Faery Tradition has produced some astounding flowers in the forms of poetry, theology and practices that have contributed to the Craft at large. Exercises such as the Iron and Pearl Pentacles have been widely shared, mostly because of their powerful simplicity. They are primarily mental practices, by which psychic energy is manipulated. Other Faery exercises are approachable in the same way, Kala, Blue Fire, Soul Alignment, as these all rely largely on the perception of the magician. Another commonality is that such practices focus on our spiritual well being, rather than our secular concerns. Although magic is best directed by a focused mind and from a state of spiritual health, the pursuit of magic does not end with self improvement. The magical life is not an escape from our environment and our needs; rather, it marks our return to the garden and communion with the flora found there. Here we work to improve our daily conditions while interacting with the powers that share our world
Strange that for a tradition identifying itself as a path of sorcery there has been so little published about our herbal lore, or the overall mechanics and metaphysics that govern how Faery magic grows from our theological system and world view. The intention of this essay is to rectify that through the presentation of Faery Flower Sorcery.
Faery Tradition—spelled variously as ‘Feri’ and ‘Faerie’—is neither a left nor right hand path, but like the fabled road to fairyland takes the center road, sometimes called the ‘crooked path.’ As such it seeks to manifest our daily needs and ambitions, while more fully awakening our divine nature. This can be accomplished by working with the spirits embodied by creation, most notably those that manifest as flowers.
Religion has often recognized flowers as expressing spiritual ideals. Christian gardens in Medieval and Renaissance eras were arranged to lead one through a spiritual journey, a pilgrim’s path. The Hindu ceremony ‘puja’ is translated as “the flower ritual.” The human soul is associated with the lotus both in Hinduism and Buddhism, rising like a bloom above the water towards enlightenment. A lotus with a thousand petals is perceived to inhabit the crown chakra, and the purpose of the padmasana posture in Hatha Yoga is to identify your own divine nature through it. Flowers are a prominent feature in Islamic art, expressed often in abstract geometric patterns, and reminding the devout of those they will find in the garden of paradise. In Western magical tradition, the sacred flower symbol is the rose. The rose is emblematic of Faery Tradition as well, noted in the title of Victor H. Anderson’s collection of sacred poetry ‘Thorns of the Bloodrose,’ and in specific Faery lineages such as BlueRose.
Religions that view the natural world through the lens of animism, of which Faery Tradition is one, see all things as possessing an indwelling spirit. This shamanistic approach to the world seeks to connect us with our spiritual allies found in nature, and as emphasized in this essay, in plants. A flower is seen not merely as the mechanism through which a plant is able to reproduce, but is an expression of its divine soul.
The Faery model of the three souls relates not only to humans, but to all living beings, flora included. With this in mind we are able to make a correlation between the various parts of a plant, each of which possesses unique magic. For those unfamiliar with the concept of the three souls I will detail them in brief. Fetch is the part of our soul that is unconscious, and yet contributes to our basic needs for survival, tending to the functioning of our body, and is also that part of us that travels at night in dreams. Talker is the self aware part of us, the mind that too often believes it is running the whole show; whose focus constitutes our known goals. Our Holy Daemon is that part of us that is divine, eternal, and has as its ambition our spiritual development. Each party has its own concerns, and its own way of approaching magic.
An easy way to relate this to flora is to observe the separate parts of a plant. Those beneath the surface, such as roots and tubers, are the domain of Fetch. Those central to the plant, its stalk, vine and leaves, relate to Talker. The manifestation of the plant’s own Holy Daemon is found in its flowers and fruits. This is of course a mere symbolic model. Fetch is equally drawn to the fragrance of flowers, just as the Holy Daemon inhabits the grand intentions of a seed. However such categories can help us see ourselves reflected in a plant, and provides a framework from which to construct magical practices.
The magical work of our Fetch can at times be illusive, taking symbolic form in our dreams. Fetch does not work in higher concepts, but from base drives and desires. It is responsible for cursing others through Malocchio (the evil eye), for arranging synchronicities, for prophetic dreams, and other chimerical acts. The degree to which our lives are lucky or cursed has much to do with the function of our Fetch. In Hoodoo exists the belief that there is in each root a dormant spirit which can be awoken by tapping it or washing it in whiskey, after which that spirit may be asked for magical aid. Our Fetch has much in common with such a root, as Fetch must be awakened, appeased, and informed of our need before he can travel the realms of spirit to fetch us our needs.
