Pagan Community Notes: The Sundering of Feri, DC Community Center, Health Care Reform Survey, and more!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 25, 2011 — 49 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

A Split in the Feri Tradition? In recent weeks there’s been quite a bit of activity online regarding a split within the Victor and Cora Anderson-founded Feri tradition, with several new web sites emerging that detail a separation on private/public lines. Author and teacher T. Thorn Coyle, perhaps one of the best-known modern Feri initiates, writes an essay for Patheos that explores her own thoughts and feelings on this developing situation.

“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.”

Coyle, who no longer publicly teaches Feri to students, feels that this split is “a reflection of the tension seen all over the world right now, which is the tension felt in ages of transition.” Faery/Feri has been a very influential tradition in the history of modern Paganism in the United States, and currently counts many charismatic and influential teachers among its initiates. I feel this split is an important moment in our shared history, and I am currently putting together a longer article exploring this split, interviewing several individuals from both sides of this seemingly widening gulf. Expect the hear more on this very soon, if not this week, then most certainly next.

D.C. Commits To Opening a Community Center: David Salisbury from the Washington D.C. PNC bureau reports on a historic meeting of regional leaders and organizers to finalize plans for a joint community center.

“Yesterday I was invited to attend the Open Hearth Foundation’s Pagan Leadership Summit which met to discuss and finalize plans for the upcoming Pagan Community Center, an 11 year goal for the organization and the DC Pagan community in general. This day-long summit of leaders from around the metropolitan area shared views on details such as the centers location, size, programming, funding and when it actually plans to open the doors.

It’s a rare occasion when this many Pagan leaders from our area can gather. Rarer still is the fact that the leaders met to give input on this area’s most important Pagan land space project ever, a Pagan Community Center. Becoming, Reflections Mystery School, Ecumenicon, Firefly, Spiral Grove, covens and more spent 5 hours in a thrilling high-energy debate.”

A seeming consensus has been formed to achieve this in one year, by Imbolc 2012. If they manage to achieve this, it could set a new standard for cooperation towards building communal infrastructure among different Pagan groups within a community. The Washington DC-PNC will no doubt keep up updated and informed as this process goes forward.

Pagans and the Health Care Reforms: Masery at the Patheos-hosted Staff of Asclepius blog examines the religious breakdown of a recent Associated Press/GfK poll regarding health care reform and decides to drill down into that pesky “other” category by creating a nearly identical survey aimed at the Pagan community.

The health care poll was conducted by the Associated Press and Gfk Roper Public Affairs Corporate Communications from January 5 – 10, 2011. By telephone they spoke to 1001 Americans ages 18+  Religious affiliation: Protestant 25%, Catholic 25%, Mormon 1%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 1%, Other 26%, No religious denomination 19%. Of the “Other” religion 87% were Christian and 13% were not. What do Pagans think? You can answer the same questions as the AP poll at www.surveymonkey.com/s/CZFX8TR

If you’d like to see what the Pagan community thinks about current health care reform laws, please spread the word to your own blogs and social networking sites, so that a significant sample size can be reached. I’ll be sure to share the results once they are available. Once again, the survey can be found, here. Also, while you’re there, do check out her interview with Kimberly Hedrick, PhD about the recent groundbreaking Pagan Health Survey (which I covered here at The Wild Hunt).

6th Annual Brigid Poetry Festival: An Internet tradition that began in the early days of the Pagan blogosphere continues!

It is that time of year again, when bloggers around the world post a favorite poem in honor of Brigid, the Irish goddess and patron saint of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. Brigid’s feast day is February 1st, so between now and then is the perfect time to publish a poem to celebrate. Last year many great poems were published all over the web. This year, I have set up a Community Facebook Page to help people easily view each other’s poems and to share them around as much as possible. If you post a poem on your blog, please share the link on the community page so we can all go there and read it. If you don’t have a blog or website of your own, go ahead and post your poem in its entirety to the community page.

I look forward to yet another year of poetry in honor of the goddess!

