Monday, 25 May 2009

Initiation - THAT old chestnut!

This musing followed on from a recent debate among some of the group Taryn and I have been owrking with:

I think there there are two very distinct kinds of initiation, the spiritual initiation and the traditional initiation (to unintentionly coin two loose phrases!!!). The first I think is the landmark "moment" of spiritual passage from one "level" of understanding and being to another, its a doorway on the soul's journey . .. and the other is the specific initiation into specific knowledge laid out by others on a specific path. .

So often the two get mixed up and it leads to lots of confusion. It used to make me really cross when people said things like they'd undergone "self-initiation into wicca". Total rubbish! These people were never ever able to demonstrate initiation with information that showed they even understood the "degrees" system used by Gardnerian / Alexandrian witchcraft let alone had the specific knowledge passed to them and therefore simply could not claim initiation into these tradtions. I should say I don't rule out the possibility that specific information could have been passed by spiritual or psychic means but, if it had, it would be accessible toi memory and demonstrable to other initiates or the traditional knowledge is simply lost!

I don't dispute however that the people who claim self-initiation have initiated themselves into a deeper level of understanding of themselves, their spirituality and the surrounding spiritual context of their being. In fact I'd say that even a "traditional" initiation can't be called 100% successful if it doesn't achieve some form of spiritual initiation as well.

All of which is a long way round saying that while I openly practice the "have-a-go" approach to working magickally and ritually within an individual's pagan aspiration I also nod to Mon's assertion that the craft itself (whatever THAT might mean to any individual these days!!!) does need "elders" to keep the specific traditional knowledge, pass it on and preside over valuable initiations (both spiritual and traditional).

I too have lost hope that "newbies" will want or be prepared to go through the necessary steps to acheive a meaningful "growth" (initiation) and have somehow used this as an excuse to allow myself to slack off from teaching on a persoanl level these past years. Recently I've been asked to lead some "shamanic" gatherings and have found myself declining but only on the grounds of commitment and time and, on deeper analysis, I've realised that being the leader was appealing to me again for all the wrong reasons.

But I agree that the initiated craft WILL die if we don't act to preserve its integrity and mystery and the truly "occult" knowledge inside it, and, simply, I don't want that to happen. But more generally I still like to think that if a sincere student came to me, I'd teach again, though, as I say, I've not seen one with the right commitment for a number of years and I've not really looked either, if the truth be told.  So I feel frustrated too. I am willing to teach but they don't seem to want to commit to learn:

Ashley: "Art thou willing to suffer to learn?"
Student: "err . . no . . no much . . perhaps a bit at weekends . . ."

But I digress . . .
I love our group's gatherings, I have reach personal levels of spiritual growth beyond anything we thought previously possible in private but we have thoroughly enjoyed working in a group again as I do miss "the old days" too . . . I don't feel in the least bit guilty for selfishly persuing our own path and working together in a closed group. I disliked the direction several of the open groups I used to be with were going in, although some are run by great friends who I respect magickally and spiritually still for continuing to run them

So yes, I share the obligation to teach "proper stuff", if not initiated craft,  but reserve the right to only teach it to those "worthy" of it . . . but who judges these things? The elders of the elders ? Errr . . . since I don't know 'em, then I guess that means us!!!


Ash

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