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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Self-initiation

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C550866538/E20051214060051

Most of the "self-initiated" aren't. We need to find ways to recognize that.

Paganwiki.org is shaping up to be a great resource, and juliaki has become a contributor to the encyclopedia.

I have to take exception to her article on initiation though. It is accurate as far as it goes, but obviously she doesn't believe self-initiation is valid.

Let me start saying that I have little doubt that the vast majority of those who claim self-initiation are not initiated.

Many of the people drawn to paganism in the first place need attention and validation in their own life. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as they don't stay there. Just opening yourself up to the magick isn't enough to master either the magick or your life. It is the first step of a long, challenging journey that can last you the rest of your life. It's not the easiest step, nor does it bring any wisdom or authority or special privilege. The Elders who deserve the title aren't the ones in it for the ego boost.

No, the challenge is the second step, where you move beyond the "bright & shineys" to the hard work and discipline that it takes to honor the magick and the gods. Many people who call themselves Neopagans never make that step. Some make it only to look over the edge and decide that they would rather stay where it is fluffy and wonderful. That is their choice of course. But no one who stays there will have mastered themselves.

You can put on the costume, but you are not a Pagan because of what you wear or the words you speak. The magick has to become a part of you and you have to become a part of it.

At some point, as juliaki points out, we have to ask "Who initiated the first witch?"

Now, this is speculation, so take it with a grain of salt. Given the subject matter, there is no way to verify even if I could get enough Elders to take my question seriously. But accepting for the moment that self-initiation is possible, it has to be a rare occurrence. We know that not every Neopagan makes it past their first ordeal. Of those who do, we know that not everyone is called to be an Elder. Could there be a limit as to which Elders are even capable of self-initiation?

Looking at other examples of the "best and brightest," we run across what I call the cce factor. It's another version of the old 80/20 rule. In sales, 20 percent of your accounts deliver 80% of your business. For combat pilots, 20% of the pilots deliver 80% of the kills. Similar rules hold for tank commanders. When the U.S. Air Force began to study combat aces, they tried to identify the traits. They couldn't do it, except to show that aces had a certain irreverence for authority, an incredible drive to get the job done, and a certain intuition that defied any kind of classification.

Even the Roman Republic knew about the Ace factor. They knew that in any large group of prisoners, about one in five would cause all sorts of problems. Those one-in-fives were not only troublemakers, but they inspired trouble from every other prisoner. Without the one-in-fives, the other prisoners became more docile and resigned to their fate. That is an important recognition about Aces, they inspire greater efforts from everyone that is exposed to them.

Like I said, it is impossible to verify. But I am willing to accept it as a working hypothesis. Elders are a select group among pagans. I think it is possible that some Elders are aces, a select group among Elders who are capable of self-initiation. I think that works as long as we realize that the majority of those who claim self-initiation are barely to the dedicant stage.

Because you see, a real Elder wouldn't have to brag about it. And they certainly wouldn't lie about it.

Posted: Thu - December 22, 2005 at 07:42 PM

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