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the Tree of Enchantment
Ancient Wisdom and Magical Practices of the Faery Tradition
By ORION FOXWOOD
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2008 Orion Foxwood
All rights reserved.
The Tree and the Keys
Welcome to the Tree of Enchantment
All of creation is driven by a type of "divine discontent." The poem "Unrest," by Don Marquis, speaks great wisdom about the nature of life, the universe, our planet, humanity, and other living beings, both seen and unseen. This unrest makes us wonder and seek, driven by some invisible and unrecognizable longing. It makes us search relentlessly for the answers to what we are and why we are. This divine discontent propels us on a search for answers—a quest for truth and satisfaction—only to discover that the prize of our longing is within us and within all of nature, as well as in the relationships in between. For those who seek a spiritual focus that puts humanity at the center of the universe and a path of spirituality centered on the individual, the path of Faery Seership can be a challenge. In Faery Seership, the truths we seek can only be found within ourselves, within all of nature, and within the relationships in between.
Divine discontent was the seed of the Tree of Enchantment. The Tree grew into a forest of inquiry and self-exploration, wherein the Source sought to understand itself through all of its parts—all of its creations. In this way, all of creation is an aspect of and face of the Creator, or mechanisms by which the infinite explores through the finite. Nowhere in the universe is this curiosity and drive to know more apparent than in the plight of the human species.
Humanity has, since before the beginnings of recorded history, explored the mysteries of the universe for the answers to questions it can barely articulate. We seek to fill an inner need whose shadowy face is barely visible beyond the light of our consciousness, and whose whispered name is lost in the cacophony of our daily lives. But we must ask ourselves this question: How can we seek for that which we never possessed? Rather than sailing the vast oceans to satisfy an unknowable craving, could it be that humanity is spurred on by the deep-seated remembrance of a paradise lost? Perhaps encoded in the very substance of our being is a memory of the first causation and the plan that prompted all of creation and our role within it.
Humanity stands in a dangerous and precarious place on the scales of life. Humanity has spent generations believing—adamantly and erroneously—that its own religions and perceptions of the universe, as defined by the programming of politics, orthodoxy, and science, really define how the universe works and where it is going. Think about it: How arrogant of us to believe that our philosophies alone dictate the intention and destiny of all things! Today, more humans are awakening from the sedation of this programming, filled with an unsatisfied hunger that drives them to look elsewhere for answers and fulfillment—to nature, occultism, mysticism, and other more arcane approaches. Mind you, there are many valuable components to our modern religions, science, and political processes—but they are completely human and incomplete in and of themselves. What about the rest of creation and the wisdoms contained within their lives and their relationships with each other and humanity? This is where Faery Seership and the Tree of Enchantment bring new insights from old lore. The old lore gives us valuable insights into the hidden faces and orders of life and how we, as humans, must relate to them to become healthy, whole, and aware.
Metaphorically speaking, the Tree of Enchantment taps us on the shoulder, awakens our divine discontent, and declares:
Hey you! The answers you seek are not on that island of self-delusion, self-aggrandizement, and self-isolation. No, the answers you seek are in your relationship with the rest of the inner and outer orders of life. Truth is not out there on a cloud or throne in the heavens to be contemplated and revealed by some distant order of spiritual beings. Rather, it is there within you, in your blood and bones, and written into the processes of all life. Come home to your blood. Come home to your spirit. Come home to the spirits that guide, guard, and bless you. Come home to your original family. Make peace with your divine discontent. Make peace with creation and its attending spiritual forces. Let the pearl be revealed. Awaken to your purpose as an individual, a species, and a participant in the collective of creation. Bring your will, passion, and imagination back into the service of the One. Awaken the Dreaming Child of Promise and be born again. It is time to come back to the Tree, eat its fruits of wisdom, and let it awaken the seed of spirit within you. The first taste of these fruits imparted free will to your species. The second taste brings that free will home to the service of creation. Come, sit in the shade of the Tree of Wisdom and find where the branches enfold you. Come, know your spirit family and your ancient heritage, and be at one.
