Tuesday, 10 July 2007
I originally wrote this to stimulate discussion. Over time I'll add a few more of my past writings - some from nearly 20 years ago.
Love, light, hugs and blessings
Tags: initiation, life lessons
First published: 10th July, 2007
If I look at my “hard copy” dictionary (which is a bit ancient, I must admit), I find the definition of “initiate” as “originate, set on foot; admit, introduce, (person into mysteries, secret, science, society) esp. with rites or forms.” The second definition is the one most Wiccan people know and think of, but I would like to expand on this in two ways.
Firstly, I consider that the formal part of an initiation is, more or less, the middle act of a play.
Before the initiation, there is a period of training, learning or some other form of preparation which is intended to get people prepared for the initiation. During this period, one may be meant to:
Ø learn certain knowledge, or
Ø prove that one has earned the right to enter a society, or
Ø develop skills which are necessary either for the initiation itself or perhaps for the work of the group one is seeking to enter, or
Ø perhaps develop a close relationship with a deity that one is going to be working with (or, more accurately perhaps, for!).
The initiation itself I won’t comment on at this point, but I will come back to this when I discuss the second point I want to discuss.
Having got through the initiation, there is the “ever after” part. The initiation itself may well be one of those major events which will have an impact for some time: I count that as part of the initiation. What I am referring to here is honouring the aim or purpose that called you to start this process.
This is probably easiest to understand in the contact of being initiated to a deity’s service (which could be, for instance, the Goddess in the case of a Wiccan initiation). You basically now have to live up to the commitment you made – which may be made a bit more challenging if the deity you have agreed to serve wishes to continue your growth and development (perhaps for your sake, perhaps so you can better serve the deity, perhaps for both reasons).
This is quite important: in my understanding, if you fail to use an ability, your “karmic balance sheet” starts to “go backwards”. The way I was taught to think of this is, if you fail to help someone when you could (e.g., perhaps you have a rope that you could throw to someone who is drowning, and fail to do so), you are guilty of being the karmic equivalent of “an accessory after the fact”.
I’ve been relatively slow in my preparation for initiation. In part, that is because I want to know the Correllian tradition well (I’ve acquired a habit of thoroughness, in part from engineering), but I’ve also spent considerable time working out whether I considered I was going to adequately be able to fulfil the obligations I would be taking on. Part of that was thinking about my own “life initiations” (I’ll come to that shortly), and part was watching the effect of initiations on others – and I have seen both the inspiring effects of initiation, and the sometimes challenging start of “ever after”.
I’ve experienced those myself in life, and that is where I’ll begin to discuss the second aspect.
The second point I wish to discuss is a subtle variation of the idea of initiation I learned when I began my intensive personal, psychic and spiritual development in the mid80s. That idea is that any major testing event could be, in a sense, an initiation.
There are major life events which lead to major changes – for instance, children, a major relationship (especially if you have a clash of values, or you or your partner(s) undergo a major life change while in that relationship), or other events such as changing religion, career, lifestyle or location. These events can be extremely challenging – some can be traumatic. We have a choice as to how we react to those events, which can make them like tests, and they can be considered to be akin to an initiation.
There is an aspect of some spiritual paths that they are based on deliberately accelerating spiritual growth. That is fine, but if one doesn’t choose to deliberately focus on and accelerate one’s spiritual growth, the universe (and one’s Higher Self) have their ways of bringing you into growth experiences you need anyway. In that process, life itself may bring challenges that are akin to initiation: our life experiences provide the training, then we have the challenging or testing experience (possibly willingly, in the case of, say, planned children – much as we willingly agree to formal initiation), and then we have the “ever after”.
To illustrate this with an example, consider having children. Our experiences being raised, our education and other life experiences form our attitudes and reactions, there are the experiences around having children (including this experience allowing entry to that society called “parents”), and then there is the “ever after”. Each stage of this process is potentially challenging.
Even training can be a challenging experience. When I was learning to work with crystals, we used to spend long periods (whole nights, sometimes) in trance with large crystals (up to 55kg) on us, learning to work with very strong energies. One night, I felt that the strain from the energy could be fatal: I had a choice, and decided to trust in the forces guiding this work – and I felt that a barrier had been broken or overcome. The energy flow was instantly easier. It is probably one of the main events I’ve had that I consider a “life initiation”. (Other major “life initiations” have included major personal changes.)
In the same way that, as well as the main chakras usually talked about we have minor chakras, other events could be considered minor life initiations (in the sense of tests). There are moments, for instance, when my honesty and integrity have been tested. The first time was at primary school, when I admitted to having been on a see saw just before it broke (along with about 20 other kids). There have been other times in life, as there are in many lives – even a drunk deciding whether or not to drive, or moments when we decide whether to break a law or not. There are life experiences beforehand which are relevant “training”, the moment itself is a test, and there will be an “ever after” where we have to live with the consequences of our decisions and actions (or inactions).
These are all less formal than a Wiccan initiation, but they are all good practice for Wiccan or other intense, major initiations. Indeed, it could be quite useful, as part of your preparation for a formal initiation, to see how you have handled the three stages of “life initiations”.
Have you handled some of these events well? If so, congratulations – remember to draw on the strength of your success.
If you have not handled these well, what can you learn from this? How could you handle such challenges better in future? Are there strengths or changes you need to make?
How has the “ever after” been? Has that not only lived up to your expectations, have you fulfilled the obligations on you? There are vows I’ve made in previous lives which I still try to keep: some such vows are indeed quite relevant and worthwhile beyond death, which makes the perspective of “ever after” quite significant.
I’m looking forward to formal Correllian initiation. I’m still going to be as thorough in my preparation as I can be, and I’ll be going into with a fair idea (warts and all) of the initiation process and how challenging it can be and what I am taking on, but I’ve felt the call of the Goddess for several years now, and feel that, in many ways, I am Hers and doing Her work anyway. A formal initiation will simply be confirming that.
I hope those who read this will also consider initiations, including those they may already have had through life. If you wish to pursue formal initiation, learn from your “life initiations” to date – you’re probably better prepared than you realise. If you choose not to pursue formal initiations, welcome your path of “life initiations”, and be assured that you will continue to grow and develop – and can still make worthwhile contributions.