It is said of late that the Feri Tradition has been broken in two, being named by folks on one side of the divide as a split between the “Mystery tradition” (taking on the old spelling of Faery) and “public religion” (Feri). While there have been splits and factions for almost as long as the tradition has been active, while the spelling of the name changed over time, and scapegoating, shouting, and long silences have abounded, I never before felt such an energetic sundering. As I write this, I can feel the mighty gates closing on what was. What will emerge, I do not know. Perhaps nothing will change, and perhaps everything will. Such are the times we live in, and various are the pronouncements of our egos trying to figure things out.
As far as “the times we live in,” I have been hearing reports of how Faerie/Faery/Feri ain’t what it used to be ever since the 1980s.
It’s the nature of magical religion to be always splitting and changing. The only equivalent group dynamics and politics that I have seen to match it occur in martial arts schools—something else that Thorn knows a little bit about.
At what point in an ecstatic, syncretic, Bardic tradition, does one’s own work cease to be of that tradition?
Given that Feri has been syncretic since whenever Victor Anderson first read the works of Max Freedom Long, themselves dating from the 1930s-1940s, I really don’t think that she has a problem, conceptually speaking. So why not add Gurdjieff (shudder) and call it Feri. But she decides that she must call herself something else.
In one way, her essay points to an ongoing problem in contemporary Paganism: It’s hard to make a mass movement out of small-group mystery traditions.
Yes, we need more public events: festivals, processions, theatrical events. The ancestors also went in for sacrifice-feasting events, but the theology of publicly offering life to the gods is still too scary for most Pagans. (There are exceptions.)
The trouble is, the model of “religion” available from the monotheists is just wrong. Every seven days, everyone lines up and listens to holy books or to a long sermon or bangs their heads on the floor. That just is not us. We are supposed to be about embodiment, ecstasy, performance, and ritual. So much is “enough” and how often do we do it?
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