Final Note: If you haven’t been following along, do check out the Patheos Wicca series running through January. It features some interesting perspectives on what Wicca is, and where different individuals think its going.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Crystal7431

    I really enjoyed last year's poetry and am looking forward to this year's. As I recall from our favorite news source (which I dare not name) this is also the time of year we Pagans celebrate by piling stones and milking sheep while speaking incantations. I'll need to get started right away if I'm to have enough stone piles and sheep's milk for Imbolc ; P

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511407690 Star Foster

      Where on earth do we find sheep's milk? Whole Foods? Harrys? Wonder where the Daily Mail buys theirs…

      • Crystal7431

        I don't know about sheep's milk but I know where to get some good goat's milk.

  • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

    I liked this post, very informative.

    Here's my Part 3 for my Community series, for those that want to read it.
    http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com/2011/01/creati

  • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

    I liked this post, very informative.

    Here's my Part 3 for my Community series, for those that want to read it.
    http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com/2011/01/creati

  • caraschulz

    Good luck to DC on making their dream of a community center a reality. We have one in the Twin Cities and I can tell you – it makes a HUGE difference to the community.

    Here's a link to the events we have going on at our Community Center (Sacred Paths Center – http://pncminnesota.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/paga

    • Lonespark

      These are really exciting developments!

  • http://www.facebook.com/steward John Deltuvia

    I personally find it quite hilarious that one of the groups criticizing 'public' feri does so in part because "They have websites and blogs" … on the group's website.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lillitu.shahar Lillitu Shahar Kunning

      John, I urge you to look below at Sara's comment. "@John What you are doing is quoting out of context, and is a logical fallacy. The criticism is not *having* websites or blogs, but attempting to teach Witchcraft via them…and allowing people to think they are getting the real tradition that way. That is, in many people's opinion, a cheat."

      • Diana Walker

        Lili, these websites are simply a chain link fence to try and turn new students and seekers away, and they are simply going to make them MORE curious and/or feel lousy about their own right to seek information.

        If initiation passes the Current, then there is no harm done for people who still want to explore the practices.

        Please, please, guys, for the love of the gods, if you guys want it to be secret, stop taunting people, get off the internet and have correspondence courses like the old Rosicrucians!

    • Diana Walker

      Thank you. You beat me to it. LOL!!

  • Pitch313

    I wonder how this Feri Sundering will shift the influences of the Trad on the Pagan Craft movement. That history has already happened. What can be taken back? I guess that there are things that some cannot share. Or will not. But Pagan Craft has attained a momentum of its own, apart from the seed Trads that once provided almost all of its original energy and growth. Change. Touch. Change. Touch. Change.

    • Riverbend

      "Pagan Craft"? Some kind soul fill me in please…tried a quick google and I'm getting lots of stuff about making sacred potpourri and such. :)

      • http://pombagiraspolly.blogspot.com/ Pombagira

        i suspect that 'Pagan Craft" is denoting various modern interpretations of pagan beliefs.. if you take the idea that the word pagan is a bit of an umbrella term to encompass wicca, withccraft druid etc etc?? and at the same time, the word pagan is often used by those who have not yet found their framework and are not comfortable using labels such as witch, wiccan, druid, as they feel they have not earned them.. etc etc,

        hmm.. of course i could be way of course cause i am just taking a wild stab in the dark.. stab stab.. ohh marshmallows.. noms.. *cough*.. try not to get to tied up with various interpretations of various pagany words, as they have a tendency to be kinda fluid and at time change like the wind in wellington..

        mind you .. Pagan Craft does sound kinda cool *ponders this*..

        *smiles*
        Polly <— sometimes rambles

      • Pitch313

        The Feri Sundering–I am loving that phrase!–could have something to do with which sacred potpourri delivers the most magical kick…One smoke gets you high…the other smoke gets your higher…DIY Witchcraft is DIY!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lillitu.shahar Lillitu Shahar Kunning

      Something does not have to public to have influence.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I object to the wording of survey question #6, which injected unproved speculation about the result of what the question was asking one's opinion about.

    • Khryseis_Astra

      *Nods* Same here.

