Feri Freshman Hazing

I talk about the Magic a lot. I also call it the Current. You might call it Flow, God, the Divine, the still small voice within, serendipity – there are many names. Over the years, I have developed a sense of it, when I think I’m pulled by the Current, rather than by just my own whims. Usually what happens is an Idea comes into my or my husband’s head, an idea previously unconsidered. Or an opportunity is presented to me and I am faced with having to choose Yes or No. Most of the time these decisions are not life altering, but when the Magic is involved I know that a Yes or a No will take me down a new and usually unfamiliar path.

The biggest example I have of this in my life was when my husband and I decided to move to Wales. The idea came to him out of the blue. Yes, my graduate adviser was there, but I didn’t have to be. We knew we wanted to leave Oakland to raise our son, who at the time of this decision was only 7 months old. The idea came to us and we said YES. When we started looking into the requirements we were told to expect at least a year to get everything in place. Nine months later we were not just on our way to Wales – we were there. Doors opened. Pieces fell into place. In my experience, this happens when we’re tapped into the Current.

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this spring I was faced with an opportunity and I chose Yes, knowing full well there would be consequences. I felt the Magic, it was strong, and I trusted it.

Oh there were consequences all right.

The last two months have been turmoil. I’ve been distracted, obsessed. My relationship with my husband, Adam, has been taxed, pulled to extremes. In an intimate relationship, large leaps into the Current don’t just affect me, they affect my partner too. What happens when one person says Yes! and the other partner doesn’t even know the opportunity was presented? Chaos. That’s what happens. Lots of tears and fighting.

Just as Adam and I had touched a tip of reprieve my situation blew up again, a gigantic nuclear explosion, with toxic fall out tainting all that came before. It was ugly. I felt used, confused, lied to. Several people were involved. It was drama of the most salacious kind. I didn’t know whom to trust. My reason said one thing one day, and something else the next. My intuition flipped and flopped. I didn’t trust the players involved, I didn’t trust myself, and for the first time ever, I didn’t trust the Magic either.

I was angry. Angry that I was caught in the middle of something so ugly. Angry that other people were unable to work out their own issues. Angry that the situation was provoking my sorest and weakest spots: I take people at their word. Once I choose to trust I often ignore yellow and red flags, a tendency that hurt me deeply over the winter. I am stubborn. I trust myself and my choices – to exclusion of others. I do not tend to take others’ counsel. I ask for forgiveness, rather than permission. All of those things can be positives, but, in situations like the one I was in, all of those things were painful liabilities.

I reached out to a Feri initiate friend. She wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into, but offered compassion. ‘You are on a Feri ride,’ she said. Her words rang true, but filled me with dread. How am I to trust the Current if it is so fickle and hurtful? It’s like I’ve been doing trust falls with the Current, only to have it step away and not catch me on fall #5. Not fair! Not kind! How do I trust it again?

This is the first time I’ve faced a choice of this magnitude since my Feri dedication (not the same as initiation) in January. I wonder if the Current decided to test me. I feel like I’m being hazed. I feel like I’m a freshman who mistakenly signed up for a graduate course and realized it only after taking the first test. Or the beginning swimming student who has been thrown into the open ocean. Sink or swim.

My initiate friend (and every Feri initiate I’ve ever talked to) has a story about getting beaten up by the Current. Relationships ended, friendships broken, jobs lost, families isolated, households moved, and on and on. I relayed this reminder to Adam and he said if this is what we have to look forward to, he’d rather I quit Feri. But I won’t. I never choose the easy path, for better and for worse.

After all that has been said and done, I feel like I’m back to myself. I’ve come up for air. I’m no longer sucked into the undertow. I’m clinging to my basic tools, as to a life raft: sitting meditation, the exercises my teachers have given me, small devotions, and making kala.

Looking at the silver lining in such a dark and stormy time, I see that my choice was a catalyst for deep personal work that was needed. Adam and I are in couples counseling, working out some of the deepest, more stubborn vestiges of our issues.

Personally, I have chosen to let go of my need to understand just what exactly happened in that nuclear explosion. I can’t know and as uncomfortable as that makes me, I’m moving on. I’ve made a commitment to myself and to Adam that I will reach out more often to more people. I will not keep my own counsel, but seek out the advice and accountability of trusted allies. Somehow I will align my reason and intuition, not over privileging one to the detriment of the other. I’m not sure how this is going to happen, but I’m committed to finding a way.

This Magic stuff ain’t for the faint of heart.




