The Root of Confusion: Admission vs. Initiation

I found this very interesting article by Trystn Branwynn at Trystn’s Occult Journal and got his permission to reprint it here. Since Initiation is one of the main focuses of Winterspells, I found Trystn’s ideas very compelling. His thesis that Initialtion is granted by the Destroyer Gods, that the path of Magic is transformational — not just  a fun ride to the Otherworld, is a very important one.

This isn’t to scare people off, but you must know what the path is and where it leads if you choose to step upon it. For some of the choice was made lifetimes ago.

The Root of Confusion: Admission vs Initiation

by Trystn Branwynn
Reprinted from Trystn’s Occult Journal

I find a lot of confusion among occult and pagan practitioners between the terms “Initiation” and “Admission.” I’ve seen this confusion expressed by my friend Caroline Tully who said “I’m a member of several groups and their “initiation” is nothing more than “Welcome to the club.”” I’ve further seen it in Gardnerians who insist that nobody can be a Witch unless they are “…initiated in a circle like I was …” I’ve further seen eclectics pontificate “I’ll never initiate, it would tape my wings down” and “I would only self initiate.” That sad fact is that not one of the above statements is true and all express the confusion between Initiation and Admission.

A person cannot initiate themselves. Nor can a person initiate another person. This is Admission – “Welcome to the club.” Shani Oates, the Maid of the Clan of Tubal Cain has expounded beautifully on this point and her words, once published, will be well worth the reading. Admission rites may be intended to trigger an initiatory experience, but they are far from guaranteed to work although many groups insist that they work every time and insist that someone going through their rite is an initiate, whether they show the signs of successful initiation or not. This means that a great many groups and lines find themselves weighed down with a dearth of failures who do nothing to carry the stream forward, and often do everything possible to attract attention to themselves. Such individuals often run about insisting that “to be an initiate” one must “be an activist” or subscribe to a particular political ideology. Not only are these statements flagrantly false, their result is the creation of organizations that do nothing more than mimic the function of Christendom and its various churches. The hallmark of this mentality is a sense of abjection or victimhood that, far from carrying the stream forward, does everything possible to stunt its growth.

An Initiatory Experience consists of a collision – and I use this word with full intent – with Spirit. The spirit in question will be an initiating spirit – a Lightbringer and/or a Destroyer. The great Initiators are, in fact, the Destroyers. These figures include Cain, Woden, Taliesin, Legba, Herodia, Abraxas, Lugus, Lucifer, and other figures who have passed through the process of the Initiation. This is to say that they have destroyed or sundered their world, recreated it, and survived Death thus becoming the embodiments of the evolution of the Divine Consciousness. The Destroyers are the Great Mothers – The Morrigan, Hekate, Lilith, Ereshkigal, Isis, Gode, Freyjavigdis, La Madonna Negra, and others of their kind. Far from being the “gentle, laughing goddess” these beings stand at the center of the crossroads – at the point of ultimate destruction – created by the confluence of the seven worlds, offering rebirth and recreation.

Neither of these spirits should be sought out lightly. They are not gentle and their love is death. But it is this Death that the would-be Initiate must court, experience, and survive.

The mythic imagery of this process and its symbols is well known and very nearly universal. We find its symbols in Hindi, German, Welsh, African, Irish, Finnish, and Christian mythos, just to name a few sources.

It must also be understood that worship is neither the key nor the desired result of this process. The key and desired results are Epiphany and Apotheosis. This is to say that the Initiate does not seek to follow meekly in line behind the Lightbringer, nor to grovel at the feet of the Destroyer, but instead to realize his or her own inner Godhead and become a Lightbringer in his or her own right. This is why I said earlier that Initiation entails a collision with Spirit. The process feels as though one’s life has experienced a “train wreck.” One’s world or world-view is destroyed utterly in a cataclysmic process and then recreated in the image of Spirit.

