Monday, 21 December 2009

A Feri Winter Solstice Ritual




Over the course of the following year, I will endeavour to celebrate the Sabbats following a Feri myth structure. Starting with Yule, I will post the ritual that I will perform. If anybody uses this, please let me know how it goes!

Yule

In my personal mythology, the Winter Solstice is the night that the Gods have returned to the womb of the Star Goddess and the Divine Twins are reborn. The Star Goddess has taken all within Herself, all the Gods have returned to Her womb, which is the Cauldron of Cerridwen, where She perfects Them and allows them to be reborn. She gives birth to two bright spirits, the Twins. The lemniscate Gods are reborn this night. Melek Taus is reborn from the Love of his Mother.

Constitute:
Cauldron filled with inked water
Two red candles
One white candle
White paper and pen

Open the rite by saying:

“Today is the shortest day of the year. The Gods of the Lemniscate have made the arduous journey back to the infinite womb of the Holy Mother, God Herself, from whom all things emerge and unto whom all things return. From the cold, unforgiving darkness, a spark of light is born. In the teeming womb of the Goddess, this seed of life begins to grow. The golden spark contains the Holy and most Terrible Twins, lover and brothers both. This Divine couple of bird and serpent shall merge and unite as Melek Taus, dread Peacock Lord, and most favoured and beloved of Angels. I await the rebirth of the Twins from the womb of God Herself, Queen of the Stars, the Mistress and Creatrix of All, which is Her Self.”

Sit in the dark silence and visualise the Twins gestating in the womb of the Star Goddess. Within them are the potential to grow into the Lemniscate Gods, who are simultaneously born this night. Hold the cauldron between your two hands and see it as the darkness of Her womb. See a spark of light in the centre of the dark. Breathe upon the waters and see the ripple as the movement and contraction of Her womb which will bring forth the Twins. At this time, you can scry in cauldron for any visions. When you have felt the presence of the Twins in the world, light the candles and say:

“Behold, the Divine Twins are born to bring light and life to the world! The Sun and Moon and Stars and Earth rejoice and are renewed and reborn!”

Touch the two candle flames together and focus on the mystery that the two candle flames are equally separate but the same. They are the Twins.

The final part is a trance to the Star Goddess. Meet the Star Goddess in whatever way you feel comfortable and seek information for your spell. Ask the Goddess what needs to be renewed and reborn in your life. What is it you need to bring into birth and fruition? When you have got your information, thank the Star Goddess and come out of trance. On the white paper, write your spell’s intention and carve one symbolic word onto the white candle. Place the paper under the candle and raise energy into the candle with the following chant:

As life and light and Gods are born,
By shortest day and longest night,
From Ancient womb to Double form,
I bring forth desire and dance delight.


When you have raised energy into the candle, light it as a beacon of your manifest prayer and bind the spell. Give thanks and feast, closing the ritual in your usual method.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Four Pentacles on the Tree



In Feri, we work with Pentacles as energetic concepts and meditational tools. The two most widely known are the Iron and Pearl Pentacles (which can be found in The Spiral Dance by Starhawk...). However, as Veedub has written, each of the three souls has a Pentacle, with the Iron corresponding to the Fetch/Vivi and the Pearl to the Talker/Emi. However, since I will be discussing Qabalistic concepts I thought it appropriate to use the Hebrew names for the souls. The first soul is the Nefesh, which is what we term the Fetch or Vivi. The second soul is the Ruach, which is what we term Talker. The Godsoul is the Neshamah and above this is the collective Godsoul, the Chaya.

Each soul contains a Pentacle of energies, as does the physical body. Two of these pentacles contain shadows (Qlipoth) of excess and absence, which is to say they are unbalanced. They are the Iron Pentacle and the Pearl Pentacle, which correspond to our Nefesh and Ruach respectively. However, there is a healthy range between the Iron Pentacle and its shadows, as there is with the Pearl Pentacle. We all fall somewhere along this continuum. The trick is to discover when we have strayed into the Shadow Pentacles.

I was originally taught that the Iron Pentacle was the only pentacle that had shadows, because the Pearl’s energies cannot be twisted. Granted, I don’t think that the concepts of Love, Knowledge, Wisdom, Law and Liberty can be twisted as such, but they can be abused or dealt with in an unhealthy manner. Therefore, I have created shadows of excess for the Pearl Pentacle (I found the shadow of absence on Veedub’s site). I have termed the excess of Pearl the Bruised Pentacle and the absence of Pearl the Shell Pentacle.

In Qabala, the Tree of Life has three columns or pillars. The middle pillar is the pillar of balance or equilibrium and it is on this pillar where the Iron, Pearl, Elemental and Personal Pentacles reside. The two pillars either side of this central column are the pillar of severity (excess) and the pillar of mercy (absence). The shadow Pentacles are placed on these pillars.

The physical body corresponds to Malkuth, which is on the middle pillar, and there is no room on either side of this Sephirah for the two shadow pillars. Therefore, the Elemental Pentacle contains no shadows of excess or absence because they are purely physical and would exist and interact without human influence. Although our reactions or thoughts on each of the elements may fluctuate the essentially remain pure.

Equally, our Personal Pentacle that corresponds to Upper Sephiroth of Kether, Binah and Chokmah, and cannot be twisted. Our Neshamah cannot contain shadows– it is the divine part of us that knows better than our conscious and subconscious. Nevertheless, two out of the three Sephiroth are placed on the Pillars of Severity and Mercy because I think we can be two ascetic or ignorant of our divine Nature. But, essentially, this part of us is alway pure.

