Fairy Traditions or the Fairy-Faith

First of all, what classifies as a fairy tradition? Paths that label themselves as a fairy tradition incorporate fairy folklore and beliefs into their practices. This does not extend to Celtic countries only, as the belief in similar fairy-like spirits or supernatural creatures permeates cultures worldwide. Traditions that work with the fey may incorporate pagan beliefs and practices involving fairies, or the ‘good folk’, that were practiced when the fairy-faith was still prevalent in Europe. Other methods of working with the fey may include contacting them, journeying to the otherworld, or incorporating them into the path’s mythology (use of deity, spirits, and belief within the tradition).

The traditions listed in this lesson are not to be confused with the Radical Faeries, or Kisma Stephanich’s Faery Wicca,which claims to have rediscovered the traditions of the Tuatha De Danann, an ancient fairy race . While it is agreed that some of her information is based on Irish mythology, the majority of her books are based on pseudohistory, imagination, and plagiarism from R.J. Stewart’s books as well as other authors. Faerie Wicca or Faerie Faith, a Wiccan tradition founded in Texas, is also not associated with the paths covered in this introduction.

Andersons’ Feri Tradition

Victor and CoraFeri is a pre-Gardnerian initiatory witchcraft tradition founded in the United States by Victor and Cora Anderson. Victor was a member of the Harpy coven, a pre-Gardnerian witchcraft group practicing during the 1920s and ’30s in southern Oregon. Cora was born in rural Alabama, and her family were known to practice folk-magic, her grandfather being a cunning man and her aunt a herbalist and midwife. Shortly after their marriage in 1944, Victor initiated Cora and the foundations of the Feri tradition began. They started teaching as early as the 1950s. The tradition was originally called Vicia (pronounced as in Italian: vee-chyah not related to the word vecchia, but to vitka), was then called Pictish (not to be confused with Scottish reconstructionism or Picti-Wicca), and has also gone through the various spellings of Feri (Fairy, Faery, Faerie). The Feri tradition is essentially an oral tradition based on the unique combination of indigenous folk religions, Vodou and hoodoo practices, American folk-magic, fairy-faith, shamanism, and witchcraft. While outsiders may view this as eclecticism, Victor saw it as incorporating parts of his cultural heritage, focusing on the similarities instead of the differences.

Working with his wife Cora, the two of them initiated some famous personalities including Starhawk and Gwydion Pendderwen, as well as many others, with the tradition expanding and evolving over the course of time. The Andersons continued teaching until Victor’s death on September 20th of 2001 and Cora’s passing seven years later on Beltaine of 2008.

“Feri is an oral tradition with no canonical book of rituals and lore. It also places a high value on poetic creativity and individual exploration. This has naturally led to variations between the practices of different lines.” (Phoenix Willow, “The Feri Tradition“)

In 1994 on their 50th wedding anniversary Cora published her labour of love, Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition. Victor’s poetry was published in two books: Thorns of the Blood Rose, originally in 1970, and Lilith’s Garden, posthumously in 2005. His book Etheric Anatomy: The Three Selves and Astral Travel was published by Acorn Guild Press in 2004.

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R.J. Stewart’s Teachings

Robert John Stewart was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father was from a Gaelic-speaking family in the Western Highlands and his mother came from a Welsh-speaking family in South Wales. A musician, author, and teacher now residing in California, R.J. Stewart has had forty books published in his lifetime. In the 1980s he worked within the Merlin Tradition and also created the Merlin Tarot. Between 1980 and 1996 he wrote a series of books on Celtic mythology as well as a series on the Underworld and Faery traditions, which encouraged many people to take up the practice of working with ancestral and land-oriented spiritual paths. Today he travels and teaches Celtic mythology traditions, Underworld and Faery traditions, as well as Inner Temple traditions. Prefering not to be associated with witchcraft, calling himself a magician, R.J. Stewart’s teachings are more in line with paganism and Celtic mythology. His goal is to regenerate “ancient traditions of inner transformation for practical modern use”.

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Folklore-Based Fairy Paths

 

There are no specific traditions in this section, although I’m sure one could find covens or solitary practitioners who would consider themselves under this category. These are witches and pagans who incorporate the fairy-faith into their practices and belief systems by incorporating genuine fairy lore and traditions. This can involve anything from superstitions concerning the good folk to practicing a specific cultural fairy-faith such as that of Ireland, Brittany, Italy, or the Orkneys. Other forms of practitioners may be fairy doctors or cunning folk who may either make charms against the fairies, repairing any harm or mischief done by them, or working with the good folk and travelling with them to the Otherworld. Cunning Folk will be covered more extensively in another lesson.

The beliefs and concepts of fairy cannot be explained in one simple paragraph, so luckily there are many resources to draw from:

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Author Sarah

Illustrator and weaver of words. Witch. Forest siren with talons, succubic tendencies, a love of otherworldly beauty, poisonous plants, wild places and dead things.

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Join the discussion No Comments

  • Jen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all these lessons on different traditions. They are really making me examine my own labels of my practice and the resources lists are invaluable.

    • Sarah says:

      Oh my goodness, I had no idea we were neighbours! I live on Burnaby Mountain, lol! I peek at your witchy domesticness now and then, but never clicked on your profile til today!

  • Faerie♥Kat says:

    These, as well as all of your previous posts, are excellent introductions and overall assessments; I’m enjoying all of your analyses immensely. At first I thought your website was a goldmine, but I see now you’re really handing out diamonds!

  • Sarah says:

    Wow, thank you so much Kat! 😀

  • Cryiah says:

    i just so happined to have stumbled upon this site and have been drasticly and beautifly inlightened! thank you