Wednesday 29 August 2012

Book Review: The Heart of the Initiate: Feri Lessons, Second Edition,by Victor and Cora Anderson

"How the heart of the initiate thrills when the antique mysteries are written of. She or he recognizes the same great truth expressing itself in many forms, yet as one thing." ~Victor Anderson in a letter to a student, The Heart of the Initiate, Pg. 42

I have desired to read the Heart of the Initiate for a long time, ever since Karina made reference to a quote from it on a list I'm on in response to a question I asked. But it was very limited print, I think 300 copies, just for the Feri community of the time, and while I know several people with copies, they all live far from me and I've never had an opportunity to visit and read it. I was very please a few months ago to see an announcement from Harpy Press that they were publishing a second edition of the book. I immediately pre-ordered it and waited in expectation for it to arrive. I was not disappointed.

For those unfamiliar with Victor and Cora, they were amazing people, and co-founders along with Gwydion of what would become the Feri Tradition (by whatever spelling). The book is a gift from them to the Feri community. It is an amazing resource for seeker, student, and initiate alike, though it is very obviously aimed at students. It addresses many misconceptions and misunderstandings, and provides many insights I have not found elsewhere, whether from initiates in the tradition or books and writings produced by it. It is a blessing that a second edition has been published for a wider distribution.

The book is a collection of essays and letters mostly previously written, collected into one volume. It is not a large volume, only 78 pages, but it contains more lore and insight than most books four times its size. The forward by Jim Schuette states that tge book is a Valentine from Victor and Cora to you (the reader). It contains two sections.

These sections are prefaced by an essay by Victor entitled Some Pictish Views on the Old Religion. The essay discusses what is and what is not Craft, and specifically what is and isn't Feri.

The first section is made up of essays, commentaries on the tradition and elements of it, some written by Victor, some by Cora. There are no dates on any of them, so they may have been written specifically for the book. There are ten commentaries in this section.

The second section is a collection of letters to specific students, two from Cora and three from Victor. They touch on many different subjects.

The letters are followed by a prayer by Victor, first published in Witchcraft Digest Magazine in 1972 entitled Prayer for Beginning the New Path, prefaced by a short essay entitled A Prayer for the Craft Neophyte explaining the prayer and Victor's purpose in publishing it. This prayer serves as a fitting conclusion to the book.

~Muninn's Kiss

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