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Initiation Roles

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.pagan,alt.religion.wicca,alt.magick
From: (mordred)
Subject: Initiation Roles (Was Re: ETHICS: Fence-Straddlers)
Date: 4 Mar 1995 09:32:38 -0800

Kali Yuga 49950304 (Rain) writes:
|...commitment and identity.  Where does one draw one's personal lines, 
|and how?

Also, how can 'drawing personal lines' be a discipline/tool all in itself.
Another topic for another thread.

|For those of you in traditions where "apprenticeship" is for a year and
|a day, what becomes of the would-be initiate who would like to be in,
|but balks at the border?  If halfway into an initiation, they get cold
|feet, what do you do?  One can't really take them, but then what happens?

'A year and a day' is taken a little too literally for my tastes.  I tend
to interpret the statement to mean 'for as long as the relationship shall
be accepted by both individuals'.  Given this, I'll answer your question.
Initiation is, to me, not a ceremonial affair, though I've dabbled in a bit
of ceremony both within the context of magical groups and amongst my kin.

The only 'border' is some place beyond which the initiate will not go at
that time, and ceremony fairly requires absolute trust or a 'one shot
opportunity', especially if the contents of that ceremony are to become
the cement within the magical group itself.  Exposure to *some* of the
contents and a desire to eject will usually be taken as a sign of insuf-
ficient trust and usually 'rejected application', though not always.
Many groups base it upon intent and circumstance, allowing one or more
'retries' as long as there is incentive on the part of the *initiator*.

The way I'm seeing it now, wherever an initiate (and I rarely make such
distinctions within my environs, especially based on my initiative) feels
a need for a boundary then I will respect that as I'm able.  Personal
boundaries are very important to me, having had mine flexed and trampled
at various times in my life.  Within the kraft of wizardry, as I under-
stand it, each initiation is likely to be different and therefore there
is no problem with stopping and starting according to the needs of the
particular initiate provided that this does not violate the initiator.

|I'm assuming that one personally supports the person in their choice,
|then lets them have space and so forth, but what happens if they ask for
|initiation more than once, then balk?  Is there a limit to patience?

You are merely asking about each initiator's qualities, which will vary
tremendously, I think.  Patience is a scarce resource, and for this reason,
or perhaps because of it, patience is considered a virtue.

|...Has anyone had an experience of having
|such a person where after a while it seems like one is throwing  good money
|after bad?  Is this always a case of LaVey's "psychic vampirism?"

I don't tend to think in such black and white terms, though I do find that it 
is valuable to know my own boundaries and limitations and prevent continued
dependency where I am not willing to give.  LaVey's psychic vampirism is
based upon someone who *also never truly gives in return*.  While there are
definitely unbalanced relationships in which one person gives more than
another, this does not conform to LaVey's concept as I understand it.  The
individual in question must be absolutely manipulative, using us as a source
for some resource and intending no good will or exchange of any sort.

My impression is that part of the problem with 'defined assistance 
relationships' (guru/chela, initiator/initiate, therapist/client,
doctor/patient, etc.) is that there develops on the part of the person
who *assists* some notion of superiority rather than a mere difference
of obtained resource.  The teacher begins to think 'this student is not
worth teaching' instead of 'I do not feel comfortable continuing this
relationship'.  This can lead to some very nasty repercussions and is
one reason that I tend to forego such identified roles.

|How have people dealt with it, or how do they think they would, if faced
|with someone who would like to be a "pagan/magician/witch" or whatever,
|but only in the dilettante/dabbler/fair-weather way?  

The rigidification and focus upon ceremony/recipe as a means of social
acceptance carries with it certain advantages and disadvantages.  Too
often the latter are overlooked or considered benefits where actually
they may lead to the disintegration of the entire value of the path.

Some of the advantage of using very clear and distinctly defined rela-
tionships is the security of the group in question.  If there is some
hostility toward witches in the greater culture, for example, then a
very strict initiation schema functions as a filter.  If there is some
*social prestige or power* given to those within this group then very
specific initiation (as well as fulfillment of prerequisites) affords a
safety-mechanism by which unreliable individuals may be weeded out from
that group (e.g. any military or government).

The disadvantages may be harder to see.  They include a greater emphasis
upon roles generally and stratified, cemented relationships (especially
when the initiator does not see this as a temporary function she may
fulfill within the ritual but as a permanent office wrt all those who are
not of the same 'level' within hir particular enclave) can sometimes
develop and become obstacles to all involved.
Another potential disadvantage is the division between 'those who are
dedicated to *the* path' and 'those who are dilettantes'.  We stop just
accepting that people have their own particular way and that this may
include varying tremendously from path to path, weaving things over a
great deal of time, and we begin to classify them by what can only be
called 'alien' or 'disharmonious' or 'insincere' behaviors.  

The ossification of any social roles can lead to this type of prejudice,
and when it comes to practicality it may serve very important short-term
needs.  In the long-run it can support tyranny and the devolution of the
path in which it occurs.

|Assuming that one discontinues training, how does one deal with such a 
|person afterwards?

Well, that is the problem with defined relationships like this.  You've
defined the relationship wrt 'training' and so when that activity stops
so does any relationship, requiring a complete severing or redefinition.

Personally I prefer to leave all those roles blurry, presuming myself as
much initiate as initiator, chela as guru, patient as doctor.  In this
way I develop a true *friendship*, a connection which outlasts any sort
of temporary activities we may engage.  After all, today's 'apprentice'
may be tomorrow's 'Sorceror Supreme'.  Presuming defined roles to begin
with tends to post obstacles to such meteoric development, especially
when my teacher-ego gets in the way.

tyagi nagasiva (

All the manifested universe is my teacher.  Here is a small white square,
blinking on my screen.  Here are people's words, those who struggle with
the same qualities of existence as I.  Here are the traces of life such
as the shooting stars of the autumn sky.

The trees demonstrate their wisdom.  The clouds move without moving.

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