For the past few days I have been following a discussion thread about what it does and does not mean to be a Feri Priest. It led me to this lovely post about what it means to be a Priest, Priestess, Shaman, and more… a great read.
The debate came up as to whether a God-slave could ever be a Feri Priest/ess, as Feri beliefs state that our primary Deity, above the Star Goddess, the Twins, the Guardians… is God Herself. Is the God within. Is the God, the Deity, the being that we each are inside and in the worlds beyond. That we hold, within us, the God we serve. Namaste, the concept that states “I see God in you,” is not a metaphor.
“You are sacred and special, holy and chosen… just like everyone else.” -Mikey
I would thus concur with the assessment that if a Priest/ess is of service first to their Deity, and then to their community, and acts as a bridge between them across the Abyss… that I am not a Feri Priest/ess.
I consider myself wholeheartedly a Feri Practitioner as part of my personal identity, as Feri teachings greatly inform my life, my magical systems, my daily practice, my love, and how I walk in the world. My obligations to my Godself are clear, and as part of that journey I formally married myself last year in a beautiful ritual fully acknowledging it.
However, my commitments to Bear (the Deity I am owned by) and my Work (the purpose for which I am on this plane at this time) were made before I made my commitments to my own Godself. I could theorize that things might have been different if the formal Feri teachings, as compared to the visions I have experienced for a very long time concerning parts of what is called Feri, had come earlier. But I have no interest in “should”ing all over myself 🙂 It is what it is, and I am grateful for the role Feri plays in my life.
Thus, by my own experiences, I would argue that I could never be a Feri Priest/ess, if the requirement of taking no God beyond myself, is in fact the case. I am a Priest, Shaman, and work with Feri as part of my personal practice and as a deeply rooted part of my identity and experience on this plane… but am not and will not by such definitions be a Feri Priest/ess.
If the perspectives on what it takes to Initiate shift, coming to understand the difference between God-slavery as an inherently destructive or subsuming system that destroys or completely binds Godself (as it is for a number that I know), and God-slavery which is built on consciously constructed interdependence as a tool for the betterment of all involved (including the Deities we serve)… I would delight in considering Initiation again. But that will not change the fact that I am a Shaman and Priest for Bear and for my Communities, and that “I” do not come first in the choices in my own life.
I delight in Feri. It has brought continued richness to my life. I delight in my service, both to the Deity I am owned by, those I serve, and the service I do for my Communities and the world at large.
I am blessed. And so are you on your path. Look up, look around, there it is, the blessings, hidden or not. You are sacred, special, holy and chosen… just like everyone else.
(…resisting the urge to raise my hand in response to the last statement and say “I’m not!”)
Question for you (which may or may not be answered here, in person, or food for another post): how important do you think it is to identify with a path/deity/calling? I ask simply because my own work is pretty obviously a vocation (or else I’m sure I’d be doing far more lucrative endeavors). However, I’ve never bothered to try and identify what/who/where that vocation stems from…I just do it. And within my own spiritual path (soto Zen) it works.
Any thoughts on that?
I think that some folks find comfort and structure in… well, structure. Others are happy simply being. It sounds like you know a personal truth and do not need a formalized structure to understand how and why.
Think of it like relationships between humans perhaps. That some folks are happy to say “cool, we are together, we do stuff,” while others prefer 70 page 10p font contracts signed in blood and re-interpreted every 3 months in a formal setting. And… most folks are somewhere in the middle. I believe that so it is with faith, vocations, and whatnot 🙂
Spirituality verse religion is a crucial element in this. It would seem that one can believe in many different elements of spirituality while religion is a much more focused definition of faith. I can accept Lee’s belief structure and do not see it as opposite to my own, so much as an extension of my own because ultimately we both serveour interpretation of “Deity”
Exactly Mitch. I can have Catholic beliefs, follow Catholic doctrine, even attend church… but unless I subscribe to specific behaviors, tenets and systems, and undergo specific training and initiation, I can not just declare myself a Catholic Priest.
The argument of God/Deity being within, and G-D manifesting in people is how I serve the Goddess. Through the One I serve in my life, I serve HER. Sometimes I forget this lesson, and have to be reminded. And the G-D within is reflected outward through the person I serve in my life. It is cyclic and circular, and suits my nature. Thanks for posting this Lee!
slave boy johnnie
Thank you for the link back and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
Most of what you said here I’ve addressed elsewhere or didn’t have anything to say, but I want to add one thing that jumped out at me when I read this. You said, “However, my commitments to Bear (the Deity I am owned by) and my Work (the purpose for which I am on this plane at this time) were made before I made my commitments to my own Godself.” So your Work, what you were put on this plane for, isn’t part of your own Godself? Part of Godself is your True Will and part of her is the threads of Fate. Don’t these two things define what you were put here for, Fate being the direction of the universe, and Will being your personal direction? I think you are much more connected to your Godself and that she’s much more a part of your Work and your relationship with Bear than you think she is, that you just didn’t recognize her there before Feri showed her to you. Just my thoughts.
Hi Muninn’s Kiss 🙂
The issue here, I feel, is a discussion of “I” vs. “I” – I in the tangible/fleshy form, and I in the cosmic/universal form. My work to Bear comes before fleshy me. My work to Bear is part of my life-long soul contracts and agreements this time around, and thus is indeed serving the cosmic/universal “I”.
This is why I find challenge in much of what I have encountered in the last year of discussions on student lists, etc, for Feri. The concepts of absolutes and firm statements, without an openness to dialogue that I had so experienced before formally joining such lists. This is, of course, an issue with discussions not held eye-to-eye and breath-to-breath. We make absolutes that echo into the world, unheeding oftentimes of the awareness of who we may actually end up speaking to.
