and The 3rd Road
The college I attended had two campuses, separated by a forest. I often had to walk through those woods at night, and the path was not lit. I was terrified: I believed the Faerie Folk lived in that woods, so I would run as quickly as I could, thinking they wanted to abduct me, and treat me cruelly.
Little did I know that the Fey Folk are a kind race. The Faeries in those woods must have been calling me, and I feared the call because I knew no better. But later I completed a rigorous and rare seven-year training with Victor Anderson, to become a Celtic shaman, by being adopted into Victor¹s family which had kept the old ways—also called Faerie Tradition—intact.
Everything I say about Wicca or magic in this essay is specific to Faerie Tradition, which bears little resemblance to most of the Wicca in the United States. As a mater of fact, ANYTHING I say in this essay, PERIOD, is about my tradition, and is specific to the particular branch of Faerie I was taught, and/or to the branch of Faerie that I developed.
Most other Wiccan traditions are based on human magic. Faerie Tradition, by contrast, has been lightly touched by the Fey folk both spiritually and magically. Still, "Faerie Tradition" is something of a misnomer, a contemporary name for something that was once nameless. The magic a Faerie Tradition witch practices is still very human, and is Fey only to lesser or greater degrees depending upon one’s personal inclination and teacher. In my teachings, I rarely talk directly about the Little People, though their morals and magic are woven throughout my teachings. The Faerie magic must be subtle or it becomes a parody of itself.
Much of the Wicca in the United States is an outgrowth of the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca, founded in the early 1900s. Gardnerian magic combines British folk magic with ceremonial magic possibly brought to the British Isles from the Near East by the Knights Templar. Another source of American Wicca is the feminist movement. Goddess worship, with its’ pro-active magical spells, is a natural expression of feminist spirituality. However, feminist spirituality adapts Wicca to implement a political framework, rather than viewing shamanism as a valid spiritual path and empowerment unto itself. There are also branches of shamanism that are essentially ritualized forms of psychotherapy.
In contrast, Faerie Tradition is the witchcraft once practiced by the village shaman, and has been passed down from generation to generation within families. So while it is inherently feminist and builds psychological health, it’s origins are far older and distinct from those two twentieth century developments, and it is a process and paradigm until itself.
Faerie Tradition is the only Wiccan tradition whose primary goal is deep inner transformation through the religion and science of Wicca. The student—man or woman—can do rituals to remove the things inside themselves that block them from prosperity, peace of mind, romance, and happiness. They also can do rituals to achieve internal sense of self. A methodical step-by-step approach not only opens the novice to profound personal change,but is a means of achieving shamanism as an actual spiritual lifestyle. The training in the family took seven years, and was so intensive that, like a college student, a Faerie student might be working on the training full-time.
Faerie Tradition celebrates passion, sexuality, and unique individuality. In the ten years I have taught Faerie Tradition, innumerable students have confided in me: "For the first time ever I feel I have permission to... ." It might have been permission to quit an unsatisfying job, enjoy sex, write poetry, be themselves, stand up to an overbearing parent, travel to Europe, come out of the closet or any number of other things. It doesn’t matter what the permission was for; the point is that my students feel they can be fully themselves and live the life they yearn for, sometimes after only one lesson.
Faerie Tradition witches have a loving and compassionate Goddess and God, who embrace all humankind as their children, and offer us vitality as their sacred gift. In contrast to some religions that teach us to be ashamed of our desires, and ourselves Faerie Tradition helps you achieve self-love and personal goals, and find joy in living.
Faerie Tradition stresses practical application and improving one’s daily lives. The more one uses the tradition for internal growth—as one learns to do in Faerie Tradition’s training—the more one will clear the way for abundance to manifest on the physical plane. Faerie Tradition also emphasizes using spells to acquire the "good things in life": fun, romance, cars, good food, and other material possessions.
Faerie Tradition is predominantly a "doing" tradition, its training a hands-on learning instead of much theory. The ability to parrot a teacher’s innovative theory reflects only "head" knowledge; Fey knowledge is embodied knowledge. It is a fairly modern assumption prevalent in academia that to talk about something is the same as being able to do it. While theory is important, Faerie is basically understood through hands-on learning: doing ritual and opening one’s self to the teacher’s fanciful lecturing which consists of story or anecdote, images, and the like.