      They seem to be tilted towards right-wing objections towards the recent healthcare bill, whereas many of us on the left side of the spectrum simply want a government-paid (as opposed to "government-run") system that doesn't toss you out in the street for a pre-existing condition, or worse, as soon as you get a condition that requires treatment! How many of us would keep our car or home insurance companies if they refused to pay claims? Yet we routinely accept it from the healthcare industry, because we've been given no other option.

      My objection to the healthcare bill as it stands now is that it didn't do enough to fix the problems. Then again I'm one of those people who thinks healthcare should be about keeping people healthy as the highest priority instead of being about making a profit.

      • Crystal7431

        I thought so too when I took the survey.
        "My objection to the healthcare bill as it stands now is that it didn't do enough to fix the problems. Then again I'm one of those people who thinks healthcare should be about keeping people healthy as the highest priority instead of being about making a profit." Absolutely, but apparently as it stands good health is only for the wealthy. My insurance doesn't pay for any regular checkups or preventive measures such as mammograms. Lovely, ain't it?

  • Sara

    @John What you are doing is quoting out of context, and is a logical fallacy. The criticism is not *having* websites or blogs, but attempting to teach Witchcraft via them…and allowing people to think they are getting the real tradition that way. That is, in many people's opinion, a cheat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MachaIsAline Aline O'Brien

    Kimberly Hedrick gave an excellent presentation on her work at last weekend's Claremont Conference on Current Pagan Studies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MachaIsAline Aline O'Brien

    Just a reality check: a website does not a tradition make.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lillitu.shahar Lillitu Shahar Kunning

      I don't think anyone was claiming on either side that a website "makes" a trad. What are you implying?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=780639610 Happydog Potatohead

      Similarly, saying that one is staging a revolution, repeatedly, does not actually mean that a revolution is happening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MachaIsAline Aline O'Brien

    Kimberly Hedrick gave an excellent presentation on her work this past weekend at the Claremont Conference on Current Pagan Studies.

  • http://witchmom.com Lily Shahar Kunning

    @ Aline: I don’t think anyone was claiming on either side that a website makes a trad. What are you implying?

  • Jag

    To reform healthcare, one must reform HEALTHCARE, not medical insurance. It doesn't help a familey with no insurance if you fine them for not having something they can't afford in the first place.

  • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

    Jason,

    You link to various sites that identify as one side of the Feri/Faery split. Are there any sites that address the issue of a split from the other side?

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      See my upcoming article on the subject. There will be plenty from both sides.

    • Henry Buchy

      Yes, here's my own personal response as a Feri Initiate: http://chemalfait.livejournal.com/
      I hope to have it also posted on Patheos soon

  • http://culture.pagannewswirecollective.com/ Scott Schulz

    Re: Feri Sundering. Excuse me while I cackle, but when has Feri ever not been in the process of sundering? The entire history is rife with balkinization and arguments over who and what is really Feri and who and what is not. And over whether the tradition should be (or even can be) open. How many open Feri off-shoots are there now? Reclaiming, Third Road, whatever beautiful thing Thorn's doing now. (And in every single case, the mystery core/corps says "that's not Feri." as is seemingly required.) The roiling and fracturing is part and parcel of what makes this tiny corner of the Craft so fertile. Meanwhile, The Guardians take whoever the heck They want into Faerie, and the lore gets spread. This latest appears not to be a deathknell, but yet another budding in a long line of budding. I'm looking forawrd to the article.

    • Pitch313

      It's hilarious that folks you will probably never meet don't like you because of things you may not know that they don't want you to do but might if you knew about them. Or wouldn't. It's reminding me of being reminded of things…

    • Sara

      You are misrepresenting several things. For one, splits/offshoots in the past were either 1) started by one person or 2) consciously constructed to be a different tradition (sometimes both). This is radically different.

      Also, NOBODY is saying anyone or anything is "not Feri" unless it's actually true (Reclaiming is not Feri; nor would they dispute that). I've seen a lot of people claiming that that's what the Faery people are saying, which is awfully convenient if you want to paint them as a bunch of torch-waving fundamentalists…to coin a phrase. Show me ONE instance where that is what they are actually saying. Without quoting out of context or distorting, please.

