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To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.thelema,alt.magick,alt.pagan.magick,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.consciousness.mysticism
From: (nigris (333))
Subject: Initiation
Date: 23 Jul 1999 23:08:38 -0700

49990602 IIIom Hail Tahuti!

Mathias Karlsson :
# ...wether he is Minerval or Bishop in the OTO says little 
# of his initiatoric standing. The OTO does not initiate in the 
# sense that the AA does, more in the sense that the freemasons do. 
# ...Basically it's a social club with occult topping. You can 
# however use it as a great do-it-yourself kit....
# But don't mix the planes.

in this contribution to the initiation thread, I want to focus on
the particular organizations mentioned here, perhaps adding a few,
and describe what initiation appears to mean within these contexts.
I hope to be corrected by those many involved within the OTO and
Freemasonry who know better than I. my comments about the AA are
from my own perspective (not having been initiated by human agents
in any Great White Brotherhood or Celestial Master organization,
yet interacting with apparent transphysical entities).

OTO initiates as a function of membership. AA appears to avoid the
socializing element in favor of transformative catalysis. Freemasonry
appears to be more along the lines of OTO than AA, though initiation
probably isn't associated with the type of 'insight into the
mysteries of *magick*' (as compared to masonry and fraternity) that
is more common within OTO.
# Initiating people is mostly pointless anyway. I don't think that 
# doing exactly the same ritual to few thousand people is the 
# even close to the best way to initiate them. 

if the initiation is supposed to provide a contextual shared 
experience for membership, then consistent rites may be one 
of the most interesting and effective methods of initiation.
correspondent #2 writes in response to #1:
# What do you think the purpose of initiation is?

obviously as the Wizard (VHMaroney) and others have explained, the 
purpose for initiation varies considerably, so one can only reasonably
speak from the perspective of a specific organization or person
as regards *their* purpose for integrating initiation into their
lives and community.

what I have seen so far in (C)OTO is that degrees define
membership, directly relate to level of involvement in the admin,
and imply potential familiarity with references associated with 
the subjects of specialization (initiatic, liturgical, magical,
religious, administrative, etc.) identified by the motto of
the member in question, the body to which she belongs, or the
reputation of the Order as regards esoterica.

in the AA initiation is either matriculatory ('you have reached
this stage in your development') or involving an ordeal ('this
challenge and test constitutes a valuable experience for your
development'). it lies outside the realm of social identity,
despite the continued desire of individuals to adopt labels
from taxonomies of the Celestial Masters as social identifiers.

I am not a member of any masonic body, but the Freemasons whom
I know indicate that their initiations function in a manner
similar to those of the OTO. I have not yet heard of masonic
initiates using their rituals as boosters, catalysts, or 
generally as tools for their own development aside from in
taking the material of the rite and studying it assiduously,
but I wouldn't be surprised if this was the case.  what Mathias 
referred to, however, as using "it as a great do-it-yourself kit" 
may be a difference between the cultures.
[this addressed to #1]
# Why don't you think that identical initiation patterns/ritual 
# will work for everyone that applies for them?

I would reinterpret this question as 'why might identical rites
of initiation fail?'  if there can be said to be a 'target 
effect' of an initiatory rite, then by virtue of the character
of the initiate the ritual may not have the same effect. for
the purposes of membership conferral and the like I don't see
why it need fail in the slightest, especially where the integral
elements are anthropocentric and the initiate is of the same
species. once we move much beyond these (to ritual elements that
depend upon cultural assimilation or initiates with significantly
different physiognomies and/or environments) I think we begin to
lose the 'shared experience' element.

# What do you think is the essence of initiation then?

beginning, commencement. to initiate is to start something.

# And what is the purpose of any symbolism thrown into initiation
# experience?

that depends entirely on the WAY that it is put together. in one
place it becomes a spice like adding terragon to the stew. in
another it becomes the very framework of the ritual such that
all the other elements hinge on its proper introduction and
integration to the rite as a whole. the symbolism isn't a block
without differentiation of meaning and import. quite the
contrary, even though many symbols and symbolic acts may become
part of an initiatory rite, some will be emphasized and others
will be downplayed based on the desires of those who create the
rituals or who pass them from generation to generation.
# I am also interested in whether people's opinions of the 
# *purpose* of initiation is different after the event to 
# what it was before. 

personally, or generally? personally, having proceeded
according to what I knew of my true will to that point,
largely on intuitive and inspired directionals, my
inititation into (C)OTO was something I always considered
an ordeal and membership admittance. the latter aspect of it
became more important once I understood that I could indeed
pass the tests of the rite, continue to play along with the
ritual drama, and remain true to my self. I wasn't certain
that this was going to be the case when I inquired after the
ordeal. ;>  

having kept myself in virginal condition (avoiding discussion 
of ritual content) prior to my first three initiations 
(Minerval/0, I, II), I was unable to see the repercussions of
the ritual and therefore of their purpose in my life. later I
would reflect upon them and integrate their content into my
life in ways which were quite meaningful (sometimes beginning
as early as DURING the ritual in question, knowing that my
interpretation of the rite was not what my initiators intended).

