Thursday, August 15, 2013

If it don't take the first time, can I get a second dunkin'?

I get allot of emails and people asking me about Initiations.  They want to know if I am "self-initiated" or did I have a teacher.  They want to know if they can "self-initiate" and if so why do they want or need a teacher.  Here in the South, we have some deep "Christian" ways of thinking that go down deeper than the psyche possibly into our bones that we are not aware of.  I think this is why this question comes up allot down here.  I am going to try and answer this question; and I am going to honestly share my OPINION.  This does not make me an expert, just someone who has been around a bit!

First, I want to specify what Initiation is; according to Webster it is the following:  "Initiation is a rite of passage marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense it can also signify a transformation in which the initiate is 'reborn' into a new role. Examples of initiation ceremonies might include Hindu diksha, Christian baptism or confirmation, Jewish bar or bar mitzvah, acceptance into a fraternal organization, secret society or religious order, or graduation from school or recruit training."

So if we look at this definition is is HIGHLY Unlikely that you can give yourself an initiation.  For how can you declare yourself part of a group if you are the only person?  If, however you are trying to declare to the Universe or the Source that you are now officially a "Pagan or Wiccan"  then I guess you could do that by yourself.  I find it baffling that in the year 2013 we whom are Pagan/Wiccan/Witch still remain Solitary and are "non social" and "very judgemental" of other groups, circles, covens, and Pagan organizations which will gladly offer these services to you in exchange for your discipline, time, commitment, and exchange of energy.  How are we to be "light bearers" and "be one with the earth" if we are so standoffish and solitary?  (Notice I ask this question but cannot answer it).

In my tradition,  Initiations mean something.  They mean you have crossed a fork in the road, devoted a year or more of your life, that you have devoted yourself intensely to the God or Goddess of your choice, that you have given all you have and you would like your community, your family and your teachers to still continue on with you down the road you choose.  They mean that you are ready to learn, and to grow, and to share yourself with the world.  They mean that you are ready to "set yourself aside" and try to work with others for common goals that you think will help the city you live in and yourself.  It means you stand for something, and you are willing to accept a few "responsibilities" and "roles" and the expectations that come with them.  It also means, you will not walk that path alone ever...that I (if I am your teacher) will give you part of myself and stay connected to you forever.  That is the deal I made with my Goddess Isis, and thus she too will always be there for you if you need her.

Back in the late 80's early nineties many of us were initiated in a way that reminds you of a fraternity rite.  We were picked up without warning, we were blind folded,  a bag placed on our head, our hands tied together, and we had to sit in a car or back of a truck and ride not knowing where we were going.  When we arrived at the destination the bag was removed, our feet tied together, and then the Priestess started to ask us questions that we should be able to answer if we had studied diligently and paid attention.  Then you were anointed, cleansed, and saged.  You would be unblindfolded, then untied on your hands, then your feet, and this would be so that you could "see the new path before you", and so that you could "use your hands for the craft" and "walk the path before you in dignity and grace" .  You would take an oath to your High priestess, and Circle and community and Gods .  You would mean it and the difference would be palpable. Then you were measured and given a cord by your High priestess and it was understood that you and she were tied together like a mother and baby; and all your brother and sisters in the coven would rejoice.  You now were initiated!
I have done some of these (minus the putting a bag on someones head) and I have experienced it.  It is a tad bit scary but this is about trust.  Do you trust your Gods?  Do you trust yourself?  Do you trust your circle/tribe/community?  If so then you have put yourself in a very uncomfortable place...and now you are ready TO GROW!
Today in 2013 I will not blindfold you, I am not going to bind you like this...but I am going to make sure you feel like you are on the spot.  I am going to make you feel a tad bit uncomfortable, I am going to make it sacred, and reverent, and you are going to answer questions to prove that you have learned what you needed to in that year and a day, you are going to take an oath, you are going to hear the words of the Goddess and the words of the God, you are going to be reminded of the ethics and values of the Tradition you have been trained in! (However, none of that can happen unless you have gone to your classes and turned in your lessons for a year and a day not missing more than three sessions and turned in a BOS to your teacher that she/he approved several weeks before). Yes, you have to have discipline and focus to be part of our tradition.  Then, your teacher and I will give you a cord and explain to you the significance of this act.  The Clergy will share once again with you the tools of our Path, you will be reminded that not just "anyone" needs to know the secrets of our traditions because they not all will understand them and we will anoint your third eye, your lips, your throat, your heart, your hands, your belly, your feet, and you will be iniated!  Everyone will celebrate, you will be hugged allot, and at the end you are given a graduation certificate.
The following Rites of Passages are also Initiations:  Baby blessings, Weddings, Graduations, Funerals.  NONE OF THESE do you do why would you do your most important decision in the world alone ? (Well I thought it was one of my most important things I have ever done maybe you don't think this)

