Saturday, September 19, 2009

The following question was posed on my favorite egroup: Having renounced my first degree when I renounced my Wiccan tradition recently, the experience has shaped my view on initiation, and I would pose this question to everyone - what do you think about the permanence of initiations? Once initiated is it forever or can it be lost or given up?

It took five years to work myself to initiation. Started with the Eternal Harvest tradition....declined initiation. Went to the Unicorns....problems there; I had to leave due to the instability of the situation. I went to an eclectic fairey Priestess who was a part of community eldership, but not in an active coven. Did the work, and had the most amazing initiation I could possibly describe. Seven third degrees in their tradition (Cameron represented Christianity) challenged and welcomed me in a ritual drama of Inanna's journey. It was exactly what it should be...and the last sacred act of the Priestess. She was bipolar and her illness spiraled out of control. She has subsequently left Wicca. In the throws of her illness, she once said to me that she should have never initiated me and that she'd undo it if she could. Sent me into a profound spiritual crisis in which I wrestled much as I hear you wrestling.

I struggled long and hard with what makes an initiate. For me, I believe we reach that stage of spiritual growth in which we have spiritual encounter with Deity which is then honored in community. If we believe ourselves to be initiates and we have a witness or two for the ceremony in which that initiation is witnessed, I believe we are Initiates. And I believe that initiation cannot be taken away by leaving the group, changing traditions, or even by curses of Priestess. In the case of warlocking, the person does not loose their status as an initiate. They are cut of from their internal source of magic/power instead.

In the case of my friend, it sounds like she renounced a tradition. OK, wise decision if she felt compelled to do so. But her initiation was witnessed and sealed by the group. What is done cannot be undone. Indeed, when she initiated, she took back the karmic responsibility her group/priest/priestess had to her, and accepted responsibility for herself. The only way she can be uninitiated, I believe, is for her to renounce her initiation (but I'm kinda like the Christians that believe once baptized always saved--once initiated, always marked by the goddess).

I think I've gotten so distanced from working within a tradition that I've really changed my feelings about what initiation means. I once trained within a tradition that have all of these things very carefully delineated...I've been away from that space for almost seven years. Now I've come to see dedication as the time of dedicating ourselves to learning about a path. Initiation becomes a place where we meet Deity within community. Certainly, there can be additional benefits if a tradition has an inner court system.

I agree that renouncing other paths can be extremely inappropriate. Even when I was with the Unicorns, I was not not required to renounce my Christian roots. When a priestess of another tradition expressed interest in their tradition, they welcomed her and simply trained her in the things that separated their training from her previous roots. They never expected anyone to renounce anything. I think that would be a big red flag for me to keep walking!

As our discussions evolve and we grow our group here in SC, we chose the name Sacred Pathways Grove because we want to embrace each mentoree's experience. We don't want folks to renounce something they hold dear to become exclusive to our grove. Want to circle on Saturday night and take communion at the Episcopal church on Sunday? OK... Want to study druidism and circle with us too? If you can make that work, ok... not my place to dictate anyone else's spiritual journey! Just be ready for a lot of conversation as we find ways to make things work as a community! To see theory meet practice, take the case of my sister of the heart. When Verdandi takes her second degree in the spring, she's not going to be required to jump through the iniation process again. We're on the same page enough that she's simply going to pick up where she previously left off.


  1. Missed something. Why did you renounce your Wiccan tradition?

  2. Hey Alissa,

    I didn't renounce a tradition, but someone on my elist had renounced hers. Sorry I didn't make the first paragraph clearer.

    Fortunately, the Unicorns, even though I didn't actually initiate, believe once a Unicorn always a Unicorn and actually honor my third degree. Goddess bless them!