Feri for All?

There is a common refrain these days from the more public Feri teachers (who consist of less than 5% of the tradition as a whole) that Feri is "a toolbox" whose aim is the evolution of the human spirit and will help us to become better humans. They claim that they have been charged by the Gods and their own GodSouls with teaching these tools to any and all who will listen (and likely pay). The tools commonly taught are Kala, the Iron and Pearl Pentacles, and Soul Alignment, among others.

But here's the thing- that's a lie. Those exercises make great interactive workshops, but the fact is- those exercises are specifically designed to make the right candidate a strong witch- a worthy vessel of the Great Mysteries. They are simply not for human betterment. They are for the betterment of a select few who need to have them in order to stay balanced when running such big amps. Anyone who says differently most likely charged you some money or is friends with someone who does charge money.

These practices will only "help you" if you are destined for initiation. If you are not a candidate for the priesthood, these practices will not help you and may even throw you off balance in your life. A student should honestly ask themselves: Is my life really better after years of this "work"?  Or, are you like the many who have suffered devastating personal losses, only to have your two year course come to an end with no other training in sight?

While the ancient and widespread practices of purification and soul work may lead to the betterment of the human spirit and the integration of its Deep Purpose in the world, the sale of these holistic practices as "spiritual tools" relegate them to the landscape of commodities, and commodities will not make you a better person. Context is everything, and these practices exist in the context of the Faery tradition as practiced and lived by its initiates and candidates for the priesthood. While it makes a fun workshop, it is merely for the purpose of creating more workshops and more work (and still more income) that these tools are being taught to hundreds of people that will never become initiated. Feri practices are not meant for the public. They are meant for Feri witches and those that are studying towards initiation. Period.

One of the problems with the "Feri-for-Everyone" model is that it has created a permanent laity in a tradition that is not supposed to have lay persons at all. And the purpose of this Feri laity is not to do the work of the tradition- after all, only initiates can do that. In a church, for example, the lay people help the poor, host bake sales, and the like. In Feri, the lay people give the public Feri priests more money every now and again for classes, workshops, products, and books. The reason that there are "Feri practitioners" is that the public Feri teachers invented them as a revenue base. Quite simply, they are selling spirituality, no better than a New Age peddler or TV evangelist.

Feri is not a series of exercises, nor is it trance journeying to a CD or in a carpeted room listening to a paid priest. Feri is not a tee shirt or a sticker. The Mysteries cannot be bought or sold. The education that you are getting through your computer screen or at the feet of your priest-for-pay will most likely never lead to initiation. Everyone believes that they are the special chosen ones that will rise to the top of their class and catch that initiates' eye. But statistically, it will not happen. What will happen is that you will spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars of the course of a few years, and wind up no
farther along the path to initiation and being actually part of the tradition than you were before.

If you insist on taking online or distance classes on Feri, some teachers are better than others. Ask some hard questions...like any customer. Ask how many of their students they have ever initiated. Ask what their relationship with their initiator is, and with the rest of the initiate community. Be aware that the discussion from some quarters about how there IS no “Feri community” is a dodge to cover up the fact that there is a community, but those people do not have a good relationship with it. Ask to contact that person's initiator...that is not a rude question in an initiatory tradition when you are a prospective
student. Furthermore, ask, and consider from your own perspective, what that teacher's vetting process is. Teaching anyone who has the cash is a problem for the tradition, but it is also a problem for you as a student; it may place you in close proximity during an emotionally intense, vulnerable period with people who are unsavory or actually dangerous. Use your gut instincts but also use your head. Ask around. Caveat emptor.

Another problem with "Feri-for-all"- one that has already reared its ugly head in recent months- is that you cannot properly vet a student if you have never met them face-to-face or you meet with them so rarely that you have no idea who they are in their lives and in relation to others. The internet is a fantastic tool for global communication, however it is a terrible tool for teaching the precious and beloved Mysteries of an initiatory faith.

In late 2010, a student of public Feri attacked the tradition while defending himself against allegations of pedophilia and sex abuse. The allegations were real and true, and he had no qualms using what he had learned while studying Feri as a religious excuse for his horrific behavior. He even claimed to be a Feri priest. Furthermore, most of the public Feri teachers dropped this issue like a hot potato when it was pointed out by other initiates that they, as teachers who are not properly evaluating students before giving them access, were responsible for this problem. In fact, one public Feri teacher continues to give this sex abuser student access to Feri. This student brought danger to the shores of Feri and this will happen again because of the practices of public Feri teachers.

We need to get off this crazy carny ride- NOW. We are at a time when there are more students of Feri than initiates. And the vast majority of students out there see their teachers face-to-face very rarely. This expansion of Feri was an experiment gone horribly wrong. It has brought more than one unsavory to our doors, it has created a large population of lay people calling themselves "practitioners" who will never be initiated. Some have even been given the Empowerment only to be tossed kicking into the wind. This is one of the myriad reasons why there has been a split between the dangerous and reckless practices of public Feri and the Mystery tradition of Faery. The Craft must only be taught to well-known and well-loved individuals who have proven their worth, honesty, and genuine love for this tradition.