Orion Foxwood is Traditional Witch, conjure-man and faery seer; and, the author of The Faery Teachings (RJ Stewart Books), The Tree of Enchantment, The Candle and the Crossroads and The Flame in the Cauldron (Weiser Books). He was born with the veil (the second sight) in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where he was first exposed to faith-healing, root-doctoring, faery lore and the second-sight practices of southern and Appalachian culture; and he has continued learning and teaching these spirit-doctoring practices in workshops, intensives and lectures in America and other countries.
He is the founder, and primary instructor, in the House of Brigh Faery Seership Institute, where he teaches a multi-year teaching program in the Tree of Enchantment lore, practices, traditions and skills. He is a co-founder of Conjure Crossroads (CC), which is a collaboration between five (5) seasoned root-workers and witches focused on preserving and promoting the healing and helping benefits of southern root-work, witchcraft and other folk traditions. CC hosts the annual Folk Magic Festival in New Orleans, Conjure-Con in Santa Cruz, CA and an ongoing blog show. He is the Founding Elder of Foxwood Temple, a coven dedicated to passing on the traditional witchcraft of his elders. He holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services.
Orion has been extremely busy over the last few years teaching and writing. Luckily enough he found a few spare moments to talk to our own Sean Harbaugh.
Sean Harbaugh: Orion Foxwood is an awesome magical name. Can you share how you arrived at that?
Orion Foxwood: In 1988, I was brought into my Celtic-Traditional Craft lineage; and, it is a wonderful practice in our tradition that, when initiated into the Craft, the witch is given their witch-name as a gift from their initiatory parents (the Elders). I am also a High Priest in the Alexandrian Wiccan Tradition. The late Lady Alexandria gave me this name in the sacred circle, witnessed by other witches, the Old Ones, the Watchers and the Ancestral Spirits of the line. Now, I have it as a treasured blessing from her for the rest of my incarnate l life, even though her form has passed beyond the veil.
In my tradition, the seeker does not choose their name though they are asked to provide insights and aspirations to feed into the detailed and painstaking process of finding their witch-name. Rather, the Elders devote their time, energy, love and wisdom into finding a name that increases and strengthens the witch’s abilities, natural skills and growth needs. My Elder gave me the name “Orion” at my alignment to the lineage and it stayed with me all the way through my elevation to the High-Priesthood and is still with me today. I never plan to change it. It is who I am! She gave it to me to draw on the power of the Greek Warrior God bearing the name, as well as (to quote her words) to place me in alignment with the birthplace of Isis, the Egyptian Goddess of magic and many other things. Lady Alexandria had a fond love of both Egyptian and Celtic magical traditions and she knew of my deep reverence for the Goddess.
Now, for the Foxwood part of my name. Foxwood is the name of the coven I founded in 1990. In our tradition it is quite customary for coveners to take on the name of their coven as their last name. The Fox is a totemic spirit associated with the High Priestess who brought me into the Craft lineage of my coven. The “wood” part of my name is to honor the Witch Queen who initiated her whose was named Lady Sintana. The coven she founded in Atlanta GA is called “Ravenwood” in Atlanta Georgia. By naming my coven Foxwood, I was honoring two generations of my lineage. Later in my Craft life I was blessed to meet Lady Circe, the Elder High Priestess who elevated Lady Sintana to the High Priestesship. She became the final influence on my Craft growth and I am honored to be one of her mantle carriers for the line along with Lady Meshlamthea and Lord Malachi. In our tradition we do use the prefixes of “Lady” and “Lord” as terms of honor for the roles of our clergy.
Yes, I am a practitioner of these traditions and I hold them in very high respect. To be honest, there are what I call “three streams” that inform my mystical, magical and spiritual practice and they are: 1) Traditional Witchcraft (“the Craft”); 2) Faery Seership; and, 3) Appalachian and Southern Folk Magic (also known as conjure or root-work). These are also the subjects of the books I have written to date and to understand what I am about and what I teach, you really have to delve into all three. Together, they are the magic of Orion Foxwood . . . .LOL!
