Feri and the Art of Curling

Let’s start off with a disclaimer. I am not a Feri initiate or student, so I am in no way an expert. I am simply a seeker who is dipping his toe in Feri. My comments are not from any official teaching; they are just from my personal observations so far. So far, based on my reading, research, and practice, Feri has resonated deeply with me. This is because I can apply Feri ideas and techniques to several areas of my life. In fact, I’ve found myself applying or connecting Feri practice in an unlikely place, my local curling club.

To give a little background, I began curling (again, the ice sport, not the weight lifting) last winter with a friend who discovered the curling club. We signed up for an instructional league, then played for a season. Towards the end of the season, I felt confident in my game and looked forward to coming back to play this season. Unfortunately, not curling for six months has left me extremely rusty. Coupled with extremely competitive (and experienced) teammates, my shoddy gameplay is a little problematic. Fortunately, curling has given me an outlet to apply Feri practice and gauge its effectiveness in my life.

  1. Soul Alignment

In curling, alignment is arguably the most important concept of delivering a stone properly. The skip, the captain of the team who calls shots, will hold his broom out to give the thrower a target to throw at. The thrower lines the stone and foot up with the broom, and if they do so correctly, the stone should stop at the desired point. If not, the stone will arrive at a random location at the other end. So far this season, alignment has been my primary obstacle.

The Feri Tradition teaches of the triune nature of our souls. The Fetch collects and manages life energy and communicates in images, emotion, and intuition. The Talker is the face through which we communicate with the world. The Godsoul is our connection with the Divine. When our souls are aligned and in communication with one another, we are much more grounded, centered, and for me, more confident and capable.

Using curling as a metaphor for spirituality, the skip’s broom represents my Godsoul giving me direction and purpose, the stone represents my Fetch, and my body the Talker. If one of the components is out of alignment, my efforts are mostly in vain.

What I find interesting is that when I practice soul alignment before curling, my mind calms down and I am better able to focus on the task at hand. In fact, there have been a few times when I have practiced soul alignment mid-game and have instantly improved. If soul alignment can help me with a trivial game, how else might it improve my life?

 

  1. Iron Pentacle

 

The Iron Pentacle is an exercise used in Feri as a way to determine where we are imbalanced in our personal energy.  The points of the pentacle represent the energies of Sex, Pride, Self, Power, and Passion. As you contemplate each point, any imbalances in your personal energy can often be easily deciphered. So, I tried to apply this practice to curling when stepping up to throw a stone. This is becoming second nature as the body correspondences of the Pentacle follow the flow of preparing to throw a stone.

Sex – The top point of the pentacle, the point of creation. This is the beginning and ending of everything. As I look at the skip’s broom to line up my shot, I focus on the outcome I want to achieve.

Pride – the lower right point of the pentacle and the right foot. This point challenges us to recognize our worth and cultivate the ability to live freely. This point reminds us not to compare ourselves to others, an important lesson when you are a newbie in a room full of experts. I remind myself of these points as I step into the hack (the foothold you deliver stones from in curling) and line up my shot.

Self – the upper left point of the pentacle and the left hand. In curling, the left hand holds either your broom or a stabilizer to give you balance as you deliver your stone.  Likewise, this point on the Iron Pentacle reminds me to embrace the balance of my strengths and limitations. Where these two concepts meet lies my personal potential to grow. Here, I embrace that I am still learning and that I can only improve if I allow myself the leeway to make mistakes.

Power – the upper right point of the pentacle and the right hand. In my right hand, I grip the stone and remind myself that through my will, I can achieve anything. It also reminds me that true power is power with others, rather than power over others. Curling teams are only successful if every team member is working towards the common goal. I remind myself that even if my team gets frustrated with my performance, it’s only because they see potential in me and want me to do better.

Passion – the lower left point of the pentacle and the left foot. For right-handed curlers (like me) our left foot is the sliding foot. The left foots has a Teflon pad that allows us to slide on the ice when delivering our stone. This is the foot that supports our weight during the delivery. Likewise, the point of passion supports me in my experiences. This point reminds me to feel it all, whether that be the elation of doing well or the frustration of performing poorly.

