Paganicon opens this Friday and one of the featured guests is Orion Foxwood. Orion Foxwood is the author of “The Faery Teachings”, “The Tree of Enchantment” and “The Candle and the Crossroads”; and the founder of the House of Brigh Faery Seership Institute and co-founder of Conjure Crossroads and 2hoodoos.com. He will be giving the keynote address at 7pm on the topic, “Paganism as a Co-Creative Call-to-Action”. I talked to him by phone.
Tell me a little about your personal journey?
Orion Foxwood: I am from Virginia, but live in Maryland right now, just outside of Washington, DC. I was born down in the Shenandoah Valley outside Winchester, Virginia. My early experience in magic was in Southern Folk Magic, conjure, although they don’t use that term much down there. My mother, myself, and my sister were all born with “the veil”, the covering of the face with the placental sheath. In southern Appalachian and many other cultures that denotes the second sight, the ability to see into the spirit world. Between the cultural practices and that veil, it solidified my journey in this kind of work.
What did they call it in that region?
O.F. : They called it “spirit doctoring”, and people who did this kind of work are spirit doctors. Now and again you would hear the word conjure, that word is used a little more in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Texas. Another term used is “root work”, or “Hoodoo” , but that is associated more along the Mississippi valley.
Were you involved in witchcraft?
O.F. : When you grow up in a folk magical practice, you don’t necessarily see it as something special. I left from that period looking for more, and discovered witchcraft in my teens. I started corresponding with witches in the DC metro area. That is really what prompted my move to this area, and to learn the craft. I was initiated into a Welsh tradition and later a Celtic and then an Alexandrian Wiccan tradition. On the advice of my elders I eventually came back to the roots of my own cultural practices and integrated them into my practice.
I have three major streams I work with. There is my Pagan witchcraft, Faery Seership, and Southern conjure. The Faery Seership grew along a parallel path with my craft work. I was influenced in a major way by R.J. Stewart in my Faery work, and through his work attained a contact in the spirit world named Brigh. Brigh and I have continued to develop that work over the years. I teach much of that, it is more of an integrated, co-created practice working with the more invisible side of nature. All three streams of practices really come together with their own unique insights. They all have a way of speaking as to how my soul has grown; spiritually, magically, and mystically. They all support my work in the world, and within myself. They give me a broader set of language to often say the same things. It makes it easier to reach many kinds of “ears”, including people with different types of spirit work.
Is Faery Seership related the Victor Anderson path of Feri?
O.F. : No, it is about Faeries, and the direct contact with the Underworld. It is a completely different practice than Feri, but there are a lot of folks that come to the this work from that tradition. I have a beautiful relationship with many of the leaders of that tradition, because I have a lot of love and respect for it. Faery Seership is a lot more folk loric influenced, and from the old Gaelic, and Welsh practices of the Faery seers and doctors.
Does it involve incantation, or invocations?
O.F. : You don’t invoke the Faery people any more than you invoke your cat! These are beings that are way older than we are, who are part of the invisible side of nature. They are very much a part of the varied life of nature, the angels in the earth and all of the natural processes. This is less about ceremony, although we do have a few ceremonial practices that are very folk centered. It is developing the subtle senses to allow direct engagement with the Faery realm. It includes the ancestral, the classic Faery beings, the large and noble spirits that we all know from folklore. It also is about contact with all the strata of the Faery realms including deep tectonic spiritual forces; the great giants in the land, spirits of fate, spirits of the threshold and of the crossroads. Faery work is very Underworld, it is about dipping into the soul of our world and the forces, the beings that dwell there. I believe strongly that we badly need to enter that co-creative relationship with the unseen forces that uphold the direct creative capacity of our world. We need to establish ourselves as co-creators instead of violators. Humanity has really drifted into its own world.
Is Brigh related to the goddess Brigit?
O.F. : This come up often, and whenever I ask Brigh (light or flame) she answers in lots of riddles and often says, “If that brings comfort to your people to see me in that way, then you may.” The work is not about worship, it is about co-creation. It is a relationship that reflects a lot of the core elements of what the older forms of witchcraft and shamanism have. The human with seership, healing, or magical skills has a symbiotic relationship with this other-world being, and through that relationship much of their magical inspiration and skill comes through. It is very much a co-creative relationship with her as the primary contact for the House of Brigh. Through that work she and I have developed a lot of the material that is in my first book, “The Faery Teachings”, and the second, “The Tree of Enchantment”, as the language, knowledge, and structures that allow me teach others the development of the subtle senses to reach into the Underworld, and realigning themselves with ancestral Faery and other world contacts associated with the soul of the world. The older forms of folk loric witchcraft, as I know them, were less focused around worship and devotion, and more about the relationship between a human and an other world being or beings.
What are the core elements in your teaching?
