Witches Soul Work Part 4: Faery
“If that which thou seek thy find not within thee, thy will never find it without.” (1)
The Craft involves deep soul work leading to understanding the authentic self, the connection with the divine, and understanding the Mysteries. If you were Buddhist you might called this enlightenment. What is enlightenment for Witches? Many people new to the Craft read the beginner books and think that that is all there is. I would like to share with you some of the ways that Traditional Witches do soul work, the way they approach and understand the Mysteries and an exploration of what the Mysteries are. This idea was inspired by a course called Soul Work from Cherry Hill Seminary (www.cherryhillseminary.org) and from a comment by a woman on our local pagan internet site who said that she was quitting our group because we were not serious (i.e. we are fluffy) about our spiritual work. (Thank you dear!) The Craft is the most deeply spiritual path I know, but because it is hidden it is not so easy to find.
by artists in Dorval, Quebec
When we work outside we often feel that someone is watching us. Strange things happen; the candles blow out when there is no wind, things go missing only to turn up again in odd places, offerings are taken mysteriously. Witches that work outside, and I hope you all do, eventually come to the notice of the Sidhe (pronounced shee) or Faery. I think it’s because practicing the Craft changes our energy body so that we light up in a way that they can see us. So who are they? What happens when we acknowledge them? How do we work with them? Is it a part of the Craft? Working with the Sidhe is a kind of Shamanic practice although the Faery Seers would never have used the word ‘shaman’. This word comes from Siberia and the Tungus tribe (2) and means ‘one who can see in the dark’…meaning that the shaman can see what others cannot.
Up the airy mountain
down the rushy glen
we daren’t go a hunting
for fear of little men
good folk, wee folk trooping all together
green jacket, red cap and white owl’s feather
William Allingham (3)
Here’s a great definition by Caitlin Matthews: “Shamanism is a world-wide practice in which the spiritual interrelationship of the earth with the Otherworlds forms an interwoven fabric of physical and psychic being, affecting all forms of life, both seen and unseen. Shamans are walkers between the worlds and interpreters of the spirit realms. They explore these unseen realms by means of the spirit journey (which occurs in shamanic trance) to interact with the beings they encounter there and to retrieve knowledge, healing and advice, which may benefit the people.
Shamanism exists among peoples who have an animistic worldview; in many cultures it functions as spirituality, although it often exists separately from formal religion as a healing, divinatory and spiritual practice. Shamanism is identifiable the world over by its practices, chief of which are the spirit-journeys to gain information, healing, divinatory and prophetic insight, and to enter into ancestral discourse.” (4)
What is Faery Seership?
According to R.J. Stewart (5) the Sidhe are beings one level of awareness from ours. The name ‘Sidhe’ is a common way of referring to them, but actually the Sidhe is the mound where they live and the proper term for them is “Sith” which means dwellers of the Sidhe. I use the term Faery to embrace all the races of Faery and the Sidhe to refer to the High Shining Ones. Our realms intersect and interact and each Faery is different as are we. Faeries are known in every culture from Japan to Native America. The stories strangely parallel each other. Science cannot prove the existence of Faery, but that does not mean they have disproved them either.
R.J. Stewart describes Faery Seership in a unique way. He says it is a journey of intuition, imagination and inspiration. Ask yourself not “do I believe?” but rather why have I come here seeking an encounter with Faery? Faery seership is a complex power tradition. The Faery races are different in each land but the techniques we work on can be used wherever you are. We enter the world of Faery using our imagination as a tool and the imagery of our ancestors. In Faery there are no politics, no dogma and no religion. So why would we want to encounter Faery? The main value for undertaking this is that it is a great adventure leading us to liberation from the slavery of modern life. (5)
My personal reasons for working with Faery are because I have encountered them in my work outside and had some strange experiences with them, so I want to understand what is happening. Also, I know that some of the Faery are interested in healing the earth as the Witches are, so they collaborate with us if we are sincere. I believe the Faery can help and heal us as well if they become our allies. I am also curious as to their way of understanding energy, the world and the Divine. I was called to them and it was not a call I wanted to ignore.
What are your reasons for embarking on this journey?