In response to your question, though I am initiated as a High Priest in the Alexandrian tradition, I do not feel qualified to speak on it with sound expertise in a public forum since I do not consistently practice it. I have a strong sense of integrity about such things. I feel strongly that we should not teach or speak publicly and authoritatively on spiritual, mystical or magical l subjects that we are not living and/or have researched thoroughly. In my opinion, a teacher cannot truly transmit an understanding of a tradition beyond basic information without it being alive within them and, this is only gained through experience and integration. Without this, the teachings spoken are mere words with no current for transmission or “aliveness”. These kinds of traditions (Wicca, Witchcraft, Faery and Conjure) are more than information, they are experiences, with inner-contacted spiritual forces aligned to them that produce transformative experiences and revealed knowledge and skills to the practitioner.
True inner contact starts after a tradition is ingested, digested and expressed through living it. Therefore, I can speak about the lore, teachings and “home-tradition” that I live on a daily basis and which I have taught many students and initiates through the years. My mother-tradition is the Traditional Witchcraft teachings (often referred to in the line as Celtic Traditional Witchcraft), practices and lineage on which I founded Foxwood Temple in 1990. The tradition of Foxwood includes the accumulative treasures those gifted to me by my teachers in the line including Lady Alexandria, Lady Sintana and our beloved Queen, the late Lady Circe of Toledo Ohio; and those given to me before that by my earliest teachers from Brentwood Essex England. I have deep gratitude to these incredible women for the wisdom they shared with me and I work hard to keep their (and my) legacy alive and thriving in what I teach, write and live.
Both the Witchcraft and Faery Seership I practice have deep reverence for nature and its powerful spirits. But, I will say a little something about both of these streams of my nature-based practice. For there is a third stream to what I do and that is Southern and Appalachian Conjure and Rootwork. Perhaps that is a subject for another interview, if you like. It is “somewhat” less nature-focused than my Craft and Seership though it taps a lot of natural powers through the use of stones, bones, herbs, metals, and the like. It taps the powerful spirit in these things for baths, powders, spirit-bags and a host of other magical operations.
In my Craft tradition, we encounter the sacred presence of Mother Fate, the Lord of the Threshold and the four haunted winds in the wild places, and in the turning tides of the sun, moon, earth and stars. By walking the wheel of the year we sensitize and synchronize our magic with nature and its mysteries and earth….the greatest witch of them all! By walking with the turn of the moon tides, we align ourselves with the magical current or “etheric ocean” that passes between the moon and earth and interpenetrates all life. My Craft tradition has a strong sense of lineage, tradition and family. We have a saying “if blood is thicker than water, tradition is thicker than blood”.
We feel that each witch comes back into the Craft seeking to find and remember each other and enter into a covenant (the coven) with those with whom they have circled before. Our initiatory rites are focused on awakening the witch-blood, linking the witch into the inner and outer lineage of our family, and providing them with sound teachings with solid ethics to grow them as potent, solid, ethic and actualized witches. Specifically, I am concerned about initiating people who will use their knowledge and magic to be agents of positive change in the world. I feel strongly that the Craft and Paganism was called back from the ashes of the past by our ancestors because the world needs us. We are teetering on ecological disaster and the old traditions need to return in new bodies to give powerful voice and potent magic to nature and its needs. I love our earth and that love drives all I do!
If you don’t mind. I would like to answer that question from the vantage point of how I integrate my life as a Faery Seer, a Traditional Witch and a Southern Root-Worker/ Conjure-Man. I find that these three threads of my practice weave together like a magical cord. All three are inherently magical and use that power to help humanity and its relationship with the seen and unseen realms in healthy and life supportive ways. In many ways all three are co-creative in their focus. By this, I mean that they involve a relationship between the human practitioner and non-human partners such as nature spirits (Faery Seership), Deific powers of the natural world (Witchcraft) and human ancestral forces and the power inside natural objects (Conjure).
I find that each one offers its unique insights and skills that feed into the other two. I really feel like the fusion of the three into a working system would truly reflect the synchretic nature of the American spirit and thus could be called “American Traditional Witchcraft”. All three of these practices came into the country through immigration in the 17 and 1800s and merged and mingled with modern magical practices too. They are ever alive, ever growing yet never changing or compromising their sacred core.
How does your Master’s Degree in Human Services and being a licensed professional counsellor and public health administrator assist you in being a leader in the Neo-pagan community? How do apply this knowledge in helping those who seek assistance and/or direction?
