WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUAL INITIATION?
I feel this to be a powerful question because, for many, the process of initiation is misunderstood and the meaning is not clear in many modern-day, new age spiritual systems, particularly, here in the Diaspora.
The brief explanation is that initiation is important for you, the initiate, to obtain self realization of your true soul self. Initiation “is supposed” to open the door to you reaching your full spiritual potential. It enhances your current being, peeling away the illusions and false beliefs systems of the world around you. It is a process that is meant to illuminate and purify you. Initiation gives one a way to reconnect to the Divine self and to the Divinities and spiritual forces without.
The word initiation comes from the word “initium” which means entrance or beginning. This would mean that initiation is only the first step – the beginning – of a new spiritual or shamanistic journey. In many cultures, initiation is actually considered a “second birth” and a process for one to be born again. Now, many people are under the misconception that they are somehow complete by getting initiated. But as I said earlier, initiation is only the beginning and the first step in a series of steps. At this point, you are the baby – you know nothing, yet!
Many people have different motives for seeking initiation. One of the main reasons is to obtain spiritual knowledge of hidden secrets from those who hold certain secrets in a particular spiritual system. HOWEVER, initiations are not for everyone. Those accepted into initiation are usually those who either have something in them calling toward initiation or they have in them the potential to realize their true selves including the fortitude to carry out the conditions for obtaining those secrets which are not EASY. Those initiated can attest to that. Many people give up after getting initiated not realizing the responsibility and the arduous (difficult) tasks related to initiation and the path of growth afterward. So basically you have to have a certain quality within to even join certain initiatory systems.
The initiation process is one in which the initiate receives energy and the transmission of spiritual energy from higher beings. The energy coming from these spirit beings activates and opens the individual up helping them to enhance their already inherent gifts. The spirit energy you receive is “supposed to” support, protect, and help you to grow. This powerful energy from the spirit realm is “supposed to” give an individual illumination that will allow him or her to order their steps in life and develop their inner gifts and potentials.
Self development on a deep level, one of the most important aspects of initiation, is missing in many of today’s spiritual systems especially in the beginning stages. Because inner work is either missing or not adhered to, many people are becoming lost and confused within the system of choice. Inner work is an absolute must and is supposed to help the initiate grow step by step with the final goal being that you have fully realized your true soul self and can manifest your gifts at will. Mastery over the mind, thoughts, and emotions are essential if one is to garner power from the spirit world. Initiation is “supposed to” link the higher mind to the soul and then the soul to spirit forces. As a result, one is able to deal with everyday life in a purposeful and disciplined way.
“Spiritual initiation takes willingness – willingness to be different, to see further, to increase your experience of yourself and your reality. Initiation is an act of faith because we never really know where we will land as a result. We just know that we will be different.”
So summing it up, it’s not enough to get initiated. Steady development and growth must be happening every day, month, and year. Within your spiritual system of choice there must be clear processes for development that will help you on your journey. So to answer the question, initiation is important for those called toward this process as it will help them to develop, learn and actualize their potentials and true soul selves.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I SHOULD BE INITIATED?
Generally speaking, a person will seek initiation when they have a strong desire to know their true self. There is a feeling of wanting to be liberated from the everyday limitations and constructs of life. There is often a feeling of incompleteness or a void as if something is missing. Most people will start out on the journey inquiring and researching, reading books, and following specific teachers.
In most cases, a person is called by the spirit realm to be initiated or to become a shaman, guru, witch doctor, spirit medium, seer, healer, etc. This person will usually have a bloodline (other people) in the family that have been initiated in a particular system. This could be anywhere in the world. The spirit realm will call this person to continue in the family footsteps. It may be the soul’s calling/mission to follow a particular spiritual system and require you to become initiated.
