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
Feri 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.
- Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition by Cora Anderson
- Thorns of the Blood Rose by Victor H. Anderson
- Lilith’s Garden by Victor H. Anderson
- Etheric Anatomy by Victor H. and Cora Anderson
- People of the Earth: The New Pagans Speak Out by Ellen Hopman (with Lawrence Bond) – Contains a rare interview with Victor.
- By Witch Eye: Selections from the Feri Uprising, Vol.1, by Contributors to Witch Eye (Storm Faerywolf, ed.)
- The White Wand by Anaar
- The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
- Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle
- The Stars Within the Earth by Storm Faerywolf
- Lilith’s Lantern (includes a brief history, some foundational exercises, and descriptions of some of the different lines of the tradition)
- Victor Anderson Memorial Page
- The White Wand
- Feri Tradition Articles, Meditations, Lore
- Acorn Guild Press
- Feri Tradition Community Resources
- “The Faery Tradition” by Anna Korn
- “The Feri Tradition: Vicia Line” by Phoenix Willow
- “So, Just What is the Feri Tradition?” by Niklas Gander
- “Speaking with Victor Anderson” by Inni Baruch
- Victor Anderson’s Writings & Poetry
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”.
- Earth Light: Rediscovering the Wisdom of Celtic & Faery Lore
- Power Within the Land: The Roots of Celtic and Underworld Traditions
- The Underworld Initiation
- The Well of Light: From Faery Healing to Earth Healing
- The Living World of Faery
- The Spirit Cord
- The Dreampower Tarot
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:
- The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries – W.Y. Evans-Wentz
- The Secret Commonwealth: Of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies – Robert Kirk
- Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry – Yeats
- Treasury of Irish Myth, Legend, and Folklore – Yeats
- The Fairies in Tradition and Literature – Katherine Briggs
- An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures – Katherine Briggs
- The Vanishing People: Fairy Lore and Legends – Katherine Briggs
- The Sidhe: Wisdom from the Celtic Otherworld – John Matthews
- The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries (Sacred Texts)
- The Secret Commonwealth: Of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies (Sacred Texts)
- Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland – Lady Wilde
- Puck – That shrewd and knavish sprite called Robin Goodfellow
- The Fairy Family: A Series of Ballads & Metrical Tales Illustrating the Fairy Mythology of Europe
- The Fairy Mythology: Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries