The name of this website has become a bit of a joke. Power and Wisdom come very much hand in hand. Most teachers will try to guide a student to wisely handling power they will be receiving soon. This is the smart/safe way to teach as by the time the student obtains power they have been guided through the teachers experience and knowledge to avoid the most common mistakes. To give someone power before giving them wisdom can be like handing detonators and C4 to a classroom of kids.
When I started writing Power Before Wisdom I was like a kid who had survived the experience of playing with C4 and detonators. I had this incredibly destructive mindset that people should have the opportunity to learn through risk and blood and originally intended to pass out the C4 and Detonators to anyone willing to take them. At the time I didn't understand that the wisdom of people's higher self would likely result in people who couldn't handle the risk either not understanding what I was sharing or just plain not finding the material. For a while I got to watch people come to the site, and the few that learned expressed the power I shared noisily and excitedly. It was a LOT of fun.
I had earned the wisdom of experience, and I watched people around me studying all kinds of crap with what I considered useless teachings and warnings about stuff the teachers had no clue about let alone the students.
Only in religion is it possible to have so many layers of protection that people forget the core reason for the earliest layers of protection. I actually encounter people who believe that the law of silence is about some sort of secrecy oath and that they will die if they break silence about the “secrets” of their traditions. While some traditions DO have oaths with juice to hurt you for breaking them, I can't understand a person in a magickal tradition not knowing that the law of silence is a rule that supports successful magick.
Because of my experience seeming more effective than most of the crap I saw others sharing, I started teaching and sharing. However along the way, People's questions helped me understand that there were a lot of details that I had missed. I learned that there was a lot more I needed to learn to help them... and suddenly a lot of the “crap” I'd seen others teaching started making more sense. When I went back and studied their “crap” in conjunction with the power I already had, I became much, MUCH more effective.
The Place of Lineage in Personal Growth
In the end I learned lineage can share power, wisdom to avoid self-destruction and techniques/perspectives to enhance the effectiveness of the power received.
Think of lineage this way:
Chance, a teacher and a lineage can all teach you to make nitroglycerin (Give you power)
Experience, a teacher and a lineage can all show you that nitroglycerin is explosive.
Both a teacher and a lineage can tell you that mixing it with diatomaceous earth can stabilize it.
Only a Lineage can tell you that small amounts of nitroglycerin taken orally can stabilize an erratic heartbeat.
By now you should know that spirit can actually give you all of this, however the more subtle and of limited use the knowledge is, the more likely you won't notice it without being taught it specifically. It's not that you'll never find the subtle understandings and techniques. You probably will find a few. It's just that you are more likely to not notice them as you live your life whereas a lineage can help point them out when you come to a point in your life where they may be helpful to you.
In the end these subtle understandings and techniques are often more helpful than the primary value one finds in a new technique/tool; however without a series of teachers and students working together there will likely never be a large enough conglomeration of these “special uses” to be of major value. A healthy and experienced tradition still connected with its power can offer people both the experience of their teacher AND the lessons of the teacher's teachers and their teachers... and so on.
What does this have to do with receiving an initiation? Mostly as a why. Why would you associate with the old/smelly/ugly/mean/other-bad-stuff “master” when you can just take the power and run?
Because they know ways you can avoid hurting yourself, they know intricacies about how to apply it and they have experience with many of the unexpected consequences that you can either learn for yourself through pain and loss or learn through someone else's experience.
Imperfect Teachers / Masters
Western culture has this misconception that the someone has to be perfect in order to be a teacher of spirituality or mysticism. I can't tell you how many times I've watched people either quit working with a teacher upon learning of personal issues they have, or lie to themselves about the flaws of their teacher as if somehow admitting they weren't perfect meant the teachings had no value.
I have had teachers who couldn't hold down a job, who couldn't handle money, who had sex addictions, who had chemical addictions and more. In the end I took what could help me and let go of worrying about the rest. I recommend you do the same. No one person is perfect and nobody knows everything, but a good teacher will help you through experience, perspective, connections and lineage.
Seriously... imperfection is NOT an excuse to ignore your teachers. Listen to them. Like everything else, weigh their words. Don't follow their advice if you are sure they are wrong or dangerous, but if they are asking you to do something you've never done before and you don't have a better plan that is different from the last time you failed to overcome the challenge you are facing, give their idea a shot. You will be tempted to assume they are wrong because their idea doesn't seem perfect, but if an idea is 10% better than your idea (that didn't work) it is still an improvement.
Magickal Initiation and Ceremony
Ok... now that I have helped you avoid the most common destructive mistake that would lead to you becoming like 99% of the half-trained gits out there, let's go over the magickal aspects of initiation.
There are two aspects to an effective initiation. First is the ceremonial ending of one aspect of ones life and the beginning of another aspect. It could be as simple as a handshake which signifies the end of ones life without a teacher and the beginning of ones life with one. It draws a line for us subconsciously and allows us to accept the new reality. This opens doors in our thinking that weren't open before.
