So, you read about Kala online and you practice it every day. Same with the Iron Pentacle: sex, pride, self, power, passion. You know the names of the Gods and you REALLY feel connected to Nimue and Crom. You have altars and everything dedicated to them. You read The Spiral Dance until the spine broke, and you have all the Feri books you could find, so you know what the tradition is about. You are debating on going to a witch camp or class with a public Feri Initiate. You have some initiates as Facebook friends and are in a few student groups online that you sometimes argue on. You have it figured out. All you need now is a convenient geographically located Initiate to initiate you. In fact, you demand it. You know in your guts that you ARE one of the chosen ones. You have worked so hard. Dedicated so much. Now is the time! Why is the teacher not pursuing you? Why are they not emailing or PMing you? Damn it!!
My question to you, friend, is if you have already figured out so much, then why do you need me, or any Initiate? Do you believe that you are owed initiation? I am often amused and sometimes annoyed at the expectations of students and the hurried need to be initiated or to enter into this particular tradition. Perhaps I too was this way—although I would like to think not, and maybe I will get around to asking my Oath Father one of these days. I do know that deep down inside I found every book to be lacking, as if somehow this was not the whole story. It was almost as if there was something that every author was keeping from me. I diligently practiced the rituals. I learned the litany. I created the potions and spells and incense. However, something remained elusive. It was as if the spirits or the contact was not fully there. A door seemed to be locked.
Back when I was a seeker we had a few books and some underground zines and perhaps a class or two advertised at the local New Age shop or hippy grocery store, and that was it. I can only imagine how it is now with the foreverness and labyrinth of the internet. But this is simply information. It is but one aspect of learning and one third of a puzzle of learning in the Craft.
Information is not Feri. Feri is visceral. It is raw. It is in the body and in the Spirit. It is not simply knowing things. Think of sex. You can read about it. You can watch it. You can know all the terms, lingo and moves and even be a masturbatory pro, but none of that is the same as the actual experience itself with another person or persons. Then take that up a notch. Become a Master of sex. A Tantric force. Then maybe you are getting close to understanding the experience of Feri.
So, when we say Feri/Faery is not information, it is The Mystery and experience, what do we mean? Well, clearly, there is some information to be disseminated in Feri instruction. There is a core of liturgy and shared lineage and history that students will learn. Yes, you will learn the Iron Pentacle and Kala and how your teacher teaches it. Along with this, an Initiate may supplement their teaching with various books depending on how that particular person teaches. This is where the tradition branches in a thousand directions, because each Initiate—who is tapped into the Current, but is their own nexus of power and strange blossom—will add to the tradition in their own way.
The Roads to the Mystery come from different directions, all leading to the source. However, only the Initiate will know the road markers on the way. This is our Current. This is the Craft. This is why you cannot self-teach or self-initiate. These are the roads to Faery land, and trying to traverse them on your own will have you led astray.
Have you read any lore or myths about the Faeries? These myths are virtually in every culture and very pervasive in the West. I encourage you to do so. The information is easily available online and for free. Once you start to read, you will see a recurring pattern in the myths. The seeker goes into the Wild with no guide, no instruction, and no boon, in order to see or capture a Faery. This violates the rules of the Road. It is offensive to the Fae and they will punish you. Seriously, read the myths; they aren’t nice!
Speaking of which, our tradition isn’t ‘nice’ or ‘safe’. We’re witches, remember? We do not heal you. We do not coddle you. Those aren’t our gigs. Check out the priests and gurus for that. Feri isn’t a community of kumbaya, love, and peace. In order to traverse the terrain, you need a guide. Would you travel to the back woods of Afghanistan without a guide? Would you go into the cartel-ridden favellas of Rio de Janeiro without a friend? Would you cross the River Styx without the boatman?
Once you are a student, the Initiate will guide you. That is their role. They are a guide. Exposure to the mystery is not an easy thing. Your ego defenses and the lies that you tell yourself and others will begin to burn away and to burn you in the process. You cannot hide from the Witch Eye, and the Fae cannot abide a liar even when the liar believes his own lies to be true.