The Faery Realm from R.J. Stewart’s ‘Earth Light’
“The realm of the Sidhe has a consistent appearance in accounts. It is the primal land, the land of youth, the summer land but also a reflection of our world. In Celtic traditions it is known as the Underworld and is considered to exist “within the planet”. It is therefore the “Primal Image” of the land where you live, a pristine reflection with no sin and no pollution. We all carry this shared dream and by dreaming this dream together we manifest our land. So Faeryland is the primal land inherent within our manifest land. These two lands were once close together and the inhabitants met, mingled and married. We moved away from Faery by our greed for power and control, our elevation of logic and science over creativity and art. Faery is experienced through Initiation and the Second Sight. Working with the image of the primal land can restore our land to health and by re-attuning our land to the Faery land we manifest balance. But to encounter Faery we must first enhance our own energy signature.
When we enter Faery we find a land of pure light, the land that we are longing for, and returning to our gray world can cause sorrow. If we are seduced into wanting to stay in Faery to escape our life here, that is a weakness within ourselves. But if we bring back the primal image and the purified light we bring back the power to transform ourselves and to transform the world. This is the first test. We do this work not from a place of power hunger, but a place of compassion for the suffering here. It is possible to walk between the worlds, to enter the land of Faery and return.
The Nature of the Faery People
a non-organic/spiritual race of beings close in vibration to humans
they are attuned to the land and vary from land to land like us
they contact humans usually concerning the vitality of the land
they mirror humanity in many ways
they adapt their communication with us according to what is in our imagination
they have a “hive” consciousness, if you interact with one they will all know about it. Different orders of Faery have different hives and all the hives do not interact. We are composed of all 5 elements but elemental Faeries are not, so an Earth Faery (Gnome) might not interact with Air Faery (Sylph) etc.
they experience universal unselfish love but not the emotion of human love. We must be careful about human sexuality when interacting with faery.
Faery companions often complete something lacking in us as we complete something lacking in them.
Time is different. What seems hundreds of years to us may be only hours to them.
They are usually human size or taller but there are giants, theriomorphic beings (animal/human) and bodies of light.”
The Dormant Greenman painting by Elissa Baltszer
Are the Elementals Faeries?
I recommend that you do all Faery work outside no matter what the weather. The Faery do not come into your house, unless they are Brownies. Traditionally they also won’t come where there are cats.
The Faery you encounter may not fit any of the myths; they are what they are. Some people don’t think that Elemental beings are Faery but I do. I think of them as World Faeries, being made of Spirit with one element. Earth Faeries are Gnomes, made of earth and spirit; Air Faeries are Sylphs and made of air and spirit; Water Faeries are Undines and made of water and spirit; Fire Faeries are Djinn or Salamanders and made of fire and spirit. (6) I like the paintings of Brian Froud (7) and I think that they are good representations of World Faeries.
To see a Faery take a stone with a natural hole in it. Bath your eyes in Marigold tea. (Make sure you are not allergic…put some on your inner arm for half an hour to see if there is no reaction first.) Go outside just as the sun is setting in a wild and quiet place. Even your garden if it is quiet and secluded would work. When it is neither dark nor light, day nor night; when twilight covers the world with a soft blue mantle, that is the betwixt and between time. Sit quietly and enter a calm and meditative state. Use the holy stone as a telescope and look around you in each direction. If you are lucky enough to see the Faery they will appear but remember…if you can see them, they can see you.
How do you start to work with Faery?
The first step is an attunement with their energy. Stand outside and imagine the light of the Faery world is rising up through your body, filling you with their energy. Breathe it up and through your whole being, cleansing you at a cellular level. For a more complete instruction of this technique R.J. Stewart shares it publicly in an exercise called: the Rising of the Light Below (8) which you can use with his permission. See the reference below for the link. However as Witches, doing ritual and meditation outside also attunes us to their energy. There is a caveat however; to work with Faery you must live an impeccable life! They don’t like those that harm the earth or are liars. Does that sound like trying to keep the Wiccan Rede?
It’s important to keep a book with all your Faery encounters because most of the time you will be meeting them in an altered state of consciousness. This means that in ordinary consciousness you may forget some of what you learned, just like we forget dreams. Another reason to keep a book is that sometimes the Faery themselves will ‘overshadow’ your writing and things that you were intending to write become inexplicably changed to something else!
Create an altar to the Faery outside and make a ritual asking them to meet you and work with you. This altar should be made of natural and organic things like wood or stone. Historically Faery don’t like iron, so nothing metal please. Use a wand rather than an athame when working with them. On the altar you can also offer them food. They don’t eat it like us, but rather they take the energy from the offering. That is why natural products made into something by our own hands are the best offerings. For example: homemade cakes and bread, beer or whisky. They also like offerings of milk, butter and honey. After the offering has sat on the altar for a day it should be taken down and the plates washed. Don’t eat this food or feed it to pets as it has no energy left and is not good for living people to eat. Please don’t offer them cut flowers; the dying energy of the beautiful flowers makes them sad.
