By Jo Carson
Fred Adams' vision of the Magic Maiden graces cover of Feraferia newsletter, ca. 1972
Fred and his partner, Svetlana Butyrin co-created Feraferia, a 'love culture for wilderness' dedicated to wild nature and its Goddess.
Feraferia is centered around the Kore (pronounced kor-ee), a Greek maiden Goddess, the archetypal "daughter", as the neglected but essential, tonic divinity for our era. Kore was called 'Heart of the World' (cardia ton kosmos) by the ancient Greeks, who created many large statues of her. She has also expressed Herself through the more recent names, Artemis, Persephone, Aphrodite, also Inanna, Astarte, Bridgit, Freya, and many more.
The following is an introduction to how Feraferia came about and some of its' history.
The candle-lit Feraferia Henge at night
The wood henge (L) at Fred and Svetlana's Pasadena, California home, early 1970's
Fred Adams: "In the 'thirties, right. I'm trying to remember when this tendency in my character structure started, to start a club... I attempted to start clubs all the way through elementary school, started with boy friends and we included girls too, finally... We were trying to start a secret society in which we would all love each other, take care of each other, and pay attention to the patterns of earth forms, and that would include outcroppings of rocks and of course little clumps of trees up in those canyons..."
In 2005 Harold Moss, co-founder of the Church of the Eternal Source, did an extensive interview with Fred. A few telling notes stand out:
Not an average school child. Fred Adams, born in 1928, was a visionary throughout his life. As a child, he drew countless pictures of a Hopi style Madonna and child. Influenced by Robert Graves, Margaret Murray, Sir James Frazier, C. G. Jung, and the Greek myths, Fred had an ecstatic conversion experience in 1956. Suddenly he felt in the pit of his stomach and streaming throughout his body, that God is a woman, that She, the Divine, is feminine.
Fred talked to friends about it, and they founded a group called the "Hesperian Fellowship", Hesperides being from the Greek myth of an apple orchard in paradise. They all loved going out in nature. One long-remembered ritual involved everyone taking a truckload of overripe fruit - peaches, strawberries and the like - to a stream. Fred told me they rubbed the fruit all over each other and eventually jumped into the stream...
In 1957 he wrote "Hesperian Life and the Mother Way", which he later re-titled as "Hesperian Life and The Maiden Way". It was about the reasons for and ways of establishing a paradisal sanctuary, with vegetarianism and optional nudity.
Fred described why:Fred: I thought the Goddess wanted us to live this way. Not as we live (now) in "civilization". The way to start up would be to set up a paradisal sanctuary where people could go on the weekends, or those who wanted to stay could stay, with an emphasis on gardens, and above all orchards, tree crops and optional nudity and beautiful costumes, when dressed, and ceremony and so on, swimming, the whole works. Paradise! Why not have it? ... I felt the Goddess wanted me to emphasize the idea of paradise, a terrestrial paradise, which could be established. John Beggs (a good friend of Fred's) and I used to talk about getting some acres and beginning to work on such a paradise where the sources of food would be, above all, orchards, and of course also gardens, organic gardening, waterslides, swimming ponds and pools... We wanted to emphasize the paradisal life... with no violence, no conflicts, no struggle, and no combat.
Fred Adams, at center left, leads a rite honoring the Sea Goddess, 1977
Fred: I was looking for the right word, that would emphasize the fairy feeling, and emphasize service to nature. Thinking of the great authors of wilderness philosophy, you know, Thoreau, and Muir... How to get the idea of a beautiful paradisal life of respect for body, respect for sexual love, together with wilderness philosophy... I began to look through a lot of dictionaries, mainly of Latin words and found out that there were words like "feras" which means wild, wilderness, and then there was a related word for wildness which means ancestral, something going way, way back, a kind of consciousness which is harmonious with nature, and "faerie" which means celebrations, or festival. So our word, fera - wild, feralis - ancestral, and fairy - celebration, nature celebration, we had it. Feraferia. Celebration of wildness. When the word came into my mind, suddenly, I just got it, Feraferia, good. Five syllables, the pentagram, and it has a kind of lilt, you know, it doesn't sound heavy or solemn, it sounds playful.
Fred went on to describe the origins of the group's name, Feraferia.
Feraferia's earliest newspapers, published in 1967
Fred met the Russian beauty Svetlana Butyrin in the mid-sixties. They made a handsome couple, and the two had a long and tempestuous relationship, with forays into other relationships. However, in the end Svetlana and Fred agreed that they were soul mates.
