When discussing the nature of initiation, it is important to recognize that there are two types of initiations. The most recognized is the acceptance of a Wiccan into an established group, recognition of training received, and a dedication to the Goddess and the God. In some group initiation ceremonies, power is passed to the new member, or blessings are received from the group.
Wiccan Group Initiation
Many groups have three or five initiation rites, each marking a different level of training and responsibility. It is true that anyone wishing to enter into group practice should undergo an initiation, since part of an initiation ceremony is to attune with the other members of the group. However, this is not the only form of initiation, nor is it the most important.
Personal Initiation in Wicca
There are many, many people out there who are convinced that individuals who do not receive a Wiccan initiation cannot practice Wicca. Most agree that this is simply not the case, though many traditions have 'secret' rites that are not shared. There are a vast array of published texts, so virtually anyone can go to a decent bookstore to obtain a book filled with rituals. Many Wiccans write their own initiation rites.
The essence of Wicca, the beliefs and practices that are associated with Wicca, are readily available for anyone who can read. It's believed that the Goddess and the God accept all who choose to follow Their path, not simply the ones who have received group initiation, regardless of some practitioners may say.
For many, personal initiation is more appropriate. This type of initiation is the process of the individual's attunement with the divine, with the Goddess and the God. It can be gradual, taking years in some cases, or it can be immediate and spontaneous. Today, many groups will not perform a ritual initiation unless and until this personal initiation has occurred.
Recognizing Personal Initiation
The personal initiation may take place months or years before the individual finds a coven or teacher. This form of initiation is by far the most important. One can practice Wicca fully and joyfully without ever contacting another person involved in the religion. The form a personal initiation takes varies from person to person. But most people who have experienced this will say that they just knew when it had happened.
Many Wiccan will say that they knew when they had received this personal initiation when they found themselves and their personal energies beginning to ebb and flow with the natural world, when the ways of old had become a part of their life, and when their relationship with the Goddess and the God is strong and unquestioned. Some choose to mark this occasion with a ritual, others do not.
Many Wiccans are content with this personal initiation. Some wish to expand themselves as Wiccans further, and continue their search for a group or instructor. Another benefit of having this personal initiation occur first is that if you do find a coven or instructor, they will almost certainly find that you are ready for instruction.
It is usually recommended that eventually, all those wishing to study Wicca locate a group or instructor. Not necessarily for coven initiation, but having a group of like-minded individuals can give a much needed sense of community.
Ultimately, how each Wiccan approaches the idea of initiation is an individual decision. Some feel the need for a group initiation, and they should definitely pursue the idea. For those that do not feel the need, personal initiation is just as valid.
Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.