So, this isn’t going to be a book review so much as…a book discussion. Because this book is…
Difficult? Complex? Dense? A little…strange?
All of the above?
The Tree of Enchantment is by (“a conjurer in the Southern folk tradition, a traditional witch, and founding elder of the Foxwood Temple of the Old Religion…”) Orion Foxwood. I’ve heard him mentioned several times on various podcasts, and the shopkeeper at Ancient Mysteries recommended the book to me when I asked for something with more structure.
Well. Boy howdy.
The book details Orion Foxwood’s Faery Seership tradition. He posits that we, humans, are each three different ‘walkers’ operating with one soul, in three different planes of existence. They are all separate (the Dream/Surface/Star Walker and the Sea/Stone/Star Worlds), but they all interact at different levels. He maps out personal, spiritual, and magical development on a Kabbalistic-like grid called the Tree of Enchantment.
Ugh. I already feel like I’m writing in circles.
It would be wrong to categorize Tree of Enchantment under typical Wicca or Witchcraft books. This isn’t a new Wiccan ‘tradition’ with Celtic and Southern magic white-washed on top. However, there are numerous influences from all sorts of esoteric teachings, including Kabbalah, neo-Celtic, neo-Native-American, Appalachian Folk, and even some Christian symbolism.
Faery Seership and T.o.E. comes across as a personal or individual-coven-based system, one that is very well-developed and thought out. Obviously, it’s had personal success with Foxwood, and he’s decided to elucidate the concepts for the rest of us.
(Here’s a more in-depth review of all of the book’s influences, if you’re interested.)
My major annoyance was the fact that it is a personal tradition, but it’s written about as if this is the way it is. As if Faery Seership is the best, or only, way to get in touch with the Fay, the Underworld, the spirits, ancestors, whatever. Kind of weird, given his admission of syncretism and synthesis of many different traditions.
Now, all that said, it is a well-developed system. I actually took notes on the text just to keep it straight, something I’ve never done (or had to do!) with a Pagan book. It’s highly structured, and there are numerous practices, meditations, and exercises. He writes in a style that is redundant but ever-evolving to the next “ah-hah” moment.
The book contains much food for thought. Much of it is poetic, obviously written with passion and dedication. Also, unlike most of the tripe chucked at the Pagan audience, T.o.E. is composed by someone who has actually spent a good part of his years developing, practicing, and experiencing his tradition. It’s definitely not another gussied up book of correspondences.
Still, I can’t really get into it. A part of me would like to–and I probably will do some of the exercises, just because they seem well thought out–but, so far, I think this is a case of a spiritual tradition that I’m glad is out there for those who like it, but is ultimately not for me. The most use it has had so far is illuminating things that I don’t want (at least, right now) in a tradition. If I even want a tradition. Who knows?!
I will finish it though, and return for Part Two.
Have any of you read it? What do you think?