My academic degree and the educational track I took to attain it taught me a great deal about micro and macro human systems and their interface. I think that the best intellectual springboard for understanding this statement is in the concept of “a system”. The sociological definition of a system is “a set of interacting components in in exchange with its environment regulated by a feedback system”. I don’t know if it gets more holistic than that! Studying the many components of the human system (macro and micro) allowed me to look at other ones such as eco-systems, intra-psychic systems (such as our mind) and the individual systems that comprise the reality of my students; and, of the magical circle itself. I found that both my academic and my clinical background gave further intellectual strength to what I do as an agent of change . . . . a witch, seer and conjure-man focused on affecting his world through magic.
These disciplines also refined my teaching, writing and research abilities which has very much served my spiritual and magical work. I was groomed as a leader and a manager in the government too. That gave me invaluable skills in leadership, writing, media and even motivational abilities. The training and experience I received as a counselor helped me with compassion, “unconditional positive regard”, reflective listening, communication style, and even the ability to demonstrate presence to those I serve. In short, Mother Fate knew what she was doing when she placed me in these arenas to gather the tools I would need to do the work I am doing now. All sectors and segments of my life have been classes in “earth-schools” to provide my with the skills I would need to become what I have become. I often say my Masters of Human Services Degree assisted me in mastering my ability to serve humanity.
I think the best place to start with that is the components of its name. In my Craft tradition, there are special families of witches which are most often called “coven” are also called “house”. Some of my elders even implied that “house” is an older term for it. Let’s look at the term, “house”. It implies sanctuary, family, structure and even echoes the saying “a house divided will fall”, thus its power is in unity. So, I tapped into this concept when I named the organization that “houses” the teachings of Faery Seership and its primary informing matron spirit or ancestress “Brigh”. As an aside, when I say “Brigh”, I am not necessarily referring to the Goddess baring that same name. I am referring to a powerful primordial spirit who identified herself as a “Faery Queen” whom I first contacted in 1993 at an R.J. Stewart workshop in 1993 and whom I married (entered into symbiosis) later with the incredible support of Dolores Ashcroft-Nowiki. Brigh is my spirit wife and the inspiration, guide and soul of all I do in the Faery Tradition. Now, many years later I have come to know that my spirit wife (as a friend said) ain’t no normal Faery. She was born before the earth had formed.The concept of the “Faery Bride”, “Elfame Lover” or “Companion” is a very old and honored one in the folkloric Faery tradition. Few people ever engage in the true marriage because, as I understand it, it cannot be undone. In a more anthropological sense, it is the “shamanic spirit lover”. Interestingly, over the years when I have encountered traditional medicine men/ woman form First-Nation (I.E, Native American) and African indigenous tribes, they deeply resonate with the folkloric faery tradition and the relationship Brigh and I have. My co-creative relationship with Brigh coupled with knowledge received from other teachers (such as RJ Stewart), folkloric research and direct contemporary practice culminated into what I teach within the House of Brigh. And, as far as the role of my books; when I wrote my first book, The Faery Teachings currently published by RJ Stewart Books; I simply wanted to share some of the academic and folkloric research on the Faery Tradition with the world.
I was driven by a love of these incredible spirit-people (the Faery) and my love for the earth and how eco-spirituality and co-creative human/ other relationships could affect and heal our relationship and associated behaviors with earth and her nature. I had no idea that I would write more books, do CDs and DVDs let alone develop a mass of teachings and techniques and leave my government job to dedicate my life to passing on these teachings and practices. Honestly, I think that if I had known where things were going, I might have gotten intimidated by it and as they say, I would have “blocked the blessing”. Well, Brigh began to use the knowledge gained from academic research, folkloric encounters, oral tradition and direct transmission to build the system which became called “The Tree of Enchantment” and that was the topic of my second book.
From my understanding, the House of Brigh apprenticeship program is seven years. Can you describe the program? How does one enter? What are the goals of the individual seeker?
Well, I plan to eventually have the apprenticeship last only seven years. However, my early groups are over 11 or more years old. These original groups were the support for bringing this information forward and I will always be grateful to them. Pretty much all of the lore, techniques, and processes have been developed. Now, I am in the refinement phase to distill the training down to the original 7 year goal, which was based on a folk concept rich in meaning called the “tein” or seven year tithe to Faery. This concept would take far more room for me to develop in this article.