generally I think that people bring some amount of prejudice
to initiatory rites and carry this with them into the experience.
once the event takes place I suspect that most of us aggrandize 
the actuality of the rites so as to conform to our desires about who 
we are or would like to be. it is alot like philosophic views:
we like to think we never believed in that stupid shit in school 
or as young adults, and that we have always felt this way, known
these things. it hasn't been true for me and I doubt it has for

#>The "purpose" (in My view) is to magickally plant and catalyze a "seed"
#>experience which is intended to grow into increasing gnosis, inner
#>realization, awareness and insight.  When it is done successfully, your
#>candidates will be calling, emailing, or pulling you aside at meetings
#>to say things like, "I have GOT to talk to you about the stuff that's
#>been happening with me ever since I took my (whatever) degree ..."  

sure, but this could be based on projective thinking on the part of
the initiate. as the Wizard says, as there is no 'control' it is
really impossible to know what is a result of the initiatory rite
and what would have otherwise occurred.
correspondent #2:
# ...a formal initiation is just that:  it is not a tautology.  Some 
# initiations are, I think, experiences that happen spontaneously 
# without any direct intention on anyone else's part. Therefore, I'm 
# interested in what is the key point that makes such a thing happen.  
# Is it simply dependent on the state of the individual concerned or 
# does it depend on what other people around them are up to at the 
# time?  

the state of the individual concerned is not separable from the
conditions in which she finds herself. social preparation,
dramatic and mythological ritual elements, symbolism, the fact
that the participants may be in specific relationships to the
initiate otherwise (their family, lover, friends, etc.) all 
factor into the state of the individual concerned.

# ...whether the former can be detached from the latter
# is something I'm not sure about.

it can be, but I'm not sure that it affects the initiate. that
is, whether the group providing an initiation for someone does
a particular activity (chanting, for example) that brings them
into harmonious relation to one another, I'm not sure that this
specific act has an effect upon the initiate moreso than that
they all act cohesively and without awkwardness. I don't think
that the particular act has a *direct* impact as long as it 
doesn't directly affect the initiate (as if they'd done it
before she came in or prior to the rite, etc.).
#> ...everyone's initiation into, 
#> say, II* in O.T.O. is both the same, and yet different for each 
#> unique Star even though the same ritual was used.
# ...I have a suspicion that the ritual content of an initiation 
# is pretty arbitrary.  The important bit being people's attitudes 
# to it.  So from that point of view it doesn't matter what form
# the initiation takes. It follows from that that the 'secret' nature 
# of an initiation only really matters from the point of view of the
# candidate as it consolidates the very real respect that they ought 
# to feel....

where initiation is intended to confer shared experience as the
basis of membership, the content is not at all arbitrary. this
is the reason that the (C)OTO and other groups like it wish
its rites to remain secret and traditional. whether such systems
can operate by the Law of Thelema is another matter entirely, 
however. ;>

#> ...[initiation] sets off a "chain reaction" which 
#> interfaces with the candidate's existing paradigm(s) in such 
#> a way as to simultaneously expand, focus and clarify his/her 
#> perception of experiences past, present and yet to come. ...
#> initiation is [also] like downloading a "zipped" (PC users) 
#> or "bin-hexed" (Mac users) file of gnosis that is gradually 
#> unpacked, opened, read, and put to use in the timespan which 
#> follows.

ah the dreams of youth. 'gnosis' is not generally so conferred,
though many ritualists would enjoy presuming it to be so.

# I think your second way of viewing it is more a way of 
# imagining the end result to be, while the first is more 
# a way of perceiving the process.  

when it occurs in a personal and rather more deep manner than
merely 'running through the motions'. there are initiations
and initiates wherein no real depth is touched to trigger any
sort of 'chain reaction' and no spark is ignited.

# [I would like an] ...elaboration [on] the 'couple of factors 
# present in the initiatory process itself'.  

# ...the two essentials for an initiatory experience to 
# come about are (i) that the person really really wants it
# to happen 

this is not required. the AA can 'induct' individuals into its
fold whenever it sees that they are 'ripe' for service, even if
the initial response to the induction is somewhat negative. tales
of fiction illustrate this well.

# and (ii) that there is a set date for it to happen.  

this also presumes a kind of individual compliance or shared
participation in making the rite effective. if we are talking
about initiation generally rather than merely ritual initiation 
(since we've added 'AA inits' to the menu), then no set date is
required for an initiation to be effective either.
# Now (ii) assumes a formal event has been planned and so 

which it need not.

