Author Topic: Aspects of Initiation  (Read 1463 times)

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September 02, 2013, 02:42:12 PM
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Mind_Bender

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Someone asked me to write an article on this, so here goes, I hope you can at least glean some good information. This is a personal understanding, not a traditional view or an Order manifesto (which I am not a part of anyway).

Various schools of thought have an age range in which they elect to teach new members and pass down certain teachings. In Buddhism it is said you can not gain Enlightenment until you are at least 36. Many argue it is a significant number (3+6=9, a very powerful number in the Buddhist, and most mystical, traditions), but the easiest historical answer to this dogma is because that is the age Buddha became Enlightened under the Boddhi Tree. The ancient Daoists never let anyone one younger than their forties enter a temple nor become an adept of the teachings. Similar to the Qabalistic viewpoint, you should not be under forty, should have a loving wife and children to show you are mature enough, responsible enough, and possibly, have enough of God's Holy Grace to bless you with a family and Qabalalist mentor or tradition. It was okay for a Qabalist to take on a wife because she represented Shekinah, the Female Aspect or God's Blessing depending on your beliefs. When the Qabalist made love it  acted as a prayer to God for all the Pleasures and Bounty of Creation. When the Qabalist was away the Shekinah Spirit kept him in power, so it was his duty to offer prayer and homage to Shekinah by the pleasuring of ones wife when he returned.

There are a lot of significances behind the meaning of numbers, from the Runic Alphabet, Hebrew Alphabet, Greek Alphabet and various form of number divination- Gematria, Pythogorian Numerology, Astrological Significance of the number (which my knowledge of astrology is slim), etc. For example, let's say the exact age of joining a Qabalistic mentorship is 43. By the practice of Numerology, using the Pythagorean method (add all numbers until you end up with a prime), you reach the number 7. Seven is another very holy number. 777 is said to represent the Halls of Heavan (although it breaks down into 3, the Trinity aspect). 7, which would be important for the Qabalists, is also the Chariot Trump/Major Arcana, which an old school of Jewish Mysticism modeled entierely off of the biblical mythology of the Chariot, called Merkavah or Merkabah. The Merkabah, or Chariot of God, is the vision Ezekial had of the Flaming Pillars, Four Holy Creatures (Hayoth Ha-Kodesh- aligned with Kether and the Archangel Metatron, or Thaumiel and Kings Satan and Moloch). I know little of the path besides this, but it gives you an insight into why age is so important to the traditional mystical master-disciple relationships.

Another aspect of initiation is far removed from numerology and mysticism, and more to do with mental and physical maturity. Take Boddhidharma for example- could he have sat under that Boddhi tree without moving and just letting his thoughts pass, or be in a void state, without being somewhat mentally and physically mature? The Dharma is not meant for children, not because they should not enjoy it nor follow it, but because they are written in parable and metaphor, that of which most children cannot comprehend, at least not the deeper meanings. You needed to be somewhat intelligent and literate to follow any mystical path and the Buddhist path was no exception. Buddhism was traditionally a patriarchal society and religion, meaning no women were allowed to become an adept let alone Enlightened, because they were thought to be spiritually impure. From my understanding of patriarchal societies, the men probably thought the females were also unintelligent, not able to grasp the deeper meanings of the Dharma (funny thing, most women these days seem to have the best handle on matters of intuition and spirit). The female had to come back as a male the next life in order to reach Nirvana.

From all schools of mysticism there are thousands of scriptures to be read, recited and a few memorized and you could not do this without a pretty good education in writing and reading. The Medieval Ceremonial Magicians are another example of a mystical patriarchal and path for the learned... and noble. A common villager did not have the money, schooling, or innovation to create or perform such elaborate rituals wrought with sigils, precious gems and stones, rare and hallucinogenic plants and perfumes and Latin, Hebrew or Greek incantations and prayers, and the various other tools and magical goodies. Not only do you need to be learned, but your mind has to be able to concentrate long enough to absorb the theory and memorize the calls and physical maturity to feel your self as authority over infernal or celestial entities and the strength and endurance to last in ritual for lengthy amounts of time. The hands on mystical, martial and magical paths have nothing to do with how spiritually and faithfully you feel and act towards your ideal of divinity and how much compassion you express (although this is a very noble path which mysticism need not have any part for its positive transformational affects on self and others), but how much knowledge you can contain, how many techniques you can perform, how many orations you can speak or yell at a moments notice.

