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.

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