  1. Black Heart of Innocence

The Black Heat of Innocence is the considered to be the natural state of the soul. This state of being allows us to live fully, freely, and without fear. As I’ve talked about in this post, I’m not the best curler. It’s also important to know, that try as I might, I am self-conscious and very aware of how others might perceive me.  These attributes don’t serve me well in curling or in life.

In Feri mythology, the goddess Nimue is the embodiment of the Black Heart of Innocence. Nimue is a maiden goddess who is the first emanation of the Star Goddess. She encourages us to play, laugh, and be joyful. While I’m curling, She seems to whisper in the back of my head “Fuck these guys.  This is just a game. Get out there and have fun!” Ultimately, I’m not very good at listening to Her in these moments, but I’m trying.

For me, the most important part of any spiritual path is the ability to apply its practice to every part of my life. At this point, Feri seems universally applicable. I’m not sure I’m 100% ready to commit to formal training, but I’d say I’m at least 95% there. Only time and practice will tell.

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Memory Jar – 2017

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As soon as the clock hit 3:15pm, I decided it was close enough to 4pm for me to leave work for the day. I closed my laptop, locked my desk, and said a half-hearted goodbye as the door was closing behind me. I don’t think my feet even touched the ground until I was in the elevator.

Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday and that means a lot of things to me. First it means that tomorrow will be another short day at work and that I will have a cocktail in my hand by 5 o’clock. This weekend will be more of the same. Most importantly it means that it’s time to finally break out the memory jar and read through the adventures I experienced over the past year.

A few years ago, I saw a post on Facebook that a friend shared. The post was about the practice of writing down everything amazing that happens to you and putting it in the jar. Then, each year, you read through your memories to remind yourself how fortunate you are.

This has been the best part of my birthday since I’ve adopted the practice. Here are some highlights of my jar for the past year:

 

  • 8/16 – I had a huge fight with my friend, but he still showed up and celebrated my birthday and we decided just to let the fight go.
  • 8/16 – Put a terrible situation behind me and learned some responsibility.
  • 9/1 – I was offered and accepted my dream job. (I realize that I bitch about my job a lot. It’s nice to be reminded that I am incredibly blessed to have my job.)
  • 9/9 – Went to the World Cup of Hockey game and took part in a legitimate “USA” chant.
  • 9/20 – Began my Pagan study group
  • 10/3 – Went curling for the first time with my friends Garrett and Alex (The Olympic ice sport, not weight lifting).
  • 10/4 – Forgave, blessed, and released an old friendship that was no longer serving me. (A year ago, I would never have thought about ending a friendship, no matter how bad it was for me. It’s amazing to see that I have grown.)
  • 10/6 – Hired my first employee at my new job!
  • 10/14 – Developed my first training piece for my new job (the first time I felt like could actually perform well in my new role.)
  • 2/15 – Heard my mom brag to a friend about the Valentine’s Day dinner I made her.
  • 2/27 – I threw the best shot at our curling match and won the game for our team!
  • 3/10 – Received an unexpected and substantial bonus at work!
  • 4/1 – My best friend came back from her travels through Europe and Africa.
  • 6/16 – Graduated with my Masters!
  • 7/22 – Had a significant experience that let me know that I was on the right spiritual path.
  • 8/5 – Made friends with an enemy

Tonight, I will ritually give thanks for the gifts I received in the past year. After burning the memories, I will set intentions for the year to come. Here’s a (very) short list:

  • Continue to grow spiritually and professionally
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Travel to Africa to visit my friend who’s travelling abroad
  • Commit to Feri tradition training
  • Start my spiritually-based company

Here’s to another great year!

Honoring My Beloved Dead– Trish, Chris, and Jinah

 

IMG_20170520_154751.jpgI know it’s the wrong season for this, but I didn’t get around to honoring Trish during the Samhain season. Feelings of guilt, compounded by the fact that Chris and Jinah just recently passed, made me want to write about the three of them now, rather than waiting until Samhain.

