The Word “Alferic” and the Word “Druidic”
Alferian, are derived from the word “Alf,” which is the Anglo-Saxon word for Elf. Indeed, “Elf” is a variant of the original Alf. You will see it as an element in many early Anglo-Saxon names — e. g., Alfred, Aelfwine– where “alf” or “elf” carried the connotation “good.” Hence we get the euphemism “The Good People” for these denizens of the Otherworlds. In Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse the plural is “Alfar.”
The word derives originally from the Alfar themselves. “Alfar” in their language, Eranor, also means “good people.” However, the grammar of pluralization and noun cases is different from Old English. The plural of singular Alfe in Eranor is Alfer (pronounced: ALL-fair). The name “Alferian” (pronounced: all-FAIRY-ann) is a common name among the Elves because it means “created by elves” or more poetically translated “Elfborn.” It is simply the compositive case of the noun “alfe.” It might also be translated simply “Elfin.”
The term “Alferic Magic” describes the shared tradition of all three of the great elvish tribes or Tuatha: the Ran Sarithin, the Sarranxi, and the Valorn. My own magical practice may be described as Druid-Alferic, influenced by my mentors and teachers in both Druid and Alferic lineages. In the case of Druidry, there are many schools of thought.
Some druids today, especially in Celtic-speaking countries, claim to practice a form of Druidry passed down by word of mouth from their ancestors. Others, such as my order — the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids — practice a druid based in the careful study of such written remnants of the bardic teachings as we have. Old bardic tales, some of which were passed on by medieval Catholic monks in Ireland, and some of which survived in Wales, may be studied along with folklore from the Celtic world. It would be a mistake to consider any modern Druidry to be the direct descendant of the druids of 100 BCE. The accounts of the Romans and their conquest of the Celts (Gauls) give us some clues about the bards and druids, but those accounts are colored by the lens of Roman culture.
Among modern self-professed druids, there is some argument about what is “properly” druidic and what isn’t. It is maintained by some that the mystical and magical systems that came out of the ancient civilizations of the Near East — Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Judea — are distinct and utterly different than Celtic Druidry. This may be so. However, documentary and archaeological evidence suggest that the Celtic nations had a great deal of contact with their neighbors and it is hardly a stretch to believe that a class so educated as the druids may have traveled far indeed to learn. Should a modern-day druid consider the Jewish Kabbalah to be valid and adopt its ideas into his or her practice? I think the wise druid will do so.
Rejecting the magic and mysticism of other cultures in an attempt to maintain some sort of “pagan” or “Celtic” purity shows a serious lack of understanding. In the first place, there isn’t any evidence for a uniform culture among the ancient Celtic-speaking peoples. They are united only by a shared language group. Celtic is a language group like Germanic or the Romance languages descended from Latin, each containing many separate languages and nuances of culture. In the second place, no culture lives in a vacuum, and the only reason I can see offered for the attempt to preserve a distinctly Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Gallic, Cornish, or Hibernic Druidry is in order to preserve cultures that were conquered and suppressed by the Roman Empire.
As the History of Magic grows into a distinct specialty within the discipline of history, we find that magical ideas and practices were transmitted by means of the Roman Empire across its length and breadth. Certainly, there is a legitimate argument to be made that Jews may wish to keep their Kabbalisic system free from Christian or “pagan” influences. Certainly, there is an argument to be made as to whether a monotheistic religious system can be combined with a polytheistic one, or should be combined.
Clearly, Roman Catholic Christianity is an example of a monotheistic system which combined with the pagan religions it replaced. The theology is different, to be sure, but what we know of Greek polytheism suggests that the idea of unity and an over-arching Divine Being was not alien to Greek thought. Whatever fighting there may be among religions, there seems to have been less of it among mages, who have been mostly eager to find the common truths in the practices and theories of other peoples. Magic is more like technology than religion — those using it have been excited to find innovations and new ideas coming from abroad.
The Alferic “tradition” also suffers from its disagreements and notions of purity, though they have not involved theological differences because the closeness of the Alfar to the Gods eliminates the need for theological speculation. Unlike Celtic Druidry, that of the Alfar is not strictly oral. There are libraries full of folios and scrolls containing historical and current magical work. But there is certainly also an oral element as in the lower orders of elfin society, farmers and villagers learn enchantment orally from their elders and the bards and usually never see a magical book.
We may speak of bards, ovates, and druids among the Alfar, though these exact terms are not used for them. They may be described simply by the titles Singers, Seerers, and Scholars. In the future, I hope to set down more about these peoples, their culture, and their history. Much, however, can be learned from books that are out there already, or by talking to the ordinary people in many lands where the “Fairy Faith” — as Evans-Wentz calls it — has persisted despite the skeptical rejection of the dominant materialistic culture. A book I cannot recommend too highly is Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality.
Naturally, I understand that there will be those who think that all this business about elves is something I made up. It isn’t. But, by all means, be skeptical. People do sometimes tell outrageous fibs to try to impress others. Research the shee-folk or “fairies” yourself and keep your eyes open. And be polite. Possibly, you will discover the same language and history that I have discovered.