Thoughts on Initiation

What is an initiation?  We use that word commonly in the Wiccan and Witchcraft community and it can mean anything from joining a particular group or becoming part of an oath-bound tradition where, if you don’t have the right one, you aren’t always accepted.  Initiations can be written exclusively for the person being initiated or they are ceremonies passed down over the years and that everyone partakes of through the generations.  Some see initiation as a sort of graduation ceremony—congrats, you’ve done the work and now are officially full-fledged members of the group—and others as an indication and pledge that this is but the beginning of your training.

In some indigenous cultures, an initiation ceremony is used as the transition point between childhood and adulthood, making you a responsible member of the tribe.  Some initiations are for boys to become part of the men’s mysteries and others are for girls to join the women’s groups.  Either way, they involve ceremonies and occasionally actual physical changes such as circumcision or ritual scarification to delineate the difference between the two.  Often, they are viewed as dying to your old life and being born to your new life, where there might be different ways of dressing or interacting with others, new rituals to observe.

Certainly, we can see aspects the tribal initiation ceremonies in the Craft ones.  We don’t tend to go in for physical transformation as a part of it, but still expect there to be mental and spiritual changes.  Most would agree that it’s a metaphor for death and rebirth, dying to the old and being born to the new.  However, as the majority of us come to the Craft as adults, it’s not necessarily a good thing sometimes to equate a Craft initiation to that of going from childhood to adulthood.  We should be grown-up men and women already, and so the transition must be something more of an adoption into the mysteries of the community/coven/group rather than a sign that we need to start being responsible now.

Still, once you’ve dedicated yourself to the calling and have taking the plunge of initiation, there’s no real going back.  The Craft has that in common with the rites that transform one from a child to an adult.  The work doesn’t end there, either.  Even in those groups who see initiation as a graduation, there’s always more to discover and learn and more growing to do.  Perhaps, a Craft initiation stands out as a cross between an adoption ceremony and a personal dedication.  We are adopted by our new “clan” or “tribe,” no matter how large or small, and we dedicate ourselves to exploration of the mysteries of our new life, knowing there will be other markers to herald our progress along that path.

Copyright © 2009, Veronica Cummer, All Rights Reserved.

Veronica Cummer is the Author of Sorgitzak: Old Forest Craft and Masks of the Muse

Skyclad Stripped Bare – Naked Freedom

On the surface level, being skyclad does mean a freedom from the restriction of clothing, which allows for more movement and the ability to dance and to leap (and can be a good idea especially if you decide to leap over fires).  It also means freedom from any reference to what walk of life you may come from, especially in the past when your class could have been seen in your choice and quality of attire.  But, most of all, the freedoms implied in going skyclad are that of being free to be yourself, to enjoy who you are and why you are there.  It symbolizes the ability to express love and pleasure and joy and your own particular light, your own innermost being.

Flesh is beautiful enough, especially by the mystical glow of candlelight or the full moon and in shared ritual, as it is a symbol in and of itself of our will to be born into this world.  When we then further choose to wear jewelry or tokens, they are donned knowingly and specifically to be meaningful of our lives in the Craft, in a particular coven, or where we are along our own personal path.  We wear them for the signs they are, as reminders of promises, of hopes and aspirations, and of any understandings that we’ve reached along the way.

Naked Freedom

The key here is that all we put on in ritual is done by choice then, and with knowledge that they are symbolic of greater thoughts, ideas, and mystery.  In this regard, they are as much expressions of freedom as going naked in the first place, so long as we don’t fall into the trap of attaching ourselves too much to the specific thing or to what has no true connection to our innermost selves, to our truest natures.

For that is a huge part of what being a witch is about, shining with your own particular light, being a unique thread in the grand tapestry of the ultimate divine.  In fact, we are charged to be and to do just that—to strive towards letting who we are light the world through the window of our physical forms, and to always remember that we are free beings, free to choose and free to act.  Because to forget that is the first step towards giving it away.

Forgetfulness of freedom is forgetfulness of self.  It is sad neglect of our own personal star, our personal thread in the tapestry of life, and one that allows others to use our own energies to line their pockets or further their agendas, some of which hurt us, those around us, or even the Earth Herself.  Except that every time that we strip off our clothing and step naked into ritual we are in-acting our right of choice, we are becoming living symbols of freedom, and of the very qualities that the Goddess most delights in us to have.  Qualities that the rest of the world sometimes forgets are there and that we have to keep reminding them of to the best of our ability—the taste and touch and pleasure of freedom, of hope, of life, and joy, and, most of all, of love.

Copyright © 2009, Veronica Cummer, All Rights Reserved.

Veronica Cummer is the Author of Sorgitzak: Old Forest Craft and Masks of the Muse

Coven Power–What It’s Really All About

by Veronica Cummer, author of Sorgitzak: Old Forest Craft

The center of any coven needs to be love. Love is the greatest magick, the greatest virtue any witch can ascribe to. Yes, witches are meant to be teachers and healers, to promote fertility of the land and of the community, to worship the Gods, but behind all those duties lies love. Behind all those responsibilities, must lie love.

But, sadly, some covens seem confused by this at times, perhaps because the witches within them are confused or, worst still, the High Priest and High Priestess. For this kind of love has nothing to do with power, at least not the sort of power having to do with being the voice of authority in a coven or being the center of its attentions. That kind of power or power-seeking stems from insecurity, particularly that of not knowing deep down inside who you are and why you are here.

One of the biggest obstacles towards this—besides a lack of a strong sense of self—is confusing divine love with other forms of love. Or confusing what isn’t even really love at all with love, which is the far greater problem. For divine love isn’t controlling, it isn’t envious, it isn’t tinged with regret or shame or anger or fear or based upon the idea of I’ll do this for you so you’ll do that for me.

Divine love is a gift. Divine love is being able to see and fully experience all of life and yet stand apart from it at the same time, to be able to stand in the center of your own being, the center of the Wheel, and not be pulled off balance. Divine love is the ecstasy of the Goddess. Divine love is the ecstasy of the God. Divine love with what They make together or, rather, what that symbolizes—a union that creates a greater whole than the sum of its parts.

Just as divine love is coming to be your own inmost divine self and learning to act out of the knowledge without fear in your heart. Something that every witch needs to come to and that covens as circles of witches bound together to a singular purpose need to express, as well. For each coven forms a Self, a living and conscious Spirit, and that Spirit also needs to know divine love at its core.

copyright © 2009 Veronica Cummer, all rights reserved.