The comments I was responding to were ones I have heard. I have adjusted a few words of my post to better reflect that fact.
I did indeed recognize and experience my Godself before my formalization of my agreement with Bear. Feri was actually not how that interaction first took place- my shamanic journeying did, and the blessing of having been my Mother’s child and Grandmother’s grandchild (I am a multi-gen spirit-worker). However, as someone whose spirit is fueled in purposeful service… I as a cosmic being, as my Godself, as a whole exist with more “Me” to go around when I am tapped into the Work that I do on this plane, other planes, etc. There are those within Feri who have expressed that this is subsuming my Godself under the will of others. My speaking up seems to have led to more folks vocally expressing that nope, that is not the case, as I am in fact doing the work that best fuels my Godself.
To me, this is comparative to non-egalitarian relationships. There are some who choose them, or are called to them, and feel (and are) more authentically themselves in their fullest capacity in such a relationship, as the submissive, subservient, or slave-dynamic. There are others who are coerced, forced, or otherwise talked into such dynamics, whose spirit withers and whose true self is squashed. I ask, in any relationship- spiritual, sexual, emotional, personal, etc… do you flower? Do you blossom, grow, and show your greatness to its full capacity here? Or, are you stuck in the muck, buried and bruised? This expresses to me an echo of Godself showing itself manifested on our fleshy forms.
I blossom. And yet, I have been told by some that my blossom does not fit in their bouquet. And, if my blossom does not match a bouquet- I am okay with that. I will still call myself a flower, be delighted in my flowering, and be amused and even happy with the fact that I feed off similar fertilizers and enjoy similar sunbeams.
> To me, this is comparative to non-egalitarian relationships. There are some who choose them, or are called to them, and feel (and are) more authentically themselves in their fullest capacity in such a relationship, as the submissive, subservient, or slave-dynamic. There are others who are coerced, forced, or otherwise talked into such dynamics, whose spirit withers and whose true self is squashed. I ask, in any relationship- spiritual, sexual, emotional, personal, etc… do you flower? Do you blossom, grow, and show your greatness to its full capacity here? Or, are you stuck in the muck, buried and bruised? This expresses to me an echo of Godself showing itself manifested on our fleshy forms.
Yes, exactly. I think (Feri) people tend to look at the extreme. “To be a submissive is to submit your life force to another. God forbid!” Um, no, not in a healthy sub/dom relationship. There’s a difference between letting someone else be in control and “submitting your life force”. I’ve heard it said that the sub actually has more power than the dom because she (to use generic pronouns because this sentence got unwieldy) is in control of her partner’s power over her. She decides to let him (or her) have that power and can stop it or take it away at any point. The ultimate control is actually with her, not her partner. His control and power is by consent and limited by her agreement. She still has control of her life force. It’s kind of like selling someone a license to publish and sell an art piece that you created. You still own it and can do what you want and can revoke the license at any point (in the analogy, I’m not sure legally in real world situations).
It’s the same with the gods, I think. Ritual possession is a major part of some trains of Feri, like it is in Voudou, yet people don’t get up in arms about that being “submitting your life force to another”, well at least I’ve never heard of anyone getting up in arms about it. Possession is by consent with a god you already have a relationship with and is limited in duration. There are limits understood by both the god and you. You willingly submit for a time. So, too, with our day to day relationship with them. We serve them willingly, submit to them willingly, but it’s always our choice, we aren’t submitting our life force to them, but lending it to them.
Whether it’s a relationship with another person or with a god, look at, as you said, whether you’re blossoming in that relationship. If you control your life force, you will be, but if they do, it will be a drain on you, like a psychic vampire, and you, the flower, will wither and eventually die.
> I blossom. And yet, I have been told by some that my blossom does not fit in their bouquet. And, if my blossom does not match a bouquet- I am okay with that. I will still call myself a flower, be delighted in my flowering, and be amused and even happy with the fact that I feed off similar fertilizers and enjoy similar sunbeams.
To get the “you don’t fit” feeling from Feri people is ironic, since by definition, they are individual, nonconformist, rebellious, misfits (which I see as a good thing). There’s a reason why there tends to be so much infighting. To paraphrase a description of the Rabbinical system in Judaism, whenever two Feri witches come together, you get three points of view. Feri, and witchcraft in general, is very individual. Even if you work with a group, the path is yours and yours alone. Ultimately, it’s you alone in the dark in the rain on a moonless, starless night in the middle of no where far from anybody or anything sitting on a dark hill or mound, not knowing what will happen next.
> The concepts of absolutes and firm statements, without an openness to dialogue that I had so experienced before formally joining such lists.
That’s something that has always struck me as weird. A tradition rooted in oral tradition that doesn’t seem to like to discuss that oral tradition. Some of my greatest insights come when I’m trying to respond to something someone else said, because dialogue forces me to think about it in a different way because I need to say it in a way the other person will get it. I’m a very black and white thinker, and I tend to state things in absolute, then move toward the grey areas. I will state things from one point of view when I have multiple and wait for someone to challenge that absolute so I can connect it to the Other. An absolute is never the whole story. The whole story is the Dance of the Divine Twins, opposite but the same, fighting yet lovers, paradox in constant flux.
I enjoyed your blog post. I’m curious to know more about this world. Hopefully it won’t be long until our culture embraces these topics more openly. It reminded me of this talk I saw at TEDxSF last week about redefining the female orgasm: