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Wicca 101 A 6 to 8 week course covering basic topics about what the religion of Wicca is and how you can explore it further.

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Old 12-12-11   #1
Ben Gruagach

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Novelty, Ohio USA
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Default 6A. Initiation

Initiation means to begin, and within Wicca an initiation is a rite of passage ritual that marks the official start of a specific phase of one's life as a Wiccan.

In Gardner's original Wiccan coven people who had shown determination to become part of the group were welcomed into the group as a full-fledged Wiccan, Priest/ess and Witch with the first degree initiation ceremony. Once they had progressed to the point of being able to lead the covens (and perhaps start up new covens as well, with guidance of their mentors) they would be given their second degree initiation. Once they had gotten to the point of being considered elders and could start up their own covens without needing permission from their mentors, they would be granted their third degree initiation.

Initiations of this type are important as they serve as official granters of status within the specific group. You can't become a Gardnerian Wiccan without having gone through at least a first degree Gardnerian initiation ceremony.

As Wicca grew, and as new groups sprang up, new sects (or denominations or "traditions") came into being. Some of Gardner's early and most influential students, particularly Doreen Valiente and Raymond Buckland, as well as influential Wiccans in other sects, such as Janet and Stewart Farrar, saw the need for solitary practitioners to be able to join the Wiccan community while not necessarily being members of specific established groups -- and so they devised and published self-dedication (sometimes called self-initiation) ceremonies. With all these different groups and sects, and growing numbers of solitary self-initiated practitioners, it was inevitable that there would be wide variations in standards among initiates. And of course there would be controversy about that!

Today there are some ultra-conservative Wiccans who insist that the only "real" Wiccans are those who have been formally initiated as Gardnerians, or Alexandrians, or a handful of other established sects (often described as "British Traditional Wicca" denominations.) Other Wiccans are more inclusive and do not have a problem with self-initiated practitioners being considered "real" Wiccans (so long as they are not claiming membership in a specific sect, such as Gardnerian or Alexandrian, that requires formal initiation for membership of course.) Since Wicca has autonomy of groups and practitioners as such an important core tenet, and since we don't have a central authority structure or single uniform Holy Scripture to decide these things for us all, we will likely always have these sorts of disagreements about who counts and who doesn't count as a "real" Wiccan.

From a spiritual standpoint initiation has a much more important role that supersedes the role as a formal acceptance into a specific group. This spiritual purpose of initiation is a discernible leap ahead in one's spiritual maturity, as in jumping from being a spiritual child to a spiritual adult. This mystical form of initiation is considered to be a gift granted by the Divine. You could say that transforming a mundane person into a magick-working Witch is that sort of mystical initiation.

Attached is a PDF file of chapter two from "The Wiccan Mystic" which goes into a bit more detail about these two types of initiation.
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File Type: pdf The Wiccan Mystic - Chapt. 2 - Initiation.pdf (91.2 KB, 18 views)
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Old 12-12-11   #2
Ben Gruagach

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Novelty, Ohio USA
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Default Re: 6A. Initiation

Here is a video showing a Wiccan initiation ceremony. It features Alex Sanders (founder of the Alexandrian sect) initiating Janet Farrar for the cameras. (Janet was already initiated -- they staged this for the documentary "Legend of the Witches" which is now available on DVD if you want to see the whole thing.)

There is an interesting web page that discusses Wiccan initiation, with sample scripts for group and self-initiation rituals, at http://www.tryskelion.com/tryskelion/init1.htm
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