This weekend I read the new book by Jo Carson, Celebrate Wildness: Magic, Mirth and Love on the Feraferia Path. Reading it was a strange and magical experience and showed me some things about myself that I needed to see.
Although I had heard of Lady Svetlana, I didn’t know anything, really, about Feraferia – a path named “celebrate wildness.” This text is an interesting invitation into the spirit of Feraferia.
Here is my honest reaction. For the first forty or so pages, it vaguely annoyed me. It felt kind of like a childish hippie free-love fest…or at least, what I imagine a hippie free-love fest might have been like had I been alive to experience the counterculture. I was kind of intrigued that they were using a lot of Hellenic pieces but the tone wasn’t appealing to me. However, the art was starting to work on me.
This book is filled, FILLED with inspired, visionary art. I didn’t always “like” it (I often did), but it started to move me. And as I read on, what unfolded and affected me is that there is a reality embedded in this book that is a glimpse of one version of Paradise and that parts of it seep across the edges of the page and into this world. Through this beautiful, art-filled book written by people who are living this version of reality, I was touched with wonder. It was that kind of innocent, authentic response to beauty that doesn’t lay a bunch of interpretive content over it. It just experiences.
I experienced this soft and subtle wonder while looking at this art, reading this book, and mentally walking along beside the beings discussed and I felt my heart opening a bit more and I had a feeling of lightness. As someone who habitually runs on duty, this is the type of experience I need to cultivate more. I don’t know if I will necessarily take on any of the practices in the book (although if I had a yard, I would probably seriously consider a Faerie Circle henge), but it is an important wake-up call for me that I need to seek out more experiences that evoke that type of reaction…especially as I take on more and more and more duty.
It also made me realize that at this very moment, if someone asked me to describe my vision of Paradise, I’m not sure that I could articulate it anymore…and I think that is a problem. I don’t think my version would match the one articulated in this book, but as a magick-worker, I should be able to have a pretty good form of how my vision of Utopia would be constituted. It certainly is a worthwhile exercise. And one of the oldest methods of a certain type of spiritual development is to determinedly live as though one is in Paradise – which requires a clear vision of what you think Utopia is.
So, I am glad that I read this book. I had an interesting experience, learned about an area in my own life that needs more balance, and will look at the art again later. Many of the paintings really deserve to be the subject of meditation. However, I cannot be honest in talking about this book without pointing out a few things that were potentially problematic.
The founder and artist, Fred Adams, is a visionary who was inspired by research into ancient cultures and then bent history to serve contemporary ends. Now, I don’t actually have a problem with people doing that that so long as it is clear that is what they are doing and don’t portray what they are doing as accurate historical representation. The lines here are mushy and there are things in this book that are of questionable historical accuracy. I am particularly sensitized to the Hellenic elements. When one of your main sources of inspiration is Robert Graves, please recognize that Robert Graves himself is an “inspired” source. He work is notoriously historically inaccurate. Again…if it WORKS – if it gets you in touch with the Great Ones and your magic works, then that is fabulous and since we are practitioners, that is our ultimate goal.
The other thing that kind of bothered me and make it clear to me that this vision of utopia is not my vision of utopia is that it felt like the gender roles were really strong and, even though there is throughout a palpable celebration of the Divine Feminine, it felt like the female was always in relationship with the male. To be fair, the same thing could be said about the Divine Masculine. However, as a woman who is Parthenos, I have ALWAYS had difficulty relating to the Maid, Mother, and Crone archetypes because I can’t identify with any of them…they are all defined in relationship to their reproductive status and that doesn't resonate with me. In philosophical terms, it essentializes attributes that I consider to be accidental because I experience them as accidental. In fact, like Plato, I include human categories of gender as accidental rather than an essential attributes. I’m not really female and I’m not really whatever age I am at the moment…I’m just temporarily presenting myself as such. The sexual aspects of Paganism/Wicca/Witchcraft are poweful and positive for me me unless everything gets reduced to sex. Then it bothers me a lot because it is reductionism. I also find this reductionistic propensity to be really boring. This book doesn’t reduce everything to sex, but it is prominent and sometimes, for me, on the border of overpowering everything else. Others for whom this worldview is in stronger alignment may find fewer barriers to appreciation than I had.
All of this being said, Celebrate Wildness: Magic, Mirth and Love on the Feraferia Path truly is a beautiful book and the art itself makes this a worthwhile purchase. There are also some lovely gems in terms of technique and visions, as well.