The following information is written from a pagan perspective. It is excerpted from the book, Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium by Vivianne Crowley, who is described on the book’s jacket as, “a priestess, a teacher of the pagan way and a leading figure in western paganism.” It is posted here as a research resource to help Christians and non-Christians alike to understand aspects of Wicca/Witcraft.
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This post is part of an upcoming update of our entry on Wicca/Witchcraft
Most traditions of Wicca are entered via a rite of initiation. In some hereditary and traditional groups, this is termed adoption into the family or adoption into the clan.
The purpose of the initiation rite is to cause a spiritual awakening in the initiate that will link him or her to the group mind of the coven and also to the coven’s greater family, the tradition. Each coven has its own group mind which is separate from any other. For this reason, if Witches who have already been initiated are joining a new coven, perhaps because they have moved to a different area, they may be asked to undergo a coven initiation ceremony.
Initiation is a word of many meanings. There are four main types of initiation.
The first is initiation as a rite of passage into adulthood. This marks the transition from adolescence and helps up to understand and take on our responsibilities as adults. In tribal societies this is usually carried out by older men for men and by older women for women.
The second type of initiation is inner initiation. This occurs as the result of interaction between te Self and the personality, and later between the Self and the Divine spark within.
This inner process may happen without any ceremony, with the Self and later the Divine spark as the only initiators. The initiation ceremonies and teachings of religious, spiritual and magical groups may precipitate or speed up this initiatory process, but they are not essential to it.
In this sense, initiation is that process which awakens within us the Divinity hidden at our innermost core. This type of initiation is performed within the Self and by the God.