  • http://culture.pagannewswirecollective.com/ Scott Schulz

    Well, yeah, except there was huge pressure on each of the open traditions to publically declare themselves not to be Feri. And a number of Reclaiming people did receive a Feri initiation within Reclaiming. The situation has never been as clean as the core would like it to be. We're dancing arounf the brightline demarcation that has always been made (which I observe as well) namely transition of particular lore at the time of the initiation, and that information has bled in every single case that I know of. (Generally those who seek it out, get it from some Feri initiate at some point.)

    • Sara

      The "Reclaiming Feri" initiates ARE recognized as Feri by other Feri initiates. It sounds to me like you're twisting things around again. Still waiting on proof that any "Faery" ever said that someone who is an initiate isn't really.

      • http://culture.pagannewswirecollective.com/ Scott Schulz

        There have been specific cases of that happening as well, but it was confined to the genuineness of specific people's initiation being doubted (rather than whole groups), and then when proof was furnished (i.e. the initiator confirmed the iniation and the lore was verified) those doubts went away (though much more slowly than you seem to want to admit, it would seem). My impression is that the community has gotten better about this process over the years.

        It is remarkable, in any case how closely the boundary is watched. I do not think that this makes the Feri community into "torch-wielding fanatics" as you said. But a lot of energy is generated at conserving the strict definition of what constitutes a Feri initiation. I'm arguing that that fact is a good thing (the proverbial hermetic container), and that as a result of that containment Feri constantly spins off individuals and groups that have the intent to pass on at least part of what they felt to great, beautiful, and, dare I say it, safe about what they have found within the tradition (and within Faerie itself) in a more open form.

        • Sara

          I actually support people spinning off other traditions, so long as they call it something else. I think that's healthy and creative. Trying to redefine the tradition for other people….not so much.

      • Onyx

        "Still waiting on proof that any "Faery" ever said that someone who is an initiate isn't really. "

        Then instead of saying "…we are not on the same path; that their Wisdom is not our Wisdom, their Mystery is not our Mystery, and their Craft is not our Craft," why not merely say that "…we are not on the same path; they are still our Feri kin, but their Wisdom is not our Wisdom" ???
        You can make your point without making it so easy to misinterpret as "they are not Feri" as this and many other lines from these websites seem to be interpreted by many in this debate.

        • Crow

          That's a very good question, Onyx. I have been wondering the same thing myself and meaning to ask.

          Crow

        • Sara

          I'm not responsible for how people choose to misinterpret something based on their own agendas. Nobody said any Feri initiate isn't really Feri, or even that "public Feri" isn't Feri. Period, end of story. You are making an issue out of nothing because that's all you've got.

          It doesn't matter, anyhow. Feel free to mischaracterize all you wish; it won't change anything. You all are arguing with the sheriff after the divorce papers have been served.

  • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

    Intense Debate seems to be having troubles with disappearing/reappearing comments the last month or so. It's happened to a few of mine.

  • deborah oak

    Yep… good point, Onyx.

  • Bookhousegal

    Yeah, if everything having to go through corporate profits is the sacred cow, there's only so much that can be done, really. I didn't see people complaining about what's left of healthcare reform *now* being in support of the public option or single-payer, etc when *that* was taken off the table.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=780639610 Happydog Potatohead

    I think it's a damn shame that our private family business has been dragged out here in public by these people who claim to be "private" and "secret." If anyone has an agenda, it is the "Faery-not-Feri" types who claim to be "going back into the mound" and yet paper the Internet with their explanations, justifications, and disingenuous dissembling.

    What is said in public and what is said in private are two different things. The tone of conciliation and explanation that the secessionists have been taking does not match what they have said among themselves in private.

    The secessionists are bringing shame upon the tradition by publishing our inner dispute worldwide for all to see.

    There is nothing to misinterpret. None of them ever had any intention of doing anything but splitting the tradition and taking power for themselves, setting themselves up as the high priests of "Faery -not-Feri" and disowning those of us who do not subscribe to their manifestos.

    If anyone has an agenda, it is the secessionists.

    None of this should ever have been brought up in public, certainly not for discussion on the Wild Hunt.