The Tree provides a clear understanding of humanity's soul experiences in relationship to the soul of the world of which we are part. However, the mysteries of the Tree are only revealed to seekers when they come home to their skin, their human ancestry, and the soul of nature in its masculine and feminine forms. You cannot choose one branch of the Tree over another. You must choose the whole Tree or the isolation of the twig on which you stand.
At first, it seems that the Tree grows in a wilderness of despair. This despair is driven by an innate divine discontent within us that deludes us into thinking that our inherent flaws form a boundary that prevents us from becoming one with the Creator. Do not let it fool you into thinking that you will never attain inner peace and oneness with creation and the Creator. You must go into that wilderness and cry out for a vision, in humility and hope, as a child of the One. When you have surrendered to its majesty and mystery, the beauty of the Tree unfurls.
There are Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Stars, and many ordeals that lay before you on your journey. If you have the unstained heart of a child or, as tradition terms it, the "Hidden Heart of Blue Flame," then, through innocence and divine discontent, the way before you will open and you will see light in the dark forest. But you cannot define what lies beyond the veil of your human-centered views, and this is a challenge for those who seek the wild, untamed paths of Faery. You can only walk with faith into the deep running streams of the "under-country" and be washed in those inner rivers, baptized into the mysteries of the Tree of Enchantment, and rise from the Star Within the Land to the Holy and Formless Fire that abides in the depths of the universe—the source of all.
How does this intense insight connect with Faery practices and the folkways? Well, the folk practices of Faery Seership, when looked at in their full breadth and depth across the cultures that venerate as well as fear the Faery people, give us a composite picture of how Faery practices, lore, customs, and ballads form the basis of a profound spiritual approach.
The Tree, as I present it in this text, is a living, diagrammatic description of creation, destruction, and regeneration, and of the beings that attend these processes, as illustrated in the practices of my branch of Faery Seership. It lays out graphically a process whereby you can become whole and re-enter your place upon the sacred land, as well as engage and understand the underworld, surface world, and over-world forces associated with these Faery practices. The Tree is a map to and through the realms of enchantment to the heart of creation. It is a recipe for transformation of your self from a mere surface walker into one who walks the hidden paths of dream and the brilliant streams of starlight to the source and sum of creation. However, the first steps of the journey are within, through the bloodline of the seeker. Your body and mind are the gateways to the souls/siths of the threefold life and the worlds in which they live. These souls are your heritage, for they hold the mysteries of their source, the Creator of all things. They are untapped reservoirs of spiritual insight and liberation.
The Tree shows us that all of the living beings and processes of the three worlds are mystical, magical, powerful, and crucial. The Tree makes us aware that all orders of life minister to us aspects of truth and spiritual being—creative and destructive, maleficent and benign. There are no accidents in the processes of universal intelligence. However, the Tree will not reveal its secrets without real change—real reshaping of the self in all its forms. Truth is a hard-won lover, one that will never compromise or be compromised. Truth requires personal change, and change may require personal sacrifice. There are no loopholes for negotiating your way out of this. I know ... I have tried.
The Tree illustrates a series of relationships between beings, states of being, and the three souls or "walkers" of your spirit. It depicts how these comprise the living holism of your world and your experiences. At each level of the Tree, there are attending spiritual forces that vary from beings of light to beings of shadow; from the ancestors of humanity to the architects of form and nature; and from the destiny of our planet and incarnate selves to the creative forces of the universes. The Tree is no intellectual exercise. Instead, it is a process of exchange, contact, and partnership with the forces of creation, destruction, and transformation. Over time, this process unfolds an actualized being. You must engage the forces of the Tree to be changed. This is a tradition of co-creation and partnership, not manipulation and domination. The forces encountered cannot be willed into submission by your human mind. Your human will alone is insignificant to the forces of the Tree, so I advise you to be humble and come with the unstained heart of a child, the Hidden Heart of Blue Flame.
The Tree of Enchantment will introduce you to the Tree and its powerful forces. It differs from my previous book, The Faery Teachings, which presented the foundation and language of the Faery Seership practices. The Tree of Enchantment takes you to the next level, where you can begin to integrate the paradigm and practices of the Faery Seer into your own path of spiritual and magical discovery. Where the first book cited many academic and anthropological references, this one is more direct and experiential in approach. Although there will be some additional academic and literary citations, the bulk of the teachings are a sharing of oral lore.
