Wicca: Initiatory Traditions

In recent years, some Wiccan writers have suggested that people who are unable to contact a Wiccan group should practice self-initiation.

There are many types of self-initiation. One is a ceremony that we devise and perform ourselves in order to tell the Gods that we are theirs and are willing to serve them. This type of rite can best be called self-dedication.

Many followers of Wicca perform self-dedication ceremonies, sometimes many years before they think of seeking to join a coven. Some are content to practice the Craft alone and do not seek to join a group, but this is not easy. The Craft has been written about in many books, including this one, but most writers see their texts as introductions only. Wicca is essentially an oral tradition, taught by practice and example rather than by words. It cannot be learned solely from books.

Working alone does not mean solely learning from books. Spiritual growth and the ability to perform magic are gained through hard work and persistence. There is much that we can learn from our own inspiration. Revelation comes to us from opening ourselves to the true Self in that second aspect of initiation which I have described – the inner process of growth.

However, in opening ourselves to that process of growth, we enter upon a difficult path. Practising Wicca causes spiritual and psychological changes in the practitioner. Self-initiation can be rather like removing one’s own appendix. a last resort that may be necessary if stranded alone in the wilderness hundreds of miles from the nearest doctor, but somewhat fraught with complications. The analogy is appropriate in that it is difficult to operate on ourselves because we cannot see properly what we are doing. Similarly, it is difficult to guide ourselves through the initial stages of spiritual and magical development without anyone who is more advanced on that path to turn to for objective advice and encouragement.

Rites of initiation open us to an expansion of consciousness, but they do not automatically bestow powers and great spiritual insights. What is provided is a gateway to a path up a mountain which we must climb; a door into other levels of consciousness, the levels from which psychic and magical powers spring. Initiation is the means of opening the gateway.

In some traditions, Witches wear the symbol of the Egyptian ankh popup window, the crux ansata, which to the Egyptians was a symbol of eternal life. However, the ankh was also a key; in this case the key of initiation that opens the gateway into everlasting life.

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This post was last updated: Jul. 7, 2006    
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