To get back to the topic, there is a saying I find interesting: only a witch can make a witch. Many well-known Wiccans stuck to this motto, but times are changing. Some of them even changed their opinion over time. A very good example are Janet and Stewart Farrar who were initiated by the famous Alex Sanders (the founder of Alexandrian Wicca). Sanders was quite traditional and claimed that he got both his knowledge and his Book of Shadows from his grandmother. The problems started when people found out that Sanders actually managed to get his hands on Gardner's Book of Shadows (which was by then already edited by Gardner and Doreen Valiente) and copied it later establishing his own coven based on what was stated in this book. It is also known that he tried to get into several Gardnerian covens but was rejected every time. All of this points to the conclusion that Sanders actually initiated himself and according to this logic, all of the numerous authors and other practitioners of this tradition would be illegitimate. I think that these people are examples of bold, intelligent and dedicated witches.
Of course, if we continued to go back in history in this manner, we could ask ourselves when Wicca was actually founded? It is well known that the people who initiated Gerald Gardner (the "father" of Wicca) didn't call themselves Witches. Dorothy Clutterbuck (the leader of the "coven" he belonged to, even though they didn't call themselves a coven and the person who initiated Gardner) has to this day remained a mysterious persona. We don't know much about her except that she lived in the New Forest part of England (which is why the coven was later named the New Forest coven) and that she worked with a group of people who she met through a theater group (I plan to get back to this story in another post because it is very interesting!). But we still don't know who initiated her! I mean, it all had to start somewhere.
So where DID it all start?
Well, from solitary Witches, of course!
By claiming this I don't want to imply that Solitaries are better but rather that they existed in the past and that they still do and will exist. You can read more about this in my post on Solitaries vs. Covens.
Therefore, self-initiation/self-dedication cannot be bad, but Solitaries should be careful about where they get information from. I can say with confidence that the Internet is not a trustworthy source (and yes, that gives you the right to say that by blog isn't trustworthy either :) but I really am giving it my all to get this blog on the "trustworthy sources" list on the topic of Wicca and Paganism). Book are always the better alternative. Though the best alternative is always learning from flesh-and-blood people. Though not everyone has to know someone who can teach them. For instance, in my country (Croatia), you can barely find a single coven that works seriously or at all. In fact, you can find yourself lucky here if you find two or three other Solitaries with whom you can work on a semi-regular basis.
So what is left then? Well if you can find anyone to work with, then work alone. It's not always glamorous since it can be harder to work than in a coven though it also gives you a lot of opportunities. You can be independent be your own leader, do things the way you want to, be more free in your rites, not worry about whether or not you will make a mistake in your rituals etc.
Although, if you do decide initiate yourself (i.e. do a self-initiation ritual) I will give you a few examples of them and state my sources. I find my ritual of self-dedication a bit too private to put it on the Internet, but maybe I decide to even post that one day :)
If you manage to find people who are ready to work with you by any chance, all the better! :D it would be ideal if the polarity of sexes was in balance (an equal number of men and women), but if that isn't possible, then you'll just have to manage somehow. In case you succeed in finding a group, it is recommended that you first define who the High Priest and High Priestess will be (of course, if there are only two people then this is defined by itself). The High Priestess first initiates herself and then she initiates the High Priest. It is then left to her to initiate all the women and to him to initiate all the men in the group so that the flow of male/female energy remains unbroken. Therefore, it is best if there are as little self-initiations as possible, but you can decide for yourselves :)
I don't plan to go on with my philosophies, so I'll just start with the examples that I found in the following books:
Raymond Buckland - Wicca For One
Doreen Valiente - Witchcraft for Tomorrow
The initiation (i.e. the person who initiates) and anyone else taking part in the ritual should work skyclad (naked). Any jewelry that is usually worn should be removed and put on the altar so you can put it back on after the initiation.
(Personal note: I am aware that the words "scourge" and "naked" are ringing in your ears right now, but keep in mind that the scourge is simply a traditional part of the Gardnerian tradition which you can take out of the equation of you're uncomfortable with it. I also think that you don't have to work naked at all if and in front of anyone if you feel the least bit uneasy about it, but this was just be saying what the authors said so don't blame me) :)
We will assume (just to simplify things) that the initiator is a woman and the initiate (person being initiated) is a man.