Besides the Elemental Faeries there are also the High and Shining Ones, which are beings of pure spirit residing in Faeryland. They are immortal and hold the blueprint of life within them. The myth is that they come from the stars and live within the earth. A wonderful reference about them is in “The Tree of Enchantment: Ancient Wisdom and Magic Practices of the Faery Tradition” by Orion Foxwood.
Rain Faeries: A personal experience with Faery Lights
I once decided to spend the night alone in the forest on a vision quest but unfortunately a few hours before I was to leave it started raining. Not wanting to postpone my experience I decided to go ahead, bringing only a plastic tarp, a jacket and a flashlight. When I arrived at the place I was to park my car the rain was torrential! However, being the stubborn person that I am I carried on, making my way into the forest on a familiar path. When I had walked about fifteen minutes along the path I turned left and carefully scrambled a few feet into the forest deep under the canopy of the trees. The rain was getting even stronger and if not for my warm water-proof jacket I would have been a shivering mess. I strung my plastic tarp between two trees but it fell down, then my flashlight conked out and I started questioning my motivation for coming at all! I said to myself as I wiped the rain out of my eyes: “At your age! What on earth are you trying to prove?”
I wrapped myself up in the plastic and, thoroughly miserable, dosed off to the sound of pouring water on the dark trees around me. I couldn’t really sleep and every few minutes opened my eyes to peer out at the complete darkness, rain dripping into my eyes. Shortly after that I heard distant music playing and thought, someone nearby must be having a party and playing their radio very loudly! It didn’t dawn on me until the morning that there was no way I could be hearing music or a radio as I was too far away from anyone. At the time I was convinced that it was human music and a little disappointed to be hearing it in the middle of the forest. I guess I was starting to slip into a confused state of mind to think like this.
A few hours later my eyes opened to see a globe of light about the size of a cantaloupe three feet away from me, hovering about a foot off the ground. Stunned I tried to tell myself that it was a firefly and its glow was refracting through the still falling rain. As I looked at it, it held steady, never wavering and then another identical globe of light appeared about a foot to its right, and then another and another until a ring of lights surrounded me in a perfect circle. “Oh boy, these fireflies are something!” I thought. Gradually I realized that fireflies don’t behave like this and my mind started reeling, frantically trying to invent some plausible explanation for the lights. Swamp gas? Oh right, not in a swamp! Finally I had to admit to myself that I was having an encounter with Faery, and I started to get scared! My eyes were wide open and I couldn’t take my eyes off the lights. I tried to slow my breathing and relax noting that I did not feel any malice or threat from the lights, and in fact it was almost as if they were protecting me. Finally I said out loud, in a very shaky voice: “Hello?” The lights stayed with me for about two hours then gradually disappeared and in the morning I did not see any sign that they had been there.
This experience has remained vivid and important for me. I have encountered the lights one more time in this forest at midnight at the Autumn Equinox. There is always a strong presence watching me there. This was confirmed one day when I took my little dog Nicki with me to walk in the forest at this spot. The poor dog would not go any further up the road past where I had seen the Faery lights and sat on the road howling and shaking, seeing or feeling something that I was not.
Many of those practicing the Craft have Faery experiences because their energy body changes and the Faery start to notice them when they work outside. Living by the Wiccan Rede and doing regular energy work, magick or meditation changes us, perhaps at a cellular level. Although not many Witches talk about Faery Seership, it is an integral part of the Craft Mysteries.
Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tungusic_peoples Here is a reference to the Tungus people who are an animistic society and Shamans are part of their culture.
William Allingham, The Faires, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EADkQqVu3Q4
John and Caitlin Matthews, “Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom” has many wonderful things related to Celtic myth and folklore.
R.J. Stewart, “Earth Light”. R.J. Stewart has written many books on Faery and he will be visiting us in Montreal the weekend of Sept. 26th, 2015 for a weekend concert, and workshop based on his book “The Living World of Faery”. If you are living near us, you are welcome to come. You can e-mail for more information at www.sacredcauldron.ca R.J. gives many workshops. For on in your area please see www.rjstewart.org