INITIATION: Its' Power and Purpose
By Doug and Sandy Kopf
No other subject connected with Wicca/Paganism is more often misunderstood than the process we call Initiation. The word Initiation often calls forth images of college fraternities, hazing, silly pranks, dire oaths in dark and gloomy places. Nothing could be farther from the fact.
When a Pagan or Witch sets out on the Path to Initiation, it is understood that the novice has undertaken what is probably going to be a lengthy period of hard work and study, self-analysis, self-change and dedication. As a matter of fact, this period of time is often called "Dedication".
During the Dedication period, the student will attend rituals, learn about the Gods and Goddesses, become attuned to the Lunar and Solar seasonal cycles, study mythology and history, learn to perform the rituals personally, study various Magickal techniques, learn something about Astrology and other methods of divination, learn something of psychology and, hopefully, undergo a change in worldview that will bring the person into a closer harmony with the Gods and with the Universe.
At the end of the Dedication or novice period, the student will be eligible for what will be the first in a series of Initiations. An Initiation, however, should not be confused with a Graduation. The word "Initiate" means "to begin", and this is exactly the significance of an Initiation: a new beginning.
During the Initiation ritual (and these are among some of the most beautiful and meaningful of all Pagan rites), the candidate for Initiation will re-enact a Death and Resurrection myth and will be sent forth to begin a new life. Many new Initiates take a new Magickal name; they are given a new robe or waist cord; and quite often they will be introduced to new philosophical concepts upon which their coming work will be based.
This ritual is not meant to reward the new Initiate for all the hard work that has been done to date, but to "Initiate" a new set of tasks that will lead, ultimately, to yet another Initiation. The Initiation rite is formulated in such a way as to produce a shedding of old programming, leaving the Initiate capable of accomplishments that would have been impossible to them in their former state. The Initiate has "died" and been reborn a new and more capable person. This is the beginning of a new life, a new personality.
Many people mistakenly view Initiation as a kind of awards ceremony, wherein the new Initiate is endowed with titles and privileges that indicate a hierarchical advancement. In truth, the new Initiate usually takes on more responsibility rather than more privilege! The new Initiate is no better than any other group member, he or she has simply embarked upon a new phase in the work.
Therefore, the purpose of Initiation is to remove programming and begin anew, and the Power of Initiation is to undertake a new level in the learning process that will, ultimately, lead to our goal: Union with Deity, often referred to as The Great Work of Initiation.