    • Monk

      This stopped being "family business" long ago when some started marketing a version of the tradition to the public. And now that public is finally being informed that what they are being sold is, at best, only one variety or part of the greater reality that is the tradition. It *is* a damn shame that this had to happen, but it was inevitable once the step towards marketed public religion was taken.

      I find it most peculiar that you seem to be desiring dissenting opinions and different perspectives should be silenced. That seems most un-Feri-like (and un-Faery-like) to me.

      Labelling people "secessionists" is inflammatory rhetoric and a "cheap shot". I could just as easily use it to refer to those who are practicing and teaching Feri in ways completely new and foreign to what the Andersons did as having left the "tradition" (while conveniently keeping the name for "branding") long ago.

      Of course the level of passion and emotion is allowed to color private personal conversations more than what is offered in public arenas. This is tactful, polite, and considerate. First you complain that anything at all about this is appearing for the public, and then you complain that what the public is seeing is filtered. Again, logical inconsistency.

      You are making some serious, vague, and sweeping allegations about people here and you seem to be doing so based on only your personal perspective and your inferences about others' inner motives. In counterpoint, I would offer that what has recently occurred has has not been the work of a few power-hungry people but rather involved consensus among scores of initiates from several lines, including some of the most respected elders in the entire tradition.

  • Sara

    I quote, from the faerytradition.org site: "There are words only spoken in a properly prepared circle which are tools of Art, that bind us closer to the Mystery and to each other. And there are such things as harmful secrets, which protect abuse of power and shield those who would deceive. The Wise know the difference. "

    • Henry Buchy

      Rats!! our plot has been discovered,but no matter…
      our fiendish pitchfork wielding mobs are descending even now upon the bay area, soon squads of inquisitors will follow, to torture those who fail to capitulate with flavored lubes and images of sponge bob…..

  • http://emergingvisions.blogspot.com libramoon

    Bearing Water for Brigid

    Sketches for a water vessel —
    bottle and message bob on waves.
    Voice of Brigid calls
    at the root of desire.
    All who hear: Imagine
    Rock faces erode
    exposed to wind, to grit, to rain
    and hail.
    Vessel
    Designated fixed space
    Sacrosanct container
    Conveyor through fluid
    Separates
    Fluidity
    Creates place, surface to paint
    Amusement
    diffusement of emotion
    beatitude, foment of dueling farce.
    Charismatic gems
    harsh edges polished pure
    colors
    blend in the dark
    become enchanting
    wish granting.
    Enthusing brief infusion
    of giddy illusion
    glows
    just enough to guilefully entice.
    Sparkling Neural net
    smiles.
    Catch that glint, a secret
    clue revealing
    purpose, meaning.
    Temptress,
    wild eternal child,
    ages' flamboyant fool
    Engaging
    Glorious
    Muse

    (Voice rains from within)

    A wound is a sacred vessel
    Pain carves into flesh
    Carries sense memory
    Carries the seed
    Of its own demise
    Sentience
    Engulfed in life
    Learns anew to be whole

    Wounded with the potential for wisdom
    The prize applies when eyes are are pried
    from seeping, sucking, suffering
    aching to censure what future we admire
    Redefine the schizm
    This wound is our project
    To heal, discover the vision
    Realign the seam to fit
    self-framed landscape
    not lose or win
    Let loose that genie of desire
    Ride rushing blood streams
    Build a roaring pyre of grief,
    insane belief in wrathfilled deities
    Revile that old refrain: "life is pain" or a game
    to be lost
    No Faustian bargain
    Just a
    rambling adventure
    of daring
    to explore
    essence of ecstasy
    Don't wait for the rest to see
    and demur
    Take pleasure
    Stretch your sail
    Take sight of your guiding star
    The only failure is self-denial
    in favor of the vile lie
    that pain is destiny
    instead of faithful friend
    lending energy
    for change

    Slice vivid memories
    Exult in their flavor
    Savor the tastes, the textures
    Enliven your way

    In the end
    The vessel breaks
    There the Goddess stirs

    2011 Aquarius

  • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

    I liked this post, very informative.

    Here's my Part 3 for my Community series, for those that want to read it.
    http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com/2011/01/creati