The Nefesh corresponds to the lower Sephiroth of Yesod, Hod and Chokmah (Foundation, Splendour and Victory) and it is on this level of the Tree where the Iron Pentacle is placed. The Ruach corresponds to the central Sephiroth of Tiphareth, Geburah and Chesed (Beauty, Strength and Mercy) and the Pearl Pentacle is placed on this level of the tree.

How you use the above information is up to you. If you indeed use them (especially the Bruised and Shell Pentacles) please let me know how you get on.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

So many Gods, so little time...


In Feri Tradition, God Herself is seen as the Mother of all beings. She is the fabric of life, matter and energy, consciousness and desire. I have my most intimate spiritual relationship with the Star Goddess and although I don’t think She is actually a big woman in the sky, I see Her as a Goddess in order to have a relationship with Her. It is my view that as long as I have a good, strong relationship with the Star Goddess then all other spiritual relationships are secondary.

However, I love the specifics of the Star Goddess, the manifestations of Her that are more specialised. I love the mythology of the different Gods and Goddesses, who I see as fractals of the Star Goddess. So, while they are manifestations of the Star Goddess, they are independent beings (not just ‘facets’ of Her) and therefore I can have relationships with them as well.

My Feri relationships at the moment are mainly with the Blue God and Melek Taus. However, I love having a relationship with Ganesh (even though I think I’m quite neglectful…) and I am exploring Santería to see how I can have relationships with Elegua and my crowning Orisha, if I ever find out who it is.

This huge mish-mash of different Gods and Spirits can be quite confusing, and while there is no cohesion in it, I don’t see anything wrong with it. My relationships with my family are different to my relationships with friends, coworkers, pupils etc. Although my foundational practices are all done within the container of the Feri Tradition, I see nothing wrong with working with different Gods and the Orishas. However, I just hope I don’t culturally appropriate them more than they have been appropriated already…

Monday, 5 October 2009

KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid


It's been a very long time since my last post. Travelling round Europe, moving into a new apartment and starting a new job have generally not been conducive to keeping a regular blog. However, I'm back! I honestly have missed keeping up this blog, and I appreciate having an online community.

Generally speaking, my life feels very full at the moment, but not in the way I want it to be. My job takes up a lot of my time and it feels as if I do little else. My daily Feri practice has consequently suffered. I leave the house around 7.25 to get to work on time, so I have to get up pretty early (as I have mentioned in my blog previously). However, my intention to do it is still there, but sometimes sleep wins out. Ah well!!

I think my problem is that I am a very harsh personal critic. I set myself high standards and I berate myself when I fail to meet them. After discussing my personal practice with my teachers at the weekend, I realised I'm trying to cram too much into my practice. It feels as if I do a full ritual every day! My teacher Brighde made the point that she doesn't phone all of her family every day, so why would you call on every God and Guardian every day?

Soooo....another revision of my personal practice. I have decided to focus on key foundational practices and be open to a fluid interpretation of personal practice, as and when rites are 'revealed' to me. My foundational practices are as follows: Star Goddess prayer, kala, ha and flower prayers, heart alignment and sitting practice.

We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Daily Practice vs Worship Cycle

I have been thinking lately about practice. Rigorous daily practice is central to Feri and other Traditions in which one aspires to Adepthood. My own practice has waned of late – I have moved into a friend’s apartment for a couple of weeks which affords very little space for an altar. Obviously an altar should not be essential to an effective daily practice, but for me it helps enormously. I need somewhere to focus my body. I need somewhere for my eyes to look at. I just need it! Anyway, I have attempted to do a modified version of practice in my bed (the only place where there’s any room – the floor is filled with boxes) and it just didn’t feel right. So, for now I’m resigned to not doing a formal daily practice but as long as I say some of the core prayers on a daily basis I think that’s ok…for now.

I have also been thinking that daily practice falls under the umbrella of what I have termed the worship cycle (apologies if anyone has coined this before me). The worship cycle (for me) puts formal worship into the following cycles: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and incarnationally. I will describe what I do, or aspire to do, for each of these cycles. I aspire to do these on a regular basis, but obviously I am still human. I don’t know who said it but I love the quote “the Goddess doesn’t want you to be perfect, but she still wants you to make the effort”.

Daily

For my morning practice I do:

1. Star Goddess candle and Star Goddess prayer

2. Grounding and gathering Feri fire in the belly

3. Short form casting of Circle

4. Prayer to the Ancestors

5. Prayer to the Fey

6. Prayer to the Spirits of Place

7. Acknowledging of Guardians

8. Prayer to the seasonal Gods of the Lemniscate

9. Prayer to the Twins

10. Opening statement of intention

11. Awakening of the body and souls

12. Ha Prayer and Flower Prayer

13. 3 soul affirmation

14. Sitting practice

15. Blessing pentacle

16. Thanking Beings and closing Circle


In the evening I will do some form of divination to clarify the lessons I have learned that day. I used to do a reading in the morning but I found that I was influenced more by the tarot, rather than using it for clarification.


Weekly

I have figured that each day comes under the auspices of one of the seven Guardians of Feri. Each day, after acknowledging the awesome power of the other Guardians I wear the cord for the day’s Guardian, make an offering to Them (if They want it…) and say some fom of prayer. They are as follows, with the astrological significance to show my reasoning:


Monday (Moon) – Water Maker

Tuesday (Mars) – Shining Flame

Wednesday (Mercury) – Star Finder

Thursday (Jupiter) – Black Mother

Friday (Venus) – Guardian of the Gate/Keeper of the Black Heart

Saturday (Saturn) – Fire in the Earth

Sunday (Sun) – Heaven Shiner

On a Monday evening I will also do a puja to Ganesh. I figure that he starts things and Monday is the start of my week so it is better to ask for his blessings on this day. I have wanted to start studying Santeria but I want to know who my ruling Orisha is before I begin. Since this won’t happen for a long time, neither will my Santeria practices. When they do start, I will also give due worship to Eleggua on Monday mornings.


