not unlike the phoenix.
As Melek, he is the full potential of all humankind: for good as well as for evil. Lucifer, originally the light bringer, in popular mythology has since become associated with his own shadow, which is our own shadow. Melek/Lucifer is the presence of divinity within each of us that rebels against that which would try to keep us small, and so we identify with him as children of the Goddess, and –as in the case of initiates of Faery—as her consorts.
There are specific resonant events in their poetic mythologies that collectively describe what can be seen as a single spiritual process. Each is said to be beings of light; Lucifer, whose name means literally, ‘light-bringer,’ and Melek Ta’us, said to be the first emanation of the light of God. Both are associated with light in all its forms, including the light of knowledge. Both are associated with Venus, the “morning star” indicating them as heralds of consciousness, and both are said to have stood their ground in defiance of God, drawing an association with rebelliousness and free-will.
Poetic tales speak of this being as a falling star that crashed to earth and then radiating from deep within the planet to become the source of divinity (or magic) in the world. This fall is significant but not necessarily because of its reason, a point on which the various myths do not agree. Whether described as being a punishment for the crime of rebellion, or as a sacrifice freely given for the good of humankind, what we see in common is the transmutation of awareness from the overworld as it moves “downward” in what might be described as a vibrational scale, and into the underworld. This is the infusion of the primal with the presence of divine consciousness.
But as you mentioned, these divinities also rise. The Blue God is said to be “the serpent in the well,” a phallic and regenerative presence of earth-power here poetically placed within a yonic power-center. The serpent rises. Lucifer likewise rises, as the light from below; the light in the star(s) within the earth, the hidden spiritual light within all matter. As the morning star rises, a herald of the coming dawn, so too we rise. By our magical practice, we attempt to awaken our knowledge of immanent divinity, that awareness moving upward in that scale from the underworld and into the middleworld as fully realized; a major step on the path to what has been called, “enlightenment,” or what we in BlueRose Faery call, Enchantment.
Another common connection between the two is Melek Taus being the peacock angel, which we often associate with pride universally, and Lucifer’s pride. What is the spiritual significance of pride in these stories? Is pride seen as a positive thing to be embraced or is this myth a warning?
Like all good myths, there are multiple interpretations. To the Faery, Pride is something toward which we strive. To take pride in oneself is both beautiful and powerful. Why shouldn’t I take pride in my accomplishments? I want to make choices of which I can be proud. Real pride is the fullest outpouring of unabashed self-love. It does not compare itself to another, but instead is the value of the self without being “selfish.” Melek Ta’us admires his beauty and out of self-love desires the birth of humankind. He became the god of Free Will when he refused to bow before humankind out of a sense of his self-worth. Christian mythos speaks of Lucifer likewise admiring his beauty, but also of setting himself up above God, and so this type of “pride” has moved into what might better be described as egotism. This, I believe, is the actual warning of the myths: to keep our pride aligned and focused on the self, as opposed to using it as a judgment that is applied to others.
You recently began writing a column for the Wild Hunt. What type of column is it, and what can we expect to look forward to in that column?
The Wild Hunt approached me about writing a regular opinion column with LGBT+ issues in mind, and I’m happy to be doing it. Each month I will focus on a particular topic, practice, or person that is relevant to LGBT+ Pagans. My inaugural piece was on the mainstreaming of Pride celebrations, and how the movement-into-market phenomena can be a positive step if we guide the process, ensuring that our diversity is not washed away. Coming up will be interviews with LGBT+ practitioners as well as highlighting up-and-coming queer artists in our midst. Stay tuned!
You have been an open advocate for the inclusion of LGBTQIA folks in witchcraft. The Faery Tradition, to my understanding, is a bit less heteronormative, non-binary, and gender fluid than some other branches of Witchcraft. Why is this?
We are a sexual tradition, but we aren’t necessarily a gendered one. Where some other prominent Witchcraft traditions might insist on a gender binary practice which may include restrictions based on rigid gender roles, Faery tradition has no such constraints and instead encourages individual exploration.
The primary deity of Faery Witchcraft –the androgynous Star Goddess—has been described as being “pre-gendered.” Often poetically described in female terms to highlight the aspect of giving birth to life and form, our creation myth describes an act of queer love, as She makes love to her reflection-come-to-life. Her first-born, the Blue God (her son, brother, lover, and other half) is “post-gendered” containing the full spectrum of gender and sexuality within. Together they are the “clitoro-phallic presence of God Herself,” as the late Grandmaster Victor Anderson often said. With this as our core, I don’t think that it can be helped that we are gender fluid in our tradition.
This, of course, isn’t to say that we do not have areas in which we could improve; many lineages have inadvertently adopted a gender-binary model from other forms of the Craft and so may hold certain restrictions or customs that are less inclusive. But I believe that if one examines the heart of Faery one finds a realm in which convention is turned on its head, making the idea of enforced gender roles seem rather silly. The inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals in our (and any) Craft is essential, as we can collectively challenge the long-accepted heteronormative/patriarchal paradigm, which is necessary if we expect to be able to grow beyond what we have already accomplished.
Melek Taus is a bit more genderfluid and queer as well, to my understanding. Can you discuss this a bit?