Each group is hosted and implemented through a central person called a coordinator. The groups are called “hostings” and they usually start with 30 and above students since they often matriculate to a smaller number. Potential apprentices usually find me through my books, DVDs, CD, interviews, my website (orionfoxwood.com), public presentations and workshops or other venues. They often email me or approach me at an event and a coordinator is identified or organically emerges. At this time I have 15 groups around the country. In the past I have taught two 2-day intensives for each group per year. But, I am changing that. The travel can be hard on my body and I want more time with my fiancée, to develop the work and write more, to be with family and friends, to rest and relax and obey the will of my cat. The task before me is to develop the teaching manuals so that anointed teachers who have been taught and approved by me can help provide this work to the many people who are seeking it.
The working (and very contemporary) definition of Faery Seership as taught and practiced in the House of Brigh is: “An integrative, co-creative and restorative eco-spiritual paradigm and practice” based on traditional folklore but expanded with contemporary insights, contacted wisdom, and integrative practices. It is inspired and informed by folkloric tradition and expanded and developed through contemporary practice. The goals of the Brigh and I, and thus the HOB is to:
(1) educate seekers on the teachings, lore and history of the tradition with an emphasis on the role of Faery Seership in addressing current human challenges (such as cross generational family, cultural or global issues) and oncoming needs associated with ecology.
(2) provide processes and practices for developing integrative subtle sensory development skills to encounter and exchange cooperatively, co-creatively and safely with the threshold and inner forces of the tradition which includes ancestral, faery, elemental, deep primordial (i.e. giants), and other spirits of the under (or inner) world.
(3) attune students to the powerful forces embodied in the nine (9) Vision Keys of the Tree of Enchantment and their attending spirits through an intense series of weekend immersion experiences (intensives) .
The work of the apprenticeship program is done with the intention of establishing a relationship between humanity and the attending forces of the Tree of Enchantment with specific focus on the Faery, for they are the ancestors of all life on this planet. The human relationship with these incredible beings is for the restoration of our personal, collective (familial, cultural and global including non-human) and the natural world we all share as the middle world in our tradition. Additionally, we work with upper world (stellar) and middle world (embodied or planetary) spiritual forces. Or as I say in an invocation I wrote “by the seen, the unseen and the thresholds in-between”. Integration of attunement, alignment and agreement with all three levels is very distinctive of the HOB teachings and also reflects our concept that we are composed of three fractiles or souls known as “walkers” which allows a threefold nature to our consciousness (Expansive/ divine, subtle/ ancestral and physical (bridging) expression and experience of life.
I really appreciate this question. My vision is to develop a core body of trained and certified teachers in this work to teach the ever increasing number of potential hosting groups. I plant to do a mix of online and in-person training intensives, conferences and gatherings focused on this work. I am also working on other mechanisms to support teachers and students of the work including on-line courses, instructional DVDs, artistic expressions of Faery Seership with visionary artists with specific focus on my primary artistic partner, friend and esteemed visionary artist Martin Bridge. We are developing a deck of oracle cards that will illustrate the Vision Keys, the thresholds of consciousness, the attending beings of the tradition that work with the Seer, the dynamics of the three souls and the workings of the three wells (becoming, knowing and being).
Other activities I am focused on include the continuation of our national HOB convergence, more magazine articles and interviews highlighting the eco-spiritual focus of Faery Seership; and, I am currently working in a collaboration to develop a documentary film on HOB. As you can see, I am a very busy witch indeed. I know this sounds big but I have full intension of Brigh, myself, and HOB being an agent for global change. I think it is time for magical folks to not be afraid to be inspired into action for the wellbeing of our world. We have magic and powerful spirits that work with us.
Without getting too personal, describe what your personal practice is like. Who are your allies?
Actually, I really appreciate your question. It allows me to invite you into my personal world. The core energetic process which I teach in the HOB are central to my daily my ongoing and often daily practice. I apply them to cleansing, clearing, attuning and focusing my energy field and flow of consciousness. They also keep me connected to the spiritual force behind Brigh and my work and the ultimate director of my life, our planet’s soul, which we call the “Dreamer in the Land”. I have many members in my spirit-family that are allied or “allies”. First are my blood ancestors for they are way that I arrived on earth and many of them walk with me in this time in “earth-school”. My most intimate non-human ally is, of course, none other than Brigh.