The ProcessThe initiator consecrates the water and salt and makes the circle in which everyone present stands. She walks around the circle with the water and sprinkles everyone with it (and herself last). She then walks around the circle holding the incense and calling the Guardians of the Watchtowers. If her partner (the High Priest) is present, then he gives her the Fivefold Kiss (I have explained this and other terms in previous posts). She stands facing the altar and lifts her hands in the air and says:
"I invoke thee and call upon the,, Mighty Mother of us all, bringer of all fruitfulness; by seed and root, by stem and bud, by leaf and flower and fruit do I invoke thee to bless this rite, and to admit me to the company of thy hidden children."She then turns her back to the altar and recites the Charge of the Goddess but exchanges "she", "her" and "her's" for "I", "me" and "mine/my". She then returns to face the altar with her arms up, holding her hands in the Horned God salutation pose and speaks the Great God Cernunnos invocation.
She then kneels or sits in the middle of the circle facing the altar. If others are present then they sit/kneel behind her. She pauses to recollect herself and then says:
"Gentle Goddess, powerful God; I am your child, now and always. Your breath is my life. Your voice, Great Mother, and yours, Great Father, speak within me, as they do in all your creatures, if we will only listen. Therefore here in your Magic Circle, which stands between the world of men and the realm of the Mighty Ones, do I open my heart to your blessing."She then meditates on the Goddess and God and truly opens her heart to them. This is done as long as is necessary. If others are present then they will be there to prevent anything from disturbing her and to protect the circle. Her partner will be aware of his role as her protector and student. The others will be aware that this woman is being initiated in that very moment and in the name of them all and that she will soon become their High Priestess.
When she is ready, she will stand up and the others will follow. She will then go from quarter to quarter saying:
"Take heed, ye Lords of the East (South/West/North), that I, _____, am properly prepared to become a priestess and witch."After this she takes her vow standing in front of the altar, while holding her right hand above her heart:
"I, _____, in the presence of the Mighty Ones, do of my own free will and accord most solemnly swear that I ever keep secret and never reveal those secrets of the Craft which shall be entrusted to me, except it be to a proper person, properly prepared within the Circle such as I am now in; and that I will never deny the secrets to such a person if he or she be properly vouched for by a brother or sister of the Art. All this I swear by my hopes of a future life; and may my weapons turn against me if I break this my solemn oath."She bows before the altar and then takes the consecration oil. She puts some of it on her fingers and says:
"I hereby sign myself with the Triple Sign. I consecrate myself with oil."She touches herself with the moistened fingers above her womb (i.e. in the area of the womb), on her right and left breast and again on the womb, hence making the symbol of an up-side-down triangle (which is the symbol for the first degree initiation).
She then wets her fingers with a bit of wine, repeats the above sign and says:
"I anoint myself with wine."After making the sign mentioned above she then finished the statment by saying:
"...priestess and witch"
"Now I take up the Working Tools. First, the Magic Sword. With this, as with the Athame, I can form all magic circles, dominate, subdue and punish all rebellious spirits and demons, and even persuade angels and good spirits. With this in my hand, I am the ruler of the Circle.She then takes her necklace and puts it on:
Next I take up the Athame. This is the true witch's weapon, and has all the power of the Magic Sword.
Next I take up the White-Handled Knife. Its use is to form all instruments used in the Art. It can only be used in the Magic Circle.
Next I take up the Wand. Its use is to call up and control certain angels and genii to whom it would not be meet to use the Magic Sword.
Next I take up the Cup. This is the vessel of the Goddess, the Cauldron of Cerridwen, the Holy Grail of Immortality. From this, brothers and sisters of the Art drink in comradship, and in honor of the Goddess.
Next I take up the Pentacle. This is for the purpose of calling up appropriate spirits.
Next I take up the Censer of Incense. This is to encourage and welcome good spirits and to banish evil spirits.
Next I take up the Scourge. This is the sign of power and domination. It is also used to cause purification and enlightenement. For it is written, "To learn you must suffer and be purified.".
