Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Simple Bone Reading with The Divine Twins of Feri

A Simple Bone Reading with The Divine Twins of Feri
by Chas Bogan
The practice of casting bones for divination has grown in popularity (thanks largely to the work of cat yronwood's book "Throwning the Bones"). It is a highly personal way of divining the future, as everyone is free to choose whatever bones or other small curios hold meaning for them. I have a whole set that I have associated with Faery deities, spirits and ancestors, and am writing this to share a simple style of reading that requires only two objects, each representing one of the Divine Twins, for a question regarding which of two actions should be pursued.

I use the tibia bones of a crow, each of which represents one of the Divine Twins. But you could use something else, such as the two sides of a wishbone that have been cut, or common chicken legs. For sacred items I like to know that they were not hurt, and therefore my crow bones work best for me since I know it died naturally and not in a corporate slaughterhouse. However you use what you've got, and you are not even limited to bones. A pair of sticks may work even better for you. As a devotee of the Arddu I work best with bones, however someone more in tune with Mari and plant consciousness could get better results from sticks, or someone working with Krom could saw either end from a stang and use those, so you have options and are encouraged to be creative, to find that which resonated best with your energy.

You may be asking "Why can't I use stones, or a coin?" The answer is that you can, however two long bones or sticks will sometimes cross one another, and in this position they demote that your path is crossed and/or serve as a warning not to go forward with either course.

To differentiate the bones that I use I have painted a red line on one and a blue line on another to represent each twin, which I associate with the red serpent and blue dove.(1)

The process of throwing them is simple. Think of two alternatives, such as, "should I attend Harvard law school or join the Circus". Hold a bone in either hand. Let's say you hold the red bone in your left hand, then give it a squeeze and ask the Serpent Twin if you should attend Harvard, then focus on your right hand and ask the Dove Twin if you should join the circus. Then thrown the bones ahead on you. The one that is closest to you represents the path you ought to take. If it seems witchier for you to say an incantation for this, then try the following:

On this path rides the Serpent red
On this path rides the Dove of blue
Unless these two be crossed before me
the closest is the path that's true

Of course, these two bones could be used in a more advanced reading with the addition on other symbols, making your readings will be more nuanced.

1. For more about the Divine Twins as Red Serpent and Blue Dove read "The Divine Twins" section of The Divine Twins Wiki at http://www.feritradition.com/grimoire/deities/divine_twins.html

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lifting the Veil: Ancestral Magic in the Faery Tradition

Lifting the Veil: Ancestral Magic in the Faery Tradition
by Storm Faerywolf

The practice of Witchcraft is varied. While particular traditions have formed over the years each offering their own style of working, underneath all of the religious trappings exists a common thread that can be viewed outside the context of the specific attitudes, eras, and even cultures of those traditions. In my many years of studying, practicing, and teaching the Craft I have come to identify one common element that all forms of witchcraft share regardless of their cultural origins: working with spirits. 

While these different traditions might have radically different views on how to work with spirits, or even what they precisely are, we can observe this one element in each and every form of witchcraft that has graced this planet, both ancient and modern.  Consider the witches of ancient Greece who met at a crossroads in the name of Hecate to commune with spirits who would grant favors or blight enemies… or those witches in the modern Reclaiming tradition who may just as easily (though not necessarily) approach the spirits and gods as psychological aspects of the human psyche. This article will not attempt to define these beings, but instead provide a practical way of working with them.

Faery tradition, being an American grown form of the Craft, embraces cultural ideas from a wide variety of sources. While some cultures fear the dead and impose taboos and restrictions on how to deal with them, other cultures revere the dead giving rise to traditions that offer practices on forging and maintaining relationships with the ancestors so that they continue to be an integral part of one’s daily life. American culture tends to put forward a rather schizophrenic version that incorporates both fear and reverence. Faery tradition addresses this and provides a means to effectively synthesize the two into one; by having us face our fear and then move through it into ecstatic union with the divine. This can be seen in the symbol of the Black Heart of Innocence, burning with the Blue Fire of creation where we are stripped bare of anything but our own divinity.