Fred and Svetlana created Feraferia as an outgrowth of the Hesperian Fellowship. They had the idea of making it an official church, and with the help of a friend who was a lawyer, it was chartered as a non-profit in California on August 2, 1967. Feraferia was designed to be a religion based on the bliss between lovers, with both the Goddess and the God. Kore and Kouros (the youthful male God) are both essences of Earth, where they meet; but Kore's celestial throne is the Moon, while Kouros' celestial throne is the Sun.
There were newspaper articles in the Los Angeles Times when Feraferia made their public appearance at the first 1967 Elysian Park Love-In. Feraferia was described as an embodiment of the combined sensuality and spirituality of the era. The Sierra Madre News and the Pasadena Star News covered a more recent exhibit of Fred's playfully provocative 1950's Goddess art. Fred also published the Korythalia (literally meaning "daughter branch") newsletters, which were subtitled "Aeon of the Divine Maiden". Inside the cover of each was the statement; "Feraferia is a Pagan fellowship for the erotic celebration of Wilderness Mysteries with Faerie style and grace, and for the lyrical unification of ecology, mythology, and sacrament. In such play-love-work may women and men be reunited with Great Nature, each other, and their own beings...".
Feraferia members spend time in wilderness singing, dancing, communing with nature and nature spirits, and being playfully wild. The early group used to go up into the San Gabriel Mountains for rituals. One such was "The Ground Star Formation", which involves lying down in a circular form, heads together and hands touching, and attempting to discern the spirits or faery folk of the place. They would later reconnect with the fey spirits from within their temple.
"Faerie Goddess" by Frederick Adams
"The natural fountainhead of human endeavor is not reasonable utility but extravagant mythopoeia. The myths and dreams of Paradise, common to all peoples, predict future actualities for this Planet. Trans-cultural images of the glowing orchard of innocent love constellate from the Collective Unconscious an evolutional FIAT of Cosmos...
Feraferia is a faerie faith, but with room for many beliefs as long as they are compatible with the Sacred Feminine. Most of the world's early cultures had some myth or legend of the little people, or the faery folk. Fred wrote a "Faerie Manifesto" in 1970 as a call to combine such early human dreamings into our current lives:
Feraferia flourished in Southern California during the 60's through the 80's, and then reemerged in Nevada City, California in the 90's. Fred had moved there to be with his life partner and co-ritualist, Svetlana ("Lady Svetlana" - see separate article).
Peter Tromp of Amsterdam found Fred through an issue of Poke Runyon's "The Seventh Ray", and became a good friend of Fred. Peter has started a Feraferia group in Amsterdam, and he runs the European Feraferia website, which is at http://www.phaedrus.dds.nl/fera.htm Peter published all of the Feraferia Seasonal Festival rituals in Holland, in Dutch and English.
By the late 'eighties, Fred mentioned to me that he was having poor health. We talked about how to preserve his ideas and teachings. I started shooting interviews with him in 1989, and, at his insistence, also shot location footage of many of the ancient sacred sites of Europe, Britain and the Mediterranean, and here in the United States. He encouraged me to interview others too, primarily women. From the beginning I called it "Dancing With Gaia", and after twenty years of interviews, location work and editing, it was complete. "Dancing With Gaia" premiered at the Fairfax Documentary Film Festival in April 2009. My website, http://www.gaiadancing.com has a trailer, biographies of the speakers, photos of sacred sites, and more information.
Poster for Jo Carson's Dancing With Gaia, a film inspired by and featuring Fred Adams. The film includes many of Fred's most important insights.
Fred died of skin cancer on Saturday, August 9th at the age of 80. Friends, family and members of Feraferia honored him with a moving ritual, written by Fred himself, called the Feraferia Whole Earth Initiation. The rite magically dedicates the body systems of the beloved dead to related parts of the greater Earth body, such as dedicating the circulatory system to become one with the rivers and streams of the Earth.
If you feel called to join the way of the Magic Maiden, Fred's Kore Incantation, below, is a good place to start. While noticing the beauty of earth and sky around you...
If you are a Lover of Nature, Galactic, Eco-Psychic and Humane, please join in a gesture of Paradisal Devotion. Commune in prayer by repeating each day, outdoors whenever possible, this KORE Incantation:
Charlene bears the flowers at the Feraferia Ostara Rite, 1973
"Oh Holy Maiden of the kindling quick,
Of merging mist and 'mazing echo.
The innocent bounty of the trees
Bares your faerie flesh of wildness, wonder,
Magic, mirth and Love.
Your beauty seals our bridal with all life.
The dance of your green pulse unfolds all souls,
All bodies and all blessings from earth's fragrant form."
Evoee Koree! Evoee Kouros! Aweeeya!!!
Text & photos Copyright 2009 Jo Carson and Feraferia