Its not the ending, either.
Its one of my pet peeves, I suppose. Every poptrash neoWiccan pseudomajik wannabepagan bit of fluff book that comes out seems to demand initiation as a sign that you are truly dedicated to your path. Even if you only started said path five minutes ago, you are going to fucking initiate or no one (including the God, the Goddess, and an assortment of pastel mythological creatures) will ever take you seriously.
Go ahead. Those of you who bought the books with the infamous titles, by the loony moony publisher (ok, so they aren’t all bad, but the did publish some eye-gougingly bad ones), go ahead and look. Look in those books you bound, banished, and lit on fire. Find them in the dusty shoeboxes. 90 percent will have a self-initiation rite in them. And new little pagans, just creeping out of their shells and exploring the great big clusterfuck that is Pagandom, seem to find these books and these “initiations” like a moth finds his funeral pyre. They worry and fret over whether or not to initiate before they even finish the book. It is impressed upon their impressionable young minds that everyone must be initiating, so I better initiate too.
Initiation. Is. Not. A. Freaking. Popularity. Contest.
It. Is. Not. An. Excuse. To. Not. Fucking. Think.
True initiation can fuck you up. I don’t care if it’s a group jobbie or strictly solo. Initiation doesn’t come in cute rhyming couplets, nor bright purple books. Initiations into mysteries, into new ways of seeing and of living, cannot be packaged neatly. It would be like trying to cram a kilo of cocaine into a Pixie Stix. Let’s say that through some miracle of drug-running you actually got a kilo’s worth of coke into a standard issue Stix. When someone who doesn’t know what the hell is going on opens it up and swallows it like they’ve done for their entire Pixie-eating life, they will not walk away unscarred. Initiation tends to do that to a person.
What is trotted about as initiation today is about as much initiation as my left testicle is reality. At most it is a glorified welcoming party; at worst, a deliberate attempt to lock somebody into a path that they may not desire. Serious groups won’t initiate every Joe Schmoe that walks by. They require testing and learning and interviews, because they know exactly what a true initiation will do. Solitaries (those alone by choice or circumstance) have to rely a bit more on invisible people, but they still should know about the dangers of initiation. You can’t “self” initiate. Groups can only instill the ambiance that has successfully initiated in the past. That spark of change is Divine and no paperback by Lady SilverFairy MoonPoop can guarantee it will catch.
The first step into Pagandom isn’t an initiation; if you’re that far into it that you are truly initiating then the first step was a long ass time ago. It is an important step, a sort of crossroads/gateway thing. Initiations are liminal, when you are not quite as you were and not yet what you can become. That’s where the power comes from, and that’s why they can hurt you so very very much.
And then, oh you little pagans out there (and you older ones too), don’t expect your first initiation experience to be your last. An initiation isn’t the end of the path. It is not the magical equivalent of retirement. Even if you reach the end of what a group can initiate you to ( 1st degree, 2 degree, Grand High Poobah of the Akashic Records), do you really think that that is it? That nothing else will change? Its all dynamic equilibrium, baby- it’ll balance but your ass is going to be sling-shotting from one side to the other before it does. God, the Universe, and a sadistic little asshole will not let you stay still. Not all initiations come with incense and poetry. Some come with blood and pain and suffering. Some come with exquisite carnal delight and pure, unadulterated mental joy.
So, to wind down my rant of the day, please don’t cheapen initiation by reading it out of a book. Explore. Read. Practice some rituals. Talk to some dead people. Talk to some live ones, even. Lay the tinder so that initiation spark can catch and grow. Make an informed choice about initiation and all it entails before dry-humping it to death. You’ll be happier, I’ll be happier, and no one will have to listen to me gnash my teeth.
Oh, and you can also back out of it if you are still exploring. Trying to return to pre-initiatory state will work just about as well as stuffing your 10 year old back in the birth canal and asking for a refund.