The desired result of the Mystery of Initiation is not “now you’re a member of group X.” It is “Now you are on the road, intended by the True Gods.” It is not “Now you will have “good karma” but rather “Now you have overthrown karma and surpassed most of the spirits men call “gods.” This ties to the point I made earlier that “the gods” do not evolve. This is not their purpose, nor is it their nature, and the idea that they do is largely a product of pop-culture. The purpose of most of the spirits men call “gods” is to cause and catalyze human evolution. Indeed, most of these spirits were human at one time and have, in fact, evolved as far as they are able, and have become the servants of the terrible Pale Dame Fate. Again, our heritage or birthright is not to likewise become the slaves of Fate, but to overthrow this terrible foe, and transform her into Wyrd – Destiny – that we carve with our own hands. This is the upshot of the views expressed by such luminaries as Gautama Buddha, Robert Cochrane, Pythagoras, and others of like kind. But all of these figures also express their own cautionary tales, their own Poisoned Chalices, for the body is subject to Fate and that which is mortal will eventually fall prey to one of her traps. In the end, she lines her nest with our bones.

The Neophyt by Aubrey Beardsley

The Neophyt by Aubrey Beardsley

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19 thoughts on “The Root of Confusion: Admission vs. Initiation

  1. Of course using magic to overthrow Fate, or determine ones own destiny used be called Black Magic, meaning it was “bad”!
    But what is the purpose of Christianity? What is Islam selling? A form of immortality based in wish fulfillment that is based merely on “good works”. This has always seemed unsatisfactory to me. It lacks self determination and thus power. If Gos is external, it makes sense to believe that, but when you know the Divine id within, you will have to tread the “Left-hand Path”.

