There is very little I still hold from my days of Feri (or Faery) study and practice. That stage of my life was rich in drama and wonder, and I was blessed with a circle of close friends engaged in the same pursuits. We kept each other on our toes, exploring all sorts of things we would have never considered before, from the practical to the wildly esoteric. Yet most of what I learned I do not use in my own practice or my teaching. I left Feri behind some years ago but managed to keep my friends, no small feat.
Feri was part of the flowering of Bay Area mysticism, a movement that heated up in the 1960s and 70s, fusing science and faith, ancient myth and modern discovery, Eastern and Western philosophy, into something new. The flowering took on all forms of expression: literature, poetry, psychology, art, film, environmentalism, education, spirituality, medicine, social activism, theoretical physics, and so much more.
As a child of this whole movement more than any one particular strand, maybe I was destined to part ways with both organized and disorganized religion and form my own understanding of spirituality, magic, and leadership. Central to my effort over the past couple years has been a re-thinking of the elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water, and how they relate to the cardinal compass points of North, East, South and West. My personal practice is rooted in this new, evolving model, and it informs everything I do.
This is where I find myself drawn to one Feri gem: the simple phrase Fire in the Earth. For my purposes, I have taken the phrase out of its original context and placed it in the South. I think of it as a refinement of the traditional associations with Fire—creativity, sex, passion, expression, ecstasy—because my goal is effectiveness in the world.
It has never made sense to me that Fire is in the South while our bodies are associated with Earth in the North. Not to make this a commentary on Pagans and physical health, but I think the split does lead to both a lack of physical vibrancy and a tendency toward ungrounded, unsustainable magic. Fire in the Earth challenges us to develop the spirit within our bodies, creating a magnetic, vibrant health that supports our will and prevents us from overextending ourselves.
To me, magnetism is the key. It is different from mere charisma, which wears off because it is an affect, not a core state. Magnetism is a fiery physical presence that both generates energy and draws like energy to it—a much better condition if we are truly interested in manifesting our goals, or succeeding at any creative expression. It is the opposite of fire run amok, and the walking wounded teaching others to reach for ecstasy without first cultivating the strength to handle it.
What does this re-alignment mean in practical terms? It means building a container to match the energy you want to pour through it, giving that fire a wide hearth in which to burn brightly. It means creating the steel in your spine that is only forged through white heat. And most of all it means acknowledging that there is no “pure” fire, no source of light and heat separate from that which moves within us. The force that drives the flower does so only through the green fuse.
Fire in the Earth. We sit at the edge of our own caldera every day. The question is, what are we doing with it?