If you search for the Greek 'Chakra' system you will find they do not relate to the body parts, (and more closely aligned with traditional Hindu thought) but to the stages in life and aspects of maturity. Every 8 years or so does the body and mind change so a new set of skills can be learned and the old can be improved upon or discarded. It is even said by certain biologists (this was in the early 90's) that our body reproduces its entire cellular makeup every 8-12 years- this is the same numerological significance the Greeks thought the body matured- every 8 years, making a complete human every 64 years (6+4=10 1+0= 1. 1 Represents unity, love, in the this case, new beginning). Maybe it ended at 64 because that was the average lifespan, but that is just conjecture.

I have not seen any charts that exceed 12-15 years of age unless it is for the mentally ill, but behavioral psychologists have mapped out a set of physical, mental and emotional signs of progress for child therapists, teachers and pediatricians. If memory serves me, at birth you are nothing but a ball of cute, chubby and new to the world. You are interested and play with EVERYTHING. At around 2 you begin to become a little bit more independent, crawling and even talking. At 5 you are starting to become social, going to school, making friends, etc. You are on your first steps to individuality. At 8 you discover deeper aspects of yourself, like whether you like Transformers or Justice League better, white or black chocolate milk, etc. You are a 'big boy' or 'big girl' now (this also starts around 5). At 12-15 you begin to have sexual and emotional feelings, causing insecurity, frustration, confusion, or a popularity streak. At 18 it seems you would begin the process over ad infinitum until your body no longer is valuable on this planet.

In martial arts you cannot get your black belt until you are at least 16. This is do to muscular, mental and emotional maturity. In martial arts you are expected to treat your fellow students with the utmost respect, even if you they hit you harder than you though possible, because that is what a traditional martial arts hall is all about- practical defense and offense not pretty movements and fancy clothing. If you are not mature enough to take a solid hit and hit back with no attachment to emotion you do not need to be in the training space. Not only does your mind have to be strong not to quite over some pain, but the body has to be strong enough to endure the tough training. A lot of schools allow young children to become black belts for money, the child's confidence, or what have you, but these children cannot use their skills against a matured adult- whether or not they are trained. The children's bodies are still growing thus it is not strong enough to develop, let alone use, true martial power. Most modern martial arts schools also mainly concentrate of ethics, morals and forms, which is fine, but there is no solid foundation or initiation for the students in practical application.

The Chinese teach principles per level, thus you are gaining not only martial skill but know what is happening to your body and why- not just punching, kicking and yelling in different directions. One of the main principles the Chinese masters teach is the awareness and harmonization of the Three Treasures of Jing, Qi and Shen, or life essence, breath essence and mind essence, respectively. Each principle takes 7-10 years to master so it is very much an initiative process (and was meant to be so- the Wudang and Shaolin masters, and a few others, still use ritual to induct new members, especially close disciples. The initiation passes a form of intuitive knowing to the student so they are better assimilated to their Sifu (master) and can learn quicker and more proficiently because of their initiation). At the level of Jing you strengthen the body through calisthenics, weight lifting, Iron Body, fighting, etc. At the level of QI you learn to flow, to feel, expand your awareness and hit with internal power, disrupting organs and energetic alignment. At Shen level you take it to the priestly/mystic level- you are said to have the ability to use vocalizations to fell an enemy, a touch to kill (dim mak, kyoshu- pressure point fighting), etc. Each level also expects you can uphold the laws of society and stick up for those that cannot do it for themselves. Many traditional styles had you take an oath before the teacher accepted you- you had to be of the highest moral character before you learned these deadly skills. There are even stories of masters that quit teaching because they had to use their skills on the unlucky, or taught a student who used the skill. Kanbun Uechi is a great example, founder of Uechi-Ryu (Style of Uechi [family name]).

We'll end with a traditional, simple, ladder of initiation- the Four Powers of the Sphinx.

TO KNOW- Know yourself and what you are getting into. Study and contemplate. 'Know Thyself' was inscribed at the entrance to a temple dedicated to Apollo as a warning through initiation- if you are not aware nor in somewhat control over your wants, needs, fears and strengths, the path of initiation may very well destroy you. In Pythagorus' Order you were not allowed to speak for the first 6 years, only study and apply what you studied- all to get to know yourself on this deepest level possible, and this fits in perfectly with the last of the Four Powers.

