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, 30 June 2013

The Inner Skeptic

I spend a lot of time thinking about daily practice, reading about daily practice and (wouldn't you know it) actually engaging in daily practice. 

As an initiate in the Feri Tradition, I have a responsibility to myself and to the Gods to be the most present and effective Witch I can be, and the core practices of Feri (kala, alignment, sitting, and the Pentacles, among others) help me to finely hone my soul into the shining golden being I know it really is. 

Yet sometimes I wake up at 6am, look over at my altar and I just cannot face the idea of sitting before the Gods and honouring them with a daily practice. The black statue of the Star Goddess looks lifeless, the unlit candles uninviting. The meditation bench too hard. 

Why is this? Intellectually I know how vital daily practice is in my soul's development and I can feel the energetic THUNK when I drink in the charged water from my kala glass. After the prayer for alignment I can feel my parts coming into greater concert with each other. When I have sat with myself for twenty minutes I feel so much more prepared for the day ahead. 

I feel like myself. 

Thorn Coyle, whose excellent book "Make Magic of Your Life" I am currently reading, points out that what keeps us from practice is mainly fear. I think this is partially true. Forging the path of knowing yourself is scary stuff. But there is another aspect to it that I am just discovering - my inner skeptic. 

I am naturally skeptical of most things. Given that I am a God-invoking, spell-casting, soul-aligning Witch, it is a bit surprising that I tend not to believe in most things. I need to have experience first before I accept it as gospel. 

Angels? Nah. Reincarnation? Only at a poetic level. Magic? Well, who knows? I am too much a product of science to blindly accept things as truth, and when my practice seems like a waste of time, when it seems that half an hour in bed checking Facebook is a more producing use of my time, my inner skeptic has won. 

Part of my path, then, is allowing my inner skeptic, my inner magician and my inner priestess to all sit down to the dinner table together to have a conversation. To allow room for my skeptic to keep me rightly wary of all the rubbish out there. For my priestess to remind me of my sacred duty. 

And after that, to just practise anyway. 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Elements of Practice

Part of being a Feri Witch is a commitment to coming into an evolving relationship with our Selves. We seek to know who we are, to bring ourselves into greater wholeness and integration, and a daily spiritual practice is the foundation for this life's work. 

Commitment to practice is difficult. It involves being honest with ourselves, becoming intimate with the stories we tell ourselves, cultivating a greater capacity to love, and courting presence. 

This is not easy. We can go one of two ways: we can try to structure our practice so much that it becomes static and brittle, not allowing any room for subtle changes we may need on a daily basis. Or, we can have such a forgiving and open practice that we don't value it, instead choosing to stay in bed an extra twenty minutes rather than sitting before the altar. 

There is a third way, the way of paradox. In Feri, we seek to align ourselves with paradox, recognising that the greatest of Mysteries involve the coming together of two seeming opposites to form a whole. This is the way of the Divine Twins, and we can bring this energy into our morning devotional work. Yes, we need room for flexibility, spontaneity and forgiveness. But we also need some disciplined structure to help us minimise unnecessary resistance. 

The four elements are huge allies to us in this work. In this respect, I work with them as the foundation for my daily practice as a Feri Witch. Below I present to you suggestions for a daily practice that is realistic, structured, yet open and flexible. 

Spirit - Begin your practice with connection to God Her/Self. Pray to your own Godsoul before any Gods ("Thou shalt have no other Gods before ME") and then sense if any allies wish to work with you that day. Don't simply do a rote call of all the different allies you work with! This devalues your relationships. Imagine speaking to your parents on the phone every single day...

Air - This is the space for prayerful intention. Articulate what your desire is, and what you hope to achieve that day. This is a free-form prayer, but it might be useful to have a "set" prayer to get you started, then carry on afterward. 

Fire - I place energy work in Fire. For me, this includes an integrated Kala and Ha prayer, as well as running Iron and Pearl Pentacles. Again, there should be some structure here, and if you are feeling resistance in energy work it might be helpful to journal on this. 

Water - This element is the element of flow, of paths, winding rivers that lead to the sea. I place divination in this element, given its watery nature. I think it is a great habit to pull a daily card or rune. I often phrase the question as "What information do I need to have the best day possible?" This gives me a bit of a heads-up on the day ahead. 

Earth - Sitting practice and meditation is a cornerstone of my Feri practice. People often associate meditation with the mind and loftiness, but I haven't found that to be correct. True mindfulness meditation brings us deeper into our body and physical patterns, not out of it. 

Spirit - Finish your practice by reconnecting with God Her/Self. Thank any allies that were present, and send a kiss to your own Godsoul. 

Daily practice isn't supposed to be a chore, or something rote. It is a daily connection with our spirituality, giving us a foundation on which to build our lives. 

Practice doesn't make perfect; practice makes presence. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Pagan Values Month 2013: Embodiment

"By the Earth that is Her body,
And by the Air that is Her breath. 
By the Fire of Her bright spirit, 
And by the living waters of Her womb.."
- A Feri Tradition circle casting 

My theology and values are grounded in embodiment, which is the recognition that we are holy spirits clothed in an equally sacred temple of living flesh that feels and breathes and sweats and shits and tastes and hurts and orgasms. This body is no less important than our minds or souls, for indeed there is only unity where we falsely perceive separation. It is through the awesome ability of our bodies to interact with the environment that we have any perception or experience of external "reality". our minds are obviously important. (Although, the concept of "Mind" is far beyond the scope of this blogpost!) They allow us to make rational decisions, to communicate on an abstract level, and plan for the future. Nevertheless, our primary functions as human beings are physical. We NEED to breath and we NEED to consume water. Without these, we would die. 

We like to think that our Talker (the part of our soul that deals with mental processes) is the one running the show. To add insult to injury, our Talker allows us to make decisions that our just not good for our body. A core practice in Feri is to bring all of our parts into sacred alignment so that we have access to all of our faculties, which includes our capacity as physical human beings. If our Talker, Fetch and Godsoul are all on the same page, we have greater access to our true physical wants and needs. 

Part of my current practice is changing my diet to bring myself into greater physical health. I am currently on a diet of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and nuts, which attempts to mimic the diets of our distant ancestors. I also cycle to work while doing resistance training several times a week. This is my route to physical health. It is up to the individual (neatly tying in my value from last year - personal sovereignty!) to ascertain what they can do to bring themselves into their own optimum health. 

Physical health then, is also a core Pagan value, and this includes the physical health of the community and the Earth, as well as our own bodies. (Ecology as a Pagan value has been discussed elsewhere I am sure!). It goes without saying that my health is not the same as your health, for we are all autonomous creatures with vastly different life experiences. That said, I believe that we can all do a little bit more to improve our physical health, as an act of devotion if nothing else. 

The opening invocation above (which is used in many Feri circles) allows me to recognise that God Her/Self is a sum of four physical elements and that She is embodied, just like I am.  Not for us a God removed from the Universe. The Goddess actually IS the Universe, and we are all in physical process with Her. 

What all this means for the individual Pagan is bound to be different from my views, but I think most Pagans would have no problem sitting atop a hill, feeling the wind in their hair, the sun gently warming their face, intoning:

"By the Earth that is Her body..."