Next and lastly I take up the Cords. They are of use to bind the sigils of the Art, and also the material basis."
"With the Necklace, which is the Circle of Rebirth, I seal my commitment to the Craft of the Wise."Finally, she goes to each of the quarters with her arms raised and says:
"Hear ye, Mighty Ones of the East (South/West/North); I, _____, have been duly consecrated priestess, witch and hidden child of the Goddess."
The Ceorl (the witch/Priest/Priestess who already has previous knowledge with regard to this tradition) should be naked i.e. without any clothes or jewelry. Let us assume that this is again a woman just to simplify the written form of the ritual (though it can just as easily be a man). She sprinkles herself with consecrated (i.e. salted) water and then erects the temple (opens the circle). The Ceorl kneels before the altar and, with her head bowed, meditates on the God and Goddess and the meaning of the Old Religion for her. This is the last affirmation of her wish to be consecrated/initiated.
When she is sure that she is doing the right thing, she lifts her hands high above the altar and says:
"Woden and Freya, hear me now!The Ceorld then takes her Seax (the equivalent of the athamé in Seax-Wicca) in her right hand (or her left if she is left-handed). She then kisses the blade and lifts the seax into the air and says:
I am here a simple pagan holding thee in honor.
Far have I journeyed and long have I searched,
Seeking that which I desire above all things.
I am of the trees and of the fields.
I am of the woods and of the springs;
The streams and the hills.
I am of thee; and thee of me. (lower hands)Grant me that which I desire.
Permit me to worship the gods
And all that the gods rpresent.
Make me a Lover of Life and All Things.
Well do I know the creed:
That if I do not have that spark of Love within me,
Then will I never find it without me.
Love is the Law and Love is the Bond.
All this do I honor above aught else."
" Woden and Freya, here do I stand before you,She kisses the blade again and puts the Seax back in its sheathe. She then takes the Drinking Horn and slowly pours the left-over wine onto the earth.
Naked and unadorned, to dedicate myself to thine honor.
Ever will I protect you and that which is yours.
Let none speak ill of you, for ever
Will I defend you.
You are my life and I am yours
From this day forth.
So be it!"
"As this wine (ale) drains from the Horn,The Ceorl has now become a Gesith. She may stay in the circle to meditate as long as is necessary or she can cleanse and close the circle.
So let the blood drain from my body
Should I ever do aught to harm the Gods,
Or those in kinship with their love.
Woden and Freya!
So be it!"
No other ritual should be done at this time because, in the Seax tradition, the self-dedication ritual is a ritual for itself, along with the opening and closing of the circle, or course.
Open the circle in the ordinary way and have a bowl with consecrating oil ready on the altar. Ring your bell nine times total in three sets of three (with short pauses in between). Take the oil and dip your forefinger into it and draw a cross in a circle between your eyebrows (where the third eye is supposed to be) with this finger. After this, draw an upright pentagram above your heart. Touch a point around your genitals with this same finger and then your right and left breast and again your genitals thus making the symbol of the downward-facing triangle. Put that oil back on the altar and take up your wand (if, by chance, you still don't have one, then you can use your forefinger instead). Hold it high up in the air and say:
"God and Goddess; Lord and Lady. I am here a simple seeker of knowledge, a lover of life. I here dedicate myself to you and to your service. You are the ones I have chosen to serve. I do this of my own free will, with no pressure from any other. Guard me and guide me in all that I do, for all that I d is in love of you and of all life. Help me live my life with harm to none. Help me acknowledge the depth and beauty of all life, animal, vegetable, and mineral. The animals, birds, fish, reptiles, and all living things are my brothers and sisters. The trees of the forest, the plants, flowers, herbs, and all growing things are my brothers and sisters. The rocks, soil, sand, the rivers, lakes, seas, all waters of the earth, and all that is of the earth, are my brothers and sisters. Make me one with this family. Let me guard them and work for them as they all work for me.Now put down the wand and ring the bell three times. Lift up the chalice (filled with wine) and say:
Lord and Lady, from this day forth I accept and will ever abide by the Wiccan Rede: 'And it harm none, do what thou wilt.' I pledge myself to you, the gods. I will always protect you as you do me. I will defend you against those who speak ill of you. You are my life and I am yours. So Mote It Be."
