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Feraferia - A Nature Religion


Written by Fred Adams in 1968:

Feraferia, a Nature Religion

We are promoting the greatest love of nature possible.

We take Nature in the widest and deepest sense. Under this term we integrate:

1. Ecology

2. Physiology

3. Psychology - chiefly in the Jungian sense.

To describe our festivals and meetings thoroughly might fill many fat volumes. However, we are working on theoretical treatises, practical manuals and educational courses at present.

Our basic spiritual discipline, directed towards awakening a deeper identity with landscape as an organismic, living presence, derives from the developmental configuration of the human individual's body image when still an infant. The point is, just as the body image of the human psycho-some shapes up as a unity from a welter of sensations, so the earth's "body" and soul can be similarly "shaped up" to enlarge the identity of the human being, through systematic application of a series of Yoga-type techniques. We have literally hundreds of these, which we will release regularly. These are all quite straightforward, like Hatha Yoga practices, and demand nothing more than hard work to become very effective.

We of Feraferia are proud of our creed, our teaching, and our ways of living. We are particularly proud of our Goddess, the most ancient Deity of all humankind, and we want Her to be proud of us. It is our desire to serve the community; not to detract from it in any way.

We know ours is an uphill course, because the Covenant of The Great Goddess of all wild was broken between humanity and nature millennia ago. To make the community at large aware of this, and of everything that must be done to rectify the ensuing damage of History, constitutes a very difficult task. But this, we feel, is what the Goddess wants us to attempt, and we are completely dedicated. The ailing human community needs very badly to receive that venerable yet progressive complex of notions, attitudes and truths that can only be vouchsafed under inspiration from the foundational archetype of the collective psyche, Karpophoros, "The Beautiful Lady of Wild Things."

Here is a foundational reference which can supply the background of our faith. It is perhaps the principle source of our morality and ethics:

Henry Bailey Stevens, The Recovery of Culture. Harper, 1953, now distributed by Wellington.

Our meetings and festivals fall into several broad categories:

First there are business meetings, planning and policy making meetings. These are conducted in the usual manner.

We also hold daily devotions and prayers. Then, on a weekly basis, for our most dedicated members, and monthly for somewhat greater numbers, we hold communions of the more meditational kind.

During these, we "travel" imaginatively to a given spot in the mountains or the wilderness, agreed upon by all participants. With this place we have all acquainted ourselves thoroughly, with every stick and stone of it as it were, so we can meet there in the spirit. Only, when we imagine the designated place during Kore Communion, we also "dress the scene" with symbolic monuments. Then, in the course of the exercise, we imagine in painstaking detail the epiphany of the Goddess within the setting of that sanctified wilderness location. We may also invoke there her consort, the God of the changing seasons (Vertumnus), or the godlings, i.e. faeries of the nature forces with which we want to reopen spiritual communications.

This is only one of many applications of the method. These performances require that we sit comfortably in semi-darkness, close our eyes and speak softly to each other so that we remain together. Or we may all keep stream of consciousness notes, which, upon cross reference, reveal, it seems to us, a continuing expression of the will of the Goddess, and the will of the arcane nature beings man has ignored or driven out of earth's sphere - almost. In the western esoteric tradition, which I studied at first hand with a foremost authority (Gareth Knight) while in England recently, technically these procedures are called, "Working on the Astral Plane." This kind of work is familiar to Qabbalists, whether Jewish or Christian. Ours is a special, ecological application of them.

After passive astral communion, or other eco-sensitivity training sessions, comes formal ceremony.

On each full moon, we hold a structured ritual. These rituals, we believe, are completely necessary to draw into the world of everyday eventualities those benign forces and influences that rampant materialism has driven out of this sphere. At each of the Nine Royal Festivals outlined in Volume I, #1 of our bulletin ("Korythalia"), we perform our rituals. But their liturgies and other aspects vary according to the time of the year, for ours is a religion of seasonal feeling and seasonal response to nature, in terms of a tightly knit festal system.

This system of seasonal festivals comprises what students of comparative religion call a mystery religion. Thus the core of meaning can never be explained, but only experienced.

In our bulletin, "Korythalia", are many examples of prayer, basic ritual, and the festal calendar in its traditional folklore form, which we follow from Robert Graves. I discussed the use of this calendar as a sacramental framework face to face with Mr. Graves at his home in Mallorca, Spain, five months ago. Its complete usage comprises a really vast corpus, which we will try to distribute gradually in small and hopefully palatable doses.

We have nine major festival activities each year. They do involve, besides prayer and ritual, much fun and merrymaking. However, the merry-making and feasting always has an ecological theme determined by what is actually happening in the region of the celebration during that season. This is precisely our main reform promotion: That man as grand celebrant and lover of nature must rejoin nature in full response to her transcendent seasonal program of celebrational manifestations. This is one of the first teachings of our Goddess.