O.F. : The whole program is about applying the techniques and processes toward the individual developing their subtle sense as well as engagement with other-world contact and bringing forward their own unseen family. We say, “Don’t come here looking for a Faery being as a contact. Come because you are drawn to the sacred power of the Underworld.”. As you engage the different vision keys and the dynamics of creation with this work, your contact will come forward as opposed to trying to reach in with a desire. It is always a journey, especially when your brain is in the way. If you are willing to let the contacts and gifts emerge, there is great beauty waiting for you. If you come in with a preconceived notion of what you want, it is probably not going to work. It has the core elements of shamanism, work with the three worlds, direct encounter with spirits, the direct work with your three levels of being. We see the levels as three distinct souls, we call the “walkers”. The primary goal for people coming into this work is to come into contact and alignment with their dream walker, that soul connected to the inner tides of our world, the surface walker, the physical body itself, and the star walker, the higher self concept, eternal and universal. By knowing how to live, access information and contact through those walkers, we have just found the keyhole in the door of eternity itself. Whatever ancestral, Faery or other context that is related to this will then show up.
Is this teaching appropriate for remote learning?
O.F. : Historically this has always been taught through intensive group settings. The future will have some distance work mixed in once we get more groups established. There are growth challenges. I can’t be the primary teacher forever, I plan to train others who can teach. Seership work is to uphold, but not supplant other spiritual work you may be doing.
Are Faery beings protective about their role with an individual?
O.F. : No, these beings have a whole independent life, as we have a whole independent life from them once they form a relationship with us. I am still a human, and she is still a Faery woman. I couldn’t give up conjure and witchcraft to be in a Faery relationship. Brigh can definitely be demanding. Spirits can get passed to me, sometime spirit doctors or other spirit workers do that. Invariably I have to come to Brigh for permission for the spirit to enter my family. She is always very clear and up front. As long as they are congruent with the work we are doing, and they understand who your Faery wife and matron is, they are welcomed.
You have workshop on conjure, what is that about?
O.F. : This is drawn from my new book, “The Candle at the Crossroads”. It is about Southern and Appalachian conjure work, that I continue to develop. This work is about a direct and personal relationship with your own spirit. conjure work is about being in a good relationship with the ancestors, the stream of spirit that you are, and Spirit, however you come to that. I have gotten feedback that people have gotten tools from this to better relate to their own essence, their spirit. The number one spirit contact that you have, is your own spirit. If your relationship to another spirit does not contribute to your spirit, axe it! You were born to create yourself and not be distracted from that. Appalachian conjure does not require a religious or devotional aspect. The wave has a relationship to the ocean however. You don’t get very far in these practices without some kind of relationship to the Otherworld. The essential power of these practices comes from spirit, and you don’t need a relationship with spirit to practice them, but I tell people down the road you will find it is unwise to not have a spirit relationship and use these practices. In my book I took on keeping true to the practices, philosophy, and the way they work, but also essential is keeping true to the soulfulness of where they came from. conjure grew out of slavery, and displaced Native American folk, and intense immigrations, and poverty. The best diamonds often come from the deepest mines. It is important to understand where these practices came from, giving reverence to the spirits that carried them to us. It came on the backs of people who are now dead, many who were whipped and chained and beaten, and treated horribly. There was something at the core that could not be broken.
What is the “The Tree of Enchantment” workshop about?
O.F. : This is working with some of the core imprints inherent within the Faery Seership practice. Several practices mimic what the tree does. The tree appears as an image worldwide within many traditions, Brigh said, “That is not a symbol, it is a recipe. The tree people are what have kept us tethered enough to the core of what we are as you wandered away to explore your humanity.” We will be working with some techniques that employ that piece of wisdom. I have an intense reverence for trees. The beautiful human quality to explore our individuality is also the very thing that can also cause our illusion of isolation, abandonment, or exile from wholeness. We need to heal that wound so we can get back into co-creative relationship, so we can stop peeing upstream and then wondering why the water is bitter down stream.
What should people come away with from your appearance?
O.F. : I am honored and excited to come out to Paganicon. The message of my keynote address Friday is a co-creative call to action. That is the under pinning of everything I will offer in Minnesota. There is a reason Pagans have been called from the dust, called to be a voice for the earth, for the invisible, for this relationship with spirit. This is an ecological call. I hope people come away with a real sense internally of a place to root their pride in the work they are doing.
Paganicon takes place this Friday-Sunday, March 15-17, 2013. Joining Orion Foxwood as guest is author Brandy Williams, founding director of the Seattle Pagan Scholars, involved in the Ordo Templi Orientis and the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn, and a traditional Wiccan High Priestess.
Paganicon is located at the Doubletree Park Place in St. Louis Park, MN. Besides a weekend packed with workshops there is a Pagan art show, a Live Music & Light Show Friday night, and The Equinox Ball on Saturday Night. Registration is available at the door, and also for just the Ball.