"To the gods!"Pour out a bit of wine in the libation dish (this will be your "sacrifice" to the gods) and say:
"As this wine drains from the cup, so let the blood drain from my body should I ever do anything to harm the gods, or those in kinship with their love. So Mote It Be!"Now drink to the gods (you don't have to drink everything in one go; you can always pour a bit more out into the libation dish). Put the chalice back onto the altar, lift your hands up in the air and say:
"As a sign of my being born again into the life of Wiccacraft, I here take upon myself a new name, by which I shall always be known within the Sacred Circle, which is the place between the worlds. Henceforth I shall be known as _____ So Mote It Be!"(Personal note: you have to say your witch name here, but this is again a whole other chapter. You don't have to have it if you don't want to, but it has remained as an old tradition from a long time ago when pseudonyms were necessary for people to stay anonymous and not get caught and punished for their beliefs.)
Put down your hands and again ring the bell three times.
Now hold your wand above the altar and say:
"Now I consecrate this, the true tool of a Solitary Witch. It has all the powers of an athamé. I here consecrate it, so that it may be properly used within this Circle and in the service of the gods."Sprinkle the want with a little bit of water and then hold it in the smoke of the incense.
"I cleanse and consecrate this, my magical wand, that it may serve as I serve the Lord and the Lady. May it be my strength and my love and my it never be used in anger nor to harm anyone or anything. So Mote It Be!"Draw a pentagram in the air with it, kiss it and then put it back on the altar. You can now sit and meditate on the meaning of the Craft to you. Maybe you will now get some sort of sign from the gods that you really are in contact with them; some sort of vision, a sound or an inner feeling. It's not important whether you feel this or not, just stay relaxed and enjoy the fact that you are finally where you wanted to be and that you have succeeded in becoming a member of the Old Religion.
If you feel the need to dance, sing or celebrate in any other way, then this would be a good time to do so. After this, the Cakes and Wine part of the ritual should be enacted and then, of course, the Closing of the circle.
I would like to emphasize that the initiate (person who is being initiated) does in nor part of the self-dedication ritual deny his/her previous beliefs. If you may decide in some future moment of your life that Wicca is the right way to go for you, you are free to leave it behind and return to your former beliefs or perhaps continue your journey in search for something that really does fit you. Also, notice that there is no more oath of secrecy here. During the burning times, there was an obvious need for such an oath (and it was quite practical) and it also served its purpose in the early days of Paganism, a long time before Christianity showed up. None the less, the oath of secrecy is still a part of some modern-day Wiccan traditions (e.g. in Gardnerian Wicca where this is kept because it is a part of their inheritance even though there is no actual need for it now). I don't include such an oath here, but if you feel the need to have one in your ritual, then feel free to write it yourself.
4th Example(From the book Witchcraft for Tomorrow, pp. 159-164, personal note: this ritual is much more complex than the previous ones, so I ask of you that you don't bother too much with these complicated parts. Try to look at this ritual as simply another variation from which you can learn something or take something which may help you in creating your own ritual.)
The self-initiation ritual should be held on one of the Sabbaths, during an Esbat celebration or during the waning moon.
Since it is recommended that you be naked in this ritual (as a sign of removing all inhibitions and frustrations from your past), it's best if the room is warm. Although, you are free to wear whatever jewelry you like. It is best if every woman in the circle wears a necklace since the goddess of Witchcraft, who she represents, wears one in most of the depictions we have of her. Diana of Ephesus, for example, wears a necklace made out of acorns. Adya-Kali, the great Mother-Goddess of the Indian Tantrics is also naked or "clothed in space" apart from her necklace and Garland of Letters (the sacred Sanskrit alphabet which she wears as a necklace). Men may prefer to wear a lamen i.e. a magical pendant which may have their astrological sign on it or a symbol, for example an ankh.
In addition, you can also have a cloak which you can put on during meditation, but it should be left aside for the more active parts of the ritual.
