A student asked me to speak about initiation, which can be difficult to do in a short blog, but since it is such an important topic, I am happy to oblige…
I often hesitate to talk about myself beyond broad strokes because I do not wish to sensationalize my experiences. I find myself questioning the authenticity of others at times because of my experiences in the spiritual space/community (when I do experience this bias, I always pull back and question it these days, but it is still there for good reason)… and I find that some who have experienced something like a near death experience, or has sight/sensitivity/psychic abilities, or does spiritual work, or has had some of the spiritual experiences I have had to capitalize on them and market them, or to share them as a sort of ego boost, in ways that I find distasteful (yes, of course there are people who are authentic and don’t do this).
There is also a lot of illusion out there, but really I find myself walking a fine line of sharing enough of myself to let others know that I may have some experiences that they could relate to, or that I could be of assistance to them in some fashion, and not wanting to slip into anything that may seem inauthentic. A lot of the reason that I do not talk about some of my experiences is because our media and pop culture shows people in this space to be rather false and unlikable. I do realize that this is to “grab” our attentions, and it is obvious that things do not appear this way to everyone, but as someone who has been obsessed with Truth (yes, capital “T”) for a long time, it still can admittedly make me a bit itchy to read most of the books and see the videos and talks and such in the same space as my own.
So that is a lot of talk about me… but I will say that some of my recent blogs have suffered a bit (thanks for those who found them helpful, though!) because I have been going through a huge transitory period from about October of last year. As a part of this I have been sort of tying up loose ends, releasing parts of me and my life that are the “old” me, as well as discovering what I am moving into.
And when I say suffered (just for clarity) I mean that I haven’t been talking really about relevant spiritual experiences because a lot of my thoughts and understandings and beliefs are in transition right now, so I am sort of clearing out the “old” ideas rather than chatting about the “new” (not like those ideas are not relevant, though), or what I have been experiencing lately.
And I will also say that some spiritual experiences are too difficult to discuss, or categorize. I find, as many others have, that our experiences in this world are on sort of a bell curve. If you are having spiritual experiences that are too far off that curve on one side or the other, not many will resonate with you. I no longer fear anyone thinking that I am (insert word here: crazy, imbalanced, lying, etc) but some things either defy explanation or are too far along that bell curve for me to adequately explain, at least now.
It is also hard when you are in the midst of something to have enough clarity to chat about it, especially if you are looking for others to read about it and know what the hell you are saying. Luckily, I am well aware when I am going through initiations (they are kind of hard to miss in my case, which has its good and bad points).
But again, enough about me…
The concept of initiation is really about rebirth.
It is a “death”, or release of the old, and ushering in of the new. It is typically a period of rapid expansion, and growth.
There are many natural initiations that we go through in our world (or we are intended to go through). Our move into childhood from infancy, into adolescence, and then into adulthood, and then into physical death/the dying process. These are all natural, or initiations we are all supposed to move through in our lives.
The difficulty, of course, is that we may not move into or through this initiation properly. I could easily start the next sentence “in olden days…”, but really in modern day we do not have many spiritual initiations. In some cases the bar or bat mitzvah, christenings, having a first child, and so forth sort of shove us into and through an initiation, but in many cases these ceremonies are (or can be) somewhat hollow, or at least rushed, and devoid of the spiritual aspects that really anchor the initiation into fruition.
We have a lot of people out there who have not fully moved into adulthood, or even adolescence. If there are aspects of ourselves that are largely unhealed (soul loss, abuse, something big happened, etc) there may be a large part of us “missing” who didn’t move through an initiation properly. For example, if we suffered a lot of child abuse or neglect as an infant, we may have not moved into childhood properly. If we made our way through high school as a gossip and someone who was vindictive to others in order to be popular, we may be hesitant to move out of that state into adulthood.
When we miss these initiation points, we do not fully “become”. This obviously can get a bit confusing as there may be a part of ourselves that is that abused infant who didn’t move into childhood, or become a teenager, or an adult… and another aspect of ourselves may be locked in teenager-hood, and another part of us may be a functioning adult. We are tricky creatures, and most of us are composed of parts that are frozen or locked into specific ages, and beyond healing them they also may need to be initiated into childhood, or adolescence, or adulthood, for them to not only heal but to no longer act from that age.
Although it sounds simple, one of the things I started doing a few years ago was asking myself what age I was acting from. I do this with others as well… it helps me to find compassion and love for them (you can only be so angry at someone who is acting from a place of a five year old, for example), but really whenever I get “triggered”, or feel emotional, I ask myself what age I am. Sometimes it can be quite obvious, but other times I do not want to admit that I am acting like a stubborn 15 year old, or like a two year old.