TO WILL- By knowing yourself, strengths and limits you have more freedom to will, or place desire in the ether or within yourself to change accordingly. Will is building up the desire to take the first step. This is the launching of desire, in the case of initiation, you are beginning to take better control over yourself and environment. WIthout will, what is the point of a warrior or magical path? Each has a desire and this desire is for survival and wisdom.

TO DARE- Push your limits. You cannot transform or transmute yourself alchemically if you are too afraid to look within or take a step outside of your comfort zone. Dare to do something that just may change your life and habits. Dare to destroy your very being for the sake of your Initiation.

TO KEEP SILENT- When you know yourself, will yourself to continue down the winding path and dare to transform yourself and outer world, there is not much left to do but to contemplate on your achievements. To Know and to Keep Silent are in reality almost identical, the difference being, before you only knew yourself and now you know yourself as an emanation or child of the divine, or an applied scholar of the mysterious realities that await us in dream time, meditation and after physical decay. Another, more traditional, aspect is to not talk of your involvement in the Occult and Forbidden arts and especially not about any ritual or spell workings, as this is said to  take away from the efficacy of the spell of ritual, and you you could get prosecuted and killed like during the Inquisition.

An aspect of initiation I want to touch upon before I am done is solitary initiation. There are many out there who cannot find a local occult current or chapter nor can they afford it, or they simply do not want to be restricted within Order walls and guidelines. How is initiation thus achieved without the Knighting by another adept? It's an act of intuition and trust in your knowledge and application thereof. This type of initiation is usually not valid within occult orders because they have their own rituals and dogmas to be strictly adhered to, but being that it is a solitary initiation and for those truly individual practitioners, that is not a problem. This type of solitary practice is not by the choice of, "I am going to initiate myself into the Mysteries, so it is done!" it is more of a gradual process, ups and downs, doubts, courage and daring that keeps you going. The principles of the Four Powers of the Sphinx are good to take with you on your journey through self-initiation. There are many books written to help the self-initiate such as Frater UD's two volume sets of High Magic: Theory and Practice, Anton Channing's Kaos Heiroglyphica, Michael Kelly's Apophis and Aegishjalmr, and handfuls of others from Golden Traditions to Sinister Traditions if you know where to look. But there is so little you can pick up from a book, there needs to also be a lot of self-exploration and intuitive nudges of techniques and theories aside from your training manuals. Self-initiation is more about intuitive guidance, or teachings from a Patron or Servitor of Initiation. Initiation is a natural process as you have seen, it is only taken down to the bare essentials with magical tricks in the occult orders. Lying down, staring at the stars, letting the Full Moons light engulf you with a sincere prayer to Hecate, or any other moon deity, is a form of initiation in itself as long as you let the dark energies, or Goddess' Grace, consume and transform you. When you feel a call, a deep resounding call and various odd sensations pulling you to do a rite of devotion or powerful act of magic, even if it is outside of ritual design and simple, yet you know it will be a transformative process, or becomes one after the end of the rite, you have just been initiated. Just sitting under the Moon and praying is an act of devotion, but it's that call, that bump, nudge and screaming in the ears and pulling of the gut to perform a rite, and performing the rite, that leads to initiation. Why should temples, their manuals and/or clergy be the only places to be initiated into the Great Work and Mystery?

Resources and Suggested Reading:
Wikipedia
Fire and Ice by Stephen Flowers
Seven Doaist Immortals by Eva Wong
Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius
Teach Yourself: Essential NLP by Amanda Vickers
Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman
Kung Fu Magazine
Black Belt Magzine
Okinawan Karate by Mark Bishop
Uechi-Ryu Karate and the Mysteries of Okinawa by Alan Dollar
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 07:08:03 PM by Mind_Bender »
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

September 02, 2013, 05:57:00 PM
Reply #1

kobok

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the Greeks thought the body matured- every 8 years, making a complete human every 64 years (6+4=11. 1+1=2. 2 represents duality, opposites, love, in the this case, new beginnings and choice over faith).

Juuust for the record, but 6+4 usually equals 10.  :)
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September 02, 2013, 07:09:07 PM
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Mind_Bender

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Ha-ha! :biggrin:

I changed that, thank you.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

September 02, 2013, 08:34:57 PM
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Theopholis

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No one has ever written an article at my request before; how cool!

I look forward to growing older and experiencing more of these things. I think american society tends to push us to rush our development, and to have things mastered by the age of 25-30, and I've always felt like it should take much longer.