I have a very strong relationship to Archangel Michael. I feel so blessed that my mother and father gave me the middle Michael as my middle name. In times when I feel weak, confused and vulnerable as we all do from time to time; he comes to me and surrounds with the loving light of the source and cuts away whatever might be tethering me with his mighty sword. Of course that mighty power of creation, destruction and regeneration which many call “the Goddess” has been my source of nurturance and power ever since I was a little boy. I do not particularly call on an ancient or classical projection of her. Rather, since she has been with me as a child, her presence is very intimate and present. She gave me a name to call her and that is simply “the Mother Spirit”.
When I was a little boy, my mom taught me about a very powerful spirit and he is called “the Dark Rider” at the crossroads. This is a prevalent magical practice in American southern root-work and conjure. I do not petition him as a daily practice, but as needed when one of my blessing roads are closed or when I need a road to close such as the energetic path between an enemy and me. Spiritual cleansing and covering are a constant core practice for me. This also from my conjure work and they include cleansing baths using spiritually awakened herbs, oils, salts and other items. But, it is important to cover, or what my folks called “crown” yourself every time you do a cleansing to claim that part of your spirit and direct it to what you desire for success. This is usually achieved by anointing yourself with a “condition” oil to alter your condition to one you want.
What is your greatest passion when it comes to doing your magical work?
I love helping people become sovereign over their lives and powerful in affecting helpful change in their personal lives and on the issues affecting the world that matter to themselves. I define power as “the ability to affect change”. For me, teaching folks the magical arts and helping them harness and focus their power is a very direct way I give reverence to the source (by whatever name you call it). I help the source centered in the substance of my students to remember itself and its relationship with the world around it for the purpose of become self-actualized. I like to think that I stir the spirit in people and fan it to set aflame people with their personal power.
I also love it when people integrate my teachings, and through this act, discover more beauty, possibility and happiness in life. I am also very committed in using my knowledge and skills to improve our relationship with the natural world and with the unseen forces that heavily influence our lives such as the ancestors, nature spirits and the spirits that haunt the interior of our soul. One day, I was on a flight coming back from LA, and I withdrew my attention from the outer world and went inward to what I call “the dancing floor of my soul” to meet Brigh as I have done so many times. In that particular communion a statement came out that I offer to you and the readers, You were born to paint the truth of your spirit onto the canvas of form, not to be trapped in someone else’s painting”.
10. How do you see the greater Neo-pagan community developing in the coming years, and how do you see yourself and your organization fitting into that evolution and growth?
I think that we will see that what we have been growing is more of a culture than simply a community, and that this culture has insights, information and concepts of great value to bring to the interfaith table where we live and on the local and national levels of eco-spiritual discussions, life sustainability with dwindling resources and other issues. We have spent decades building our gatherings to be events for connection, education and the growth of affirmed Pagan lives; establishing economic presence and that has allowed pagan oriented stores and online businesses catering to Pagans and Witches; and launching such landmark networking systems as Witchvox. We have formalized schools and seminaries in Pagan tradition and they are filled with enrollees. These are just a few of the achievements of our very young community, demonstrating that we are clearly a cultural force to be reckoned with.
I am a proud Pagan in that my divinities are the vast forces of the natural world I am clear because the Pagan ancestors of my blood called me to bring my attention to being a voice for the natural world to help not just Pagans but all people to understand that as a species our technologies are growing fast and so is the appetite for natural resources to sustain them. We need empowered earth-centered voices to bring all of humanity back into sacred relationship with our precious earth so that our focus becomes co-creative and considerate to this planet that feeds and sustains us. That is a part of the focus of House of Brigh. I also want to see more affirmed and fierce witches that are not afraid to be powerful and to use their power when largescale changes at drive fuels the content, tone and activity of every ritual, workshop, speech or interview on witchcraft and conjure. I also feel that we do not just become witches and serve our Pagan community. We are witches because the earth summoned us and gave us some of her power to make effective magic. We should find ways for those in the non-Pagan general community who need the help of witchcraft to find us. At Foxwood Temple, the coven I founded in 1990, I am adamant that Foxwood withches are agents of change and I expect them to fulfill this legacy . . . light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.
Orion, thank you for answering my questions. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
You are quite welcome. I cannot think of anything to add.