This is presented to us in the rite of Samhain when we open the Western Gate to the Land of the Dead; when we call to Ana and the Arddu, who teach us how to let our fears wash over and through us, to wash us clean, and prepare us for our own encounter with Death. We commune with the spirits of our own dead, opening our hearts to their wisdom. Through these practices we learn how to make death an ally; how to draw strength from the reality of our own eventual demise.

Since much of Faery practice relies on cultural precedent as well as individual experimentation, we can look to those systems of magic and spirituality that pre-dated our tradition’s contemporary form to catch a glimpse of those elements of working with the dead that inform our current practice. Of particular interest to us here are the ancestral practices of African and European (and specifically Celtic) cultures and their merging with Native American ideas to become the driving force behind Conjure or “hoodoo”. 

This homegrown American form of folk-magic draws from many cultural sources to achieve its ends. It is not uncommon to see a conjure worker utilizing objects and other materials from a diverse array of religions and cultures, all while tying it all together within the particular style recognizable as ‘conjure magic’. Candles dedicated to Catholic saints will burn alongside red flannel bags containing Solomonic seals, stuffed with native herbs and roots, prayed over with the Psalms, while standing at a crossroads. Many magical cultures have woven their threads throughout the tapestry that is conjure, and it is the tradition of conjure that forms a foundational basis for our own tradition of Faery.

With this in mind, we should be looking at those elements of pre-Faery practice that deal with the dead, and observe them from within the framework of our own practices. Immediately we can see how elements of Conjure that deal with the dead can help us in the formation of our own workings with the ancestors. Consider the time-honored practice of building and maintaining an ancestral altar.

The ancestral altar is where you will be praying and making offerings to your Beloved Dead and also to the Mighty Dead, two terms in traditional witchcraft that denote our personal and our spiritual ancestors, respectively. There are no rules, only guidelines when creating an ancestral altar. What guidelines I provide are based in the Faery tradition and what my Faery practice has revealed to me personally over the years of my work. Take from it what you will.

The ancestral altar is traditionally placed in the west, the direction associated with the land of the dead in Celtic mythology. This is also the direction for the element of Water, and the image of the sea is a potent visual key that grants access to the Underworld, the realm of spirits, the Fae, and the dead. By placing the altar here we are drawing together threads of mythic power and weaving them into a potent magical trigger that will deepen our work as it progresses.

The altar itself may be of any material. Cases have been made for and against nearly every conceivable material and so it is probably best to go with what your own preference and abilities will afford you. When you have chosen the furniture or area that is to become your ancestral altar, and using whatever methods you feel empowered to use, you may wish to call upon the assistance of Ana and the Arddu to bless and charge it with their presence. If you do not have a preferred method you may use the following invocations:

Invocation of the Arddu
Primal Lord of Darkened land,
Sex and Death at your command.
Scent of musk and sight of bone
Guards the Gate to the Unknown.

Invocation of Ana
Ancient Queen of Death’s repose
Sharp your scythe and true your sight
Keeping secrets no one else knows
Grandmother! Queen of Night!

Once you have decided on a dedicated space for your altar, it should be adorned with objects and symbols that represent the dead to you. In general terms this might become images of skulls, bones, and other things associated with death. For specific ancestors this will likely be photographs, drawings, or other representations of them.

Generally candles are also placed upon the altar and are lit as part of ones devotional rites. I also tend to place a mirror here, especially that of a curved, black scrying mirror. Regardless of how our altars are decorated, the important part of this work is the work itself. Here we may find simple instruction in the tales often told in Irish and Welsh mythology where we find the practice of honoring the ancestors similar to the practice of honoring and befriending the Fae; that is to say the practice of making offerings.


Traditional offerings to the Fae often consisted of milk and honey. While we can certainly use this as a basis for our own devotional offerings, we can also draw from the personal experiences of those particular ancestral spirits with whom we wish to relate. Favorite foods and beverages are often given in this capacity, though incense, candles, stones, shells, and other items are also offered in this way. If grandma was collector of stamps who was known to have loved a shot of whiskey in her coffee, then we need look no further for what might be appropriate offerings for her.

Specific foods, beverages, and other items might also be associated with more specific types of workings as well. If we wanted grandma’s help for a love spell, for example, we might want to offer her some of her favorite flowers and perhaps some candies or dessert; something sweet to “sweeten up” our prospective love interest. Likewise, were I to request her assistance in healing work I might concoct a mixture of hot tea, lemon, honey, and whiskey that she used to make as a tonic for colds and flu.