It's interesting that some of these traditions are just beginning at an age when many people I know are getting ready to fully commit to careers, and when others are ready to retire.

I'm not sure what else I could say. Very informative, well written. I'll have to re-read this whenever I feel the urge to rush.

Thank you Mind_Bender.
And if that doesn't work, try focal meditation.

September 02, 2013, 09:38:31 PM
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Mind_Bender

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You're welcome, Theopholis, I am glad you enjoyed it. I find the same problem with much of society as well and why, although I am not associated, I love the philosophy and practices of Initiatory schools. I think the biggest problem is many of us have forgotten the practicality in a well formed Initiatiatory system for the sluggish and mediocre life of corporate jobs and suburban suicide, and the fear or a lazy eye toward the discipline it takes to succeed in an Initiatory lifestyle.

If we treated University life a little more like a temple, or at least incorporated body-mind integration techniques, the students could gain much more than academic degrees with an added boost of universal principles and their applications. Teaching more from an engineers stand point than a preachers- hands on experience verses book work and dissertation
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

September 11, 2013, 02:42:40 AM
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EllyEve

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Very interesting! Thank you so much for this, MB.

From my understanding of patriarchal societies, the men probably thought the females were also unintelligent, not able to grasp the deeper meanings of the Dharma (funny thing, most women these days seem to have the best handle on matters of intuition and spirit). The female had to come back as a male the next life in order to reach Nirvana.

For a philosophy committed to seeing past illusions, it does disappoint me to see that they didn't consider social norms more of an innate obstacle to Nirvana than body structure. Though, I have heard of at least a couple of female Bodhisattvas... Tara, and Kuan Yin?

Women in the modern world might be encouraged to pursue intuition and spirit for different reasons. This was, I heard, the case with seidhr (Icelandic shamanism) that it was a practice exclusively for women because it involved a surrender of conscious control that would be considered unmanly. I would also point out that much of the "divine feminine" seems to have its roots in femininity as stereotype rather than archetype: There's normal, ordinary, understandable people who are men, and then there's the overly emotional and impossible-to-understand-or-communicate-with woman as a mysterious magical creature (rather than half the human race).

Quote
The hands on mystical, martial and magical paths have nothing to do with how spiritually and faithfully you feel and act towards your ideal of divinity and how much compassion you express (although this is a very noble path which mysticism need not have any part for its positive transformational affects on self and others), but how much knowledge you can contain, how many techniques you can perform, how many orations you can speak or yell at a moments notice.

I've been trying to organize my thoughts on this as well, the difference or relation between virtue and power. Meditation for siddhis and not for enlightenment, for example. My personal conjecture is that any process towards power that will actually grant one power... will also correct for virtue by the nature of its own process.

As it relates to everything else, my idea is that you don't need to be mature-according-to-somebody-else to be initiated, because you'd only have your interest piqued, only be satisfied by the actionable metaphysics... if you were ready, at the level you're at. But that might just be wishful thinking.

Quote
If memory serves me, at birth you are nothing but a ball of cute, chubby and new to the world. You are interested and play with EVERYTHING. At around 2 you begin to become a little bit more independent, crawling and even talking. At 5 you are starting to become social, going to school, making friends, etc. You are on your first steps to individuality. At 8 you discover deeper aspects of yourself, like whether you like Transformers or Justice League better, white or black chocolate milk, etc. You are a 'big boy' or 'big girl' now (this also starts around 5). At 12-15 you begin to have sexual and emotional feelings, causing insecurity, frustration, confusion, or a popularity streak. At 18 it seems you would begin the process over ad infinitum until your body no longer is valuable on this planet.  (...) A lot of schools allow young children to become black belts for money, the child's confidence, or what have you, but these children cannot use their skills against a matured adult- whether or not they are trained. The children's bodies are still growing thus it is not strong enough to develop, let alone use, true martial power. Most modern martial arts schools also mainly concentrate of ethics, morals and forms, which is fine, but there is no solid foundation or initiation for the students in practical application.


I does rub me wrong when anybody gets condescended to about spiritual pursuits for being too much of a whippersnapper, although I must admit that nobody springs from the womb with the mechanical mastery of thought and speech. I would expect to converse with a twelve-year-old about spiritual philosophy with the same mutual respect as with an octogenarian, so when I hear anything along the lines of, "ugh, another wannabe occultist fourteen-year-old" then I snap to their defense.