For this ritual, you will need everything that is usually needed for opening the circle and also a staff made out of oak, ash, rowan or thorn wood, most preferably one which you cut personally on the night of a full moon. The circle is usually drawn with a wand or athamé, but if you don't have an athamé, then simply use your wand. You will also need a small bowl filled with consecrating oil. This should always be pure vegetable oil (although olive oil will suffice), but some will prefer to use an aromatic oil such as sandalwood.
"This is the day, this is the hour,Cry aloud the Word of Power -ABRAHADABRA!By blazing noon or black midnigh,It is my will to seek the light -ABRAHADABRA!Be far hence, all things profane,From the portals of this fane -ABRAHADABRA!Eleven-fold the right I claim,By the virtue of this Name -ABRAHADABRA!Faring forth adventurous,By the pathway perilous -ABRAHADABRA!Fend me from the fear of fear,By the Voice of the Chief Seer - ABRAHADABRA!Show within the darkest nightThe Extension of the Light - ABRAHADABRA!Great Ones who have gone before,Take the bowl with the consecrating/anointing oil and pass it through the incense smoke three times. After this, do three consecrations: first on your forehead (on your third eye i.e. in the middle of your forehead just above the point where your eyebrows meet, knows as the Ajna Chakra in the eastern tradition), then on your breasts (above your heart) and finally on your genitals. With the first consecration say: "Let the mind be free." With the second say: "Let the heart be free." and with the last one say: "Let the body be free."
Speak the Blessing evermore -
ABRAHADABRA!Here between two worlds ma I,Child of the earth and sky -ABRAHADABRA!Deepls do I dare assayOne step on the mystic way -ABRAHADABRA!Aid me from the realms above,Powers of Life and Light and Love -ABRAHADABRA!"
You enact the consecration by putting a bit of oil on the tip of your finger and make an X sign with it on the appropriate spot. This is the gifu Rune which symbolizes the gift of blessing (in ancient times, it used to be carved on cups because it was believed that it could protect people from poison. Even today we still use this X sign as a symbol for kisses.)
Now kneel before the altar, face north and recite the following invocation:
"By night's dark shade, and by this ritual hour,
Most ancient of the Gods, on your I call.
Remembrance of past lives in me awaken,
That day's delusion no more shall enthrall.
I claim my life, my liberty, my light,
Part of all life that flows eternally.
I am the microcosm of the Whole,
Kindred of star and stone and greenwood tree.
Awake in me the power to do my will,Now pause a moment in silence and keep your head bowed. After you have done this, sit yourself down in a comfortable position with your legs crossed. You can now cover yourself with your cloak if you wish. Begin to mentally form yourself and your altar in the center of a mandala and think to yourself something like this: "The infinity of the height and the infinity of the depth. The infinity of the east and the infinity of the west. The infinity of the north and the infinity of the south. The circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. I and that Center are One."
Kindle within me love's eternal flame.
Accept me as your own, a pagan soul,
O Powers of Life, that did this Cosmos frame."
Sit like that with your eyes closed and in complete peace and quiet. Remove all thoughts from your mind, including those that enhance consciousness. There are no instructions for this other than those of the ancient Tibetan sage, Tilopa: "Do not imagine, think, analyse, meditate, act; keep the mind in its natural state." Perhaps you will realize that your natural state of mind is much nicer than you thought it would be.
It is at this time that your true initiation will happen, if your intention is pure and if other conditions are lead by it. You may feel that you have reached a higher state of consciousness, if even for a short while. You may see a vision in your mind's eye and if you do, then this vision should be written down immediately after the ritual is done because it is sure to have some important meaning, even if it may not be clear right away.
The length of this period of tranquility is up to you. Your spontaneous feelings will let you know when to finish. When you are done, stand up, light some fresh incense if need be and walk around the circle with your censer deosil (clockwise) raising the censer when you reach the quarters. Return to the altar and repeat this Affirmation:
"I am unique. Ther is no one else exactly like me. And yet I am One with the whole of Nature.Now you can celebrate by dancing around the circle(deosil again) if you wish. Let yourself be free; clap your hands, play a sistrum or a tambourine and keep chanting the following over and over again until your feel it is enough:
I have the right to be what I am. My essential Self is divine and beautiful. I have the right also to be better than I am, that the outer manifestation may be more true to the inner reality.
