The Faery Tradition (referred to also as Vicia, Feri, or Anderson Feri) is an initiatory tradition of modern traditional witchcraft. It is an ecstatic, rather than a fertility, tradition stemming from the experience of Cora and Victor Anderson. Among the distinguishing features of the Faery tradition is the use of a Faery Power which characterizes the lineage. Strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression.
Victor Anderson was a blind poet and shaman who began teaching the Feri Tradition (then reportedly known variously as Vicia or simply “The Craft”) more or less in its modern form in the 1940s. He began initiating people into the tradition on an individual basis before the 1950s. According to Cora Anderson, Victor received a letter in 1960 from several witches in Italy, among them Leo Martello, asking him to form a coven in California. Victor taught openly for several decades before dying in 2001.
Cora Anderson met Victor in Bend, Oregon in 1944. By her account, they had met many times before on the Astral Planes, so upon meeting on the earthly plane recognized each other instantly and married after only three days. Cora was an Appalachian kitchen witch whose folk magic has been credited with helping many. She was best known for her teachings on putting magic into food, her Pagan Rosary, and her books on her life and the Feri Tradition. Cora died on May 1, 2008, 64 years to the day after meeting Victor in person.
Gwydion Pendderwen, Anderson’s Craft “foster son”, worked with him during the 1950s and ’60s, helping to edit and publish Victor’s book, Thorns of the Blood Rose. Gwydion brought in the name “Faery” (later changed to “Feri” to avoid confusion with other groups using similar terms), emphasized Celtic origins almost exclusively in his own practice, with a smattering of Vodou; other teachers have emphasized the Hawaiian, the African-diaspora, or even traced the lineage back to the Attacotti, who were small, dark, possibly southern European settlers in Scotland thousands of years ago. Gwydion later purchased and moved to Annwfn, 55 acres (223,000 m²) of land in Mendocino county he later deeded to the Church of All Worlds as a gift, and worked psychedelic group shamanic and Vodou rituals. Gwydion produced a large number of articles, rituals, poems, and songs before his death in 1982.
Core teachings acknowledged by most branches of the tradition include the concepts of the Three Souls and the Black Heart of Innocence, the tools of Iron and Pearl Pentacle, as well as an awareness of “energy ecology”, which admonishes practitioners to never give away or waste their personal power. Trance experiences and personal connection to the Divine are at the heart of this path, leading to a wide variety of practices throughout the larger body of the tradition.
There is a specific corpus of chants and liturgical material, much of it stemming from Victor Anderson and Gwydion Pendderwen, which provides a frame for many Circle-workings, and poetic creativity is highly valued. The magical practices of the Faery (or Feri, as Victor spells it) Tradition are heavily invocatory, to encourage possession, which relies mainly on psychic talent or sensitivity to occur. Rites are stylistically diverse, and may draw from many sources. There is an initiatory lineage, traceable to Victor or Cora Anderson or Gwydion Pendderwen. Victor tells of antecedents of the present tradition in the coven in which he was involved in the l920’s and 30’s in Oregon. Hallmarks of the tradition are possession of secret names, energy-working using pentacles and visualization of blue fire, a body of poetic and liturgical material, deities and archetypes specific to the Tradition, the doctrine of the Three Selves, a cingulum of a specific color, a “tribal” or “clan” feel to the coven, the use of the horned (sometimes called “inverted”) pentagram, and the honoring of a warrior ethic. For example, we are urged not to coddle weakness, support others in insincerities or self-deceptions, or to submit one’s own Life force to anyone or anything, which leads to a fierce openness called the “Black Heart of Innocence.” The Faery Tradition is gender-equal, and all sexual orientations seem able to find a niche. For many, there is a strong identification with the realms of Faery and with shape-shifting.
We see ourselves, when enchanted, as “fey”–not black, not white, outside social definitions, on the road to Faeryland, either mad or poetical. We are aware that much of reality is unseen, or at least has uncertain boundaries. As in all the Craft, there is a deep respect for the wisdom of Nature, a love of beauty, and an appreciation of bardic and mantic creativity. The Gods are not just constructs or psychological forces from the collective unconscious. The Gods are real, with a system of morality different from our own, and we have a responsibility to them. The Faery Tradition, in common with initiatory lineages of the Craft which practice possession, is a mystery tradition of power, mystery, danger, ecstacy, and direct communication with divinity. This is in contrast to traditions which practice psychodrama or psychotherapy through ritual. The negative side of this style of working is that we have a lot of initiates who did not return unscathed from between the worlds. The tradition is not for everybody, and it is not amenable to mass attendance, like many Pagan paths.
While some lines place a special emphasis on certain deities or pantheons, there is no one pantheon that is universal among Feri. However, certain deities are given special importance in most lines of the tradition:
- The Goddess is the central deity of Feri. Sometimes referred to as “God Herself”, s/he is the androgynous point of all creation, the primal darkness of deep space, the intelligence of the great Void.
- The Blue God is frequently said to be the first born of the Goddess. S/he is the spirit of youth and of eroticism and often appears as an androgynous male figure with blue skin and peacock feathers in hir hair. S/he is related to the Yazidi angel and indeed some lines of Feri see the two as a single being.
Some practitioners use the lemniscate (infinity symbol) as a cosmological glyph to describe main deities of the tradition, sometimes called The Infinitum. In this system, all gods and goddesses can be placed somewhere on the glyph.