Come with me while I journey as an Initiate through the Feri Tradition of Witchcraft - a shamanic path of fey sorcery; a martial tradition of magic.

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Sunday, 8 May 2011

My Body Is My Temple

My body is my temple. I don't mean this metaphorically - for me, this is reality. My body is the temple of my own divinity, partaking in the divine and sacred nature of God Herself, who is as real as I am. It is through my body that I experience the wonder and dread of the Holy Mother in all of Her manifestations. We are embodied for a reason - to experience life on a physical level, to glory in the sensations of life, to revel in the pure joy of being alive. 

In Feri, one of our core practices is the daily prayer for alignment, in which we gather mana with our breath and then send this to our Godself, who then returns the energy to us and brings our three souls into better communication and communion with each other. However, this is only partially true. The prayer for alignment is also known as the Ha Prayer. Ha is the Hawaiian word for 'four'; we breathe in counts of four before sending up the mana. There are also four Qabalistic levels of reality; the physical realm and three non-physical. It seems to me that the true purpose of the daily prayer for alignment is to bring our three souls and our body into greater wholeness, into a more effective gestalt. 

Part of my practice is to engage my body as fully as possible. This is true on several levels: firstly, daily care of my body is of extreme importance to me. I run a few times a week and I do kickboxing. My diet is quite healthy and I drink plenty of water. I don't smoke, I don't take drugs, and my alcohol consumption is very moderate. Secondly, I involve the physical as much as possible during ritual and spellwork. I cringe when I hear other magic workers say that all magic can be done in the mind, that you only need your mind to work magic. Hmm...this is a half-truth. Yes, your mind is an extremely important part of magic but why would you only involve one of your souls (your Emi/Talker)? I'm sure some magic workers do only use their mind, but I don't agree with this from either a practical or theological standpoint. 

Magic (and life!) is much more powerful when it involves all three souls and your body. What most people identify as the mind is their conscious soul, their Talker or their Emi. If you bring in your Vivi, or your Fetch, by involving colour, herbs, oils, incenses, smells, fire and candles into a spell, so much the better. 

However, none of this means anything if it is not done with intention, or comes from an unhealthy attitude, or a place of 'I should'. That takes power away from me. Instead, I choose to do these things, or not, and I often send a prayer to the Goddess before doing exercise, so I make it a devotional act. 

How do you look after your temple?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Musings on Power

This week's events have led me to meditate on the concept of power. The USA exerted a reactionary form of (perhaps justly) violent action in defeating Osama Bin Laden, and the effects of such a powerful act are being felt in our cultural consciousness(es). Bin Laden had been using a perverse form of power to control and influence others into committing murderous acts. While both have very different aims, both display symptoms of the same sickness. Is the placing of two bullets into somebody's head (no matter who they are) a display of true power? I doubt it. 

T. Thorn Coyle has recently written how this event made her aware of her Pride* point, whereas I would like to discuss my own reactions. In Feri, we place Power on the Iron Pentacle, the Pentacle which holds the energies that cause us the most problems. Yet, it's other face, its twin on the Pearl Pentacle is Liberty. How does Power flow into Liberty? And how does Liberty inform Power? 

When I think of Power, my immediate reaction is a concept of strength, whether that be physical prowess or an iron will. I think of the Spanish word poder, which means both 'power' and the verb 'to be able'. To have power is to be able to do something. How do I find power in myself and others? I think this week of my friend who gave birth to her first child, a truly powerful act. I think of my lover who followed his instincts and went traveling alone for four months. I think of myself, as I try to teach teenagers to speak other languages. I think of their efforts in trying to speak to me. 

All of these have lead us to greater liberation, to freedom. My friend used the power that was within her and liberated herself to create a family. My lover's power enabled him to be free to pursue his dreams. When we are powerful, we are at our most free. If we twist our own power for selfish and unhealthy reasons, our liberty encroaches upon us, creating a self-induced prison. 