The Blue God of Faery is a quintessentially queer god. Like all faeries, he is odd, strange, otherworldly. He doesn’t conform to an easy description. He is embodied and sexual, but also the most spiritual and transcendent of the gods. He is gentle, but (when outside of the influence of the Mother) is terrible and wrathful. In our lore, he is described as being androgynous, but also as being male with some classically female characteristics. In reality, he/she/they come(s) in whatever form we need to make a deeper personal connection. I believe that what things we find physically and emotionally attractive will be highlighted in how this deity will appear to us.
As Dian y Glas, the Blue God is traditionally described as being an effeminate young man. He is sexually passive; alluring, rather than aggressive. I queer terms I might describe him as the “divine bottom,” and he is the spirit of youthfulness, wonderment, vigor, and joy. As Melek Ta’us, he is often thought of as appearing somewhat older, more assertive; the spirit of vigor, free-will, pride, and rebellion. He also still possesses a sexual quality, but it is more projective, rather than receptive; the “divine top,” perhaps.
This fall you have another book coming out through Llewellyn entitled, Forbidden Mysteries of Faery Witchcraft. Can you tell us a bit what we can look forward to in the book?
I’m really excited to share this material with the world! This book expands upon the foundational Faery practices that I wrote about in Betwixt and Between and focuses on what has been called the ‘dark arts’ or ‘forbidden mysteries’ of our Craft; the practices and lore of the shadow: cursing, demon work, and divine possession. As part of that work, we explore transformative elements of folkloric Faery, drawing from old ballads and making spirit contacts with traditional denizens of Faery. I focus on two traditional ballads, The Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer and The Ballad of Tam Lin. Both are famous and potent oneiric entry-points into the Faery consciousness, and when engaged can be the source of much power and transformation. I also explore “the Wells at the Ends of the World,” primal underworld goddesses of the elemental powers with whom we can work to delve deeper into the under country if we first face whatever fears or demons may be holding us back.
Do you see yourself as a hard polytheist or a soft polytheist? Do you believe that the gods are individual and distinct or do you feel they’re interconnected or aspects of each other? For example, would you associate Lucifer or other deities with Melek Taus, or are they concretely different beings?
I see myself as a paradoxical polytheist. My experiences tell me that the gods can be many things at once, only some of which we may be able to understand rationally. With this in mind I can accept the existence of the gods as real, distinct beings –much as in the same way that you and I are separate beings. This does not, however, contradict my accepting that gods may also be much more fluid, in that they may blend into other forms, genders, cultures, etc. They can be both distinct, separate intelligence AND “aspects” of each other at the same time. Victor Anderson asserted that the gods were not archetypes. Here I will respectfully disagree with our beloved teacher; the gods are absolutely archetypes… but that isn’t to say that this is all that they are. When we also understand that ‘archetype’ is not a synonym for ‘metaphor,’ we can begin to see that they can be both an archetype and distinct being simultaneous. This, I believe, is one of the most important first lessons in our tradition and is poetically expressed in our concept of the Divine Twins: how to hold two seemingly contradictory views as both being equally “true.” ‘Literal truth’ and ‘poetic truth’ are both necessary components of a useful magical paradigm, in my opinion.
The idea that human beings can fully understand the profound nature of the gods seems like extreme hubris, to me. So, when I hear Pagans asserting one interpretation over another, I find it somewhat amusing (no matter what said interpretation might be).
As for Lucifer and Melek Ta’us, I can only speak to my own experiences and what I was taught in our particular line of the tradition, which spoke of these as resonant beings or “divinity complexes.” This is to say they are collections of individual beings who, like single individual cells, are collected into particular arrangements to work together, much like specialized cells in a larger organism collect to form a vital organ. In this, Lucifer and Melek Ta’us (and Dian y Glas, and Eros, and Krishna, and the Christos, and several other deities who also exhibit similar stories and behaviors) are each separate and also not. They all draw from the same well of divinity. In this when I say, “the Blue God” I am referring collectively to all the deities within the larger body of that divinity complex. I am a priest of the Blue God, and so any or all of these different manifestations may inform my work at any given time.
I suppose by some definitions this would place me on the “soft” end of the spectrum, but even that assumes that one “knows” their true nature, which again I assert that we cannot. My view of the gods has changed radically over my thirty plus years practicing the Craft. Who knows what the future may bring?
Lastly, anything we can look forward to from you in the near future? Any new books, projects, tours, or events?
This September 27-30, I will be teaching at Earth Warriors Festival in Ohio, and then on October 27, I am excited to say that I will once again be leading the ancestor ritual and signing books at the The New Orleans Witches’ Ball.
In February 2019 I’ll be at PantheaCon in San Jose, CA and then ConVocation in Detroit, MI, representing our Black Rose Witchcraft school. We are currently working on dates for the next Many Paths of Faery, so stay tuned for that, along with an east coast tour for Devin Hunter and I, tentatively this coming spring and summer.
I will also be heading out to Germany later that summer to teach Faery along with my husband, Chas Bogan, and Anaar, the tradition’s current Grandmaster. I’m working on my next book, a grimoire of Faery magic and lore and am also working on a collaboration with the indomitable Jackie Smith of Coventry Creations, about which I hope to be able to give details soon. My travel and teaching schedules are always updated on my website, Faerywolf.com.
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Storm Faerywolf shares a simple but powerful rite to assist you in seeing yourself as the divine being you truly are. It can be done either alone or in a group. Have fun with it. Make it your own. Celebrate your godhood. This is available for Patreon supporters with the tier “In The Know Jackalope” and higher.