The Feri Tradition is an initiatory tradition of modern Pagan witchcraft. It was founded in California in the 1960s by the Americans Victor Henry Anderson and his wife Cora Anderson.
Practitioners have described it as an ecstatic tradition, rather than a fertility tradition. Strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression. The Feri Tradition has very diverse influences, such as Huna, Vodou, Faery lore, Kabbalah, Hoodoo, Tantra, and Gnosticism.
Scholars of Paganism like Joanne Pearson and Ethan Doyle White have characterised Feri as a Wiccan tradition. The latter noted that some practitioners of modern Pagan Witchcraft restrict the term Wicca to British Traditional Wicca, in which case Feri would not be classified as Wicca; he deemed this exclusionary definition of the term to be "unsuitable for academic purposes". Instead, he characterised Feri as one form of Wicca which is nevertheless distinct from others, such as British Traditional Wicca, Dianic Wicca, and Stregheria. Most practitioners reject this delineation.
Anderson met Cora Ann Cremeans in Bend, Oregon, in 1944; they married three days later, on 3 May, claiming that they had encountered each other before in the astral realm. Born in Nyota, Alabama, in January 1915, Cora had been exposed to folk magical practices from childhood; reputedly, her Irish grandfather was a "root doctor" who was known among locals as the "druid". The Andersons claimed that one of their first acts after their marriage was the erection of an altar. The following year, a son was born, and they named him Victor Elon, with the latter being the Hebrew word for oak; Cora claimed that she had received the name in a dream. After the birth, a ritual was held to dedicate the infant to the Goddess. In 1948, the family moved to Niles, California, later that year purchasing a home in San Leandro. There, Anderson became a member of the Alameda Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and he subsequently remained so for forty years. Victor earned his living as a musician, playing the accordion at events, while Cora worked as a hospital cook. It has been claimed that Anderson could speak Hawaiian, Spanish, Creole, Greek, Italian, and Gothic.
In the mid-1950s Victor and Cora read Witchcraft Today, a 1954 book by English Wiccan Gerald Gardner, with Cora claiming that Victor corresponded with Gardner for a time. The Pagan studies scholar Chas S. Clifton has suggested that the Andersons used Gardner's work as a "style guide" for the development of their own tradition of modern Pagan witchcraft. Similarly, Kelly stated that the Andersons' tradition "began to more and more resemble that of the Gardnerians" as the couple learned more about the latter, adopting elements from it. Anderson was in correspondence with the Italian-American Wiccan Leo Martello, who encouraged Anderson to found his own coven. Circa 1960, the Andersons founded a coven, naming it Mahealani, after the Hawaiian word for the full moon. Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Andersons initiated a number of individuals into the coven. One of these was Gwydion Pendderwen, a friend of their son who shared their interest in the esoteric. Pendderwen contributed to the development of what came to be known as the Feri tradition, with some members of the lineage viewing him as its co-founder. Pendderwen noted that he had first met the family when, aged thirteen, he got into a fight with Victor Elon, although the two later became friends. Pendderwen was particularly influenced by Welsh mythology, and on a visit to Britain he spent time with the Alexandrian Wiccans Alex Sanders and Stewart Farrar, subsequently introducing various Alexandrian elements into Feri Wicca. In the early 1970s, the Andersons established a new coven with Pendderwen and his initiate, Alison Harlow. After Pendderwen married, his wife also joined this coven, although it disbanded in 1974.
Over the next four decades, the Andersons would initiate between twenty-five and thirty people into their tradition. Anderson has been described as one of the "founding teachers" and the "seminal voice" of the Feri tradition. The original word that the Andersons used for their tradition was Vicia, which Cora claimed was Italian. She added that "the name Fairy became accidentally attached to our tradition because Victor so often mentioned that word in speaking of nature spirits and Celtic magic". Early initiates alternately spelled the name of the tradition as Fairy, Faery, or Faerie, although Anderson began using the spelling Feri during the 1990s to differentiate it from other witchcraft traditions of the same name; not all practitioners followed his example. Cora claimed that Feri was the word's original spelling, adding that it meant "the things of magic". Anderson also referred to his form of Wicca as the Pictish tradition. In their writing, the Andersons mixed terminology adopted from Huna, Gardnerian Wicca, and Vodou, believing that all reflected the same underlying magico-religious tradition. It drew heavily upon the huna system developed by Max Freedom Long. According to one Feri initiate, Corvia Blackthorn:
According to Kelly:
According to one initiate, Jim Schuette, Anderson was "a taskmaster. He took pride in testing his students." One of those initiated into the Andersons' Feri tradition was Starhawk, who incorporated ideas from the Feri tradition when creating Reclaiming. She also included aspects from it in her 1979 book, The Spiral Dance, including mention of the Iron and Pearl Pentagram and the three souls, all of which originated within Feri. Another prominent initiate was Gabriel Carillo (Caradoc ap Cador), who in the late 1970s developed a written body of Feri teachings, and began offering paid classes in the tradition in the 1980s, generating the Bloodrose lineage; doing so generated controversy among Feri initiates, with critics believing that it was morally wrong to charge for teaching.