  2. i totally agree.i definitely agree in the idea of collision and in the destruction of the spirit. i believe that at one point you start an initiation because you have gone through all the possibilities of a certain idea or way of life. i feel that at one point you re forced to kind of step out of your zone of reference, and that you create therefore a vaccum that goes stronger, and that once opened is impossible to close. i wouldn t say you get sucked into a black hole where everythig is dissolved but almost.also i asked myself the question if you could actually self initiate but it is actually just based o a fear of death. you actually always need this exterior element that manifests you, and it acts like opening a portal. i ve always thought of all those psychologues and such trades where you kind of sit and talk and actually are in this process of destruction. the problem is that it never works with them cause you don t have an energy that draws you to them, so it is always fake. it is not natural, just as it is not natural when people create those occult groups where they actually want to play gods and harness all those processes of initiation. i am not saying all groups are wrong, i am just saying they are alright for one person in a thousand. tjat makes you think of those groups where they wait for one person after a thousand of years of practice, but it is not something you can do just like that because what usually happens is that they kind of think they harness that energy and they make iot go in circle in between their walls. but bless them too cause they have themselves started their process of initiation. ad this is where it it is important to say i think that when you tread on that path you have to be innocent, otherwise it doesn t work.which is not the case of those groups, who actually transform it in a habit out of fear of those enrgies. i always take this example again, sorry, but it is the type of wicker man thing. you actually don t know until you re transformed completly, and then already another one begins.also i do believe that the gods are destructive, and that worship comes from the fact that you actually are scared of those energies that draw you, so what you do is get on you knees and stand in front of the portal instead of getting through, the reflection you got in return is one of pain and frozen life, but also disease.so yu could actually pisture humanity today in this type of initiation where they learn waht they are and where they live until some of em get sucked on the other side through destrucyion to be reborn.even gods are sometimes created to explain what is happening, so not all gods are of the same type, just the initiatory ones are real, the ones that draw you beyond good and evil. a real initiation is constant and it also has to be your destiny, christian gods are the ones that side track you into illusions.but then when you ve got like gods that are seen in the light of your own fears, so maybe they don t evolve as such, but one day their true function is revealed to you as they make you evolve, so you have to embrace their dark side. so gods maybe don t evolve, but they are misunderstood, which is the path of being human in understanding that there are higher forces. once you understand that at this point,you understand that your destruction is as joyful as your rebirth.the fear of destruction really, and i speak in my case, is for example the destruction without rebirth, which is an initiation in itself i agree, but which is also a deformation of the real function of gods. destruction and rebirth is made confusing at such times, and are seen as seperate as you lose the connection between the two.the real initiation happens everyday humans go through it everyday, nobody needs special groups or churches, but then people who are part of those groups are already being initiated without knowing it, cause nothing lasts forever.so also hwen isis for example initiates you it is her at this point in time, so obviously she won t evolve. many gods are just reflections of the true ones, made like that by humans, which then create the idea that they have evolved, which they haven t cause they have only become closer to the true ones once the initiation is completed, just as gods have been dismembered around the globes and given different names when they are all the same deity.that is how the tarot works, the one becomes two and then three and so on.i don t say there is one god, but that at the same time there are none, cause giving them a name is sometimes like freezing them in time for some, and for others it is creating your passing through the initiation with your imagination, cause that is all you ve got.when you get detroyed you are compelled with your spirit to create that is how it works i guess, otherwise you re stuck, and then you god take the image of a god of wrath.godess of love doesn t mean that you have lots of sex many presents, or that that you re in love all the time, or that everybody loves you. it means point where destruction and rebirth are one, so certain gods just take the form of where you find yourself at a certain point in time. why do ceratin gods mess up or have a certain attitude, where you think it is wreird that this is a god? obviously certain are false, and pose as gods, or made as gods for manipulation, but others are seen just in the reflection of your own soul, so they are actually “devolved” if i may say, and put on a lower rank.and then at one point gods catalyse the human evolution, it the time when they come back cause humans actually at the moment don t evolve they just go in circle in the illusion of evolving, they are actually just oushing their spirit undergroung, creating therefore “bad gods”, “good gods”, forgetting the real ones, deforming them.so when it is going to be time the real ones will come back, and open the door to destruction and thereby rebirth.and at the moment also nature s true caling is just obfuscated.so even if fate lines her nest with your bones rejoice cause a t least there s the nest out of which you re reborn.i think the hardest thing at the moment is to realign yourself with the forces of nature and you r own nature where everything is one, to transcend all this illusion.Fate is a ride it is easy, rejectiing death makes it worse. i myself tried to go against destiny to see, and it was the worst experience of my life, there is more suffering there than in death.destiny is just the fulflling of your own nature.you get old fighting destiny, or your own nature. i understand it is not easy, cause society doesn t accept you, but you accept yourself, and so does nature.it s a door through which nobody went through in my opinion cause it is not time now.it is something yes that started many lifetimes ago.cause that is what fate is being at a point where certain actions create others and you have to go through the godly cycle, destiny is like autumn is the destiny of the summer.rebirth is the destiny of death.it is a joyride, it is a death ride.i also agree with this idea of luminaries by the fact that they are just traps of fate, they are the ones that throw you into darkness by their illumination, they are the one that don t do what they say, cause they say and don t live it.they are the ones that stand aside of fate to be able to say. but they also represent a facet of humanity to see what happens when you stand aside, lke pupeteers.they mostly project what they should do on others, it s frozen knowledge, it will never correspond to what you are or help you but by telling you that the answers are within you and not others.they are also following their initiation in their own right.an initiation is alive so it is not really possible to talk about it, they actually tried to avoid the collision by bringing a kind of enlightenment that kills innocence and makes things more difficult and complicated for everyone.and it applies to me as well, talking about those things is tryingto harness them just like you try to harness a horse. the enlightenment really lies into their death. nature doesn t really try do go anywhere or to do anything, the only comfort you really have is that your bones make a nest out of which you are reborn. also the collision is proportional to what has to be destroyed, it is proportional to how much you ae in harmoy with yourself. an initiation is about to know who you are and to go even further and discover things about yourself you didn t think was possible before.because you have to die to find out.Also initiation is walking alone cause it means something doesn t work anymore, you have created a thought where it is necessary that something dies to keep on going.for some people it is having a diploma in school, which is a kind of initiation into society, which is illusory, or it it is wearing the robe of the brotherhood and the serpent ring, and for others it is justbeing the ring where life and death are joined together, and unlike the marriage sacraments it doesn t stop at until death puts you apart cause that is where everything starts.
    also you donn t overthrow fate i guess cause whatever magic you do it is because fate has allowed you to do it, it is part of your iniation. immortality is about dying so it can t really focus on the the good which is just a deformation of the one.a wish is just an impediment to what you are, it is based on a fear, it is trying to control things, it is not trusting that what you are is going to be fulfilled. that is all that counts in the end. i also agree with the fact that if god is external , that knowing your divine id makes you read the left hand path, it is i wonder if inevitable, but i guess so cause you have to destroy this kind of god in a spiritual way so that your divine id being within at that point can become manifest and external.
    a few years ago i picked up this comic called lucifer, where actually lucifer is tired of ruling in hell, but he doesn t want to go back to god either. so he actually closes hell, which is then taken over by some other angels because it cause some unhealthy traffic.and actually lucifer wants to know what is beyond all this duality, and starts to want to create a world where nobody is worshipped and where everybody can be together in the way that everybody is free to be who he is. so he travels the many dimensions, some unknown to find knowledge to resolve the rift between heaven and hell.so he creates this third world where there is harmony, but doesn t even stay cause he has become an explorer, and travels into new dimensions in an idea of death an rebirth whare his own hell and his own heaven are one, he actually leaves everything behind.

