Articles/Essays From Pagans
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
Magic in Sentences
The Evolution of Thought Forms
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
My Concept Of Grey
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Pressure to be Initiated
Article Specs |
Article ID: 11238
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,516
Times Read: 3,398
RSS Views: 85,990
Posted: January 14th. 2007
Times Viewed: 3,398
It’s all over the internet, a frequent passage in many a book, and is on the minds of many newcomers – initiation. To the serious seeker, the prospect of being fully initiated into a tradition, to be fully welcomed into the circle, is an almost if not completely glorious concept.
It means being one with the divine being we choose to follow. It means having access to Craft secrets that may rest within the coven. It means having a closer understanding of the mysteries of the Goddess, the God, both, or whichever godform and pantheon you are called to. It means having a network of peers and covenmates with whom you can learn from and share experiences with. It even means that, should you go deeper within the circle, the possibility of teaching others in the years to come.
It all seems so enticing to those of us on the outside – those of us whose only Craft education comes from personal experience and Barnes and Noble. And I’ve certainly entertained the idea of formal training myself, which I am certain I will get someday in the future.
But I have noticed a trend as of late – a trend that frankly disturbs me. It seems more and more Pagans, of all traditions and beliefs, are beginning to make initiation into a tradition a priority in determining if a person is a “legitimate” Pagan (whichever kind of Pagan that may be). Some are beginning to degrade personal experience, making its value less important than one’s training and credentials.
Of course, this is most commonly found online. Unmonitored chat rooms and groups on sites like myspace.com tend to bring out the worst in the communities – the trolls, the fakers, the witchier-than-thous, etc. A common thread among these groups is that if you’re not an initiated member of your religion, then you’re not a real worshiper, rather a devotee. Some of these go a step further, saying you are a Neo-Wiccan or the like, effectively separating you from the rest of the religion, the traditional branch.
For those of us who seek acceptance into the fold, this can be quite a blow to our sense of community and fellowship. I should know – I’ve felt somewhat outcast by the traditionalists due to the fact that I’m untrained and uninitiated.
A couple of months ago, I felt I had had enough of this feeling, so I decided it was time to get some formal training. I looked into the various traditions to see which appealed to me the most, and I decided that I would like to study the Gardnerian or the Feri traditions. I dove through The Witches’ Voice, looking for various covens and organizations that would be willing to train me.
I thought I struck gold when I found a Wiccan organization the next town over, but I never heard back from them, so that was a dead end for me.
Then I found a Gardnerian High Priestess who was looking to start a new coven and train new members, so I gave that a shot. She thought it was wonderful that I wanted to be formally trained, but declined because she was not comfortable training someone under twenty-one.
I found a few other Pagan organizations outside of Wicca, which led to my first gathering experience, yet these didn’t appeal to me as a place I’d want to be taught. As of now, I’m still not being trained, still uninitiated, still learning the Craft on my own.
I felt dismayed at my lack of available teachers and organizations, so I went to the next best step – traditional books. Whereas I was introduced by such noteworthy names as Christopher Penczak, Scott Cunningham, even Silver Ravenwolf, traditionalists refer to books that are decades older – ancient by our teen standards.
The groups and individuals I contacted, along with the traditionalists I’ve seen chatting online, have suggested various works that one should read to truly understand Wicca. The oldest I had read beforehand was ‘Witchcraft Today’ – Gerald Gardner’s first book. But now I went on a small spending spree – buying up other works by Gardner, Vivianne Crowley, the Farrars, and Valiente. Though I’m a bit slow going through them, they have definitely helped broadened my views of traditional Wicca, if only for future knowledge as of now.
At this stage, I felt quite upset because, if the only true Wiccans or true members of other Pagan religions are those that have been initiated, that meant that I would not be a legitimate follower for at least a couple of years. But as I was flipping through Janet and Stewart Farrar’s, A Witches’ Bible, I came across the chapter on self-initiation.
In it, the Farrars said that yes, at one point you had to be initiated by a witch to be a witch, and that it’s still a good rule to follow whenever possible. But they have realized, as have many in the community that this is not always possible – the demographics and spread of Pagan religions has reached a point that such an inflexible commandment is just not feasible, and that quote, “a large section of today’s Craft (and by no means necessarily an inferior section) either is self-initiated or stems from people who were self-initiated.” They went on to say that any claim that a tradition or self trained witches and/or Wiccans were illegitimate belonged in the realm of fantasy.
Doreen Valiente voiced a similar opinion in ‘Witchcraft for Tomorrow’, saying “You have a right to be a pagan if you want to be…So do not let anyone browbeat you out of it.”
When I read that quote, it made me realize that even though I’m very much dedicated to my religion, I shouldn’t feel pressured into be initiated at the first chance I get. Granted, I feel if given the opportunity, one should certainly undertake formal training and be initiated. But that doesn’t mean it has to happen immediately.
Many teens out there are experiencing similar reservations and anxiety over the fact that their lack of training doesn’t make them a true Wiccan/Pagan/what-be-you. But we’re young – we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us for that. Just because we can’t begin such training now doesn’t mean it won’t be available to us later in life. And perhaps years of study before training might actually do us some good so that when we do start training, we aren’t completely clueless.
If you feel the heat from the witchier-than-thous, don’t fret. Don’t worry about pleasing somebody who exists on the other side of cyberspace. Your beliefs and faith are just as real and legitimate as any initiate.
Just learn what you can and live your religion as honestly and sincerely as possible. When you feel you are ready, by all means get trained and get initiated, but don’t feel that you have to because a chat room troll said you should.
Live and experience your religion for yourself, not for the approval of others.
And when all else fails, just remember, the gods will recognize their own.
Farrar, Janet and Stewart. A Witches’ Bible. Custer, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, Inc. 1996. pg. 224-225
Valiente, Doreen. Witchcraft for Tomorrow. Custer, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, Inc. 1988. pg. 22
Copyright: © 2006 Shadow
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Author's Profile: To learn more about Shadow - Click HERE
Other Articles: Shadow has posted 11 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Shadow... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2016 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).