As an example, Midsummer, at summer solstice, celebrates the sexual union of Kore, our Goddess, with Kouros, the youthful God. This erotic statement about Midsummer is thematic, like all the rest, about our festivals. I speak thematically, working from botanical analogies, in all cases. Man's first obligation, as symbol-bearing primate, is toward the plant world, especially the queendom of the trees ("Korythalia"means "Youth Bough".)

"Midsummer" from The Nine Royal Passions

Speaking in averages for the North temperate zone, if we take Spring as the time of flowering, then Summer Solstice, astronomically determined - the first day of summer - may be arbitrarily consecrated as the Day of Flower Petal Fall. Because at this time, on the average, most pollination is completed for the temperate zone as a whole. The sperm (grain of pollen) has entered the ovum (pistillate process). And this, by poetic correspondence, is the love climax of the Sacred Year. After all, is it not unfortunate that the later history of religion has moved from Holy Sex to Holy Sexlessness? Quite ridiculous, as D. H. Lawrence has amply shown, in view of the exquisite perennial displays of the plant world all about us, which same are readily accepted by polite society.

Feraferia wishes to make this contribution, among others, to the mental health of our society: Wholesome, healthy acts of love, providing, as they do, the sacred sources and continual regeneration of life herself, must be regarded as deserving of especial veneration.

This follows logically from our creed of love for all nature. Certainly this includes sex no less than the thinking function in the psychic realm; than the life of the spleen on the physiological level; than the life of a stand of superb California Laurels in the San Bernardino Mountains, on the Ecological level. They all form one divine composition, under the Majestic Muse Goddess.

Feraferia never advocates or engages in degrading explosions of "instinct" or appetite. Our aim is the poetic, sensitive refinement of man's inner nature via natural means.

The way Midsummer is celebrated, broadly, starts with the enactment of a mimetic wedding ceremony between some representative of the Goddess of Eternity and a representative of the God of Time. This takes place before the granite altar in our Topocosmic Mandala, or Stonehenge Landscape Temple, within our sacred grove. This simple ceremony symbolizes the completion of pollination throughout the North temperate zone, and the miraculous appearance of the green infant fruit (nature-responsive festivity, remember;). Prayers are intoned, hymns sung, as Titania and Oberon clasp hands and kiss over the Sacred Stone, source of soil, to seal the mystery of arboreal production, upon which the sustenance of peaceful and charitable life depends absolutely. California natives and harmonious imports are ceremonially planted, for we encourage reforestation by dramatic means.

Then everyone thankfully feasts on the Golden Bounty of The Holy Trees: fruits, nuts, berries, melons, vegetables. After this, everyone who wishes, plays hide and seek, or engages in Maze Dancing throughout the groves. The fun and merriment are ends in themselves, gratuitous expressions of overflowing love for great nature which we feel empathically unite us with the supreme powers of our splendid earth, and irradiate ourselves and the landscape with a force of compassion that can only benefit all souls who pass through there. The value of merriment depends on the nature of its dedication.

One nice aspect of our Midsummer Rites is that on the longest day of the year, summer solstice, the Privet Trees (related to the Ashes and the Olives) which shade our white, half-moon altar stone, do rain down their creamy little petals when shaken.

These proceedings are innocent, wholesome and beneficial to body, soul and all nature, blending these elements together as they do.

Within the appropriate wilderness setting, we have our communion training courses, addressing the developmental reunion of humanity with nature. Our union with nature, with the interrelated fabric of all life, is more than a matter for science and aesthetics. This union also requires new and totally immersive forms of existential identification with the titanic elements - fully poetic, sacramental and religious forms. The sanctification of daily life for nature, certainly including gaiety and refreshments, is one of the principal aims with which the Goddess has entrusted us. Two of our chief concerns are educating people about wholesome, natural and creative play activity and diet.

This brings us to the question of the paradisal sanctuaries, and our carefully considered opinions about the future of "civilization".

Volumes could be presented on this subject. I think the best current explication of the case for the creatively graduated and gentle denouement of urban predominance and unchecked expansion as we have known it during the last seven millennia, is a giant work entitled, The Myth of The Machine, by Lewis Mumford, one of our most honored sociologists and "historians of the city and of techniques."

Whether or not megalopolis and suburbia persist in the landscapes of earth, one thing is certain: alternate humane-natural environments and cognate life styles must and will spring up. The character and pace of mechanized milieus, at their very best, are not conducive to the holistic unfolding of human potentials - if there are no positive environmental and stylistic alternatives. Very adequate negative alternatives are at present provided by our society, it is quite true: City, County, State and National Parks, Monuments, and Forests. But these, according to our lights, are not sufficient in view of the present cultural crises of the world community. The positive alternative consists in a prototypal environment which we broadly define by the following complex of specifications.