Monthly

Quite simply, the three moon celebrations. New moon, full moon, and dark moon.


Yearly

The Sabbats, New Year’s Day rituals, Holy days that are dedicated to various Saints and Gods, and my birthday are all celebrated on an annual basis.


Incarnationally

Birth, marriage, death, intitation, croning etc….Things that generally only happen once in one’s lifetime (or as the situation dictates).

Friday, 29 May 2009

Meeting the Guardians


In Reclaiming-Feri, there is a strong emphasis on personal relationships with the Gods and Guardians. This relationship has been the subject of several conversations I've had lately, and I realised that while I had met a couple of the Guardians in trance during our training sessions, I needed to trance and actually meet some of them for the first time.

So, on Wednesday evening I tranced to meet each of the Guardians to ask them what sort of offerings they would like. I figure that most human relationships are strengthened via gifts, so the Guardians would appreciate offerings every now and then (see my previous post on offerings and sacrifices).

I journeyed to each of the Guardians' realms and the experience blew me away. The way that I expected them to look was completely different to how they actually looked to me. And the offerings that I rationalised that they would like didn't fit either. Go figure. Now that I have this information and I have met them in their respective realms, I feel like our relationships can go that little bit deeper. I have found that I have been talking to them during the day too, which is interesting! 

If anybody wants to know what offerings the Guardians told me they wanted off me, just let me know and I will email them to you. Or, better yet, ask them what they want off you!!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Post-Witchcamp Yumminess


Phew! I’m still reeling from the weekend that I spent down near Glastonbury at my first Witchcamp, run by Avalon Spring, which is a community of Feri and Reclaiming Witches in the UK (with teachers from the US coming over too…more on that later!). The focus of the weekend was paradox and possibility, (re-)claiming ourselves as fully human and fully divine. The campsite itself was extremely luxurious, with a couple of dedicated ritual rooms and an outdoors ritual space circled by trees and bushes. The dorms were great too, with room for outdoor camping if that’s what you’re into. However, the best thing about the location was the food! The chef, Andy Murray, was fantastic and he has written a great book on vegan cookery, which I and most other Witches there duly bought. (And he signed it!)

The teachers that I met there were truly inspiring. As well as my regular teachers, Brighde Eire and Georgia Midnightcrow, I met Dawn Isadora and Susan Moonroot. Dawn is easily one of the most powerful and striking people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. She is the type of Witch I aspire to be; aligned, present, with a great sense of humour and fabulously wise. Susan was equally as inspiring, but in a more subtle way. She seemed quite quiet, but knew exactly the right thing to say. She is warm, grounded and also very funny (something I’m seeing as a Feri-Reclaiming trait…) I bought a couple of items from her stall that now sit proudly on my altar. Apart from the main teachers, the organising team was amazing, and I feel privileged to have been a part of the whole process. I hope that Avalon Spring can organise a longer Camp for next year.

A surprising part of the weekend for me was that I got in touch with the Reclaiming part of my Tradition. I have always maintained that I was training in Feri and that I wasn’t interested in Reclaiming (even though Reclaiming is what brought me to Feri). To me, Feri is serious, demanding, powerful, and magical. Reclaiming reminded me of feminist eco-hippies who were constantly banging on about The Patriarchy, with little or no focus on the individual practitioner’s spiritual progression. While I still maintain that Feri is the more individually powerful side of the Tradition’s coin and that Reclaiming is a bit more airy-fairy (dancing like bees, anyone?), I have come to embrace what Reclaiming has to offer. I now feel like I am part of a community. I appreciate the (sometimes frustrating) value of consensus. I like the open and inclusive nature of Reclaiming (while also loving that Feri is taught one on one – or two on twelve, like our group). So, as of this weekend, I would now say that I am Feri-Reclaiming. My teachers and Trad-mates didn’t let me forget my unfolding appreciation for Reclaiming!

Possibly the most Reclaiming-esque part of the weekend was when a few people and me tranced underneath a thousand-year old yew tree in a cemetery at 6am. I was actually given a new name during the trance, which tied together bits and pieces of symbols I’ve had recently. So, my new name is Leaf. I didn’t originally like this name. It’s very New Age-y and hippy. But now, I’m starting to like it. Dawn called it my ‘working title’ but the name conjures up positive images for me, so I think I’ll stick with it. I think part of its message is that I need to spend more time in the natural world, rather than constantly being surrounded by humans and human-centred creations (even though, obviously, they/we are a part of nature).

The group rituals that we engaged in were fantastically informative. I had never participated in a large ritual before, yet my teachers asked me to call one of the Guardians in front of twenty strangers! The dynamics of group ritual were very interesting. Sometimes things went very smoothly; sometimes we needed a bit of prompting. Nevertheless, energy was raised and magic was made. We created a ritual as a community on the Sunday and it was great to be a part of ritual planning. However, being a part of a community means having to get along with people that you perhaps don’t really like. The Pagan communities have their fair share of crazies and Feri-Reclaiming is no exception. It was a challenge to try and see the sacred in each individual without giving up my own standards.

