14 comments


  • Thoughtful and well written as usual, Chris. It almost sounds like you lean towards a self-initiation kind of thing which has long been recognised by certain organizations offering correspondence course instructions. I suspect the “measurement” thing does grow increasingly moot as any true progression is made. Again, food for thought.

    November 29, 2014
    • Not entirely. To me the idea of initiation in any context of modern witchcraft comes directly from Freemasonry so the practice in modern witchcraft to me has become very out of place and silly in many ways. Mind you, my own initiation as a Gardnerian was a memorable experience, however at the same time it was not all that necessary in the grand scheme of things. This article was more of a criticism for the idea behind and the act of creating the measure and how its role actually compromises the witch and their own magical practice and life in many ways. It’s a very threatening thing and not one founded/based on love or trust. It’s simply an insurance policy backed by a magickally based threat. Also, much of the practices associated with modern witchcraft need to be changed in my opinion and in some cases eliminated all together.

      November 29, 2014
  • Kate G

    If initiation is “not all that necessary” then it’s not being done right.

    Initiation, whatever form it takes, is intended to bring about (or be the direct catalyst to bring about) a change of consciousness of the initiate. And that’s not a light thing. A change in consciousness is not just being privy to some new information, or feeling high (on the group’s energy), or anything that most “initiates” have ever experienced. A change in consciousness is profound and I’m not convinced many “initiatory” systems ever achieve that.

    November 30, 2014
    • I don’t believe initiation is necessary to make someone a witch. That is what I meant. The ritual of initiation in British Traditional Wicca is completely derived and adopted from Freemasonry and serves mostly the same function, being a ritual performed to “bring someone into the fold” as they say. To make them a member. It’s an experience to have. A rite of passage. The mystical extras that one may experience are simply a benefit. Arguing over who is doing something right implies that there is a perfect tried and true standard somewhere and the last I’ve heard, there’s plenty of bickering in the BTW community over “how to do things right.” Personally, I think they need to either drop all of their masonic rooted influences or learn how to keep there ritual in line.

      December 01, 2014
  • While I don’t usually like to dismiss a person arguments by its lack of experience on the matter (I consider it a simple logical fallacy), I would make an exception here, only because the author seems to assume to understand the purpose behind the initiatory ritual.
    The purpose of the ritual it is most definitely not to represent or symbolise all those aspects which are to be found in the to-be witch.
    If that was the case, a bound person would definitely be a very bad symbol of a self-governing person. The same goes with blindfolds, oaths, or basically a 99% of the ritual.
    The initiation is a mystical experience. The postulant undegoes certain processes, and one of them is the Ordeal, which is found not just in Freemasonry, but in many other mystery cults. I recommend a deep reading about the different tantric sects, they are fascinating!
    You mention that the measure doesn’t really go with perfect love and perfect trust. However, that’s if we put the focus on the group not trusting the initiate. If we turn it around, we can see it as a proof of the trust of the initiate in the group, and the fact that they won’t use it.
    The coven, on the other hand, is trusting the new initiates with its scerets, indetities, meeting places and a long etc… Therefore, trust goes both ways.
    It has to be mentioned that many lines give the measures back after initiation, and many other at 3*.

    I won’t comment on ‘The Laws’ simply because most of them are not followed. They were a clear later addition.

    It is a shame, because the article could have been a great one if it topic had not been instrumentalised to server a personal dislike (in this acase towards the need of initiation in Traditional Wicca).

    Nevertheless, I see no purpose on criticising the activities of a group in which their members seems to be totally fine with them. I would understand an article of that kind coming from someone who has gone through the experience, but not in this case.

    Regards,

    Alder

    December 02, 2014
    • P.D.: Reading the comment above I have to correct myself about the experience bit. Which makes it even more fascinating.
      Since you have undergone the proccess, do you know feel that you have no soverignity as a witch? Did you actually feel governed and controlled by your coven?

      Also, it’s quite interesting that you have mentioned the binding of hands, but I would suppose that those cords didn’t stay there forever. I would also assume that if binding has a meaning, unbinding them does as well.

      Regarding authonomy, I must say I am a bit puzzled. Expulsion, from what?
      Once a witch, always a witch. There’s no ‘rule’ against that. One can definitely kick someone out of a group, but the person is free to join another one anytime; at least here in Europe.

      December 02, 2014
    • Alder, I don’t want to seem as if I am ignoring your comments, but I feel that I addressed most of your inquiries in the article. However, after leaving the coven I was initiated into, I had some need to cut off my connection to them. I only think some of a person’s sovereignty gets compromised in regards to a BTW initiation due to the taking of the measure because the initiate is allowing the coven to create an item to keep of them, that can be used against them if the coven or the HPS and HP see fit to do so.

      In the states joining another group can be tricky only because you’re often required to give a reference and that could be problematic depending on one’s former HPS or HP. Generally speaking, joining another coven shouldn’t be difficult.

      December 02, 2014
    • Yes, I have read the article, and still, I cannot understand the feelings or views you poser there. At least, they have no resemblance whatsoever with my Gardnerian training – it has all been about encouragement and trust.
      Regarding the measure, I still don’t see it as a big deal. To be honest, the coven holds deeper aspects of myself that could be quite more harmful used against me – I have shared very private and spiritual moments with them.
      I am just sorry that that was your experience. I only hope that other witches will always think twice before joining a group (and, needless to say, always verifing any lineage claims!! :D)
      Regards,
      Alder

      December 03, 2014
  • Fetch

    In my lineage, the measure as well as the initiatory ritual itself are regarded as metaphors and we hold our metaphors lightly. Initiations are human-level acknowledgements of spiritual events that we believe have already happened. The same holds true for elevations. So in other words, in an initiation ritual, we are saying that the candidate has already become a witch and we are making the statement. While some covens initiate at the beginning, most I know do so only after a period of dedication during which both the candidate and coven get to see how each fits the other.

    Our training program stresses self actualization above all else. People receive their measures back at 3rd Degree. Those that remain behind when others leave (as some inevitably do) aren’t seen as having any real power over the individual (remember, they’re metaphors).

    December 06, 2014
    • What lineage would that be Fetch? The measure being viewed as a metaphor would be something else entirely.

      December 06, 2014
  • Ruby

    Do you have an opinion regarding the possible situation in which an initiate receives their own measure back and wishes to destroy it?

    December 29, 2014
    • No. It is theirs to do with as they wish. I wouldn’t think that them destroying their own measure would matter all that much, but I think it would be the most appropriate thing to do.

      December 29, 2014
  • Waning Gibbous Moon

    Well, I’m a little late to the party, but I’ll throw my two cents worth in. All initiations suffer from the same defect, namely, they are a form of external validation. For acceptance into a group that’s fine — usually. But when it comes to personal development, they miss the point. Personal power cannot be bestow or transferred or granted. It’s like exercise, eating right, or meditation: you have to do it yourself. All too often, the degree system does nothing but inflate egos.

    June 16, 2015
    • Better late than never I say, as I too am late in replying to you! Thank you for your thoughts on the matter. I agree. 🙂

      August 01, 2015

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