  3. lucifer actually leaves verything behind after having acted as a bringer of light and harnessed the opposing forces, and so as yu said after being in the left hand path, and then on ly then did he understand who he relly was, finding freedom in not being a ruler or being ruled anymore, ad awakening his true will to the infinite possibilities of his soul. you don t know if he comes back, you actually just feel that he is free of everything and that he is just riding his wave, beyond peace and war, and life and death,exploring what is still unshaped.he is actually a kind of sacrificed god cause he understood that there was no difference between life and death, he sacrificed god, hell, cause he felt stuck, he tried to harness other people s energies by creating a third world , and them he evn sets himself free from that by following his true calling, which is shedding light in the darkness.he has emerged victorious from the external god, and he has become manifest externally.it is like coming back to the beginning but better. he has been seperated from his own nature, after an initiantion, and is now free to keep on going to the next one.

  4. lucifer is the guardian of venus, he resolves confusion cause he is that energy called love, which is the energy that makes you go forward and transcends all illusions and sense of confusion.he even tried to heal the world, but understood also that he had to let go of this as this was a prison, and that his initiation encompassed the initiation of millions.so he walked the many dimensions of the left hand path and the right hand path, which are external paths, to find his own self again. there is nothing you can do for anyone and in this everyone is free to choose, even if you hurt people a good comes out for them and brings them closer to their heart and this seed he let unfold. gods don t care about you, nor about themselves. those who lost their harmony are just a reflection of humans who lost theirs. you re responsible for your own bad and good, and in that everybody can become a god, and just be himself and create things of value that will be destroyed again, and that is the only real initiation, to die and be reborn all the time until you don t know the difference anymore, you initiate ypurself through the interaction with external , so that your internal becomes manifest all the time. so in the end nobody initiates you, just as nobody initiates others.what you create is just what has to be destroyed to go further and explre more and discover yourself more, so eventhough of value it is just a crossroad from which you don t move, and you cross the path of people who are on their own.it goes forever and is thereby immortal.

  5. even what i talk about is written and therefore is meant to die, it is the initiation of life and nature, a book is interesting once you can throw it away, that is the only idea of the material world the emancipation of the spirit.

  6. and i just want to say that when i say gods don t care about you or about themselves doesn t mean, let s go for a riot, i just mean that all gods just ask you to be free they don t want to be bound to you or that you worship them, cause it is not what they are about. this the best respect you can show to them.

  7. it makes me realise the undergroung is boring, aboveground too, the otherworld is the best.it is impossible to chose between the moon and the sun, or good an evil.

  8. what we know of gods today are just the tips of the iceberg or a total deformities it makes me think, of all those religious groups whare you call yourselves brothers and sisters. it is a kind of deformation of sexuality. they say that having a child with your brother and sister surely ends up up in having a deformed offspring.there is this forest in germany, not far from Heidelberg called “Odenwald”, i don t know if it bears anything to Odin, but there are still, but where held Walpurgis celebrations, so the people of the area used to go there, the only thing is that they had intercourse between brothers and sisters and the children born where all deformed. the bloodlines have prevailed, but if you are pregnat and you hang around there it is cnsidered a curse for your baby,but then also you wouldn t be attracted there in the first place, and it surely wouldn t happen but if yu weren t innocently attracted there, but still this brother and sister thing in religious groups is really creepy for me.but the point being is that god are completly difformed as a result of idea which have lost their connection to the gods, which makes life an illusion, ideas have to mate too, die and be reborn all the time, they should advocate freedom not bondage.but there ideas have to be brother and sisters and only be seen in the glass of contemplation. a mirror just goes as far as reflecting you but never really shows your true face unless it is used to show what is beyond.