 

Trish

I was working the night shift at work; something I wasn’t accustomed to. It was a rough day and I needed to blow off some steam after work. I called all my friends and they were already in for the night before I had even left the office. Despite not having a partner in crime, I decided to go out on my own. I went to my usual bar in hopes that someone I knew would be there. Luckily, Trish was there.

Trish was a regular at the bar and I saw her almost every time I went out. We didn’t talk a lot, but sometimes our smoke breaks would sync up, so we’d talk outside. I considered her an acquaintance, but after this night, she became a friend.

Another man was at the bar and he began making homophobic comments. I asked him to stop and he responded by calling me a “fag.” Like most gay men, this is a trigger word for me and I was ready to fight. Before I could say anything, Trish stepped in.

“Joe might be a fag, but motherfucker, he’s our fag. So, if you’re messing with him, you’re going to mess with all of us” Trish said. At over six feet tall, Trish was an imposing figure. The guy paid his tab and left quickly thereafter. I had never felt so protected by someone who was basically a stranger.

Not long after, I stopped going to this bar. One of my friends broke up with her boyfriend, who also frequented this bar. We stopped going to avoid unnecessary drama. After almost a year, I got word that Trish passed away unexpectedly.

A few weeks ago, my friend Jamie asked to go to this bar in hopes of running into an old coworker. I agreed and was excited that I would get to see people I haven’t seen in years, including Trish. That’s when reality hit me. Trish was gone, I would never see her again.

 

Chris

Chris was a coworker at my previous job. He was a supervisor in our inbound sales center and I was a sales coach who focused mostly on our retail locations. That being said, I didn’t interact with Chris all that often. Chris had a myriad of health problems that eventually took him away from work for a while. While he was out, I covered his team. His return coincided with another supervisor leaving on medical leave, so I moved on to cover the other team.

Chris was a lifesaver for me. Whenever I had questions or needed support, he was there. He was also one of the few people on the floor who had as much nerd-cred as me. We spent so much time talking about comics and video games. He made work fun.

When I was offered a new position at a different company, the rest of my peers were resentful. They felt that I was leaving because I didn’t want to work with them anymore. Chris was the only one who saw that I was leaving for a better opportunity. He wished me well and helped me understand that I ultimately had to do what was best for me.

Chris passed away a few weeks back. I hadn’t seen him since I left my old job. The world definitely lost a good soul when he died.

 

Jinah

“So what are you going to do when we don’t hire you” the voice said from the phone on the desk in front of me. I was caught off guard. I answered the question and eventually this portion of my interview ended.

Jaime, the manager who was present in the room with me, shrugged afterwards and said “Sorry about that. Jinah’s just a little rough around the edges.” I left the interview knowing that I didn’t get the job. Fortunately, I received the official offer the next day.

When I began work, I sat a few seats away from Jinah. She was a middle-aged woman who had recently returned from medical leave. On my first day, she handed me a $10 bill and said “go get me Jimmy Johns.” I was shocked, but ultimately complied, because I wasn’t going to make a woman in a wheelchair go get her own lunch.

Over time, her rough demeanor softened and we became close. I enjoyed her candor and her impatience with stupid people. She made me laugh every day. Her battle with cancer was tough, though she tried to hide it. Over the past six months, I watched her deteriorate mentally. I knew she was sick, but I didn’t realize how bad it was.

Last week, Jinah went on short-term disability at work. By Thursday, she was moved to end of life hospice. On Monday, she passed away. It hit me harder than I expected.

I was cleaning my desk out at work and I found a card from Jinah. I had the flu a few months ago and she gave me a get-well card. It was amazing that Jinah, who was struggling with her own health issues, took the time to wish me well on a trivial concern.

 

Today, I lit three candles on my altar.

Trish, I thank you for your protection and your laughter.

Chris, I thank you for your wisdom and your support.

Jinah, I thank you for your candor and your guidance.

Blessed may you all be, in this world and all others.

Spring Reiving

I first learned about the concept of reiving, or the process of ritually cleaning, clearing, and preparing your magickal work space in the book Witchcraft: Theory and Practice by Ly de Angeles. What started as practice of clearing my ritual space before a hefty ritual, slowly evolved to involve my home and surrounding property.