Towards the end of the weekend I could feel a type of new energy running up and down my body. It felt ecstatic and deep and I can still feeling it running through me, although it is diminishing as time goes by. Perhaps this is the Feri current, and being in circle with so many initiates allowed me to feel the energy through osmosis. If that is what the current feels like, then I am very excited! I spoke to Dawn about what she looks for in a potential initiate and she confirmed everything my teachers have said. She looks for a strong vessel for the current, someone who knows their strengths and weaknesses, someone who has a dedicated personal practice, and someone who has a deep and engaging relationship with the Gods and Guardians. I have come back with a renewed commitment to these goals, and I have included a prayer in my daily practice to help me align myself with them.

There was so much more to this weekend that will remain unspoken, some of it because it is private and some of it because it can’t be expressed. Roll on next year’s camp!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Sexy Gods

In Feri, our relationship to the Gods and Guardians is not limited to a parent-child relationship as in other traditions, nor is it purely platonic. Sometimes our relationship to Them can be purely sexual. I remember I had a dream a couple of months ago, in which the Blue God appeared to me and proceeded to put his tongue down my throat. While this can be seen as a metaphor for spiritual teaching or transfer of knowledge (blah blah blah...), to me it was just horny.

This picture is an excellent example. I think this is a great representation of Melek Taus and perfectly captures His dark sexuality. Hot!!
(PS. This was sent by a friend. Seth, can you send a link to the site please?)


Sunday, 10 May 2009

Post-gathering jitters

So, it's the day after our Feri training group's meeting and I feel like I have butterflies in my stomach. I asked my teachers for initiation and they agreed to it.

So, I'm now officially on the path towards initiation, which is very exciting. But I feel slightly reserved because I know it will change me. Or, maybe it will just solidify changes that were already bubbling under the surface. Whatever happens, and whenever it happens, I don't think I'll ever be a hundred percent prepared for it. 

Furthermore, part of me feels like I don't really need it. But, you know what, perhaps when you think you don't need initiation is when you're most ready for it. But (I realise there's a lot of 'buts' already in this post...) I'm just getting ahead of myself.

So...onwards, upwards, and inwards.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Changing Daily Practice

I change my daily practice on Beltane and Samhain in order to keep it fresh and not merely habitual. My daily practice for the next 6 months will be as follows:

  1. Star Goddess candle and Star Goddess prayer
  2. Grounding and gathering Feri fire in the belly
  3. Short form casting of Circle
  4. Acknowledging of Guardians
  5. Prayer to the seasonal Gods of the Lemniscate
  6. Prayer to the Twins
  7. Opening statement of intention
  8. Awakening of the body and souls
  9. Ha Prayer
  10. 3 soul affirmation
  11. Sitting practice
  12. Blessing pentacle
  13. Thanking Beings and closing Circle

The Currential Nature of Feri


Tomorrow is Beltane and while the Earth in my neck of the woods seems to be waking up, with the sunlight hanging around for a little longer each day, my personal energy is in conflict. On one hand, I feel more awake and alive, yet on the other my sexual energy has been on the wane. Usually the increased sun and light and heat get my juices flowing, but not this year. Now, normally it’s not that difficult for the juices to flow anyway (so to speak), but I haven’t tapped into the energy of the Wheel just yet. However, I feel so grateful that I can actually recognise that fact. The deep practice of daily self-awareness has helped me to recognise shifts in my energy. It doesn’t happen all the time (I’m nowhere near Adepthood!!) but I’m glad that I can observe such shifts on occasion.

This tapping into of energy has made me appreciate the importance of having a living, breathing teacher in Feri. Although I have learned a lot from books and the Internet, the interaction with a teacher has been the most important facet of my training. Feri tradition, as I understand it, is neither an orthodoxy nor orthopraxy, not defined by beliefs or practices. Rather, I have come to see it as a currential tradition. The transmission of the tradition is in the current of energy passed at initiation. Nevertheless, I do class myself as Feri even if I haven’t yet been initiated. I feel that being in a regular circle with initiates allows some of the Feri current to transmit via some sort of etheric osmosis, one which gives me a monthly preview of what’s in store after initation…which is when the real work begins. 

Monday, 20 April 2009

Infinite Mystery


During the last two days’ sitting practice, during which I try to empty my mind other than focussing on my breath, the infinity symbol, the lemniscate, has popped into my mind.

The first time, I just saw a stationary lemniscate symbol and a huge tunnel. I could peer through the tunnel and I caught a glimpse (only momentarily) of infinity, or at least the version of infinity that my finite brain could comprehend.

Yesterday’s sitting practice involved the lemniscate symbol but this time the lemniscate was flowing and flowing until the mid point grew in energy. This point then exploded and expanded into a disc that bisected the two halves of the lemniscate and carried on whirling. This then further grew into a sphere, which I saw as the universe.

Anyway, I can only barely understand what it all means but it sure is interesting stuff.

PS Oh yeah, and today I was walking past a woman with an infinity symbol tattooed on her neck. Cool.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Of Sacrifices and Offerings


In modern Paganism, the concepts of offerings and sacrifices are a bit of a muddy area. Of course, there are the traditional offerings of ‘Cakes and Ale’, but the reasons for this are not normally explained or gone into much depth. (NB I first came across the importance of offerings and sacrifice in Deborah Lipp’s fantastic book “Elements of Ritual: Air, Fire, Water and Earth in the Wiccan Circle” and that’s where my inspiration for this post comes from.)

So what are offerings and sacrifices? Normally, these terms are used interchangeably, but I think there are several important differences. Firstly, offerings are given freely, whereas a sacrifice is something you give because you have been told to by the Being to whom you are offering. Secondly, a sacrifice should cost you something, whereas an offering is often given in order to celebrate plenty.

Furthermore, to me, sacrifice implies the giving of the life force. We give sacrifice in order to take part in the cycle of life and death, more specifically the death part, which we don’t often work with in modern Paganism. Ok, we recognise it at Samhain but that’s pretty much it. Most traditions don’t consciously work with Ancestors either. By taking part in the death part of life, we learn to fully embrace all of ourselves. (I would know myself in all my parts…)

By ‘giving of the life force’, I actually mean ‘taking’ of the life force, or taking life. In my practice, this doesn’t mean taking an actual life, as it would in Santería or other similar traditions. Rather, I use substitutes. The main substitutes for an actual life include eggs (which held the potential for life), flowers (which were alive and are dying), or bodily fluids (which helped to continue life). I often sacrifice these items with the following prayer, or something like it:

“I sacrifice this (item), in honour of the life force. For even as we celebrate life, we recognise death. For without death, life would have no meaning. Life is precious, because it shall ultimately end. We take part in that cycle, and learn to love all of life.”

Appropriation of the Orishas?


Over the past few months I have been reading about Santería and I have been impressed with how much followers of this religion embed their beliefs into their lives. The Orishas are consulted over every aspect of the adherents’ lives; there are strict rituals to follow, and etiquette to respect. I have had several dreams involving the Orishas. The first such dream occurred a few months ago and it involved Chango, in his form of Saint Barbara. This was a very powerful dream, and I remember seeing St Barbara clearly surrounded by fire and lightning, holding her cup toward me. More recently, I have had two dreams during which a couple of Santeros were debating over which Orisha crowned my head. This was very interesting, given that followers of Santería believe that everybody has a mother and a father Orisha, with one being the primary Orisha, even if that person doesn’t follow the religion or believe in Orishas.

There is a lot in Santería that I would like to adapt and incorporate into my own practices. However, I am worried about cultural appropriation. My main concern is this: if I wanted to invite the power of the Orishas into my life, is there a legitimate way of doing this? Obviously I could try and train in Santería but there are, as far as I know, very few Santeros (if any) in the UK and I am satisfied with Feri being my primary tradition. Also, there are certain things that I do not find appealing about the religion, namely animal sacrifice. Aside from that, is it appropriate to work with the Orishas without observing their traditional rituals? We do it all the time with other pantheons, so why not with the Santos? I would argue that given that Santería is a living religion, unlike Greek/Roman/Egyptian religions, the beliefs of followers should be taken into account, and I’m sure they wouldn’t agree with a Witch working with the Orishas.

But what would the Orishas think?

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Embedding Conversation with the Divine


There seems to be a current trend in modern Paganism of focussing on the worshipper, rather than the worshipped. (I know some people will disagree with the term worship, but I don't know what else to call it - got to love the limits of language.) This trend, which was first pointed out to me by an Alexandrian friend, manifests itself as a general disregard (whether knowingly or not) of what the deities or spirits might actually want, in favour of what the practitioner thinks they want.

To me, this is most pressing in terms of what rituals or spells are appropriate to a given situation, or what offerings/sacrifices are necessary or desired by the Gods. I’ve been inspired a lot by Santería recently, and I’m impressed with how they embed their knowledge and relationships with the Orishas into their everyday lives. We modern Pagans don’t do this nearly enough. How often do we consult oracles for advice on whether an offering or sacrifice has been accepted? Did Isis really just accept that wine as an offering? How do you know?

To remedy this situation, at least in terms of my personal practice, I’ve taken the traditional Santería divination tool and Feri-ed it a little bit. I have created a divination tool that calls on the Peacock Angel as the voice of His Mother to give oracular advice. Basically, I have four blue-green stone disks, with a closed eye on one side and an open eye on the other. A question is then given to the oracle (through the Peacock Angel) and the disks are thrown. Here is how I interpret the fallings, inspired again by Santería:

All four eyes open: You have received the blessings of the God/Spirit. Throw again.

Three eyes open: Cautious yes. There may be some complication, but yes.

Two eyes open, two closed: Yes! Balance and harmony.

One eye open, three closed: No. Do not proceed. Further divination to find out why.

All four eyes closed: Bad omen. Further divination to find out the problem and remedy.

Anyway, I hope this might be of use to some people. I am going to try and embed this in terms of offerings and sacrifices, as well as rituals and spells other than my daily devotional practices.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The Descent of Melek Taus


Feeling whimsical, I decided to rewrite the Feri myth of the Peacock Angel's descent:

"The Star Goddess became so filled with love for Creation, She bore Her son and lover, Melek Taus as the Peacock Angel, the Pearl of the world. Gazing upon His radiant reflection in the curved mirror of His Mother’s body, He was struck by His own beauty and declared: “Behold! I am untold beauty! I am dark radiance everlasting!” He shook His tail and filled the worlds with wondrous thunder.

He beseeched His Mother, the Star Goddess, She whose name cannot be spoken, to create others to share in His splendour. She asked, “Do you wish for slaves?” Melek Taus replied, “No, I do not wish for slaves. I wish for precious jewels to reflect my beauteous light.”

The Holy Mother in Her wisdom declared: “My son, my beloved, if I create these beings, they will betray you. Your crown will remain in the heavens, your feet will rest in the fires of hell, and every pain upon earth will reside in your heart.” And so humankind was created, and in due time they betrayed the Peacock Angel by forgetting his radiant Truth. Melek Taus began to weep, and His salty tears fell from the Heavens to quench the fires of Hell at his feet. And thus Melek Taus descended from the Heavens, to quench the Hell in the heart of humankind and to polish the hearts of His jewels." 

What do you reckon?