For those who are aware of their spiritual mission, it may be better to accept the role voluntarily rather than having the initiation imposed and forced upon you. If one chooses to ignore the call or try to avoid their mission– the spirits will cause havoc in their lives or even make them ill until they do what they are supposed to do spiritually. Being initiated or becoming a shaman in many cultures is such a huge responsibility that the person called to the task will wait as long as humanly possible – trying to live and enjoy life before they have to give up so much. Then there are other people who just know that this is something that they want to do. These are usually individuals who have the fortitude, discipline, and inner strength to endure the arduous responsibilities of being an initiate and serving the people. In these cases, a person will need to make sure that they are seeking initiation (no matter the system) for all the right reasons.
Remember, initiation is supposed to align the initiate with powerful spirits or forces and give this individual access to secrets that are not openly or commonly known to the average person. The spirits or deities will recognize the new initiate as one of their own giving the individual access to many spiritual secrets including the ways of unlocking mysteries typically forbidden for those who are uninitiated.
If the initiation is done properly, the new initiate will have the ability to tap into the unseen and mysterious world of the spirits with authority and respect. If the initiation is not done properly or the new initiate is not taught the proper ways of dealing with the realm of spirit, many potential problems can occur – disturbing the life of the initiate.
Another way you can know if initiation is for you is through divination. However, this is tricky because in today’s time it is a bit difficult to discern if the elder doing the divination is telling you the truth or if they are pushing initiation just for the money, power, control, or using you as a trophy. These individuals will cater to your ego. They will say things like, “oh, you are going to big or you will have a thousand godchildren or you will be famous,” etc. I’m not saying that those things can’t happen, but before it does, you will go through many life changes and challenging circumstances that may not be comfortable. These people are dramatic and they love to romanticize the process of initiation. Many people fall for it only to later realize it’s not quite how it was explained to them. People will also hear things like “oh, if you get initiated things will get better – your life will change” or something like that. Yes, your life should absolutely get better, however, for many people it is not immediate although in cases where people are ill/sick I have seen a vast improvement. I’m not trying to scare anyone but many people have gotten initiated with high expectations only to find out that the picture was not exactly as told or things didn’t immediately get better as expected. And in some cases, if the initiation was done wrong or incomplete – things got worse. Fear tactics are also used to push people into initiation or multiple initiations in a short amount of time. There are good and trustworthy elders out there, but there are twice as many bad ones, so be careful.
So how do you know if spiritual initiation is for you? This is tricky. For some people, it will be crystal clear because the spirit world will send you all the signs and validate it for you. For other people, it may not be so easy to figure out. However, if you decide it’s something you would like to go through then you should definitely take your time (do not rush into it) and get to know the people who plan to initiate you. You have to look at the total picture and look into the lives of those wanting to initiate you. If things don’t look so good then that may not be the place for you.
Also, get it in your mind that after initiation, it will take many years for the energies of initiation to settle into you and for you to learn the secret knowledge of power, healing, protection, and commanding of the spirit realm. After initiation and while your spiritual journey unfolds it will require a lot of time and personal dedication on your part and may require a lot of money for your spiritual education. In many cases, in order to learn from the elders or your godparents you will spend a lot of time away from home. As far as the money, it is an investment into your spiritual future just like any other education like college or trade school.
My advise is to not fall for the romanticism of initiation and don’t get star struck by it. Don’t let your ego be stroked into initiation and don’t look toward initiation in a power hungry or drama-filled kind of way. There is nothing romantic about initiation or serving as a shaman. For cultures that take initiation very serious – it is a very difficult undertaking and in many cases will cause for much personal sacrifice. In some cases, the weight of the community will rest on your shoulders and the majority of you will be responsible for the wellness of other people’s lives. As a real calling – your life is no longer your own. It can be dirty, sweaty, gritty or physically challenging. You can have many sleepless days and nights. Your elders will be extremely strict and they won’t except excuses. It is a lot of responsibility. Again, I’m not trying to scare anyone – just telling it like it is. Initiation can be very beautiful and rewarding but not easy. Sometimes people get initiated and everything gets stripped from them and they begin to struggle through life – the tests begin. Individuals don’t realize that they will be tested a lot. How else would you grow your power? How else do you emerge victorious? The spirits will test your courage and your fortitude. Just put it this way – initiation is more than you may think so serious thought and careful consideration must go into your decision. I wish you peace on your journey.