I hope all is well.
I've been turning this topic over in my mind for a little while now and I've finally decided to get off my magickal bum-bum and get it done. Heh, that rhymed.
I figure there's a lot of people out there that don't have access to mentors, covens, hermetic orders, books, or what have you but have a genuine interest in the topic at hand.
I suppose if you're one of those with honest intentions then this post is for you.
Keep in mind that I am in no way an expert, and I am nowhere near an authority on this subject... Or any subject, for that matter. My sole purpose for even posting anything at all is to offer some of my experiences. I've done a lot. I've seen a lot. But I am and will forever be a student; no better than any other person on this planet. My plea is for you to take all that I offer with a grain of salt and do your own research. My path is not yours and yours is not mine no matter how similar they may be.
Now that we've got all the small-talk out of the way, lol.
Let's get on with it, yeah?
Or should I say, my take on such.
We've all got our reasons for becoming practitioners, right? No two paths are the same. Some are born into it. Some have to find their own way.
Initiation is the act of beginning something, as we all know.
In this case, it's the moment you decide to undertake the task of realizing your full potential through not so esoteric means and methods.
Yeah, that sounds about right…. Right?
I personally believe that it's a journey that never ends.
I've noticed, in hind-sight, that once I got the ball rolling there were times when I found myself running just to keep up. It's a beautiful thing! Sometimes.
There has been some debate over whether or not self initiation is legit or credible.
That doesn't even make sense to me. Whatever. To each their own.
Ok, so I have to veer off a bit to kind of add another layer of understanding to this whole thing. Bare with me. I promise we'll get back on track. Lol
(Wait.... Is it bare or bear? I always get that mixed up. I hate words sometimes, man. You know what I'm trying to say, right?)
In my early twenties or so, I was leaving the US Army. During the "out-processing" I became good friends with a guy that invited me to his hometown where he just so happened to be a member of a coven.
We had already shared a bit of our history and our family's history, as far as involvement with the occult went. So he made a few calls, set up some meetings, had his wife prepare their guest bedroom and I was on my way to kick it with what was to be my new family in the craft.
So seriously, within a matter of hours he had all this set up. Hell, he probably had it all situated before he made the offer. Who knows? I'm only saying my mind was blown.
Fast forward about two weeks or so I met with the High Priest and High Priestess. They asked a bunch of questions about my family, my life, and a whole list of other things that didn't make much sense to me. They also spoke on how highly my friend spoke of me.
About a month or so after that I was notified by my friend that they were going to move forward with the ceremony.
I should add that up until I became a full fledged member I never spoke directly to the leaders. Kinda weirded me out to say the least.
Anyway, I went through with the dedication/initiation and all that. I made some pledges to study and learn all that I could and a year and a day later I was working towards advancing through the ranks. It's normally called degree work but this place didn't really go by that. Their titles and ranks were totally different from what I was used to.
Now there were a plethora of things wrong with this group. While I feel like joining was one of the biggest mistakes of my life, the one good thing I can say is that I learned more with that group than I ever had before or since.
From what I've gathered through the years my experience was atypical to traditional initiation.
What I was involved in was dangerous, full of abuses and headed by some of the most twisted individuals I've ever known.
Ever heard the phrase, "the truth is stranger than fiction?"
Yeah, ponder that a bit. You wouldn't believe half the things I had to do in order to advance in that place.
The points I'd like to bring up about all that is
1.) BE. CAREFUL!!!
What I went through shouldn't necessarily be considered isolated events. This shit happens all the time to unsuspecting, would-be practitioners.
2.) Self Initiation is totally legit!
Let no one tell you that it isn't.
I mean, how did the very first practitioner to walk this earth do it?
Each and every one of us made conscious decisions to make concerted efforts in realizing our full potential.
Some of us did it with the help of deities. Some of us decided to go with other methods. But most importantly, we all studied, conducted experiments and applied that knowledge to crafting our practice.
It should only be about the value YOU place in your path. Plain and simple.
I will say that there are pros and cons to both sides of the spectrum, though.
Groups, Orders, etc.
In places like these, there's comradery, or camaraderie if you're partial to French. Lol
There's sometimes extremely rare books and grimoires that only members and/or elders have access to. Most of the time those books are handwritten and kept in their personal libraries.
You've also got the chance to rehearse with your buddies, bounce ideas around, figure out what's actually necessary for results and filter out all the cannon fodder.... Among other things.
Also, also! And here's the big one if you're into such.
Preparations and Ceremonies
Yup. That's right! I said it!
It can be a big deal depending on the working itself.
For me, honestly, I hated it at first. Every bit of it. It's like Art History or Music Theory in college. OMFG!! All those hours. It is what it is, though. I found myself doing what I had to do just to get it over with, yeah. But then when it came time for me to apply all that knowledge to my practice it all made sense and added that extra bit of understanding. Maybe a teeny tiny bit of wisdom.... Maybe.
If that wasn't the worst group of sentences ever I don't know what is. Lol
And last but not least, in these types of magickal settings, there's a certain level of pride that one begins to have.
Not necessarily the bad kind. I mean.... It's like all the other members have gone through pretty much the same things as yourself, right? You all know or are learning the same things, experiencing the same set backs and come-ups. And you are all connected in such profound and unspeakable ways.
I'm pretty sure that all goes back to the whole comradery bit earlier but I just had to bring it up.
Sue me! (Don't sue me.... Please? I'll totally cry if you do. Jus sayin.)
But, you're also at the mercy of cliques, egos, entitlement, and favoritism. So in a way you're put in a box. An apprentice won't be permitted to do certain things that a third degree member can. So there's that bit.
Self-Initiation, Solitary Practitioner, Loner Superb
As a solitary practitioner, though, there's a lot more freedom to do as one pleases. You're not necessarily bound by redes, and rules, regulations, high standards and whatnot... Per se.
While there is a bit more wiggle room for the solitary practitioner, it can be a lot more difficult to obtain some of those rare books and grimoires that I mentioned earlier. It's still possible but... You know. Stuff gets in the way, right? Sometimes you just don't have the money to buy a $1,400 dollar book. Sometimes you won’t have the vacation time built up at your job(s) to take a trip to the other side of the world to train under a master or guru. Sometimes secrets will remain kept. It happens. No big deal.
I'd also have to mention that, in my experience, it has taken a bit more effort to make connections with deities, or egregores, or governing entities of certain traditions and/or secret orders.
In the days before the internet(I was there because I'm a dinosaur, lol) it was kind of considered taboo to be a solitary practitioner. Not only that, but it was waaaay more difficult to get access to information and other like-minded individuals, yeah. My, how times have changed.
I think that's all I've got for now.
Did I answer any questions or clear some things up for any of you? Probably not. Lol.
I've just written an entire post full of words and didn't say anything. Gotcha, gotcha!
In any case, Homies… Stay dope.
Author: Nutty.b of Silfren Circle
An overall amazing soul, master of the hermithood philosophy and far more powerful, knowledgeable & magickal than he'll ever let on. He considers himself a Chaote, allowing his practice to evolve. Born into a coven with a rich family history in Voodou, Hoodoo and other forms of witchcraft, he has years beyond years of spiritual and occult wisdom... let's consider ourselves lucky to have him here sharing some of that with us. Many many thanks to this guy!