By healing these aspects of ourselves and then finding some simple way to initiate that part of ourselves into the next “era” (from childhood to adolescence, for example) we can start to “grow up” and initiate ourselves into being a whole adult. These initiations don’t have to be a huge thing, by the way. This week alone I have suggested someone listen to thrash metal (teenager), eat a cookie (child), and explore sexuality in an adult way (this is generalized, but we tend to relate sexually from much younger ages, and so finding a way to do so in a healthy, adult way can be quite a big deal). I generally tell people to tell these aspects of themselves that this is an initiation for them, just for clarity and intention purposes.
There are also, of course, initiations that are intended to allow us this death/rebirth cycle in other fashions.
I will try to relate this simply, but we have a pretty fixed world view. It is how we get through our days. We know what we know to be true about the world, and about ourselves. Sometimes this can (and hopefully will) go through gradual change, where we gradually learn, grow, and open as people.
Sometimes we have experiences like a death in the family, illness, divorce, marriage, and so forth that cause for us to rapidly go through an initiation– rapidly change and understand things in a different way.
But sometimes an initiation is really a sort of spiritual door. What I mean by that is that we go through a period of rapid perspective shift, or rapid change, of our beliefs and understandings about ourselves and the world changing to such an extent without any sort of stimulus (like a death, divorce, having a child, illness, or other life-changing event) and we may be confused. We may feel cloudy, or like we don’t know who we are. We may feel crazy, like nothing is true, or that everything is illusion.
This has happened to me because of some sort of spiritual stimuli before. Something that I thought this couldn’t possibly be true became an initiation for me. Learning that spirits are real, that things can physically manifest, that magic is actually possible, that spiritual energies can physically manifest, that ET”s, elementals, deities, grids, divine flow, and more can come through to us… each of these, and more, has been an initiation for me. They have caused for me to rapidly change who I am, what I believe, and what I know to be true.
Another form of initiation is spiritual dismemberment. You can click to read my old blog, but in meditations, dreams (or in waking reality, as I have found) in some way your body can be “destroyed”. The purpose of this is initiatory– to be put back together with new thoughts, realizations, and sometimes even skills. I have experienced a lot of these over the years (always in new, odd, sometimes grotesque, and fascinating ways) and I have learned to go with them as I now know that really fighting against anything of a certain magnitude is worse than going along with it.
That, and the fact that it serves a purpose. It often means that I will drop disempowering beliefs, thoughts about myself and the world that were blocking, or even physical complaints (this one is always a wake-up call, as it can still be hard for me to believe that a firmly entrenched physical pain or difficulty can be alleviated by a weird dream about being eaten by wolves or something).
Spiritual initiations also have an aspect of gaining an ability or spiritual connection to them as well. When we go through a spiritual initiation that is “magical” or “spiritual” in nature (meaning that all initiations are spiritual, but some are specific to our spiritual path or due to spiritual/magical work we may be doing), we may gain new capacity to heal, to work with energy, or to connect with a different type of energy/spirit than we had before.
No matter who we are, and how “spiritual” we are, our lives are always contracting and expanding. We are constantly going through small (and larger) “deaths”, we are consistently being reborn. Some of these are more major, or “initiatory”, where our beliefs and realizations about ourselves and the world change… and some of them are smaller, or less noticeable.
It is up to us if we get stuck in them or not. I work with a lot of people who are holding on to the end of their “death” when they have gone through this death/rebirth cycle. This is totally understandable, because change, especially rapid change, tends to freak us out. In our subconscious protective instincts we stop ourselves from moving forward.
But a lot of times we cause ourselves to be “stuck”, or not move through our initiation fully, out of habit. We are so used to who we used to be, what we used to think, what we used to know about ourselves and the world. The thought of becoming something new, even if it is something or someone that is freer, healthier, and with a deeper awareness/understanding of themselves and the world is scary.
Part of this is awareness. It is realizing that we are always going through initiations, but some of them may be longer (take more time), some of them may be larger (pack a wallop), and if we recognize that we may be going through one, this can often dissipate fear.
We can realize that we are moving into something new, a new “birth”, a new way of being. We can embrace that. Any steps we can do, even if they are simple (getting rid of old clothes, books that no longer resonate with you, for example) to state that we are willing to let go of some of the old to move into the new can be helpful. As can taking action for the “new” you– what does this new you think? What does this new you now think about themselves, and the world? Letting this new you shine, and taking action (such as going to a new class, reading a different kind of book, or expressing gratitude to them for coming through) can allow for the transition to go more smoothly.
It is funny looking at old blogs. Some of the blogs from a ways back were written 2-3 years ago. I have gone through a lot of change in that time, and I find that I no longer resonate with some of it. I am still keeping it all up, as it is kind of odd to have this static testament, and I do realize that some of them are read and appreciated (thanks for the support!), but as I am, yet again, going through a massive “death”/rebirth initiatory cycle, I find that even things I wrote about two months ago no longer fit who I currently am. I am embracing this, and excited to see where it goes (which is much different than my old kicking/screaming “why me” approach to spiritual initiations).
I will be re-starting my spiritual advice column, so if you have a question or something you wanted me to chat about (that would be helpful to others, as well as yourself), let me know