Beloved Pan, and all the other gods who haunt this place, grant me beauty in the inward soul, and may the outward and the inward life be at one."
"O IO PAN!(You will notice that this chant has fallen into a natural rhythm. It is pronounced: 0 ee-oh Pan! 0-ee-ah oh! Ee-ah ee-ah A-rah-dee-ah! Ee-oh ee-voh-ay Ker-nun-no! Ee-oh ee-voh-ay Di-an-ah!)
IA IA ARADIA!
IO EVOHE KERNUNNO!
IO EVOHE DIANA!"
Do any sort of steps, just enjoy them. Continue doing this until you are out of breath and feel like you want to stop. When you decide to stop, fall in front of the altar and lie down there until you catch your breath and you are able to get up.
Take your wine and finish the ritual by drinking a toast to the Gods: "To the Old Ones! Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!"
If you like, you can sit down for a few more minutes to meditate, or you can simply anjoy the whole atmosphere of the circle, the incense, the lit candles and bask in the sensation of nakedness and freedom. Close the circle when you are ready and don't forget to give thanks to the Old Ones for their protection. Pass around the circle with the incense, strike the bell and extinguish the altar candle(s).
A Note on the Words of Power:
ABRAHADABRA is the correct version of the ancient Word of Power from which "Abracadabra" came, which you probably know thanks to the many magicians and illusionists. This is only a mere echo of the actual word. This word is made up of eleven letters; five vowels and six consonants which symbolize the Great Work, the union of the Microcosm (five, the pentagram) with the Macrocosm (six, the hexagram). Its Cabbalistic numeration is 418 (you can read about this much more in The Qabalah by Aleister Crowley). It is the numerical equivalent of ATh IAO, 'the essence of IAO'; and also its digits added together, 4+1+8=13, the witches' number, the Cabbalistic equivalents of which are Achad (Unity), and Ahbah, (Love).
Iao is the ancient magical name of the Supreme God who contains the male and female aspects.
Pan is the ancient Greek god whose form was universal; he was the horned god of nature, the joy of life who was depicted with goat feet in stead of legs. Kernunno is a version of the name Cernunnos, the Celtic honed god, similar to Pan who was worshiped in Western Europe including in Britain in pre-Christian times.
Aradia is the name for the Italian moon goddess. She was described as Diana's daughter, which leads us to believe that she is simply a later form of the ancient moon-goddess Diana, who is Pan's lover in mythology. The American folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland gathered myths in connection to her in his work Aradia: or the Gospel of the Witches.
There is a chance that that the name Aradia is Celtic in origin and connected to airidh, the summer pastures to which the cattle were driven at Beltane (May 1) and from which they returned to winter quarters at Samhain (November 1). The Celts originated in central Europe, and spread south into Italy, as well as westwards to Spain and the British Isles.
IO EVOHE, IO and IA are some of the ancient calls used by the ecstatic worshipers in the mystery cults of long ago.
And there you have it. Before I go, I would like to note that, even though I have given you a few examples here, it really is best if you write your own ritual. You are free to use certain elements of these rituals and you can see for yourself that some parts are repeated in all/some of the above rituals (e.g. the making of the downward facing triangle with anointing oil, similar invocatoins etc.) so why not incorporate them into your own ritual. I noted the page numbers in each book where you can find these rituals because I simplified some parts, simply copied out other etc. so may see slight deflections.
Of course, if you have any questions, fell free to contact me. I think the authors have sufficient explanations. Some parts I mentioned here (like the opening of the circle, consecrations etc.) may be unclear to you. If this is the case, then I ask you to read my post on ritual form which will hopefully clear things up for you.
This post really is long and tiring, so don't hurry analyzing and premeditating :) If you decide to do a self-initiation/self-dedication ritual, then be confident in the way you will do it and be careful. If you have some thoughts on this subject, or feel that I have said something wrong or perhaps simply have some experiences that you would like to share, I would gladly hear it all in the comments :)
I hope that all of this will be of some use to you!
Until next time. Yours,
P.S. I would like to thank two wonderful people who helped me get my hands of Doreen Valiente's book Witchcraft for Tomorrow. They will know who they are :)