Initiation is an interesting topic. In a lot of groups the process of initiation itself is somehow a way for the group to either pass on their magickal power to the initiate or for the group to help the initiate tap the raw magickal current running through everything by giving them some special key, power, or authority that comes from the group itself. I have a somewhat different perspective of all this even though I came out of an initiatory tradition.
See, my problem with the above is that if this truly is what initiation is, it means that anyone else, at any time, could invalidate your initiation with the simple statement, “Your initiation wasn’t done right.” or “Your initiation wasn’t done by approved persons and therefore it’s invalid and you have to start over.” There’s a lot of power-tripping in telling someone that the only way they can be a true initiate is to have others, also truly initiated by Real (TM) magi, initiate you through XYZ tradition.
In Demonolatry people go through several types of Rites of Passage. There’s baptism, there’s initiation, and then there’s dedication. The Baptism is the ritual where the practitioner states their intent to begin their life anew in their new spiritual path. The Initiation is basically an introduction (of the practitioner) to the Daemonic Divine and being brought into a group if applicable. In group settings there may even be some light hazing (that’s just how it is with our tradition). We believe, however, it’s from the Dedication Rite where you actually tap something special, and it’s not necessarily magickal current (though that could very well be a part of it) since some people are just spiritual Demonolaters and don’t practice magick at all. The interesting thing about Dedication is that it is not a group ritual and it has to be done by the practitioner and the practitioner alone because it’s all about you and your relationship to your divine source. No one —- NO ONE can take that dedication ceremony away from you and call it invalid. Sure, people can get kicked out of groups. But when it comes to rites of passage — no one should be able to take away what you gain from a ritual just by telling you it wasn’t done right. And truly – YOU are the ONLY one who knows if a ritual was done “right” and if it “took”! Spirituality and magickal work is not about competition, or who’s right and who’s wrong, or who has more power. It’s all about your relationship with your understanding of the divine and your ability to cause change in your world in conformity to your will. Notice how no other human being is directly involved, in a mediator capacity, in that relationship. You don’t need a middle man. 🙂
So when it comes to initiation I always suggest practitioners, even if they belong to a group, do a self-initiation. That’s something between you and all that is. It doesn’t involve anyone else. You will know if it “worked” because you’ll feel it. It will have a special meaning for you – always. It’s a ritual you’ll always remember. For a lot of Demonolaters their Dedication is more powerful a force anyway and this is probably where many of them truly find “Initiation”.
I guess I have a problem with authority. I always have. I have never waited for anyone else to give me their “blessing” as it were. The reason being that blessings can just as easily be reversed and can become curses because friendships fade and groups sometimes falter. It’s the nature of the beast being the human animals that we are.
I don’t need another person to tell me I’ve been initiated because I know, in my heart and with every fiber of my being that I have been. I know because I can perform effective magick independent of anyone else. This isn’t to diminish my teachers or the groups or orders to which I belong. I love you all dearly and I look forward to the ceremonies that celebrate all of us as we reach milestones and goals and each new rite of passage. I’ve found our study groups and time spent discussing magick and spirituality invaluable, but I still grow in my own light.
I think it’s important that magicians remember this. Groups have their place and their usefulness most certainly (as do teachers) – but all of the real work I’ve ever done, all of the growth I’ve ever experienced, has happened during solitary ritual.