# (iii) might be a belief that it really really will happen 
# altho' I've heard of people that went in for initiation 
# with a group in some kind of sceptical way and were wowed 
# by it.  So I wont add that one.

these are all ambiguous as to what 'it' is. if there is no
predisposition to an 'it' occurring, if there is a kind
of apathetic or blase' reception to the initiation (on account
of an initiate's jadedness or lack of connection to the world),
then none of these factors are liable to make a difference.

# ...I found after that that no one else would discuss the subject.
# He also found the same thing.

I've seen the discussion in depth in many instances here, in usenet's
alt.magick and in IRC. it takes a particular combination of people
and sufficient connection to sustain a complex and personal exchange.

# ...... 
# thinking that I can walk as far as I want down that road without ending
# up as some dysfunctional fundamentalist with anal retentive compulsions
# and a tendency to attribute all life hitches as a failure to cram as
# much magick into my day as possible and that gets studied by overawed
# sociology students might lead me to become just that.

ritual initiation is only a part of some organizations, and some of
THESE claim to be 'Thelemic'. many Thelemites encounter initiation
in their mundane lives quite without the interference of cultists
or more ritual drama than may be found in their personal interactions.
the character of initiation needn't change on account of this. 
studying the formal as an introductory or appendage to the 
spontaneous is a very valuable enterprise, I find.

# And the idea of graded initiations to get you all used to the
# idea of it slowly and not frighten people off in shocked horror? ;)

the initiations are graded by taxonomists who wished to put some
recognizable and rational categorization to the process of spiritual
maturation. these grades are based on fiction excepting that they
relate to biological growth and administrative participation in the
cult to which they belong. human development is usually much more
complex and variable than is provided for in these models.
correspondent #3 writes:
# ...Is a self-initiation really possible?  I think that one of the 
# main ideas to an initiation is the fact that the control of the 
# situation is in the hands of the initiators, and the candidate 
# isn't allowed to know what comes next.  This is supposed to put 
# one in a state that allows to initiation to perform its function.  

this has been mentioned elsewhere. life is an initiatory arena.
the ostensible hands in which we find ourselves are those of our
Holy Guardian Angel, especially once we have taken the trouble to
establish the Knowledge and Conversation. the Oath of the Abyss
provides the comparable character to a ritual initiation (one
might call the latter 'artificial' for this reason). 

it is possible to engage self-initiation merely by orienting with
respect to one's intuition and following it to its end (this I
call 'mysticism' or 'monasticism'). this will lead to all manner 
of encounter, dilemma, ordeal, etc.

# This air of mystery is also one of the reasons I've heard for 
# discouraging people from from simply reading about an initiation 
# in the famous King book before they take it- that if you know 
# what's going on beforehand, it "won't work" or will turn out to
# be a "bad" initiation.

for many of us the concealed or hidden aspects of a ritual such
as are contained in King's "The Secret Rites of the OTO" are very
important elements we would prefer not to encounter before the
rite. examining them aforetime would be like having the plot of a
film we were about to see described to us in detail. the import
of revelation will be lost, and if this is at all important to 
the drama (as it often is within ritual initiations), this could
place a significant damper on the event. that said, some have
the ability to conduct rituals "astrally", placing themselves
within the circumstance of the initiate and abstractly feeling
an approximation of the intensity of the rites even while just
reading them (or so I am informed -- this is not my skill).
# If you do a self-initiation, you are effectively in control of all of
# the elements of that ritual, and in effect, can't surprise
# yourself/catch yourself off guard/get that sense of not knowing what's
# next that makes an initiation so effective.

the fantasy of the mage. attempting to control everything within
any context is a valuable experiment. over a duration I don't think
that it is even possible, and the longer it is attempted the more
likely we will see that our control is based on fallacy.
# What do you all think?  Can someone initiate themselves?  Or does an
# initiation require two parties, the initiator and the candidate?

initiation between self and cosmos is possible. ritual
initiation by oneself is possible but less likely.

correspondent #1 again:
# The two most important initiations in yor life you will still 
# have to do on your own, no one will ever initiate you into 
# K&C of your HGA. Nor will anyone pull you across the Abyss. 

are you sure? what if we appoint them to do this for us?

# If you do the LBRP many times enough it will transform into 
# the stone of the wise.  This is self initiation.

I agree that the repetition of mystical disciplines can become a
self-initiation into deeper awareness.
#> What do you all think?  Can someone initiate themselves?  Or does an
#> initiation require two parties, the initiator and the candidate?
# Induction into group cult and group think usually takes two, 
# unless the candidate has a small enough ego to fall for 
# Scientology/OTO/Thelema/Christian/Buddhist/Scientific double 
# think on his own.

any text which functions as a tar baby can be used by the 
unsuspecting self-initiate to fuck hirself over.
blessed beast!
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