The first step in the process is extremely mundane. In fact, it involves the stuff that normal spring cleaning entails. I wash the walls, clean the baseboards, vacuum the floor. You name it, I do it. I even move the fridge so I can clean behind it. This is also my annual closet clean out. I take out everything that I haven’t worn in a while and set it aside for donation.

At this point, I’m usually a sweaty, dusty mess. I lay out some clean clothes and take a shower with intent. I ritually purify myself with sea salt and lavender oil. I then move to the center of my home.

On the coffee table, I place a dish of incense. It’s made of equal part sage, clove, and copal. Also on the makeshift altar is a dish of burning charcoal, a dish of sea salt, a chalice of water, a glass of red wine, a single white candle, and my athame.

I light the candle and ground myself. I cast a circle with my athame around my altar. Once the circle is cast, I visualize it expanding around my entire house. Once this thought it solidified in my mind’s eye, I push the circle out to cover my entire property.

Next, I place the tip of the athame in the salt to bless it. After I add three pinches of salt to the chalice of water, I sprinkle the water around my house working clockwise. I then move outside to sprinkle salt around the perimeter of my house. Side note – I typically do this late at night to avoid my nosey neighbors. Once I move back in the house, I toss some incense on the coals and repeat the process of smudging my house and the outer perimeter of my property.

When I return to the altar, I place the censer back in its place. I ground, once again, before picking up the glass of wine and sitting on my couch. Once, I’ve finished the wine, I head to bed, letting the circle dissipate, forming a natural ring of protection around my home.

Finding a Patron Deity

My study group has begun discussing deity. The conversation has been a little lacking, so I got the conversation started by offering up the deities from various pantheons that I have established a working relationship with over the years. One of the members of the study group then asked if how to best go about finding a patron. I thought it was a great question and wanted to “test-drive” my response here before I shared my response with the group.

People in my study group tend to fall into two camps. The first group has never worked with deity before and may not be well-versed in mythology making it more difficult to pin down a deity to work with. Since several of them don’t see research as particularly magickal, I wanted to develop a ritual to open themselves up to a deity’s presence.

For this ritual, you should gather a few offerings. It doesn’t necessarily matter what these offerings are, as long as they speak to yu. After arranging the offerings on your altar, cast a circle. Then, light a new candle, in any color, and make the following call:

“I open myself up to the higher power that I need at this moment in my life. I ask that you, my Patron, make yourself known to me. Light the path that leads to you. Accept these offerings as a token of my commitment. So mote it be”

The candle should be allowed to burn down, even if you must extinguish and relight the candle over the next several days. Allow the offerings to remain for as long as possible as well. If you must dispose of them, leave them in a natural place.

You should begin feeling pulls from or receive signs to identify the deity that wants to work with you. Research this deity and determine how working with this deity will be of benefit to you.

The second camp of study group members have an idea of which deity they want to establish a relationship with, but don’t know the best way to go about this. The next ritual is to help make the initial connection. For this ritual, I will use the Goddess Hecate as an example.

As with the first ritual, I would assemble an altar with offerings and images of Hecate. I would lay out a vase of red poppies, a chalice of dark red wine, three candles (white, red, and black), and maybe some salt arranged in the shape of a crossroad. After casting the circle, I would recite a hymn to the Goddess.  For Hecate, I would borrow from Ovid and say:

“O night, most faithful guardian and Mother of these mine Mysteries, and all ye golden stars who with the moon floating near, succeed the fires of day, and thou, divine three formed Hekate, who knows my desire and strengthens my arts of magic; and you, O kindly Earth, who offer your potent herbs to my power; and airs, winds, mountains, streams, and lakes, and all you spirits of the groves and of the night! Be with me now!
By your enabling power, at my Will, broad rivers shall flow from their astonished banks, back to their source; My magic song shall sooth the angry sea and rouse when quiet; At my whim, I bring the clouds and make them flee, I both call the howling winds and quell them; By my art I break the throats of serpents; the living rocks and mighty oaks from out their soil I tear; I move whole forests, bid the mountains tremble, the deep earth to twist and groan, and for ghosts to rise from their tombs. Thee too, bright Moon, I draw down”

Afterwards, I would state my reasons for calling Hecate to me. I would explain why I feel drawn to her and ask that she become my Patroness. I would then present the offerings to her. Finally, before closing the Circle, I would release her, but ask her to stay if she wished.

