In my continuing quest to try to understand the perspectives of “younger” generations of magickal/mystical seekers and practitioners, I’ve notice a trend to view the act of initiation somewhat differently.
As I often do, I went to the dictionary first to see what definitions I could find. The word “initiate” means “1. To begin, commence, originate. 2. To admit to membership in an organization, fraternity, cult, etc., usually with the special rites and the imparting of secret knowledge. 3. To instruct in fundamentals or rudiments.” Meanwhile, the word “initiation” means “1. The act of initiating or the state of being initiated. 2. The special instruction or ceremonial rites admitting one to some position, society, knowledge, etc.”
The above definitions make sense to me, but one must consider I’ve been around for a while. I would also add that, in my own learning, I was given one other definition of “initiation” – “The ceremonial recognition, by ones peers, of a state of being that has already taken place on a higher plane.” This is the foundation of my understanding of what initiation means, as it pertains to the spiritual/magickal path of Wicca.
What I have heard in my listening to the statements of younger witches is that you don’t need anyone else to initiate you. This is something you can do for yourself – in all the Degrees of witchcraft – and it is totally valid.
Please bear with me as I work through my thoughts here with you. First, let me state up front that I am NOT declaring anyone is right or wrong. I am merely trying to understand a different perspective that is somewhat foreign to my own and I do truly want to understand!
Being very aware that we are very much in the Age of Aquarius energies, whether people are consciously aware of it or not, I recognize the attributes of independence, freedom, unconventionality, revolution and even down-right rebellion against authority (been there, done that with my Aquarius rising!) so I have to ask if this is part of the reasoning for the viewpoint held by younger people concerning the traditional meaning of initiation? Is the predominant desire to be a solitary practitioner, rather than a member of a group, also part of this Aquarian vibe?
Those of us who were experiencing our young adulthood in the 60s and 70s were also seeking our freedom and independence as we felt the energies of the “dawning” of the Age of Aquarius. But even with that, we sought out groups to belong to, whether it was a Coven or just a group to hang out with. Perhaps, I’m reading this all wrong, but are today’s young adults more solitary in nature than we were? I really do want to understand.
Also, I find myself questioning why there seems to be a shying away from being taught by others who have traveled the path before them. Is it that they feel that mires them down or forever pledges them to remain in one tradition/way of doing things? Is there a sincere belief that “I can do this myself.”? Is that belief part of previous experience with “authority” figures that was a complete turn-off? I’m just asking questions here, folks.
My Aquarius Rising has left me with an attitude of “Don’t tell me what to do!” and that sometimes has created problems for me. There is, however, a part of me that is willing to take into consideration that if I want to learn something I will have to do it the way the “teacher” is teaching it until those lessons are complete. If I want it bad enough, I will agree to that. After the training is complete, it’s up to me what to keep and what to throw away or not to use any of it, as I see fit. Perhaps this is the reason why, in my own method of teaching, I tell perspective students that, as long as they choose to study with me, they will do it the way I’m teaching it. Afterwards, they can choose to use all or parts or even chuck the whole thing!
It’s strange that even at my 66 years, with 40 years in the Craft, I would openly welcome an older, wiser, more experienced teacher to take me even farther down the path. I guess that’s why I wonder as to the reasoning behind the position of many younger people to study and practice solely on their own.
The other thing that troubles me about this is the wisdom and knowledge that is being lost without earnest students to pass it onto. There are things that have never been put into print. There are things that could be received ‘in spirit’, if you are tuned in, but if there are others who hold this information, why would you not want to seek them out and learn from them? Just thinking out loud again.
I began to see the path of Wicca become watered down in the late 80s and early 90s. Teachers can’t teach what they themselves have never been taught. Besides that, we’ve become a society that wants everything quick and easy. There are some things that will never fit into that category – at least not until humanity has taken that evolutionary leap that allows us to use our “sixth senses” as easily as our five physical ones. Wicca, whether you’re talking the magick or the spirituality, is one of those things.
At the beginning of my journey on the path of Wicca, I learned that the time between each of the degrees was “a year and a day.“ That is probably very true of the basic knowledge that is required, including any reading, for a particular degree. However, the “unlearning” of all our programming in order to discover the real identity of the soul who came here and the purpose for which we came is not something that can be done overnight…nor should it. Peeling away the layers and layers of programming is time-consuming and sometimes painful. The reality is that, without doing this, spiritual awareness remains muddied and the practice of any avenue of magick is not based on clear and stable intentions. Thus, we may create more problems for ourselves and wonder why.
Perhaps you can understand a little bit why I’m trying to understand the perspective of younger men and women who are drawn to the magickal/mystical side of life. I realize they are attuned to a different vibration than I was at their age, but I also know Mankind hasn’t taken that quantum leap in evolution…yet. In the meantime, here I sit with knowledge I would like to see passed on and with experience that may help those who are earnestly seeking to be practitioners of the path of Wicca. Yes, I am old enough to be grandmother to many of you and, I guess to some, that makes me an authority figure – as is any teacher. I am willing to share what I know to the sincere Seeker who is willing to dedicate themselves to my way of teaching until that teaching/learning is done.
For myself, I await the opportunity to continue to learn and understand the perspectives of those younger than myself. Learning never stops and understanding other perspectives should always be a priority for all of us. Who knows? maybe the new year will bring my older, wiser teacher so that I may learn and grow on my path!