Faerie Tradition is not taught in a linear process. I even have misgivings about writing an essay such as this because, in a sense, when one writes essay style about the tradition, one tells lies. Faerie method of instruction is a complex weave which make Faerie shamans a little puzzling to their students at first. Yet it is also why their trainings are so effective: there is a deep holistic logic involved. A Faerie teacher’s weavings might seem like a digression or unusual sequence of topics but are in fact part of a complex, non-linear dance. If a student listens not just with the head, but with the heart, intuition, gut feelings, and anything else he or she wants to bring into the mix, they will get the picture. Faerie students bring their whole being to the experience so can dance with the teacher, the Gods, and the cosmos!
Having your whole being involved is an essential goal of Faerie Tradition. A goal of its training is that one does rituals, and lives one’s daily life, with one’s fullest passion and love, with all parts of one’s self brought into every situation of the day. It is a way of life. Instead, the contemporary person tends to do things with only part of themselves. A jogger runs, mind a million miles away at a business meeting that happened yesterday. A devoted lover is cut off from emotions so can’t be intimate with their partner during sex.
For all its emphasis on ecstasy, Faerie Tradition. is very disciplined. Another term for "spiritual practices’ might be "discipline." We do something over and over until we get good at it, like athletes practice for their games. For people who are looking for an alternative to the harsh, restrictive religions they were raised with, "discipline’ can be a scary word. And no wonder: discipline is often abused in this culture, used as a tool to destroy a person’s individuality and passion. Yet true discipline give us freedom: dancers know that if they do the necessary stretches first, they can dance joyfully, without restraint. Just so, the discipline of Faerie Tradition can be the key to true personal freedom and joy.
According to Faerie Tradition, the material world is a sacred gift, and the ethical pursuit of bounty and pleasure honours that gift. The Goddess is very down to earth! Love and sex—ecstasy—are at the heart of Faerie Tradition. Our tradition explores the sexual Mysteries of the Old Religion, and the Faerie Tradition training helps a student achieve healthy romance and sexuality through a step-by-step approach. Witches are concerned with getting concrete results!
A unique aspect of Faerie Tradition is that it honours both the Goddess and the God without elevating gender stereotypes into a sacred cosmology.
Practical Faerie Tradition also refrains from insisting one cast a magic circle before doing any magic. If I am to use magic as did the village witch—as a natural part of my day, throughout my day, while getting my dishes washed—I can’t cast a circle for every bit of magic I do.
Faerie Tradition emphasizes personal purity as a primary, regular, and ongoing practice. Crystals, ritual cups, and incense are not only worthless but dangerous unless the primary tool—one’s self—is fit. Any spell we cast out into the universe first travels through our own beings, and whoever we are shapes that spell. Magic is like any work of art: the artist’s character is indelibly printed on the art. So it is with a spell: if you are not fit, neither will the spell. Purification work is also an essential part of Faerie Tradition’s approach to inner growth.
Finally, while other Wiccan traditions tend to focus on the excellent magic of human camaraderie and celebration, Faerie Tradition is more geared toward technical skill with psychic matters and dealing with magical power in a direct way. Being Fey touched, and a more primal form of witchcraft, we tap into a wilder power. So more magical training is the custom.
As word of the power inherent in Faerie Tradition has spread, increasing numbers of people have wished to study the tradition. I became worried. The Faerie training I was given is not only challenging but dangerous. It is suitable only for people with a certain temperament and psychic makeup, and requires careful, personalized, guidance from a qualified teacher. For example, a student not appropriate to the training could enter into realms of spirit that might leave their mind unhinged. And some of the training rituals are geared towards emotional shifts in the psyche that most people are better off not experiencing. Faerie Tradition offers a drastic training, appropriate only to the desperate seeker who can gain the healing and power he or she needs in no other way. Therefore, I approached Victor Anderson with an idea for a novel way of teaching Faerie Tradition that would be safe and suitable for the public. I wanted to focus on what the average person of ancient times learned how to do: live close to the earth; work with magic in a simple, practical way; and apply the mystic to the everyday. My new system would offer the benefits of Faerie Tradition I have listed thus far. I would include rituals Victor had taught me, and traditional teaching modes in a system touched by the Fey Folk and as traditional as always.