1. The Paradisal Sanctuary must be established within an extensive region of undisturbed primordial wilderness. The human inhabitants of this sanctuary, permanent and transient, will maintain the primordial wilderness setting with unyielding strictness. These custodians will be imbued with the truth that humanities' only privilege of power is to serve all nature, and this by leaving most of it alone. For nature is superior to man or any other single strand of her grand fabric, and her right to exist could never be determined by man's use. Such a measure yields only derangement and chaos.

2. The specific living space of the sanctuary will exhibit no sharply defined borders of termini, but will graduate imperceptibly into the surrounding wilderness, by virtue of nature-artful arboration.

3. The architecture of the sanctuary will be entirely nature blending in every aspect, and expressive of humanities' deep visionary response to the sacramentally contacted spirit of the region. In other words, a thoroughgoing religious, sacramental and poetic adaptation to the "Land Sky Body" of the region must be completed in depth before any economic and subsistence adaptation is even begun. Everything we erect in the sanctuary must grow from the spirit of landscape and soul of humanity fused through the practical poetics of muse devotion (nature-responsive celebration again).

4. Nothing whatsoever of mere utility and expediency will be tolerated within the paradisal sanctuary. No mechanization will be allowed or anything else that may disrupt the flow of our life with the pulse of greater nature (e.g., circadian, lunar and solar periods). But, as in ancient Minoan culture, our life in this place will display elegance and grace, replete with all the amenities - even luxuries - consistent with a nature-harmonizing way of life.

5. These comforts and amenities of the sanctuary will be produced by enlightened and loving handcraft guilds, which will engender an optimum of painstaking concern for the ecology of artifacture.

Thus none of our work will ever get out of keeping with the unique personality and beauty of the nature community. Robert Graves points out that in ancient Ireland, even the crafts and sciences came under the tutelage of Brigit, the indigenous Goddess.

6. The arts and crafts, always in synthesis with one another and with the natural surrounding, will elaborate the sacramental Round of the Seasons.

7. All residents of the sanctuary, whether permanent or transient (e.g., guests, students, any individuals in need of psycho-somatic re-creation) will participate in the garnering of the food supply from indigenous, eco-systemically suitable plant communities. This co-operative management of the food supply, taken by all directly from nature, will be conducted as religious activity, as joyous, soul-fulfilling seasonal sacrament and celebration.

8. Plant production will be mainly horticultural and arboricultural rather than agricultural. With respect to the specific soil and plant disposition of the sanctuary, regarded as holy and inviolable, emphasis will be placed on staples that can be derived from native plants and harmonious imports, rather than on those familiar staples dictated by current kitchen mores (e.g., wheat, corn, potatoes, rice).

For expositions of the many superior aspects of grove and garden over open-field grass and cattle agriculture, once more consult H. B. Stevens, The Recovery of Culture; and also, J. Russell Smith, Tree Crops, A Permanent Agriculture, Devin Adair, N. Y., 1953. The organic method of gardening will be employed exclusively; no artificial chemical agents may be introduced.

9. No animal chattels - beasts of burden or "pets" - will be maintained by anyone as helpless dependents of the human community in the sanctuary. No hunting or fishing of any kind will ever be allowed, nor any destruction of healthy trees. Man as sensitive celebrant in the scheme of nature can in no way allow himself to disturb, destroy, or exploit any strand of life within the Sanctuary.

10. Extensive free play apparatus, organismically conceived and blended into the wilderness tissues of certain circumscribed areas, will be erected. This play apparatus will be designed to reawaken the gloriously healthful primate play nature of human beings, adult as well as juvenile. Human primate free play is the sine qua non of continual mind, body and nature blending healthfulness.

Regarding ideas on nudism: Feraferia is not interested in any narrowly dogmatic "ism", which includes "nudism". Feraferia does inculcate a hygienic acceptance of the whole being of humanity, with especial stress being laid on the largely ignored ramifications of our sacred ecological commitments. Now, since the beautiful anatomy and physiology of humanity are integral parts of the divine eco-systemic body of earth, we must aver that any feelings of shame or covertness about any part of this noble structure of our body is irreligious. This, however, presents a question for every mature, fully enfranchised individual to decide for her or himself without pressures from the outside.

On the question of drugs, Feraferia may be classified as purist. Feraferia is opposed to the use of any harmful or even doubtful agents. The thousand and one weird chemicals with which humans are perverting their poor organism today will not be permitted in our sanctuaries. Illegal, artificial or even unusual drugs have no part in our programs. The effectiveness of our natural psycho-religious techniques depends on five ingredients only:

1. Natural diet.

2. Natural play in nature (walking, running, leaping, climbing, swimming, swinging, rolling around in the grass, tag, etc.).

3. Naturally varied artistic expression (crafts, fine arts, dancing, singing, musical instrumentation, mimetic ceremony, touch and eco-sensitivity training, etc.).

4. Hard and regular work in all of these related fields.

5. Muse guided will power.

The paths to the shrine of The Goddess are long and slowly unfolding ones.

Copyright 7/23/1968 Frederick Adams for Feraferia, Inc.


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