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.
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