This is the second installment of a regular feature called "Lessons For My Son". In it, I hope to express ideas and concepts that it has taken me 40 years and many mistakes to learn.
The lesson today, Rowan, is that there is no shortcut to becoming an good person. There is no one religion, one book, one guru, or one exercise that will assure that you will make the right decisions, respect others, and be compassionate. All that work must be done on your own. Obeying the law and being a (fill in the blank religion here) does not necessarily build character or make you ethical.
Integrity comes from a lot of hard self work. It does not come from a prescribed set of laws or morals from either government or religion. That is a shortcut for society at large that largely does not work or make for ethical people. (Church going child molesters and cops who murder are examples of this sentiment.) I intend on helping you build your own set of strong ethical convictions, and can help you along the way by modeling, exposing you to as much diversity of thought and experience as I can, and asking strategic questions along the way- but this is your life; your project.You must do the work to make you a good person.
In Feri, we believe that the human soul(s) need to be aligned with the Divine in order to follow what we call "Flow"- or Law- the natural order of things. (Law is a point on the Pearl Pentacle for good reason, coming immediately after the point Love- God Herself's Law is Love)*. When you are aligned with the Divine, you cannot possibly commit evil (like murder, rape, genocide), because evil is borne from the state of disconnection. Evil is disconnection itself.
In a scientific framework, we are all connected to each other. Feri and other religions takes that idea one step further- that we are connected to each other AND the Divine (or that the connection itself is Divine in nature). When we align our soul(s) and tap into that connection, we are "in the flow". When we disconnect ourselves (which in this culture can easily happen) from each other and nature, we lose the flow. That's when things are a struggle. That's when we wage war, cut people off on the freeway, and think of ourselves and not others. It is only in this state that we can commit evil.
Staying connected and compassionate is hard work and requires a regular practice and diligence, Rowan. Much like the Buddhists, I personally do some of this through a sitting practice. Our religious tradition also has amazing tools of alchemy that help transform and purify us (so that aligning with the Divine is easier to do). But don't think that you can do it once and check it off your to-do list. It is not a constant state; instead, we are constantly striving for it. And because we Feri witches deliberately strive for it daily, we are highly integrated, discerning, and ethical people. (That's not to say that we don't make mistakes and aren't mean sometimes. Some of the best people I know slip and fall from time to time.) Feri is a warrior tradition. Using the tools of this tradition makes you strong. But Victor Anderson reminded us that not only do we "not coddle weakness", we also "respect our frailties" as well.
Integrity comes being accountable for our actions. And while we cannot know all the consequences of our actions, I hope you understand that I am teaching you that we are responsible and accountable for what we say and do in the worlds. I hope that you can report years from now that I set a good example for you to follow.
Rowan, you should know that mommy and daddy are witches, but not all witches think the same. Our religious tradition may differ from other forms of religious witchcraft, so I am only speaking as a Feri witch here. Given that many traditions (mine included) are initiatory mystery traditions that you must study, experience, and be initiated into firsthand, I can only speak for me and mine. And given that I have not yet been initiated (commonly one studies for at least 7 years before that may happen), I do not hold ALL of the mysteries yet. Daddy is one step ahead of me on the path.
* The Pearl Pentacle is a tool of Feri alchemy. The five points on it are Love, Law, Knowledge, Power/Liberty, and Wisdom.