12 responses to “Feri Freshman Hazing

  1. Intensity and a time of trial, to be sure. I don’t even know if it was the Feri current, per se, but what I do know is that saying “Yes,” to anything opens powerful magic, that we have no control over, no matter how prepared we think we are for it. We were certainly not prepared for the magnitude of what you said yes to, and the way that you clung to that Yes without seeing many of the things that you were saying No to made things more intense. A lesson in flexibility, honesty and communication. Lots and lots of communication and humility. I love you.

  2. I feel like the kinds of wild rides you’re describing were very much of my pre-initiatory process, but post-initiation, it’s been more a matter of extremely rapid manifestation (marriage, jobs, houses, preparing for babies) — which was hard, but didn’t have the same kind of “trust fall” feeling. being pregnant is hard, and there’s a major grief process to deal with, but it’s not confusing or unexpected.

    i tend to feel like there’s a transformational process of some years that, once you’ve become a person who can embody the current, can stabilize. (though this may also be a function of my immediate line — S is a very stable person.) i suspect if you keep pushing hard to go faster and deeper post-initiation, the “wild ride” can continue, but i know i and many others in my approximate cohort were called to slow our spiritual work way, way down post-initiation to let things settle out.

    all of which is to say, after a certain point my suspicion is that the wild ride is a choice. you get big enough and stable enough and are used enough to running really intense energy that you can say “YES” to the magic and it doesn’t sweep you off your feet. on the other hand, some people are a little addicted to the wild ride and WANT to be perpetually swept — and i can’t help but feel that there’s a connection between that and some of the poor mental and physical health outcomes i see among a certain class of magickal practitioners. i think it’s a bit like using psychedelics — there’s work that can be done with them that is transformational and inherently destabilizing, but once you pass a certain stage, either you learn to use them in moderation with specific intention, or an addictive pattern with generally destructive effects arises instead.

    just my two cents. 🙂

    • Thank you for your two cents! It is greatly appreciated. I genuinely appreciate the opportunities, joy and growth that can come from change and a magical Yes, but I do not think I am addicted to that wildness. With kids…. man, that sounds exhausting!

      I will say that this particular confluence of things was a perfect storm of my own greatest weaknesses. Do the gods care if I’m a ‘better person’? I’m not sure, but they may care what kind of a person I am if I am to join their kin. I do feel deeply destabilized, in a way I haven’t ever before. This isn’t *just* about my failings – though I can’t deny those. I’m hoping that some recovery, some distance, some settling down, will help me see more clearly, on a number of fronts.

      I also don’t want to join the ranks of the ‘certain magickal class’ to which you refer. I have seen the damage wrought, and I want no part in that!

      • Do the gods care if I’m a ‘better person’?
        Do you care? If you can answer that with your intellect, emotions, and spirit all in accord then you have the answer. After all you are divine.

        • 🙂 I love your perspective and your reminder here! I think the gods both definitely care and definitely don’t care about me being a ‘better person.’ I think some gods care more and some less, and possible some not at all! I think we are too often ‘I’ -centric, really focused on our own self-importance, rather than seeing a bigger picture. And it could be argued that this was my main failing this summer.

          However, *I* care about being a better person, and as I am the one living my life, that is what I strive for. So *this* god does care.

  3. I have been thinking about what you say about “Flow, God, the Divine”, and how we get beaten up by the current and what you say ties in a lot with the Hindu ideas of Karma and Sanskara. For some reason I found it very hard to articulate my feelings/knowings on this, which is why I am so late in replying.

    Sanskara is like a deep fast-flowing river. The surface has waves, currents, eddies, and stagnating backwaters. Though at times our movements may seem random, and we may find ourselves feeling stranded or moving backwards, but seen at a larger perspective the current ultimately and inevitably moves us on.

    As we flow in the swirling currents we jostle about and collide with others on their journey. The complex interplay of our karmas has put us where we are, but it is us and others that determine our future course. Past karma might have brought you to a life in cheap houses dangerous alleyways, but the guy you meet in the dark alley has free will to let you pass, take your bag and apologetically return a $20 note for you to get home, or to brutally attack you.

    We are all part of the cosmic dance of the divine, whether we want to be or not. We have to reach our own balance of striving to follow the steps and acceptance when we get stepped on.

    • I really appreciate your perspective on this. Yes, for sure my own samskaras and karma are at play here. I hope I did not sound like I was abdicating my ‘free will,’ as if I am a victim and unable to make good choices. I also do think that the gods have their roles too and ….. I believe that Feri has a ‘Current’ all of its own, though I cannot at this time articulate it much better than that! It’s an evolving experience for me, and I’m trying not to get too hung up on theology and rather just let myself experience things as I do.

      • I just wanted you to know that I did not mean to imply that you were abdicating your free will. Just tat where we are and what happens is a complex mix of where our karmas have brought us, our free will, and other people’s free will.

  4. Pingback: The Stories We Tell | myownashram

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