Witch Heart: The Effects of Initiation

Witch Heart: The Effects of Initiation May 9, 2018
Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

(This post is part of an ongoing series exploring a new twist in my path –  you can read the first one here, but it’s not necessary.)

Nothing in Witchcraft is really unplanned, is it?

My reading choices for the plane ride to Rhode Island were relatively random, yet so beyond coincidental.

A few days earlier I had visited our local occult bookstore: Edge of the Circle while showing visiting friends around town. I always try to buy something to help support the shop, and this time I selected two books by Harpy Books. One of these included The Heart of the Initiate: Feri Lessons by Victor and Cora Anderson. They’re slim books, so great for carry-on reading.

The other book I loaded on to my tablet for digital reading – a preview copy of Jason Mankey’s Transformative Witchcraft (which will be out in early 2019, put it on your want list now!). I also brought along some fiction, but I didn’t crack those open until the flight home.

Obviously from the title of the first one, the topic of initiation comes up – and Jason also covers the subject extensively in his book. The fact was not lost upon me, as I sat in the evening darkness of the plane illuminated by my tablet, that I happened to be reading about initiation while on my way to one. It had been years since I had underwent or performed an initiation, and I’ve heard and read a lot about many kinds over the years – many styles, traditions, and systems.

Honestly I was really trying not to think about it too much.  As my friend Misha remarked to me last year about certain oathbound material that someone was considering publishing, certain things like initiations are better off as surprises. It’s supposed to be an experience, not an expectation.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

However, that sentiment does little in the face of the chronic over-thinker who also has a wealth of information standing by.  And accounts of initiation where people remark on how they felt it drastically changed how they saw the world (physically and/or spiritually), or awakened them in a new way, tapping them into a new source.  That’s a tall order for an experience to live up to.

I mean really, when you’ve been a Witch for over two decades, it’s an ever-deepening experience over time.  Can there really be a noticeable change at that point? Or worse, what if nothing is different at all? Hence, perhaps you can understand why I was trying not to focus on it too much.

So? What did happen?  Well, I’m not going to write about the ritual itself.  For reasons that should be obvious.

But I will share with you some of my thoughts and feelings after the initial experience.  I came home with a sense of being profoundly rooted in a way I haven’t quite experienced before – and more peaceful, at ease.  I feel deeply connected to a group of people – many of which I have never met prior to last week – that it feels like I woke up with a new extended family.  There are patterns I’ve normally sensed that are even more in focus. That all may not sound super witchy, but it’s definitely pulling at a metaphysical level within me.

“Witch Heart” – original painting by the author

I’m not going to lie – it’s a bit chaotic too.  Not that that is a bad thing, but rather it’s like finding that the map you’ve been holding on to, turns out to be part of a much larger map. Amazing, yet a bit disconcerting at the same time. Especially when you get the feeling that someone else has had a peek at the larger map for a while longer than you have.

Overall, I’m left with a sense that I’m definitely embarking on a new journey, and I’m wondering what to pack.

Oddly I’m also reminded of something that happened 8 years ago.  That year, a new mentor/teacher entered into my life through dance. I remember being in one of their workshops and feeling overwhelmed with the urge to cry.  I felt so at home in the style of dance, the music, the energy of the room – and I couldn’t remember the last time that I felt like that in a classroom.  Later that year, the teacher gave me a reading and announced that my throat and heart chakras were blocked.  Now, chakras were and are not part of my practice, and at the time I really wasn’t sure what to make of that. Now I would call that area the Cauldron of Motion – what moves YOU in life.  In retrospect I can see that due to the relationship I was in, I had essentially shut that part of myself down – for protection. I had stopped moving for me and was going through the motions to survive. Through the course of the next year, that cauldron would be upended, the contents spilled all over.  After the mess was made, things were truly set in motion, for all of the right reasons.  It wasn’t a formal initiation into a specific path, but it certainly was an “action of beginning something.”

I’ve kept my Witch’s heart in good condition since then – so there’s a sense of a new and exciting phase, which will bring changes.  Regardless of how, when, or where an initiation takes place –  the bottom line is you are beginning something.  The effects won’t be all apparent at once, but instead will be something you’ll be able to look back at, and see where the heart first started to beat its own rhythm, the start of threads, the weaving of worlds.

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