Diving Into the Twins


The Feri training group I work with has started working with the Feri lore of the Divine Twins, and more than any other deities, the Twins seem to me to embody a philosophical concept as well as an energetic God-form. They are both the object and the negative space around the object. You can see both at once, but only focus on one at a time, constantly shifting perspective from one to the other until the lines are blurred. Cora's view that they are two flames that come together is quite profound - where does one flame begin and the other end? I think this can also apply to the twin hemispheres of the brain. 

How do I visualise the Twins? To me, Dian y Glas and Melek Taus can represent the Twins. As can the two sides of the lemniscate, as they represent the dual yet equal emanations of the Star Goddess, each of which holds the essence of the other in its centre. The Star Goddess Herself embodies the Twins as She falls in love with Her reflection. As She makes love to Miria, She makes love to a part of Herself that is Other. Paradox truly is at the heart of Feri. I have a flirtatious interest in Voodoo and Marassa is an important myth in that religion's pantheon, which I am hoping to explore further. 

I had a dream a couple of nights ago. In the dream, I was looking at myself in the mirror and stretched my hands out to touch my reflection. In that instant, I realised that we embody the Twins ourselves. We each have the capacity to hold paradox within us, to touch inner polarity (which I don't think is limited to strict male-female pairings) and to head towards an integration of opposites to bring ourselves into wholeness. That, to me, is the lesson of the Twins.

NB The painting above is by Jose Cintron


Saturday, 7 March 2009

After my Daily Practice today

Sitting with yourself is truly the most compassionate thing you can do. To sit with yourself, just being, without expectations, is truly an act of self-love and self-compassion. I feel privileged to know about this sacred practice. Blessed be the Mother.

P.S. I can actually feel my soul alignment happening. I can feel my cells re-arranging and I can feel the energy settling in. It's very exciting and empowering.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Great Expectations...or Why I'm a Bad Witch


I was talking to an Alexandrian friend of mine today about daily practice, and what it means to him in his tradition and how I relate it to Feri. As I’ve said before, Feri places great emphasis on the development of the Witch’s soul over time, rather than seasonal celebration, but this is only achieved with a dedicated, disciplined spiritual practice. Nevertheless, we are all human, and sometimes our daily practice can slip. One morning you will get up late. Then, the next morning, you have something more pressing to do. The before you know it, the weekend has arrived and you say “I’ll start again on Monday”.

This has happened to me often. And although I don’t feel extreme guilt, I feel disappointment in myself. I feel that if I were truly dedicated to the Feri path then I would do my daily practice regardless. I feel less of a Witch, less of a practitioner, and even less connected when I haven’t done my practice. Those days when I manage to get out of bed I thoroughly enjoy it and try to remember that for the next day.

What my main point is, however, is how BNP’s (Big Name Pagan’s, not the British National Party…) project the image that a proper Witch does the work daily, without fail. However, what some people may fail to realise is that these people have been training in their respective traditions for many years before writing their books and so have (hopefully!) gone through the period of wavering practice. The expectations that they seem to put across are perhaps a bit too unrealistic, at least while we’re starting out. When it comes to a spiritual practice, I don’t think being thrown in at the deep end is a good thing.

Furthermore (and apologies if this is getting rant-y), most BNP’s tend to make a living from either artistic endeavours or their religious pursuits, and can therefore take more time when it comes to their individual practices. I have to get up at 6:15 for work, and leave the house just after 7, so the thought of doing my daily practice before then is slightly unappealing. On the other hand, when I get in from work I’m often too tired to do my practice.

Catch-22, maybe, but one that will have to be resolved eventually. Sigh...

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Art of Devotion


I have recently been thinking about how the art of devotion figures in my Feri practice, and what importance is placed up on it. First, I’d like to define what devotion is. My computer’s dictionary defines devotion as ‘love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause’. My personal definition is slightly more specific, in that devotion is ‘any act that is done with a sacred intention to bring you into a deeper relationship with divinity’. I know that’s slightly wordy, but I think the emphasis here is on intention and relationship. In Feri, there is a strong emphasis on your personal relationship with the Gods, Guardians and other Beings and it is up to each individual practitioner to deepen that relationship, make the effort, and figure out what each relationship means.

So, what do I do as devotional acts? Usually I use traditionally ‘religious’ acts, such as prayer, meditation, the use of prayer beads, and chanting. However, I have come to think that my morning practice is a form of indirect devotion, in that it does not offer love or energy towards a specific relationship with a God or spirit, rather it gives me the ability to deepen those relationships on another level. It prepares me for direct devotional acts, by increasing my awareness and expanding my soul.

In Feri, my main direct devotional acts include weekly pujas to Ganesh (which I have neglected recently and really need to get back into), the use of prayer beads for the Star Goddess and the Blue God (and eventually I’ll bead for all the Feri Gods) and meditation on their forms.

But I’ve set myself a challenge to include ‘mundane’ acts in my definition of devotion. After all, why shouldn’t my morning shower and breakfast be a devotional act?

Monday, 16 February 2009

Feri LBRP


I have started studying the Qabala and the Western Mystery Tradition in order to understand how modern occultism has evolved, and one of the most important rituals is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). While I have no problem using Hebrew names and invocations to Yahweh, I thought I could configure a Feri-centred version, in order to bridge the connection between my foundational practices of Feri and my exploration and research of Qabala.

During the evocation section, you can use either the names of the Guardians, or the associated archangels. These archangels are not canon, and indeed I couldn't find any two authorities that agreed on the major seven archangels, so I chose the seven that most corresponded to the Guardians. 