The other aspect to a successful initiation is the “Transfer of Power.” Most people think that this is some sort of astounding ceremony where they suddenly find themselves in control of new powers of the universe they didn't have control of before.
The fact is that this is a very internal transformation. This part of an initiation is about tickling understandings by helping you experience the other person's understanding of it.
Initiations can be as subtle as deepening or fleshing-out your connection with something you already have, as defining as introducing you to someone/something you hadn't encountered before in this life, or as intense as breaking through barriers life experiences or social conditioning put into place.
High Energy Initiations and Glowing
Initiations are SERIOUSLY fun to be involved in on both sides. While the breaking-through-barriers-initiations tend to be explosive and painful in the process, most initiations leave people incredibly joyful after completion. People express SO MUCH energy that it feels like they have experienced enlightenment... which in a way they did. They gained more light (aka connection to source/their higher self) and they did it so quickly that they are glowing due to not quite adapting to handle so much yet.
People will eventually stop “glowing,” which can feel like the effect of the initiation has gone away; however the glow is literally a consequence of pushing oneself and manifesting more strongly than one normally does. When people stop glowing, they simply have either adapted to expressing more energy/light in their day to day lives or reduced the amount of energy/light toward more normal levels, usually a bit of both.
The glow can be experienced on a regular basis by pushing yourself to express more energy/light/connection to source than you normally handle. However, it will rarely feel as impressive as a powerful initiation due to the amount of energy input and life changes involved in a well crafted high-intensity magickal initiation.
Don't get addicted to the excitement of the energy high... or at least don't make the mistake of thinking that an Energy High is an initiation. If you want to be an energy high junkie, do us all a favor and admit your drug of choice without needing to try to claim that you are doing a ton of personal growth with every high you go find. At this point addiction to magickal energy is one of the least stigmatized aspects of magickal practice so there is no real excuse to try to hide it. ;-)
Recognizing an Effective Initiation
The true judge of an initiation is how your life changes. Take note of how your life was before and after an initiation. I have experienced initiations that seemed minor and yet my entire life changed. There are a lot of techniques for fun/interesting and powerful initiations but in the end they are all simply a means to the goal of a transformation of self.
One of my favorite things about the Path of Ifa (African Divination/Orisha Tradition) that I initiated into, is the efficacy of the initiatory process. Without telling secrets, all of the elements of excellent initiation are put together. Ceremony, Altered states of consciousness (Which make connecting with spirit, accepting risk and change easier), Lots of Physical and Metaphysical Energy and a very effective process for the Transfer of Power. Additionally having to travel somewhere new and different from our home resulted in the idea of change being an easy one to connect to. Not all aspects may be necessary for a single person's initiation, but having so many tools in one place greatly improves the chances of the understanding being received by the initiate.
At this point you understand why you might want to initiate, why a teacher is a good idea and some ideas on how to maintain the relationship, and enough about the ritual process to support it without confusing the situation with more information than you need. Believe it or not knowledge is one of the biggest hurdles to effective initiation. A master of the process of initiation will learn how to delay analyzing the experience even though they know all of the why's, what's and hows.
It is incredibly important to be in an open or questioning mindset when receiving initiation so I'm not going to burden you with the challenge of too much understanding of the details yet. Please experience the process of receiving an effective initiation before you study the process of giving one. All of the knowledge in the world will not help you truly understand the experience until you have gone through it. Some things just can't be said with words.
Failing to Initiate
It is possible to fail to initiate. You can choose NOT to change the perspective or understandings that the initiation was meant to impart.
The most common mistake throughout religious history is to:
Fail to initiate into where the value of the teachings become obvious and useful
Teach the concepts to others without the ability to initiate the others into the power of the tradition
This is where runaway traditions come from. The place where people take holy scriptures and bring forth unholiness in complete contrast to the original idea.
When an idea has no connection to spirit to make it valuable or useful, it is easy to be twisted by mishearings and reinterpretations. A couple generations of that and you'll have a spaghetti pile of broken concepts and confused retellings with nuggets of true wisdom hidden within.
Let me be clear. If someone tries to teach you religious concepts that make no sense, than you are dealing with either:
Lessons you have to potential to initiate into.
Complete bullshit that was passed onto your teacher and they are simply forwarding as well as they can.
Cultural Confusion based on ideas/concepts that made sense from the perspective of the persons living in the culture at the time of the writing/oral transfer.
I strongly recommend that if you find yourself in possession of these nonsensical tidbits that you avoid trying to reteach them with any sort of dogmatic sense of importance. Maybe you will want to share them as interesting notes that might possibly become useful to someone in the future, but please avoid filling the world with more dogmatic bullshit than there absolutely has to be.
Good Luck and Have Fun.