Faery Witchcraft is a tradition based on the teachings of Victor and Cora Anderson who had an out-sized influence on the magical community extending beyond this path. Victor Anderson was known for teaching different people different things. His students have been working on formulating a more complete and cohesive vision while still allowing for a tremendous amount of variety in practice. If one were unfamiliar, the names Faery, Feri, Faerie or Fairy might call to mind Celtic myth or perhaps gay magicians. While Faery includes Celtic influences and is known for having some all gay or all lesbian covens, it is truly an eclectic practice pulling inspiration from British traditional witchcraft, voudon, hoodoo, ceremonial magick, Middle Eastern mythology, Hawaiian Huna, Tibetan BÖn shamanism and more. That said, this is not an introductory book. If you don't know the basics about Faery Witchcraft already, then this isn't the right book for you yet.

The author suggests Faery Witchcraft already or are 2nd or 3rd degree witches of a different tradition. Some people may be tempted to jump right in without a foundation but I suspect this choice would lend more to confusion and frustration. There is an appendix with additional information for those who are not from the Feri Tradition. Non-Faery practitioners, are advised to read the appendices at the end of the book first and then proceed from the beginning. Beginners would have better luck starting with his earlier book, Betwixt and Between.

As a mystery tradition, this is an experiential practice. Reading is not doing. What can be grasped intellectually is a smaller portion of the tradition than that which is ineffable. Most of the practice involves moving into an altered state, doing ritual in trance. There are warnings about not partaking of this practice if not mentally stable and further warnings that this kind of magical work can unbalance people who are not grounded and protected. My opinion is the main reason that this book isn't likely to cause more harm than good is that beginners don't usually know how to do most of the prerequisites for these exercises and rituals. The audience for which this work is intended have been trained and likely vetted by the teachers who take them on.

A significant early section of the book covers shadow work, that is, working with one's own psyche, facing personal demons, before being capable of facing Demons which exist outside oneself. Now, at this point, the readers who haven't done their homework are probably thinking that the forbidden in the title refers to some kind of dark magic as imagined by 1980's talk show hosts. I strongly suspect that some of the original creators of this tradition got a kick out of being provocative and enjoyed stirring the pot, er, cauldron. I would say that it would be more correct to view this as a book that discusses some practices that skirt on the edges of acceptance in other circles that might be described as fluffy bunny but would be seen as fairly light by ceremonial magicians. Unlike ceremonial magick, there is less emphasis on ceremony and exacting replication of spells and magickal formulae. Ceremonial magicians will recognize the exercise which puts the demon in the triangle to do the magician's bidding but might be more scandalized by the simplification than by the concept. In Faery tradition, the practitioner “seeks to identify and transform the relationship to one's personal demons, which are treated largely as Demons in ritual context.

In the forward, Chas Bogan, the author's husband, states that “we invoke spirits, angels, deities, fairies and demons...we engage with the living consciousness of plants, stones, objects and places.” Further on he explains that it is in the delving into one's personal shadow, facing one's own fears, that with magic this fear can be tranformed into power. The forbidden in the title refers not to any restriction by the tradition of Faery Witchcraft but rather to the longstanding historical stance of the Christian church. The shadow work is necessary to understand oneself well enough to not be swayed later by outside, ill-intended beings. Think of the moment in the Lord of the Rings when Lady Galadriel is offered the ring, faces her desire for the power and the destruction it would bring her and then rejects it. Knowing one's personal demons gives one the power to not be undermined by them. Otherwise magical practice will feed one's shadow.

So the skeptical reader might be saying, ok, so much for the navel gazing shadow work, where's the exciting forbidden work? You want to dance with fairy queens, command legions of the dead, discover the mysteries of demon lovers and write the newer, better Necronomicon. Yeah, ok, by all means. So if your interested in what is actually imparted in this book, it is interesting reading but it isn't B grade Hollywood horror. In fact, before I forget, Storm Faerywolf deserves credit as a very good writer in a technical sense.

As an advanced work, it goes into realms that require some guidance, and by realms I mean literally magical realms such as the land of the fairies. Advice is given for how to initiate a relationship with the Fey, written like a guide book in which you don't wish to offend the locals on your journey.

The four levels of divine possession and exercises for invoking deity in this manner is discussed with the caveat that possession is not for everybody. Chapter three deals with necromancy, offering ideas for what sorts of spirits to call on for different purposes and clearly relying on hoodoo practice as a strong influence in the work with the dead. Facing the fear of death is front and center as another aspect of the shadow work. Use of sexuality with magic appears in two solo exercises, one of which offers a nonsexual alternative. Faery witches fall along the entire spectrum of gender and sexuality and so this exercise is inclusive while conversely solitary. As a small portion of the book, it is also not essential to the practice but in a book on forbidden practices would have been noticed if omitted. Perhaps you want to know how to curse or hex and this book doesn't shy from it. Chapter 9 discusses how to perform a curse, what effects the practitioner can experience as a result, but also it demonstrates how to use divination to aid those who believe that their series of misfortunes result from being cursed by identifying the source and reversing the curse.

This book isn't for everyone but for the reader with the right prerequisite experience and knowledge, this is a mildly provocative, serious exploration of more advanced techniques in witchcraft.

Recommended for intermediate to advanced practitioners

~review by L. Carlson

Author: Storm Faerywolf
Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd., 2018
253 pages, $22.99

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