Ongoing, I would pray (yes, pray) to Hecate each day and evoke her presence into any ritual or magickal work I undertake. This would allow me to get to know her on a spiritual level and to continually open myself up to her guidance.

Hopefully, these rituals will work for you, as they have for me in the past. Let me know what other practices would be helpful in establishing a relationship with a deity.

The Kala Rite

I just finished listening to the audiobook Witches of America by Alex Mar. The book details the author’s journey into Occult America. The author spends a lot of time speaking of her interaction with initiates of the Feri Tradition. One of the rites detailed in the book is the Kala Rite and I found it an interesting and simple daily practice that I wanted to share here.

According to Storm Faerywolf, kala is the Hawaiian word for “loosen, untie, or absolve.” The Kala Rite seeks to transform any energetic blocks into power that the witch can use to their advantage. All you need to perform the rite is a glass of fresh water.

After you ground and center, begin to visualize something you wish to be free of. Bring this to the surface, allow the feeling to nearly boil over. When the energy peaks, take three deep breaths and will the energy to fill the glass of water. The water should now appear to be thick, black, and toxic in your mind’s eye.

Now, begin to raise power. Feri Witches prefer to use Blue Fire, a term for Feri energy, but you can use personal energy or draw on energy from the universe. Once you feel charged, place both hands over the water and see the toxic liquid begin to lighten and shimmer with energy. The water will now be transformed into an elixir of power humming with divine light.

To finalize the ritual, drink the water and allow the energy to transform the blockages you are experiencing. Once you urinate, the negative energy will be removed from your body.

I’ve practiced this a few times over the past few weeks and I feel that I have had great results. In fact, I think I will begin researching more about Feri practices and sharing them here.

Honoring My Beloved Dead – Linda

When I was in middle school, I met a girl named Mary who would become one of my closest friends. Later when I came out, she became a fierce protector and loyal ally. Standing by her side offering support was her mother Linda. Throughout the years, Linda was a surrogate mother when I needed to run something past her before talking to my parents. She was pivotal in making me realize that I was in control of my life and I could choose what I wanted. However, Linda was also incredibly willing to tell when I was being irresponsible or thoughtless.

When I grew up and moved away, Mary and I lost touch for a bit. We synced up again on my 21st birthday, but didn’t remain close. It wasn’t until a few years ago that she moved back to Columbus and we began hanging out more.

Last Halloween, I went to Mary’s house for a small party. Linda was there and we spent several hours discussing what was happening in her life since we last talked. Linda brushed that topic off and asked how I was doing.  Mary, Linda, and I talked all night and it was probably one of the best nights I had in while at the time.

A few weeks, maybe months, later, Mary and I got into an argument stemming from each of us having too much to drink. The next day, I got a call from Linda. She acted a mediator and all but forced Mary and I to work out our disagreement.

A little more than a year ago, a friend sent me a text to check Mary’s Facebook page. When I did, I saw that Linda has passed away the night before. Linda was out mowing her yard. Her neighbor felt that she was mowing her lawn too late in the evening and shot her.

My friend group from high school surrounded Mary with love and we made sure she was taken care of while grieving. A few weeks ago, Linda’s killer was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. The sentencing brought some much needed closure for the family and for that I’m thankful.

Today, while writing this, I read back through her obituary. Linda was a single mother who worked her ass off to provide for her family. She started off as a phone operator for a local railroad company and worked her way up to Superintendent of Operations. She graduated from BGSU magna cum laude. She was an activist working for social justice and environmental conservation. She was an amazingly generous and overall badass lady.

Tonight, I light a candle for Linda on my altar. I thank her for her guidance and ask her to continue guide and protect her family.