Initiates who teach one-on-one and not for pay know this path is perilous. What do they have to gain by teaching? Certainly not money, and so they can be choosier. They have been down the Dread Road themselves. They struggled and went through their own breakings and challenges. Lives completely rearranged. Their teachers led them and taught them the signposts, the correct answers to the various challenges, and introduced them to the Gods. This is a tradition about relationships. Relationships to the Gods and Spirits. Relationships with the other students, the coven, and with other Initiates in the Tradition at large. This is why one cannot “self-initiate”. Yes, it is an exclusive club. It has to be. We have to protect our own.
This is the night path. It is only sometimes moonlit, but many times it is black as pitch. It is hidden, occult. This is its nature. This is a Luciferian Path of the Left Hand. If that bothers you and you think it snobbish or exclusive, then know that there are plenty of traditions that will welcome you right now with their priests and communities and healing and song and the light of day. They are waiting for you with open arms right now! They too have power and wisdom and magic. They too are just as valid as any other path. Go and be healed. Find love. Find community. Find peace.
Are you still here? You must still think that this path is for you. You must think in terms of relationship and you must think in terms of grit, mettle, and steel. The student/teacher experience is based on relationship. It must feel right to both the student and the teacher. If you do not know the person already and do not have a friendship or are lovers, and it is more of a cold call type of situation, then you (the student) need to have patience. It is not easy to teach. It is not easy to learn.
Students are often layered with pre-conceived notions, emotional and spiritual damage from family and Christianity, addictions, delusions, and even deeper issues like self-loathing and rage. This is where your mettle and grit come in. How well can you deal with facing difficult truths? Can you do the Work? Can you be tempered like a thousand-folded blade? Or are you seeking a way out of life’s pain and sorrow? Are you seeking an easy fix? The magic pill? Do you give your power up? Are you willing to sell your soul and give up who you are? All of this is not for your Feri teacher or the Tradition to “Fix”. That is your work to deal with before approaching a teacher. Initiation seals many things to you and remember what Initiation means, it means to begin! These issues are YOUR work to address. They are for YOU to resolve.
If an Initiate tells you that the time or fit is not right, you may feel disappointed, but this too is part of the work. This is a lifelong path, a dedication to the Lady forsaking the wrathful God of men. Training on average is between 6 to 9 years and then you BEGIN the work of sorcery on your own, a well-tempered blade that is ready. Not all relationships are meant to be, however. If an Initiate tells you what their expectations are, and you still really want this, then listen. Do not hear this as a dig against you personally. In many ways the Initiate is actually doing you a favor, protecting you, helping you to find a deeper connection to Self and possibly to get the healing you need. You may also find that another Initiate may be better for you, a better connection and a deeper path for you. That is understood by all initiates. Many of us have had several teachers in the tradition, and this is perfectly acceptable.
Exposure to this tradition in any way begins to change a person. This is the experience. The teacher can see further down this path than you because they are dedicated to it, bound to it. They have been down the road. They are on the road. Those of us who are dedicated to the close-knit relationships between student, teacher, coven, Tradition, and the Gods are protective of it. We have worked long and hard, and we have taken oaths to protect the Mystery and one another even if we do not get along. The Mystery itself is part of the experience. It is an unfolding. I cannot explain it to you in words because words fail, but it touches all life on this planet and connects the witch to All. All Gods are Feri Gods.
What does this mean to you, oh seeker? Are you simply curious? Want to part the curtain? Do you desperately need healing? Are you looking for cash or ass or to be the next High Witch Queen of Endor? Wanna get the secrets and sell them to the masses? Why are you here really?
Ask yourself, because we will be asking it of you. Go deep within. If this path truly is for you, then you will not be able to stop the roots and vines of it as they tendril around your feet. You will not be able to stop the branches of the trees as they part for you and you see the lantern of Black Man through the thicket. Strange things will be placed on your path directing you to one of us. It is not just we the Initiates and you the students and seekers that are here, it is the Spirits as well, and they see farther than all of us. It is they who have most of the say in all things of the Tradition, and it is they who guard it well.
Maya Grey of House Grey—Central Valley, California