1. Opening rite

With your dominant hand, draw down energy to your heart chakra from the Universe above you and say: “In the name of the transcendent Star Goddess, Isis Unveiled”

Draw energy up to your heart chakra from the Earth below you and say: “In the name of the immanent Star Goddess, Isis Veiled”

Stretch out your left arm and visualise the left side of the lemniscate flowing out from the heart then back again, and say: “In the names of Nimue, Mari and Anna”

Stretch out your right arm and visualise the right side of the lemniscate flowing out from the heart then back again, and say: “In the names of Dian y Glas, Krom and Arrdu”

Visualise the energy of the lemniscate flowing through you, along with the powers of above and below. Bring your hands to your heart and say the Star Goddess prayer.

2. Banishing

Face each of the directions and draw the pentagram, breathing and pushing through each pentagram, then tracing a circle.

 

3. Evocation

Face east and say:

Before me, Star Finder (Raphael)

Behind me, Water Maker, (Uriel)

On my right hand, Shining Flame (Michael)

On my left side, Black Mother (Gabriel)

Above me, Heaven Shiner (Metatron)

Below me, Fire in the Earth (Raziel)

And within me, Guardian of the Gate, Keeper of the Black Heart (Anael)

4. Repeat the opening rite. 


I'm planning on adding this to my daily practice, possibly as an opener. If anyone else uses it, let me know how you get on.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Feri Gods and Qabala

I have just read on Muninn's Kiss about how the Feri Gods can be placed on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. I will write more on this when I have time, so this is just a little reminder to myself to include this in my next post...

Monday, 9 February 2009

Sex and Feri


In the Feri tradition, which has been defined as a ‘sex-positive’ religion, sex is seen as a sacred and essential part of Self. While in other Witchcraft traditions there is an implicit sexual undercurrent, mostly expressed through outer polarity of male and female coven members or in the Great Rite (whether actual or ‘in token’), Feri makes it explicit. In regards to sex being an essential part of Self, there is a Feri saying from Victor: “Self is God and God is Self and God is a person like myself”. This saying emphasises the essential relationship between the worshipper and the Gods, which is ultimately sexual. Indeed, when we perform the Triple Soul Alignment we often feel a sexual rush to the genitals and a tingling in the toes and fingers.

In Feri, we have another saying “Everything begins with Sex”. This can be seen as a metaphor for the Divine impulse of creation, the first great Orgasm of the Star Goddess that brought forth the Multiverse, or it can be seen more mundanely as the act of sex between humans, animals, or plants. It can even be understood as Sex = Desire, and all things are done from a desire or a need, which therefore doesn’t limit it to a purely physical act.

So what is the purpose of sex? Is there one? In fact, I think there is more than one, and the meaning behind sex is unique for each sexual being. That being said, I don’t generally ascribe a meaning to sex. I think different sexual acts can have different significance, and the same act in a different situation would shift the meaning yet again. Yet most people would agree that sex is one of the most precious, sensual, special parts of being human. Even masturbation can be spiritually and physically nourishing, if done from the correct frame of mind.

Yet it is also dangerous. Sex can cause unwanted pregnancies and STI’s. When misused, it is rape and child abuse. To a lesser degree, it is using people through enforced prostitution. In the Iron Pentacle, Sex is connected to Power, and this relationship must be fully explored if the practitioner is to have a healthy sexual attitude.

I had sex last night. He is a friend of one of my close friends, and there was a definite sexual attraction when we met. We both knew we were going to have sex, yet we didn’t talk about it, hint at it, or think about the deeper meaning. And we enjoyed it immensely. We might see each other again, or we might not. What’s important is that two people came together (pun intended) and enjoyed the physicality of each other’s bodies, taking us out of our heads and grounding us.

Sex is love, embodied.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Why I'm a Vegetarian

Heifer whines could be human cries

Closer comes the screaming knife

This beautiful creature must die

This beautiful creature must die

A death for no reason

And death for no reason is murder

  - Morrissey

This time last week I decided to go vegetarian. It wasn’t an easy decision given that I was such a carnivore, but it’s been fermenting in my head for the past couple of months. I’ve noticed that when I’ve eaten out, I’ve often gone for a vegetarian option. When I met with my Feri group, most members were vegetarians and when we feasted, I didn’t miss meat.

There are a multitude of reasons for going vegetarian, yet I’m still to hear a convincing argument for being a carnivore. My main reasons are:

1)    Health – I’ve read countless reports on the health benefits of a herbivore lifestyle

2)    Economical – it’s cheaper!

3)    Ecological – I don’t think it’s ecologically correct to raise animals for meat, when crops provide more than enough food for us

4)    Spiritual

The last reason is a funny one, and was only pointed out to me by a fellow Witch. He said “Too much Krishna dude”. Yes, as a Feri trainee I work a lot with the Blue God, and I worship Him in His aspect as Krishna. Now, followers of Krishna generally have a vegetarian diet and whether I’ve subconsciously adopted it for that reason, tapped into the vegetarian meme via Krishna, or whether this is something that Krishna wants me to do if I’m going to serve Him, is unclear to me. I need to do some divination and journeying to discover the answer. But whatever the answer, I feel a lot better in myself by not eating meat.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Sitting Practice and our Sacred Dove


One of the core practices of Feri is the daily sitting practice, which is in essence a meditation on you. Rather than a guided pathworking or visualisation, the Feri practitioner learns to sit with hirself and pay attention to what is happening. I’ve been doing my sitting practice semi-diligently over the past three or four months and I’ve only recently realised the importance of this seemingly simple practice.

