To Initiate or Not To Initiate - That Is The Question
Article ID: 3295
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,916
Times Read: 5,872
Author: RuneWolf [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: February 11th. 2001
Times Viewed: 5,872
I'm afraid I must admit that I am a confirmed fence-sitter when it comes to Initiation. When I began my journey, I encountered a lot of "either/or" thinking in the community. If you weren't "properly" Initiated, you just weren't a real Witch. Of course, at the negative extreme of this mentality, you have those who believe that only their Trad's Initiation is valid, so by inference, even those Initiated into another Trad aren't "real" Witches. Fortunately, such folk are few and far between, but they are out there.
At the time I started, I felt (for whatever reasons) that it was going to be quite difficult for me to locate a Coven/Trad, and so my chances of being "properly Initiated" were remote. Accordingly, I immediately became hostile to those who were, for lack of a better term, pro-Initiation, and threw my pointed hat into the ring with the large community of self-Initiates. And I was quite vocal and hostile to the pro-Initiation camp online.
Then, as Wyrd would have it, I did find a Trad at last, and was ultimately Initiated into that Trad. And that experience has certainly changed my opinion on Initiation, but perhaps not quite in the direction one might think.
After my 1st Degree Initiation, I was quite keen to continue my education, and advance to 2nd. But my Teacher made it quite clear that, from this point onward, it would be the Goddess and the God who did most of the teaching, it would be They who would determine when I was ready for 2nd, and it would be They who would confer that Initiation. Whatever was done on this plane would simply be recognition of what was bestowed by the Gods.
This certainly cast the whole concept of Initiation in a different light for me. If the Gods Themselves were going to be the instruments of my education and advancement from that point onward, certainly They could do the same for someone working Solitary! After all, who was I to say what is beyond Their abilities?
Now, as time has passed, my entire concept of Wicca and Witchcraft has changed. Today, when I think of myself as Wiccan, I think of the religion, the Trad, the Coven and the community. When I think of myself as a Witch, I think of my personal spirituality, my relationship with the Divine, my destiny and calling. Therefore I am firmly of the opinion that not all Wiccans are Witches and not all Witches are Wiccan. Today I believe that many of us are called directly by the Goddess and/or the God, and Initiated by Them in Their own way and in Their own time. I also believe - and here I'll probably draw flak - that some Initiated Wiccans have never heard the call of the Goddess or God, nor been Initiated by Them. Does that make them "less" Wiccan? Certainly not. Many very accomplished Christian priests will readily admit to never having heard the "True Calling, " while some folk who have have never even considered being clergy.
Wicca is a religion, and by definition, a community. Initiation is a symbol of acceptance of and into that community. As such, it is something that, for some people, is well worth seeking and once obtained, it should be honored and cherished. It is a mark of commitment, persistence, sacrifice and desire. It's like getting a black belt in the martial arts. There was no great leap in skill and ability from brown belt to black, but when I won my shodan rank, all those years of work and dedication were compressed into and symbolized by that belt. I became not only a member of, but a leader in, that community. I still get a thrill when I tie that belt on. Just as I still get a thrill when I pick up my staff, the symbol, in my Trad, of 1st Degree.
Conversely, I believe that "self Initiation, " that is Initiation bestowed directly by the Gods, is just as valid and valuable, and just as dearly to be sought, as Initiation by our fellow Wiccans or Witches. In fact, I could go so far as to say that Initiation from the Gods, whether validated by the community or not, is the only "real" Initiation.
I'll wrap this up now, since this fence is getting pretty uncomfortable. I think that if one's ultimate goal is to be a member of the Wiccan religion, then Initiation is a necessary achievement, but one which may not be readily available. If that is the case, then by all means Initiate yourself, until such time as you can find a Coven to "acknowledge" that Initiation. As long as you honestly and sincerely hear the call of the Goddess and God in your mind, heart and spirit, your self Initiation will be as binding as any other - perhaps more so! Even if you don't "hear the call, " go ahead and "act as if, " - if you are really sincere, you will eventually hear the voices of the Goddess and God.
(As a side thought, I think what we really need in the Wiccan community is more recognition by the established Trads of the size and importance of our Solitary contingent. I propose that we work to establish a custom of providing some kind of "honorary" Initiations for those who seek that kind of recognition and validation from the community, but who never intend to formally join a Trad or Coven. An "associate membership" if you will. What are we afraid of? Is not the job of the Priest and the Priestess to serve the wider community? But you say - and rightly so - if we do that, won't people come to us for Initiation who haven't really "earned" it? Won't they come to us for Initiation just so they can call themselves Wiccan? Certainly they will. And there are plenty of folks out there who have "bought" their black belts. But I believe that, in the end, those types get weeded out by the Gods. In the meantime, we could take a big step toward greater solidarity within our own spiritual community.)
If, and the other hand, you have no interest in joining Wicca, but still hear the call - well, that will be worked out between you and the Gods in Their own time!
In Their Service,
Location: Reston, Virginia
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