I wish to clarify that although the subtitle of this blog involves the word “Teaching” (something I may change shortly), these blog entries are not meant in any way to be a substitute for teaching, nor, for that matter, some kind of preliminary or introductory form of teaching. They are simply the thoughts of an individual who has been studying and working the Tradition for more than a decade. I also want to emphasize that the thoughts shared here represent a very personal interpretation of the Faery Tradition. As far as I am concerned, the only two people who had the right to make sweeping general statements about it are both on the Other Side now; those would be Cora and Victor Anderson, our Grandmasters.
My own late Teacher used to tell us: “focus on the Work, not on whether or not you’re going to be Initiated.” And although I think that focusing on the Work, rather than the fruits thereof, is very sound spiritual advice, I’ve grown uncomfortable with the notion that a student would fail to take any interest at all in the moment of hir own Initiation. Again, this is something I have pondered for years. In retrospect, it feels almost like telling a student in a cooking school: “just focus on learning how to dice this vegetable/grind this spice/marinate this seitan; don’t think about whether or not you’re ever going to get to eat the dish we’re working on here.”
My personal experience in beginning the exercises I was taught as I went through my Teacher’s curriculum was that Faery isn’t so much a body of lore and practice; it’s more like a Tantric process of expansion, expression, and in some cases, personal exorcism. I was learning in a group which over time acquired a very specific, rather clannish character; we kept in touch through online venues, but there were crucible-like in-person periods of studies with the teacher physically present, and the real Work seemed to happen then, often at an accelerated, dizzying pace. Establishing and maintaining a routine of practice, journaling, meditating and periodically re-configuring (NB: periods of Mercury Retrograde are excellent for review, reflection, revision, re-configuring–all those “re” activities)–it all fed into a gradual absorption of the raw vital energy of the Faery current.
I choose in these pages not to write directly on the topic of Initiation. Victor and Cora wrote about it quite eloquently, and their books are available through Harpy Press. But I will say that as you go on in the work of learning the Tradition, there are successive hurdles to overcome, fears to conquer, blockages to push through. If any of these becomes too much and you need to stop, sometimes it is a sign that you got to close to something that might have burnt your guts up from the inside out. For others, it simply means that the timing was bad, and in some cases, a student will resume work with the Tradition a decade or longer after initial contact.
Why is personal Initiation such a vital, foundational part of Initiatory Craft? Part of it, I feel, has to do with the Mighty Ones, the Ancestral Dead whose here-and-now embodiment we all are. They watered with their blood, sweat and tears the shining river of the Craft we swim in today, and They guard fiercely and protectively against those who fail to meet the high standards of integrity and impeccability They demand of a Priest/ess of the Old Ways. There have been cases where the Signs were Made, the Mysteries revealed, the Invocations chanted… and the Gods and Spirits refused to accept the new candidate being offered before them. In one old school of Craft one phrase that has been used to express this kind of phenomenon is “the hound turns his nose up at the cake.” It sounds funny, until you see the results in action.
We are the Embodiment of the Ancestors, and we look to the Descendants to carry the current forward. And the Initiation ceremony is not only a mystical Marriage to God Herself; it is also an adoption ceremony. If you knew someone who claimed membership of a native American tribe because she told you she had “had a dream that she visited the Great Medicine Lodge and been adopted into the tribe,” you’d be disinclined to believe anything she had to say about the rites and customs of that tribe–disinclined, that is, if you had any respect at all for the integrity of that tribe’s culture and folkways.
Thus, there is a reason why Craft training needs by definition to be highly selective, and why the most effective training involves the most time spent in person with the teacher. A lot of people may have dreams of flying, but it takes a very special hand to actually pilot a plane.