During my sitting practice, I connect to my Godself, my Ori, my Aumakua, and I observe its power to listen. Thorn points out that the Hebrew name for the Godself, Neshamah, contains the Hebrew word for ‘to listen’ – the Godself, the Sacred Dove, listens and watches with compassion. When we feel like we can’t sit any longer, our Sacred Dove looks on compassionately. It is the part of ourselves that loves unconditionally, and when we engage in sitting practice, we engage in self-love, recognising ourselves as divine.

While I’ve been doing this practice for months, I’ve begun to reach ecstatic states only in the past couple of weeks. I feel more embodied, and towards the end of the practice, which centres on focusing on my breath, I feel mana flowing into me on every breath, making me aware of all my parts.

And from that, I can reach ecstasy and union with the Gods. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Inauguration Day

Barack Hussein Obama is President of the United States.

Sure, he may have fluffed his lines. Sure, he may have had an overtly Christian service.

But watching the inauguration on TV filled me with hope for the future, something that has been slowly ebbing away over the past eight years. Even though I'm not a US citizen, the whole world has felt the effects of an aggressive foreign policy headed by Bush.

So, now we can breathe again, but this is only the beginning.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

A Sneak Preview of Enlightenment


As mentioned in a previous post, daily practice is essential to the Feri tradition, and I’ve found this emphasis on daily commitment to prayer, meditation, and energy work inspiring, difficult, ecstatic, and worthwhile. My daily practice has evolved to a more simple flow of energy work and prayer, which generally takes about 20 minutes every morning. This doesn’t seem like a long time, but when you have to leave the house at 7am to get to work, it can mean that sometimes the Work doesn’t get done. Nevertheless, I’ve been doing my daily practice (semi-) diligently over the past few months, and I consider it the very foundation of my day. With this attitude and intention, I find the daily practice very satisfying. It’s the days when I don’t feel like doing it that I find the most useful, if not exactly the most spiritually satisfying.

One of the key tools in the Feri bag of tricks is the Ha Prayer, which is the method to achieve alignment of the Triple soul. I’ve found over the past few months, as I’ve been getting my soul into more alignment, that I am quicker to anger and to react to things. I am a lot more sexual these days, and I crave connection to other people. Victor said that complexes developed in the Vivi, or the Younger self. I believe that I’m starting to work through some complexes, and by expressing my emotions more easily I am freeing myself of the energy that would accumulate in my soul if I suppressed them. Like most people, I do this far to often. As my Vivi and Emi are coming into more alignment with each other, I’m beginning to see and feel the direct links between physical and mental sex, in that I’m craving more than just physical connection with others. And as my Ori comes into alignment with the other parts, I’m catching glimpses of the inherent divinity in others. It might only last a millisecond (like on Wednesday, when I felt a serene love towards a classmate, who I had never spoken to before) but it’s as if the Star Goddess is giving me sneak previews into what True Alignment and Enlightenment might entail.

Exciting!!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Divine Will - a rant thereof

Divine Will. The Will of God. When we speak of Divine Will, we often associate it with more mainstream (and more often than not the Abrahamic) religions, so it was a surprise to me to read T Thorn Coyle's latest post, in which she mentions that "...[she is] working on a project...that [her] Gods seem to want manifested". While I normally admire her work, I can't help but feel that her trying to declare what her Gods' wills are is a little bit...arrogant. 

The expression of a supposed knowledge of 'Divine Will' seems to me to be very incendiary, and more often than it is discussed in terms of an "us versus them" mentality. At its most benign, it reminds me of footballers who cross themselves before going onto the pitch, trying to invoke the aid of their God during their game. At its worst, it is George Bush saying that God told him to go to war. How often have we heard "God is on our side"?

I think that at times it can seem as if the Gods are indeed "on your side" but I think it's impossible to discover the Will of the Divine, especially if we subscribe to the idea that our Gods are not omnipotent. If the Gods do indeed help you, that doesn't necessarily mean that they approve of what you're doing. 

Anyway, rant over. 

Friday, 2 January 2009

My Relationship with Quakoralina

Holy Mother, in Whom we live, move, and have our being, from You all things emerge and unto You all things return...

In Feri, every spiritual act is begun with the prayer to the Star Goddess, above, also called Quakoralina in the Tradition. She is not invoked, rather She is acknowledged, since She is Everything and Nothing, and therefore it is impossible to invoke Her. She is not feminine per se, but we refer to Her as Her to emphasise Her powers of birth and creation. She is all possibility, all potential. And She is all sexuality. 

For some reason or another, the Star Goddess has been the most difficult of the Feri deities for me to relate to. She just seems less personal than the other Gods, even though by definition I am a part of Her and She is a part of me. The other Gods are easy for me to visualise and relate to; I can pray to Them and even on some occasions invoke Them but it is different with Quakoralina. Perhaps it's because She is less limited than the others. The Blue God is less effected by other people and things: He will always be the Blue God and is easy to love. But the Star Goddess includes all those things I don't like: She is all the bigots and violent people in the world, She is racism and sexism and homophobia. If She truly is everything, how can I love Her if these things are intrinsically a part of Her? Perhaps it is not so much that these things are a part of Her, but that human frailty is. 

(Side note...Just heard on the TV a character saying "Holy Mother of God". Don't you just love synchronicity?)

So how do I relate to the Star Goddess now? I have always been attracted to Catholic images of the Virgin Mary and in Feri, the Star Goddess is seen as Virgin given that She brought forth the Universe on Her own, by Her own power. So, I use images of the Virgin when I pray to the Star Goddess as a way of relating to Her. And slowly but surely, I'm beginning to love the Goddess, rather than just respecting or acknowledging Her. 

It's a slow process, but like all relationships, it will take time and commitment. But I know it's going to be worth it.