I believe that Power is placed on the Iron because we need Power in order to develop our will, as those with a strong will are said to have a will of iron. True power is available to us all, as is Liberty. The only way to access this liberty is to befriend our own power, to hone our own skills, without comparing them to others or to anybody's expectations. This is tough work. The Iron continually reveals things to me; aspects of myself I had locked behind (iron) bars, small irritants I had buried, the larger-than-life parts of me that mask insecurity. If I wish to be truly free, I must become one with my Power.

So mote it be. 

*I capitalise these words when they relate specifically to the Pentacle points. 

Monday, 2 May 2011

Making friends with the Earth, Moon, Sun and Stars

A few months ago, I sat at my altar and asked for guidance from the Guardians. I asked how I could deepen my practice and requested that they help me to ‘fill in the blanks’ of my personal spiritual devotions. Almost immediately I got a hit from them: they said that I should ‘make friends with the Earth, Moon, Sun, and Stars’. (I capitalise these to emphasise the magico-spiritual qualities, as opposed to the physical and scientific view.) Now, the ramifications of that statement are manifold (and I would like to explore them in another essay, especially from a more Qabalistic viewpoint) but one way that this is relevant is when we are planning magic, the focus of this essay.
Consider the first of these bodies: the Earth. She is our mother, the most physical and sensual manifestation of the Goddess. She is immediate – the ground upon which we walk and from which grows our food. The Earth is continually bathed in the energies of the Moon, Sun, and Stars and puts them to use. In this sense, we should connect with the energies of the Earth for each act of magic, and in fact, most of us do! If you practice grounding, deep breathing (this oxygenated atmosphere being specific to our world) or any other form of preparation like this, you are connecting with Earth energies. Any physical props we use for magic come from the Earth; therefore Her energies are inherent in what we do. The relationship we have with the Earth should be our prime relationship. (This should be a conscious decision to relate to the Earth – unconscious relationship is not going to be helpful in the long run).
The Moon has an extensive global mythology and to even scratch the surface of it would require a whole volume of essays. Nevertheless, I would like to focus on how I personally view the Moon from my own idiosyncratic Feri perspective. When I first started Witchcraft I was led to believe that the Moon was female, a Goddess, and this is how most Witches relate to the Moon. The most compelling arguments for the Moon being female are the connection between women’s menstrual cycle and the Moon and that the Moon has a softer, more feminine energy. (The connection between the three phases of the Moon and three phases of a woman’s life has never made sense to me. Don’t men have three phases too?)
I have never felt the Moon as female; I see its energies as masculine, the ‘man in the moon’. This fits with a lot of cultures (I am thinking of the Norse, Egyptian, Hindu and Traditional Japanese pantheons here). I understand the Moon as the most obvious symbol of the Divine Twins. The two ‘moving’ phases represent the Twins, as they are separate, yet mirrored, entities. The waxing and waning of the Moon represent this Twin energy for me. I see the full Moon as the joining and dissolution of the Twins; the pearlescent joy of two halves coming together to form a whole (‘coming’ being a nice pun – I see an obvious connection between semen and the Moon). The dark Moon for me is the sense of division and separation fully realised – the necessary longing and absence that allows us to feel desire for unity. Crowley’s Liber al vel Legis captures this perfectly: “ For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union…that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all”. Feri Tradition often sees the coming together of the Twins as Melek Ta’us, and one of His symbols is the pearl. What is the Moon, if not a huge pearl in the sky?
The practical application of this lunar magic is immediate: the Moon’s energies are one of the most used in spell casting. Personally, I feel spellwork is most effective when done while the Moon is moving, so that spells for increase are done while the Moon is increasing, and vice versa. The full Moon, traditionally a time for celebration, fits in with my view of the full Moon representing the joy and connection of the Twins in love and lust. The dark Moon is a time for introspective workings and divination; when we can divine our true desires as we long for wholeness.
