Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tangible Witchcraft: Meditation and Prayer

Most religious witches that I know and respect have a sitting practice as well as a prayer practice.
Many newbies to witchcraft are surprised by this, thinking that sitting (meditation) is a Buddhist practice and prayer belongs to the Judeo-Christians. I have heard a ridiculous amount of times on the internet that "witchcraft is a craft, not a religion", which is a generalization that only applies to a percentage of all the witchcraft traditions out there. So please folks, stop saying that- it is not true across the board!

People have been praying and meditating across the globe long before the "Big 5*" religions came to be. Indigenous/pagan cultures have been praying and meditating for quite some time.

When I first started studying Feri, breathing and sitting were the first concepts introduced by my first teacher, T. Thorn Coyle. Her beginning Feri classes (which lasted a little over two years) emphasized self-discipline and mastery of the Self, with the ultimate desired result being a strong powerful witch. For that framework, I am truly grateful. She emphasized the goal of becoming self-possessed, which she described then as "being familiar with all our parts and not letting them control us".

Most religious traditions worth their salt have this as a goal- self gnosis leading to interactions with the world(s) in a much more powerful and respectful way. Iron** (the work of self alchemy) leads to Pearl** (the work of building beyond yourself, connection).

Thorn's way of sitting, which she called "GodSoul listening", was similar to Buddhist Vipassana practice. You notice things as they arise, and do not judge yourself for having thoughts. Often the things that arise, particularly if they are non-verbal are messages from GodSoul*** or Fetch***. I took to writing down what I experienced and still find them helpful in hindsight.

At first, I found sitting daily for 20-30 minutes unbearable. Now I find it unbearable if I do not do it for a while. I get cranky and quick to flare with emotions before I am even aware that they are happening. Sitting makes me a much more aware person (and therefore easier to deal with!).

Prayer is equally important, and the most common prayers in Feri are to one's own GodSoul. There are so many of these, the Ha prayer, the Flower Prayer, but one of my favorites is from Cora Anderson, whose Christian upbringing (which she folded into her Feri practice) and Appalachian common sense shines through in this work:
I believe that we are three souls in one body

And that you are the highest, best, and most perfect part of me

Give me what I need each day

Keep me from evil, though it be the very thing I pray for

And bring me to the good even though from ignorance I don't know enough to ask for it.
Gods, I miss Cora. Seeing her every week really was a way to ground myself in Feri teachings and care for a beloved elder at the same time.

Orion Foxwood, founder of the Faery Seership Tradition (which I find to have eerily similar theology to Feri, plus a charming sexy man leading the way to boot!) said in a workshop I attended once, "A good witch listens (sits) and talks (prays) every day."

Of course, we also offer devotions to Gods we work with as well- but often my devotions to them are wordless- such as altar offerings or art. But many pagans I know pray to their patrons and Gods that they work with as well.

*Big 5= Judaism, (Protestant) Christianity & Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. In California (where I live) prisons, only clergy from the big 5 that I mention are allowed access to prisoners.

**Iron and Pearl Pentacles. These are tools of alchemy unique to the Feri tradition and a couple of its offshoots.

***Fetch, Talker, and GodSoul are names for the three parts of a human soul in Feri.


  1. Great post! Meditation is and has always been an important part of any culture. It has been called many things but the basic meditation concept has always been there. Thanks so much for reminding all who follow your blog that it is an important part of our daily lives and our choosen spirital path. =]

  2. Excellent! I just stumbled on this. "A good witch meditates and prays every day." What can one say, other than, Amen. We (Pagans/Witches) have been praying and meditating all along, but sometimes we let terminology get in the way.

    And thanks for that description of Thorn's approach to meditation. Does she talk about this in any of her books?

  3. @Apuleius: She may address it a bit in Evolutionary Witchcraft; which is the curriculum for her two year beginner class. Her second book is less about Feri and more about general mysticism.


Comments are welcome but moderated. Please be respectful when leaving a comment.