Betwixt and Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft, by Storm Faerywolf
Llewellyn Worldwide, ISBN 978-0-7387-5015-6, 318 pp. (incl. resources, appendix, bibliography, and index), 2017
To read Betwixt and Between is to become enthralled in a lesser-known, authentically American Witchcraft tradition called Feri, Faerie, Fairy, or Faery, depending on the preference of the practitioner. Storm Faerywolf, the author and founder of BlueRose (a school and lineage of the tradition in California) has written, in Betwixt and Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft, a powerful introductory book for those already practiced in the basics of the Craft.
This is a bardic tradition, based on a relationship with a race of powerful spiritual beings called the fae — who are not at all like the tiny, sprightly fairies imagined by our modern culture. Many practitioners are poets, writers, musicians, artists, and storytellers who draw inspiration from their interactions with the fae. It is a syncretic tradition, drawing rituals and beliefs from Ireland, Wales, the Middle East, the Basque regions of Spain and France, Polynesia, and Africa, according to the author.
The philosophical core of the tradition exists somewhere in between science, spirit, and poetry, bridging these worlds together through the states of magical ecstasy that is a hallmark of the tradition… Much as in the Cunning and Conjure traditions from which our practices also derive, we will use ‘whatever works’ to assist those who come to us in need.1
Betwixt and Between is divided into three parts: “Preparing for the Journey, “The Hidden Powers,” and “Journeying Between the Worlds,” with each part divided into several chapters. Each chapter contains ample text, exercises, figures, and rituals to explore before moving on to the next. At the end of the book there is an appendix with the Principles of BlueRose Faery Tradition, a short bibliography, a page of resources, and an index.
For review purposes I had to read the book in its entirety, but to start your practice I’d highly recommend taking one chapter at a time and getting comfortable with the material before moving on. As Faerywolf states, “The only way to come to know Faery is to practice it, to live it.”2 I hesitate to describe the practices, myths, and lore you will find in Betwixt and Between; I couldn’t do it as well as the author and I wouldn’t want to rob you of the revelations and insight you will find along the way.
This tradition is not for everyone, Faerywolf tells us from the start, and repeats throughout the book. “Faery is not a fair-weather practice,” he writes. “We must be prepared to examine our deepest fears and insecurities if we are to attempt to travel the astral worlds and return unscathed. Faery promises power to those who dare to wield it but in so doing it changes us forever. We become more of who we are. This is the real danger of Faery… we discover — absolutely — who we really are.”3
I feel I need to make full disclosure at this juncture: I did not order Betwixt and Between for review. My editor asked me if I’d like to review it because I practice (or more accurately, used to practice) a tradition of Wicca called Reclaiming, which has adopted some Feri practices. I accepted, since a dear friend of mine, now passed, was a practitioner of Feri, though she seldom spoke of it, and I was curious.
Now I am certain she sent me this book (working her magick through the folks at Spiral Nature), knowing I needed to read it. It has made me examine truths about myself that were buried beneath the veneer of the “good girl” I had been conditioned to be — truths that are scary as hell. Yet those truths give me power now, when I most need it, and when my country most needs it: the power to demand justice, the power to stand up for what is moral, the power to protect the oppressed, the power to stand on the right side of history. That this book showed up in my life at this moment in time is no accident.
If you’re reading this review, maybe that is no accident. Although I’m a neophyte in this tradition, I sense that’s how the power of Faery works; as in all magick, there are no coincidences. It is a call to use my creative abilities in the service of the mundane and the divine, and maybe it is a call to use yours, in some way that has meaning and heart for you.
What will your answer be?