As the Moon is the changing face of the Twins, the Sun is the eternal Star Goddess, She who gave birth to our galaxy. She is the sustainer of life, the prime source of all. We experience God Herself as the Star Goddess, and what is the Sun but the most important star in the sky? Solar magic is magic for longevity, for life, for healing. Yet, there is a danger to the Sun. If we are not careful, we can burn. The Goddess is birth and death, construction and destruction. The Sun that warms our planet is the Sun that starts a forest fire, consuming life indiscriminately.
In this specific climate, the Sun and the Earth engage in a unique dance: as the Earth rotates around the Sun, we encounter the different seasons, each of which has particular magical qualities. Spring helps us to begin afresh, to cleanse things from our life, to rejoice in the natural world. Summer is for celebration, for wholeness, for sexuality and sensuality. Autumn is a time of slowing down; of reflection and reaping the harvest of our efforts. Winter is the time of being dormant, of planning, of rest and hibernation. We can tap into these energies by planning our magic accordingly. For those Feri who follow the Wicca-inspired Sabbats, this is the most usual way of attuning to the seasons; for those of us who do not, simply recognising the shifting face of the world each day and being fully conscious of this is enough.
The Stars are perhaps the most elusive, yet also the most familiar. Everybody in the world knows their star-sign (well, sun-sign, at least) and horoscopes are commonplace. I do not wish to discuss the merits of astrology, for that is beyond the scope of this essay. Rather, I wish to focus on a Feri-inspired view of the celestial realms, specifically how we can involve them in magical timing.
In Feri, we work with seven Guardians, who are often called the Guardians of the Elements of Life. While, yes, they do correspond nicely to the four (or five) elements, I believe they are much more. They seem more celestial or heavenly, and other essays discuss the origins of the Guardians as descendants from the Nephilim, or Star People. My personal relationship with the Guardians tells me that each Guardian has a special role in various elements of Feri practice. A couple of years ago I met the Guardians in a trance and asked them when they would like me to give them offerings. The Guardians told me that they correspond to the seven traditional heavenly bodies, and thus the days of the week and planetary hours. This astrology interests me as a Feri Witch. Briefly, in order:
Monday = Moon = Guardian of the West
Tuesday = Mars = Guardian of the South
Wednesday = Mercury = Guardian of the East
 Thursday = Jupiter = Guardian of the North
Friday = Venus = Guardian of the Centre
 Saturday = Saturn = Guardian of Below
Sunday = Sun = Guardian of Above
By combining the knowledge of the Guardians, with that of the Earth, Moon, and Sun, we can call in as many energies as possible when planning a spell or ritual. I will give a common example: a love spell.
First, we whittle down our desire so we know specifically what we want. I always do divination (perhaps on a Sunday, or during the dark Moon) and imagine I have divined that what I want is a sexually compatible lover, rather than a life partner. Firstly, I will call in the energies of the Earth and select appropriate oils, herbs, candles, and images that remind me of amazing sex. Then I need to relate to the Moon: if I wish to bring something toward me, I work my spell during the waxing Moon. If I know there is something specific barring me from realising my wish, I could work during the waning Moon, or perhaps I could do two spells, thereby further calling in the power of the Twins. If I am lucky, and it is springtime, then I have called in the energy of freshness and new beginnings, or I can use the heat of the summer to fuel my passion. Finally, I relate to the Stars by either working my spell on a Friday or a Tuesday, calling in the power of either Guardian of the Gate or Shining Flame. (Or, if I want to be even MORE specific, I could work out the correct planetary hour…)
While obviously we cannot always utilise every single compatible energy from these four, conscious meditation on them and the development of a strong relationship with them as allies can only help fuel our magic. By making friends with the Earth, Moon, Sun and Stars, we not only make more powerful magic, we become more attuned to the universe, and (Qabalistically) more aligned with our souls and the Four Worlds. This is strong work.