Correction to the title is in due before I start rumbling, I think. A magical initiation doesn’t necessarily validate your practice. Since I started studying (and in turn practicing) witchcraft, every book I read mentioned the inevitable word: initiation. Many traditions mention that initiations are crucial to their practice and in order to join them one has to go through one. This especially is found in covens. It’s kind of an entry requirement if you will.
Unfortunately, the process of being initiated never sat right with me. It just didn’t make sense to me. Why should I be initiated if I want to follow a solitary path? Wouldn’t one be naturally a witch? Why do I need someone else to validate who I am?
These and so many other questions went through my mind every time I came across this word. There is always this one chapter in most books mentioning initiation. I now end up skipping these chapters all together when I come across them.
The way I see it, being a witch is a right given from birth. In the same way, I have never felt the need to be initiated as a gay man, I also don’t feel the need to be initiated as a witch. And it’s when I say this that people can’t understand where I’m coming from. I get the look that is followed by something along the lines of “how can you practice witchcraft if you haven’t been initiated in a tradition”.
It’s actually rather simple. I don’t follow a tradition within witchcraft. Alexandrian, Gardnerian, Thelemic witchcraft or any other traditions of witchcraft. These have a very specific way and method of working. But I am not following any of these or any other traditions. If I were to follow any of these, I understand that there would be the requirement for an initiation, however, I am simply a traditional witch, and even though the term may be confusing things, there isn’t a structured way of working. I am also not a hereditary witch (which would also make it a tradition – but then you wouldn’t be initiated as you are born in that family), which means I create my own practice.
As a witchling, it took me a while to get in touch with other witches (thank you internet!), let alone witches who I trust to show me the way, and even more so, wait around for someone to agree to initiate me in order to practice. Instead, I learned the craft alone and went for it. Otherwise, I would still be this witchling with undiscovered potential waiting for my ‘knight in shining armour’.
When I find myself in a dilemma or trying to find guidance within my practice, I always think of the archetype of the wise woman of the village back in 16th of 17th century – and yes, I am aware that they rarely associated with the term ‘witch’ but this didn’t make them any less of it – and I always ask myself “what would the wise woman/man of a village do?”. In this case, they wouldn’t always know someone else in their community who practices the craft, they usually were the only ones. They didn’t wait around for someone to come and tell them who they were or were not. They took on what they had and they used it. Unapologetically. At the end of the day, the witches that came before us were badass rule-breakers and they ran with what they had and they asked for no permission because simply they didn’t need to obtain it.
If you feel that you need to be initiated, whether beginner or not, there is no one that is holding you back. But do remember, that you are a witch of your own accord. You have been given this right from the moment you came to this world, where you might be initiated to a particular tradition, whatever that may be, you are still a witch with or without following that structure. Be unapologetic about it, own up to who you are and run with it. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission. Your ancestors never asked for it, why should you?
Note: Credits for the image go to Willow Ahava Photography