In the case of working with the Mighty Dead we might not have first hand accounts of what an appropriate offering might be and so we have to rely on stories and tradition. In the case of the late Faery Grandmaster Victor Anderson we can rest in the knowledge that a favorite of his beverages was a cup of hot buttered tea, bringing us to the point that it is unnecessary for us to indulge in the offering ourselves lest we needlessly clog our (still very living) arteries! His wife, the late Faery Grandmaster Cora Anderson was well known to have loved pie and so these two items are quite appropriate as offerings to our own Mighty Dead.

Often people will say something as they place the offerings upon the altar, or at least address the particular ancestor in some fashion. The most important part of all of this is the feeling of being connected to her through the act of making the offering.

The offerings themselves are not eaten, but instead left so that the spirits can draw forth the vital force from the food as their nourishment. I generally recommend leaving offerings for no more than 24-48 hours, as the food will generally spoil making for a pretty nasty offering! I often bury the remnants of offerings but feel free to follow your own direction.

Whether we are honoring the Beloved Dead, the Mighty Dead, or both, the purpose and the practice are basically the same. We make offerings to them… we speak their names and tell their stories. We share their wisdom. We ask for their help. We form a personal relationship to them and maintain that relationship through repetition of ceremony, through practice, though attention, and love. We devote part of our practice t honoring their memories and keeping their spirits alive through our own works, because as the saying goes, “What is remembered lives!”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Lords of the Outer Dark: Exploring the Guardians of the Feri Tradition, by Storm Faerywolf

The Lords of the Outer Dark:
Exploring the Guardians of the F(a)eri(e) tradition
By Storm Faerywolf

“and so they descended from their starry thrones to walk amongst us,
And seeing our potential, they mingled their blood with our own.
Thus was born the Faery race; great beings of power and beauty,
of terror and courage,
of magick and darkness,
of light and of renown.
And by their names do we call them... and by their signs do they come,
to teach us the ancient secrets of science and culture
of magick and sorcery,
and even unto the greatest secret of all:
The alchemy of becoming as gods.”1

A large part of the F(a)eri(e) tradition (and indeed of any sect of what has come to be called Traditional Craft) centers around forming relationships with spirits and various otherworldly beings. From the earliest tales of primal shamanism, to the varied rites of ancient seers and religious practitioners, to the multi-layered workings of ceremonial magick and necromancy, and even into the practices of the modern day occultist, the invocation of spiritual intelligences is a near constant component of a productive religio-magickal spirituality.

A sizable portion of the established rituals of modern Witchcraft stems from the rites of Freemasonry2 , which influenced the various occult lodges in the Western world. Of particular interest is the practice of invoking the elemental powers by attributing them to the cardinal points. In some sects of the Craft, the elemental powers themselves are called directly, while in others it is intermediary beings that are called into the presence of the circle.

The presence of these beings can have different magical focal points, depending on the tradition or purpose of the rite in question. In some circles these beings are called upon simply to bring their energetic presence, thus heightening the quality of energy in the ritual space. In others they are called upon specifically to “witness” the rites, perhaps bringing to mind the idea postulated in quantum physics that states that to observe an event is to participate in it. Another purpose for working with these beings is to provide a barrier of protection from outside and potentially harmful or disruptive influences. In Feri they are usually called upon in some combination of all of these purposes.

The Guardians of Feri tradition Witchcraft are celestial entities who are sometimes said to be the supreme manifestations of the Elemental principles. Known also as the Watchers, Grigori, or Nephilim (which Feri lore defines as meaning “Cloud People”3 ), they are said to have long ago come to our world from beyond the stars in order to teach humankind the arts of civilization, medicine, warfare, and magic. It is also said that these angelic beings "mated with the daughters of men" in order to produce a magical race of people.4 These hybrid people are described in numerous cultures. In some they are giants. In others they are quite small. In all of them they are powerful. They are the Faeries, and it is from them that the Feri tradition is said to be descended.

While they are not wholly what we would call ‘Elemental beings’ our tradition places them according to directional and elemental attributes to which they most closely align. It should be understood that they are much larger than simply being the intelligence of the elemental power. They are complex beings who seem to be primarily concerned with teaching humanity about how to become as gods; i.e. to assist in developing our fullest potential.