The Origins of the Tree
As is the case with all my material, the Tree is based on a combination of oral tradition (Celtic, American Southern, and Appalachian), academic research on documented Faery practices (folkloric and extant), and contemporary practices (based on direct contact and transmission). The Tree of Enchantment, in the form I have developed it, is the synthesis of my life's work in Faery tradition. It is a device that illustrates the interaction between the threefold life of humanity (and all of creation), the primary inner contacts known as the Vision Keys, and the gates, rivers, and other inner topology of the Faery and Star realms that reveal and shape the mystical unfolding of life. These contacts can be found and identified by many names and across many cultures in folkloric tradition.
The keys (or contacts) were not presented, gifted, transmitted, or first described to me in any real relationship to each other. Through a long journey of discovering the keys and their inter-relationships, I have changed, grown, and deepened in my spirituality and contentment. In summary, I have come home to the sacred land and begun my path toward "living in blessedness." For these reasons, I am charged to share these teachings with the many seekers and walkers of the Faery paths. By doing so, the old ways are given new life. They may be passed into our generational tree so that current and future generations may, once again, become enchanted.
Some of the keys were passed to me through studies in traditional witchcraft. Yes, Old Craft has survived, but not in the forms popularized in the modern genre of occult books. Old Craft is very simple and yet overwhelmingly profound (although not for the faint of heart). Old Craft traditions of western and northern Europe, and their variants in America, have many Faery practices at their foundation, although many of their adherents are not immediately aware of this. A great number of Old Craft practitioners are alive and well in America in Appalachia, the Ozarks, the American South, Pennsylvania, the Ohio valley, New Jersey, and New York (primarily old Italian variants), as well as other areas. Old Craft is also very much alive in continental and insular Europe. One of the hallmarks of these traditions is their use and transmission of inner contacts or spirit beings that have been in the families, "houses," or communities for centuries. These contacts are often the most revered and protected jewels of the witch's heritage in those lineages. They originate from age-old Faery practices. Some followed the bloodlines during immigrations to the Americas; some were lost and replaced by new ones throughout generations of settlement and integration into the inner life of the American inscape. I have been blessed to have some of these contacts shared with me, and have been given permission to share them with all who seek.
The Vision Keys and the Structure of the Tree
A full diagram of the Tree of Enchantment is included with this book. I advise you to use this diagram as a constant frame of reference as you work with the teachings in the book. The more you can internalize the pattern of the Tree into your self, the more it will work for you.
The Tree is divided into three distinct, yet interpenetrating, spheres or realms: the upper world, the middle or surface world, and the lower world. These three worlds are very relevant to all that we perceive in the paradigm of Faery Seership. They illustrate the perception we have of looking above to the distant white stars, below to the deep earth out of which all life grows and into which the dead travel, and around us to the elemental forces that come upon us from the four directions. It is easy to imagine that these three perspectives (above, below, and around) are the basis of all life, and we frail humans seem to stand at the center, for we are the center of our own world.
There are many names for these worlds in different traditions. It is more important, however, to understand the function of these worlds than their many cultural and linguistic variants. One simplified way to understand them is illustrated in Table 1.
Although, at a glance, one may erroneously perceive these worlds as distinct places, they are, in fact, functions or expressions of one constant, dynamic, creative life-force. They can be seen as the souls of the one spiritual being of which we are all part. Another way to understand them is as "organs" or "organ systems" of one living entity. In this paradigm, the beings (incarnate, discarnate, and non-carnate) that live within these realms can be likened to cellular structures or microbes. Many of the beings living in these three worlds will be discussed in this book. Although some may question this assertion, humans are only one form of intelligent life existing in these realms.
The three worlds have certain interface points, as illustrated in the Tree. These points are thresholds of transformation, memory, and awakening. As nonbeing is uttered into being, all of creation passes through these thresholds and is initiated into form. As divine discontent drives beings to remembrance of spiritual truth, all of creation passes back through these thresholds and is initiated back into spirit.
The three primary thresholds are:
The Well of Enchantment
The Gate of Memories
The Gate of Awakening
Excerpted from the Tree of Enchantment by ORION FOXWOOD. Copyright © 2008 Orion Foxwood. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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