The system would incorporate a new body of liturgy, new spells and a new system of working with energy in order to do magic, woven with carefully constructed theological and cosmological paradigms appropriate to that magic. These parts would make up a whole that approached Wicca differently from anything I had seen: it would be a recreation of an ancient practice. Everything new in the system was on some level old. With Victor as my consultant, I created a curriculum.
I called my curriculum "The Third Road," because instead of the "either/or" answers offered by most religions, I teach dialectic between so-called opposites. Below is a list I have used for years to teach that dialectic. Without in depth lecture, the chart might be a bit obscure or misleading, but I include it in the hopes that it gets a basic idea across. 1. Imminence / transcendence; 2. Self as Deity who is all-powerful / release of unhealthy identification with God & omnipotence; 3. Self-gratification / sacrifice of self; 4. Ego building / ego reduction; 5. Self-determined goals / surrender 6. Ecstasy and fertility /lessons and growth; 7. Development of self / selflessness; 8. "I am the power, the honour and glory" / "of myself I am nothing"; 9. As I will so mote be it / God, Your will not mine be done; 10. Development and use of will / willingness 11. Inner authority / outer authority 12. Rightfully blaming the perpetrator, oppressor, etc. / Self analysis as to one’s own part in the problem
So, for instance, I tell students that discipline is a key to personal freedom. And insist mysticism can be practical: good magic gets your house cleaned! I also teach that, while it is difficult to maintain dialectic between self-respect and ego reduction, this odd counter pointing makes the Fey path safe. Another example is that Faerie training supports your personal freedom while helping you develop your own integrity and ethics. And one of Faerie Tradition’s most precious gifts is that it teaches how to develop one’s full personal potential while honoring society.
And I insist that though the shamanic journey is an ecstatic path, ecstatic is not the same as sloppy, undisciplined or unethical. For example, one of my students complained about a huge purification assignment regarding an ethical dilemma she was in. Yet she did the purification work I told her to do, and the next day she had a spontaneous orgasm while hearing an opera. She later told me the purification cleared the way for that experience!
Questions I ask my students include: What are the pitfalls of an ecstatic spirituality? How does a seeker strive toward lavish satisfactions sexually and materially, without becoming trapped by illusions, pseudo-lusts, and addictions? Travelers of The Third Road can dance with wild magic because we are so disciplined that we do not lose our footing. Dialectic between so-called opposites is the way of the Fey Folk who have touched The Third Road.
As mentioned earlier, purification work is emphasised in the tradition. Purification work demands self-examination. I want to quote a story I wrote to give a sense of this self-examination. In the story, one of the Fey Folk is teaching a human how to do magic: "...your self-examination will not be that of a simpering cleric or brow-beaten wife, no ethical browbeating, no looking into self to see where you fail at goals you are given no means to achieve. You will see what inside yourself keeps you from your own innate loving goodness, that morality in each of us that is only lacking when we are ill in spirit.
"You will be shown how to heal your spirit so that you can be true to that ethic. You will learn why you fail a moral code, and be healed gently and lovingly so that the code is not an abstract measure whereby you are punished..." A fortune teller once told me that my work during this lifetime is to bring the Faerie magic to the human race. She told me of a lifetime long ago when I was a half-breed: half-human, half magical being. I was shocked that with little knowledge of me or of paganism she had given me such accurate information. Unknown to her, when I was given that psychic reading, I was celebrating my five-year anniversary of teaching The Third Road. It has now been ten years.
The God, Dagda, drew a veil between humans and the Fey folk because their destinies were to be no longer intertwined. The Goddess has charged me to help bring the Fey magic back through that veil, so that we as humans can be renewed with the starry eyed mysticism of the "little people", the passion and wisdom of the poet in love with the Goddess, and the wild integrity of the dark and dangerous Faerie folk.
People are dying body and soul for want of the Poetry of the Fey people. Faerie magic is not a poetry on the page but a living breathing poetry, the poetry of ritual, the poetry of waking each morning to the Mother’s embrace, the Art of walking with Her on the way to work. I try to offer my students a Faerie glimmer, touch their DNA with my Faerie breath so their racial memory will wake up—so that their blood will remember just a little bit how it flowed when they were first touched by the Fey.
Every day I am privileged to know that magic: the Goddess walks with me wherever I go. And I truly can feel Her presence; She is not a belief, but an actual tangible presence in my life that comforts and guides me.
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