Some pieces of Feri lore depict the Guardians as being created when the Star Goddess gave birth to the Universe. Moving outward from Her in the six external directions they gave form to the universe and became the directions themselves; not as simply an attribute, but in fact.5

Our legends tell us that we do not know if the names we have for them are their own or of those beings to which they hold their allegiance. In either case their names are descriptive keys that attempt to define their energetic presence which we invoke in our rites so that they may witness, charge, and protect us when necessary. At one time in our history the names given below (usually referred to as the English names) as well as their post-initiatory counterparts were considered secret, but so much has been written about them publicly at this point that I have decided to present them here for those who are genuinely interested in forming a relationship with them.

When I teach classes in the Feri tradition I am clear that, ultimately, it is the Guardians themselves who are the real teachers. It is my role as an initiate who has worked with these beings to “open the door” so as to allow the student to come into a deeper presence with them. By opening up to the presence of the Guardians of the Elements of Life, we are allowing them to work directly with our personal energy fields, thus giving them access to how we are “wired” spiritually. When we work with them consistently, we can then allow them to make subtle changes in our energy fields; changes that both immediately and over time can prove to be quite profound. When we work in this manner we are literally learning how to perceive in new ways, as new neural pathways are being forged with each experience.

What follows is a combination of the “teaching visualizations” that are used in the Bloodrose-descended lines of Feri, imagery that has come to me personally while working with the Guardians, as well as a series of original sigils I created to help contact these ancient beings. I have also included original invocations for each of them. While different branches of Feri have their own takes on these multifaceted beings6, it is important to keep in mind that the Guardians appear to us in many guises, forms, and even genders, depending on their whim and our own need or desire. Their quintessence–like that of our own souls–is fluid, changeable, and androgynous.

Guardian of the East: StarFinder

The StarFinder wields the power of Knowledge. He may appear as vaguely humanoid, his body transparent golden yellow, the color of morning sunlight. His eyes are very bright, light blue stars, and he has enormous wings of pale violet. He stands or flies before the rising sun, his right hand holding a sapphire rod, bound at the top with gold, and bound at the bottom with silver. He may also appear as a slash of soft sunlight, carrying a gentle wind.

StarFinder! (x3)

The morning sun that steps upon the clouds,
is the great herald that speaks your name.
Dancing proud across the sky,
your eyes are stars, your touch is golden.
We sing together through our breath,
the sacred spiral made manifest 7

Guardian of the South: ShiningFlame

The ShiningFlame wields the power of Truth. He also may appear in humanoid form, his body transparent ruby red, surrounded by an aura of fire like a teardrop or candle flame. He stands or dances in a desert at noon, holding in his right hand a sword of polished blue metal. Alternatively, he may appear as a raging red star, or simply as an enormous explosive fire.

ShiningFlame! (x3)

Sharpness is the tongue of flame,
that slices through the great illusion.
A sword of strength that steadily rises
to greet the sun of summer's skies,
finds its place and turns the wheel
that all may live and grow and die.

Guardian of the West: WaterMaker

The WaterMaker wields the power of Love. She may appear as a great dragon rising out of the primal seas, surrounded by the colors of sunset. Her body is transparent green, with water gushing from her jaws. In her left paw she holds a silver chalice. She may also appear as a great octopus, a kraken, or as an enormous wave or whirlpool that comes from the depths of the dark sea.

WaterMaker! (x3)

Flowing twilight, sinking dream,
rising from the depths below,
where light and dark with garments shed
dance together in silver bliss.
Yours is the cup that's filled with wonder
that flows into my heartfilled sea.

Guardian of the North: BlackMother

The BlackMother wields the power of Wisdom. She may appear as a jet-black goat with silver horns and golden eyes, surrounded by a halo of flickering blue fire and suckling a thousand offspring in a cave deep in the earth at midnight. Her left hoof rests upon a perfect cube of green stone upon which is carved a black pentacle. She may also appear as a bull, a large rock or boulder, or a monolith.

BlackMother! (x3)

Midnight's grasp and earthen womb,
leads into the world below,
where logic fails, and fear is struck
with white hot knives that pierce the flesh
to tear away the ego's burden,
that we may drink the milk of mother night.