  9. and also i makes me think of women who give birth. i am not a women , but i can give birth too, like to an idea. sometimes it is painful but just when i block it, or because some other ideas that have no need to be there anymore block it and i don t want them to die, or because i have a blockage that is an exterior restriction, so it is not my idea at all. so it is reasonable to think that women who give birth in pain or with complication are not ready in their spirit to do so for the same reasons i have cited above, either they have their baby because somebody wants them to have it, either they are scared as to how it is going to change their lives, so their body resist it coming out. pain is usualy always associated to death. but then veerybody can see death coming , and make it more painful by resisting, even with mondane things like a girlfriend going away, the end of a job or whatever. now the child that is born out of the mother, is himself going to be born in a society gradually. the house is the womb and he actually goes out of it, to go in another womb which is more like a trap but ven then you can feel your ideas dying away, you re in pain cause what is inside you is not allowed to come out, so yes you kind of take the left hand path, the you repent on the right hand path and then you doon t care anymore.also it makes me think that for a guy sexuality stars with the mother and for girl with the father, and then in the outside world it is man and woman that are equal, which they aren t. real sexuality is going out of the womb constantly going in again, just as you go out of the front door of your house.it is dying and being reborn constantly.but if you can succeed in doing it harmoniously pain doesn t exist . it just flows one into the other.how many people don t like rain and how many people think it is shameful to cry.but when you come out of a church what happens?when you come out of work, what happens?are you like reborn or something or not?or are they or so they think?why do you have to die to give them life?i know this girl she is a dancer, she created choregraphies and did shows, one day she goes to india, and she ended up serving a guru like cleaning his shoes and stuff, and forget everything about dancing. it is an initiation of course, but not the one that she thinks it is.that is the deal walk the path of the blind, the the eye opens and a new world is born. so initiations are actually always mysterious, there is no formula.and then an initiation is personal and then universal.why would a religion sell something, when everything is free at the beginning in nature.probably cause you have to buy it to find out, that is your initiation.

  10. that was a good post for self revelation, i wonder, if she is going to be happy with my bones, or what she is going to build with them, i hope it is not going to be a bike or something like that, a boat would cool with my skull in front, but then i don t decide.

  11. i looked at this picture of the neophyte and at first it was kind of hurting me, and then it started to repel me after ironically being drawn to it again. there are lots of moons, vulvas and scythe-like shapes everywhere. they seem to reflect each other endlessly and seem to recreate this kind of confusion, when you try to understand things too much, but i also feel that it tries too much too impress things on you. it makes me think of a secret that is guarded by trying to repel you first, like it is trying to scare you, either to see if you can get through your fear, or just as an illusion to scare off those who are not ready to open the door. it is actually not passive enough in the way that it doesn t make your imagination work and doesn t really open anything. it s like a warning that is not necessary.

  12. I wonder if Baerdsley had any idea? I think he had a lot of sexual issues being Victorian and probably gay.
    The confusion suits the article. I think you describe the issue in your comment and it is reflected in the picture, for those who have eyes to see.

  13. i understand. when i had the crowley moonchild book the art of the cover makes me think of that picture.it s sharp, very sharp.

  14. i actually thought it was girl, aubrey.then it is probably just a projection.the girl at the back looks like a guy, the breasts are really in between fertility and muscles

  15. When on earth did I say initation was nothing more than “welcome to the club?” I might have said it, sure, but I don’t remember saying it. People really will do anyhting to show how *they* are a “real authentic witch” while others aren’t. So, I’ve only been “admitted” to the groups I’ve belonged to, have I? Which groups are they anyway?
    Caroline Tuilly´s last blog post ..Australian Lughnasad

  16. OH… Trystyn Branwyn wrote this article. Sorry about that. How can we fix it? Its an interesting article but I can’t blame you for not wanting to be misquoted.

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