It's only my personal principles that keep me doing that, because the pubescent in question has always, without exception, sunken to my opponent's low expectations. It's very very strange, because I wasn't like that at fourteen, none of my friends were like that at fourteen, and if (gods willing) I would found an initiatory order? Ageism would be the first prejudice to break down. Experience tells me that will bite me in the ass for sure, but I refuse to believe that I was ever precocious.

Quote
An aspect of initiation I want to touch upon before I am done is solitary initiation. There are many out there who cannot find a local occult current or chapter nor can they afford it, or they simply do not want to be restricted within Order walls and guidelines. How is initiation thus achieved without the Knighting by another adept? It's an act of intuition and trust in your knowledge and application thereof. This type of initiation is usually not valid within occult orders because they have their own rituals and dogmas to be strictly adhered to, but being that it is a solitary initiation and for those truly individual practitioners, that is not a problem. This type of solitary practice is not by the choice of, "I am going to initiate myself into the Mysteries, so it is done!" it is more of a gradual process, ups and downs, doubts, courage and daring that keeps you going. The principles of the Four Powers of the Sphinx are good to take with you on your journey through self-initiation. There are many books written to help the self-initiate such as Frater UD's two volume sets of High Magic: Theory and Practice, Anton Channing's Kaos Heiroglyphica, Michael Kelly's Apophis and Aegishjalmr, and handfuls of others from Golden Traditions to Sinister Traditions if you know where to look. But there is so little you can pick up from a book, there needs to also be a lot of self-exploration and intuitive nudges of techniques and theories aside from your training manuals. Self-initiation is more about intuitive guidance, or teachings from a Patron or Servitor of Initiation. Initiation is a natural process as you have seen, it is only taken down to the bare essentials with magical tricks in the occult orders. Lying down, staring at the stars, letting the Full Moons light engulf you with a sincere prayer to Hecate, or any other moon deity, is a form of initiation in itself as long as you let the dark energies, or Goddess' Grace, consume and transform you. When you feel a call, a deep resounding call and various odd sensations pulling you to do a rite of devotion or powerful act of magic, even if it is outside of ritual design and simple, yet you know it will be a transformative process, or becomes one after the end of the rite, you have just been initiated. Just sitting under the Moon and praying is an act of devotion, but it's that call, that bump, nudge and screaming in the ears and pulling of the gut to perform a rite, and performing the rite, that leads to initiation. Why should temples, their manuals and/or clergy be the only places to be initiated into the Great Work and Mystery?

Well said. I think another word for self-initiation is "awakening". I do enjoy the shape of communities of self-initiates which seems to have this air of benevolent anarchy.

September 11, 2013, 11:58:56 AM
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Mind_Bender

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For a philosophy committed to seeing past illusions, it does disappoint me to see that they didn't consider social norms more of an innate obstacle to Nirvana than body structure. Though, I have heard of at least a couple of female Bodhisattvas... Tara, and Kuan Yin?

Kuan Yin is the feminized form of Avolkiteshvara (or Chenrizig) the Thousand Armed Buddha of Compassion. Tara is originally Hindu, and they started as a matriarchal, or at least more balanced, perspective of the cosmos and the Buddhists took her to in to balance the masculine/feminine poles. In certain TIbetan temples they chant Om Mani Padme Hum in the morning (for Avolakiteshvara) and Om Tare Tuttare Ture Swaha at night for Tara. There are other reason Tara was added into the mix, but I forget. I also find it a bit depressing that one of my favorite psycho-spiritual paths was so patriarchal and close minded- thankfully they evolved past that bigotry, at least so far as I can tell.

Women in the modern world might be encouraged to pursue intuition and spirit for different reasons. This was, I heard, the case with seidhr (Icelandic shamanism) that it was a practice exclusively for women because it involved a surrender of conscious control that would be considered unmanly. I would also point out that much of the "divine feminine" seems to have its roots in femininity as stereotype rather than archetype: There's normal, ordinary, understandable people who are men, and then there's the overly emotional and impossible-to-understand-or-communicate-with woman as a mysterious magical creature (rather than half the human race).