Talker makes the conscious decisions about what magic should be done, and can either beseech its Fetch, or petition its Holy Daemon; since it is through their connection with the non-material realms that much magic happens. Talker on its own has only the mechanics of science to work with, and so Talker’s herb magic focuses largely on balms and banes, the domain of chemistry that can be found in all parts of the plants, but that symbolically identifies as knowledge for being above the dark ground. This is the province of hedge witchery, the knowledge of which herbs are right for certain ailments, of which will detract pests from the garden, and other practical concerns.
Often when our magical attempts fail it is because we have acted in opposition to what our Holy Daemon wants. That is not to say that our Higher Self is fully in charge of our life, only that it wants what is truly best for us and has a higher vantage point from which to view the long term results of our immediate decisions. Working with our Holy Daemon through a plant ally’s highest soul, which is to say through its flower, helps ensure that we manifest an outcome that is truly in our best interest. Plant magic is thought by many to encompass mundane, material concerns only. To manifest ‘higher’ forms of magic such things as sigils, obscure languages, mathematics, and other modalities are employed, which by their abstract nature reflect the esoteric patterns found beyond nature. The seat of spirit, however, does not exclusively exist beyond the garden, but within it. The flower, with its sensual petals, alluring colors, and unseen perfume is itself a reflection of the divine, a manifestation of spirit. To commune with the spirit within a flower is no lesser a form of magic than calling upon an angel.
None of this is to say that other parts of a plant are less worthy of our magical work, or that our Holy Daemon cannot be reached through them. Vines of ivy may be woven into geometric forms that secure the most virtuous of prayers. A root may be blessed with Holy Oil and carried to keep us on a road free of negative temptations. Associating various parts of a plant for different types of work is not intended to create limitations or impose dogma, but to refine and direct our magic. As useful as boundaries may be, there is also magic to be gained through their transgression. Often times it is the wild flower that is the strongest.
Magical traditions tend to favor specific parts of the plants they harvest for magic, such as with Rootwork, which as its name suggests focuses largely on the roots of a plant. Although not a firm rule, traditions beholden to ancestral work tend to utilize roots, which dwell in the underworld where the bodies of our beloved dead are buried also. Whereas Faery Tradition works much with the mighty dead, as well as with roots, focus is equally directed heavenward, driven by our desire for spiritual development and connection with our divine nature. Other traditions are no less spiritually minded than we, and yet tend to reach a plant’s indwelling spirit through parts other than its flowers.
Having seen the special role flowers play in Faery Tradition, we may now go on to examine how meaning is attributed to a given flower.
Faery Traditions owes much of its herbal practice to Hoodoo, and so relies also on the Doctrine of Signatures, the belief that plants possess their shape as an expression of their purpose. Often the Doctrine of Signatures derives its meanings from Christian expressions, which Faery is not averse to, however we also see some of our own core concepts reflected in the natural world. Whereas the triune leaves of a clover may be seen as reflecting the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity, a Faery practitioner may see it also as expressing the unity of the three souls. Therefore the Doctrine of Signatures functions much the same in Faery, though with our own concepts added to it.
Similar to the Doctrine of Signatures is the Victorian Language of Flowers, which associated flowers with abstract concepts such as dignity and disloyalty. This language was used to express thoughts that the strict limits of Victorian society would otherwise have left unsaid. This language allows for each flower to be utilized magically as a symbol. As with all languages the Language of Flowers has variable dialects, and has changed over time.
Given the unique relationship that the Faery Tradition has with the Fey, it is inevitable that the lore related to those blessed races influence our own. While too voluminous a subject to tackle here, flowers such as Foxglove, Pansies, Heather, and many others were said to be protected by the Fey.
Lastly the Faery magician may rely on person gnosis to ascribe meaning to a plant. Some plant allies are interested only in certain aspects of human life, whereas others may strive to accomplish whatever you ask. One’s personal relationship with a plant family dictates how it is used.
Once the appropriate flower has been identified, the modalities involved in utilizing it are varied. It is the goal of this website to make available workings for many flowers, which are featured in the sidebar. There you can find all you need to inspire your own practice of Faery Flower Sorcery.
The practice of setting altar flowers to serve the concerns of the public at large constitutes the flower ministry of the Temple of Faery, of which this author is an acting reverend. This service involves the use of Kala water, flowers, and petition papers that direct the flower to work on your behalf. Further work may be done with the pressed flower that is sent to you as part of the service.
It is the hope of this author that you will explore the many magical options that flowers allow for, and that your magical potential bloom in full.