So How to Perform an Initiation?

I see people looking about to do an initiation or dedication after they complete their year and a day of study and practice..

As solitaries, they can do that alone, but we solitaries have community too. The question has come up in our Study Group, and this is how we address it:

We have no common tradition and we do not issue plastic ID cards. If a person has made themselves known to us, and if they have participated and presented programs within Study Group, we are open to honoring them.

Since we are not a coven, we do not have a prescribed course of study or a rite of passage that we would place upon a person who claims to have learned the basics. Their path might be Celtic, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Stragan, Norse, Eclectic, or whatever. We invite them to take part in designing their own dedication.

The first step for the person, let us call her a candidate, is to select three people within the Pagan community whom she respects as Elders and to get them to agree that she is ready for dedication. Then we come up with a time and place for the ceremony. This might be part of a Study Group or an "invitation only gathering."

The candidate would select her own deities and the specifics of the energies to either be invited or stand guard at each quarter. This time of transition might mean a new name would be appropriate. She would have the option of coming up with a craft name for herself. Alternatively, a previous name might be carried forward.

This is how the dedication ritual might go:

The Elders would cast the circle and invoke the quarters.

There would be a presentation of the candidate to the group by the Elders. There would be a challenge from the group. Something about how she enters this circle. Her answer would be, "In perfect love and perfect trust."

The Elders might offer a test. Each would put one question to the candidate. The questions would be pre-arranged and more of an opportunity to show off. Questions might be, "Who is your Goddess?" or "Tell us something of the Tarot?" or "What might we learn from the stars?"

Then there are additional elements that might be woven into the ceremony:

Sometimes, there might be claimings and renunciations, if the candidate is making a big leap from her past.

Sometimes, the people in the Circle would vouch for the candidate and say good things about her.

Sometimes there is a cord. This cord is knotted at each end to take a measure of the candidate. Then the cord is offered to the Goddess as a symbol of the candidate. (This same cord is later worn at future initiations at which the candidate will be a part. It is a link back to her own initiation.)

Somewhere, there might be an oath: something about respecting the secrets within the Craft and honoring those with whom she does not agree. It is not unheard of that an Elder hold an athame to the throat of the candidate while she recites her oath.

Somewhere, there might be symbolic gifts from the people in the circle.

Since the symbolism of this ceremony is rebirth, there might be a covering or tying up of the candidate. She would be expected to break free.

There might be an anointing with oil, water, or wine.

Next, the Elders would proclaim to the group, "Here stands ______, Witch, Priestess, and Hidden Child of the Goddess."

Then the three Elders would walk the candidate to each of the quarters and present her to the elementals. "Elementals of the _____. We present to you ______, Witch, Priestess, and Hidden Child of the Goddess."

The candidate would then take up each of her ritual tools, tell its story, and offer each a blessing. There might be an athame, chalice, pentacle, besom, candles and sacred bic lighter. Some of these tools might be gifts received at this occasion.

Then the candidate would take charge of the ritual. She would thank the Goddess, dismiss the quarters, and open the circle.

Some past dedications/initiations can be found at:

We like to feast and party a lot after such a dedication.

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