I have read about the seidhr aspect as well. It was Odin who was the first male to learn seidhr from Freyja, and it was Odin who taught Freyja galdr (runic magical chant) because seidhr was such a wonderful gift to Odin given by the Vanir Princess (Queen?). The Norse spiritual path seems to be quite balanced. I read somewhere that the male warriors and priests were said to embody a female spirit, and the female warriors were said to embody a male spirit- a very different view than what I am not used to, but it is nice to see an ancient culture, especially so close to Europe, where the woman are seen as at least equal to the men. Egypt was another matriarchal society, that's why you see so many glyphs with the men wearing long haired head dresses. Egyptians understood woman not as creatures to be feared but as highly intuitive and spiritually connected individuals- I watched that a while back on a documentary, but it makes me wonder because all the Pharoahs were men, except two that I can recall, Nefrititi and Cleopatra- that doesn't sound very matriarchal to me, but after Egyptian religion was dogmatized into monotheism, I guess the natural course is masculine chauvinism and genitalia measuring- or our history books just decided to leave out all the strong women Pharoahs.

I've been trying to organize my thoughts on this as well, the difference or relation between virtue and power. Meditation for siddhis and not for enlightenment, for example. My personal conjecture is that any process towards power that will actually grant one power... will also correct for virtue by the nature of its own process.

That's what I believe as well with the Siddhis, PK, etc. I think they are not only natural but should be sought after, harnessed and strengthened for the potential of human evolution. They are not spiritual merit badges but aspects of the human self that we have forgotten and forsaken and we need to reclaim these gifts, at least in my opinion. To gain Siddhis takes tremendous discipline and awareness of the subtle changes within and without, this for sure must be correct any subtle and gross imbalances of the seeker.

As it relates to everything else, my idea is that you don't need to be mature-according-to-somebody-else to be initiated, because you'd only have your interest piqued, only be satisfied by the actionable metaphysics... if you were ready, at the level you're at. But that might just be wishful thinking.

This is why I mention the ups and downs, doubts and other obstacles, and a strong intuitive nudge you just can't ignore, before you initiate yourself. I think initiation occurs naturally, some of us are just more in tune with the process than others, some of us are blinded and some need a mentor to gain any tangible and evolutionary results. I think it all hangs on your personality and trust in your own abilities and accomplishments. There doesn't have to be a ritual, but sometimes that added flare is nice to set a mood.

I does rub me wrong when anybody gets condescended to about spiritual pursuits for being too much of a whippersnapper, although I must admit that nobody springs from the womb with the mechanical mastery of thought and speech. I would expect to converse with a twelve-year-old about spiritual philosophy with the same mutual respect as with an octogenarian, so when I hear anything along the lines of, "ugh, another wannabe occultist fourteen-year-old" then I snap to their defense.

It's only my personal principles that keep me doing that, because the pubescent in question has always, without exception, sunken to my opponent's low expectations. It's very very strange, because I wasn't like that at fourteen, none of my friends were like that at fourteen, and if (gods willing) I would found an initiatory order? Ageism would be the first prejudice to break down. Experience tells me that will bite me in the ass for sure, but I refuse to believe that I was ever precocious.

It's not so much age but physical and mental maturity. I have met some young martial arts students that have beautiful form, good power and perfect aerial attacks, between 10-12 years old, where most young students don't have the mental discipline to push their bodies to get to such a well formulated state of martial ability. They still may not be able to hurt a bigger person, but when it comes to kids around their age (give or take a couple years) they would do fine in a confrontation. Fighting is not the be-all-and-end-all of martial arts, but it is a skill needed to understand the deeper fundamentals of the arts.

Some children are also just smarter than many adults naturally, at least in my opinion. When parents fight, when there is war, when people are in pain, when animals die, when someone is being mean to some one else, etc, many children (omit the bullies) also ask this simple question, or have it in their little brains... '"Why?" They may not be able to do anything nor understand what is happening, but they know deep down inside what is wrong and right but are taught by society that it is normal people suffer, are mean, animals die and are killed with no second thought, etc. Imagine a world where children were able to stay those vibrate, imaginative, intuitive and loving beings? I just might believe in a mighty loving creator and devout my life to spreading that perception, but children are turned into numb minded adults unless they rebel and become outcasts for a short while until they find the right community where they can freely express themselves. I think a lot of initiatory schools are trying to get us back to that level of freedom, play and compassion.

Well said. I think another word for self-initiation is "awakening". I do enjoy the shape of communities of self-initiates which seems to have this air of benevolent anarchy.

Awakening definitely fits within the self-initiation paradigm. "Benevolent anarchy," I like that.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."