You would think the majority of students in our classes would be young twenty somethings fresh faced and eager for the Craft not knowing the consequences of the decision to be Pagan forever. However, I can tell you after all of these years the majority of people that come to learn and take classes at the Temple are not.  They are people that have been solitary for ten or more years.  They know basics; they have read hundreds of books they come to learn a "tradition" the come to learn structure and the "order" in which to do things.  They have already figured out that "intent" is nice but knowing how to formulate the spell is really more important than just copying and pasting from Facebook.  In classes, they are helped to find their OWN personal path, they find their OWN God and Goddess, and they are forced (through their own consent and life) to work only on a few things for a year and a day and do them well, they are forced to work with others and learn to get along and deal with "discord" gracefully and wisely.  They come out learning skills that help not only them spiritually but practically.  I know I did and still do.
To be a THIRD degree in the Temple means you have devoted at least (and this means you have not missed a single anything and were a genius) three and a half years of your life studying and applying that knowledge and contributing to a community.  Once you have done this, you are ready (we feel) to lead a group and start a circle within the community thus contributing to the greater whole and sharing YOUR PERSONAL gifts!
I pray now that I have explained what Initiation is and how we do it you can answer this question better.  Oh, and if you have been iniated in the Craft and you decide to get married and start a family, and then revisit it can always pick up where you left off.  YOU DO NOT have to get "Re- baptized" or ask the Gods to observe your decision again" :)  We are Pagans after all.
THANK YOU for the gift of your time....


  1. Self Initiation can be summed up by being able to answer this age old Question, "Who initiated the first Witch?"

  2. @ William this is true. I have said who created our traditions...but if you really want to have the experience I described above; you cannot do it alone. Myself, I believe you are iniated by the Gods not by me a human...but I think it is comforting to know that you have a friend on the path that is there for you whenever you want advice, laughter, someone to listen...and I really think that is what the Iniator is to the iniatee...BTW? Have you been iniated?

  3. You (and the members of your temple) obviously lead an active and dedicated spiritual life. I admire the passion and the friendship you seem to enjoy. However, some people are extroverts, some introverts, and many fall somewhere in the middle. I would likely not thrive in a group setting. I have severe social anxiety and a strongly empathic nature, so not only do large groups send me into a panic, I am exquisitely aware of any discord and tension rolling beneath the surface of things. This makes it hard to concentrate. If taking a solitary path means that I am always seen as "uninitiated" and having attained no formal "degree" status no matter how diligently I work, I suppose I'll have to live with that. Thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, there are plenty of places for me to get advice if I run into trouble and to participate in short courses of instruction on specific topics. The best way to learn any path is to just walk it and see what happens. My journey may be more winding than that of someone who has the benefit of working in a group, but this is not a race to some finish line. And, as whatever lessons I don't get to in this life will no doubt meet me in the next, I'm not going to waste time worrying about it or bemoaning my solitary nature. Bright Blessings.

  4. @ Carrie Ann dear one thank you for reading. If you went to a teacher, they would help you learn to ground, shield, and filter this means you are NOT more sensitive than anyone else you just have not been trained to use your abilities properly thus you are "freaked out" around circles. Do you really think I do not know when the slightest discord happens in our Church/Circle? I do but the difference is I was taught how to ground, center, filter, and wait until approached to deal with it. This is what I and many other teachers share with students of the Craft. If you cannot find a group, ask the Gods to help you find a teacher. you were not given a gift to hide it under a bushel...YOU know that!

  5. I am a Solitary and I am not any of what you list above. I am a Solitary because the closest coven is 100 miles away and I live in the bible belt. I'm not ashamed of who I am or what I believe but I do believe in personal and family safety. If asked I will be open about what I believe but other than that I keep it to myself. I do not stand in judgement of others beliefs nor do I appreciate being judged for mine or my practices. I personally don't like organized religion of any kind...even if I were closer to a coven I don't believe I would join. I like the way I worship the Goddess in my own way. I don't need to be told how to worship or when to worship....hmmm sounds like other religions to me. Organized religion is great for some people, people who need the structure and organization and who need the approval of others. I don't need any of the above. As far as finding a teacher, I have one...someone that learned and was initiated under Alex and Maxine Sanders back in the '60's. and his advice to me was don't join a coven, they are full of political and other unwanted nonsense that doesn't help your spiritual growth. So I will remain a Solitary. But I do enjoy your blog, this was only meant to be my opinion on the subject that you wrote about.

  6. @ Chefette we do not tell people how to worship. Since you have not been part of a Coven or training system; it seems you have a misconception about it. Everyone is able to develop their own system and share it with each other, that way we all learn from each other. You can always declare your intention to the God and Goddess as a devotion it does not mean you are "less than" or "more than" someone else. Finding a teacher for one on one training can be tough; I know...I live in the South. But if you notice this blog is addressing a question often sent to me. Do you really think you can iniate yourself into the mysteries? Do you think you can iniate yourself into the levels of first, second, and third degree of a tradition? Solitaires ask me this. Notice I did not state an answer either way...I ask you back; after I explain to you what our iniations are. Basically they are Rites of Passages that people ask for. To assume "we are forcing" or "telling someone they are wrong" when you have not been to our Temple, or even tried to join a group of any not very charitable.