Guardian of the Zenith (above) : HeavenShiner

The HeavenShiner wields the power of Pure Consciousness in the spiritual realms and may appear as a humanoid frontal silhouette of indefinite gender whose blackness is blazing with a billion stars. S/he may also appear as a great star-filled eye with numerous wings.

HeavenShiner! (x3)

Shining brilliance, piercing dark
Radiance of conscious power
Within my mind, Your spark exists
We speak without words
Our minds ever knowing,
and awareness ever flowing.

Guardian of the Nadir (below) : Fire-in-the-Earth

The Fire-in-the-Earth wields the power of Pure Consciousness in the physical & sexual realms. S/he may appear as a great fish coiled in a circle deep in the earth, with dark brown scales speckled with blue and green iridescence, carrying a burning ember in its mouth. Alternatively, s/he may also appear as either a burning lump of coal or magma, or a hermaphroditic newt or toad with pale white skin and dark unblinking eyes.

Fire-in-the-Earth! (x3)

Coiled deep and down below
Your eyes are bright, your mouth is fire
Turning silent, writhing slow
Your primal power radiates
from deep within the land, Behold!
Awareness is your gift.

Guardian of the Center: Guardian of the Gates

Once we have aligned ourselves both with our own divinity as well as with the powers of the other Guardians, we can then step into the role of becoming the seventh Guardian; that nexus point of convergence between the worlds. Unlike the other Guardians that we have worked with, the Guardian of the Gates is actually a state of being that the practitioner cultivates within themselves in order to meditate and direct the powers in ritual, thereby “opening the gates” into the Otherworld, and the inner planes, so that we may travel them and learn. It is that perfect state of holding both one’s fullest divinity as well as our fullest humanity simultaneously, and in so doing becoming fully Fae. It is this state of being in which we are said to have become enchanted and it is this state from which magick is made. This is another way to approach what in Feri is called the Black Heart of Innocence; that presence in which we are completely aligned in our Three Souls, devoid of outside restriction, and are acting from our own Divine authorities.

Guardian of the Gates! (x3)

Between six points that flow from one
Calm, the eye of tempest’s winds
Within the center outward shines
The light of three now so aligned
Awake, alive, aware, divine...
The Black Heart drums a primal beat.

It is important to remember that while these beings are certainly geared toward assisting us in our own evolution, we need to remain in control of our own lives. They are not human; are not bound by physical limitations, and so they sometimes can lead us in directions that —while powerful— might not be the safest or the most pleasant for us in the moment. As when working with any otherworldly being: use caution.

That having been said, working with the Guardians can be one of the most fulfilling and enlightening aspects of practicing Feri tradition Witchcraft. With them as our allies there are many new doors open to us as we seek to traverse the inner realms. There is much that they can teach us, both about ourselves and of the deeper magicks. Like the butterfly from the chrysalis we seek to emerge as the gods and goddesses that we were born to be; these shining beings our brilliant guides. To this end we call the Guardians ever closer. May there ever be peace between us.
1. From my own Book of Shadows.

2. Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon. 1999, Oxford University Press.

3. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Rhodes/5569/faeguardians.html

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephilim

5. Sill-Holeman, Jenny. “Who Are the Guardians?” Witch Eye #3, 2000, p10. Reprinted in By Witch Eye: Selections from the Feri Uprising, Vol. 1

6. In the line of Vanthe, for example, only four beings are invoked and each possesses different names and visualizations. While it could be tempting to see them as being entirely different beings, they possess attributes that are similar enough to suggest that they are perhaps different manifestations of the same beings. In my own research I have uncovered rituals that were performed in the early days of Faery (sic) that use both the Vanthe names as well as the commonly used English names as a part of the same invocation, further suggesting the equivalence (or at least resonance) of these beings.

7. These invocations are from my personal Book of Shadows, and (with the exception of the final verse) appear in the poem “The Watchers of the World” from my book The Stars Within the Earth. © 2003 Storm Faerywolf.

News 9/5/12

Feri Tradition is changing... soon to debut its new website, with an updated look and more of the quality content that inspires your Feri practice. We will be utilizing this blog as an adjunct to our website, and will be uploading many of the articles found on our website so that more people than ever may have access to them.