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Arty by Alex Grey

Initiation means “ to begin” a new experience, phase, or outlook towards life as a result of a mind-expanding experience of higher levels of consciousness. Initiation represents spiritual evolution; the commencement of a new life committed to an entirely new set of principles. Initiation seeks the path of immortality. Humankind has the potential for immortality, but only obtains it when men and women align themselves with that immortal spiritual essence that underlies all aspects of the manifest universe; that same spiritual essence that is too often ignored by the great majority of humanity. Obtaining that rare and splendid essence is the supreme objective of that part of the Western Esoteric Tradition known as magic. The goal of all magical processes is the purification of the ego, to crystalize the true essence of the human soul using the ancient art of spiritual alchemy.

Magic is a spiritual science. It is a specialized system of discipline which has a spiritual rather than material goal. Initiation is the preliminary step in the realm of magic. True initiation is the inner and hidden essence that pushes the student to seek the Path of Knowledge with a tenacity that cannot be denied. This initial step is the enfolding of the Divine Light; the gentle nurturing of the spark of consciousness within the Inner Self. Attaining this point of growth requires peace of mind, awareness of one’s subconscious impulses, persistent hard work, and a certain degree of self-sacrifice. When the secret recesses of the Inner Self have been reached, communication with the universal Power is then possible. And by the single act of one student tapping into this Divine Power, the whole of humanity is enriched.

Technically, there are two forms of initiation:

Astral Initiation: Which occurs on the subtle planes of the astral and is not always perceived by the initiate until after the fact, although s/he can also sometimes be aware of it as it is occurring. This type of initiation is conferred upon a person directly by spiritual archetypes within the psyche. The experience of astral initiation is usually accompanied by deep psychophysiological shifts for the aspirant.

Physical Initiation: A physical initiation is just what it sounds like an actual ceremony carried out in different cults and mystical lodges by spiritual priests in a physical temple. The astral initiation is the ultimate goal and the physical one is being only an outward reflection of an inner process. A physical initiation reaffirms the candidate’s spiritual intent and Will by the act of submitting him/her self to the process of the initiation ceremony. Hence, physical initiation plays an important role in the actualization of the inner experience. It is a physical proclamation to the manifest universe of one’s desire to follow the path of an initiate of the Mysteries. Depending on the candidate, it is sometimes unlikely that an astral initiation would ever occur without the physical initiation and the skill of the participating initiator. What is clear, however, is that one form of initiation, astral or physical, almost always precedes or occurs simultaneously with the other form.

In his book “The Perfect Matrimony” Samuel Aun Weor writes the following about Initiation:

“Initiation is your own life. If you want initiation, write it upon a staff. Whoever has understanding let him understand, because here is wisdom. Initiation is neither bought nor sold. Avoid those schools that give initiations by correspondence. Avoid all those who sell initiations. Initiation is something very intimate and is of the Soul. The “I” does not receive initiations. Those who say, “I have so many initiations”, “I have such and such degrees”, are liars and fakes, because the “I” does not receive initiations or degrees. There are nine Initiations of Minor Mysteries, and five important Initiations of Major Mysteries. It is the Soul that receives the initiations. This is a very intimate matter; something that one should not go about speaking of, nor should it be told to anyone. All the initiations and degrees that many schools of the physical world confer, really have no value in the superior worlds. The Masters of the White Lodge only recognize as genuine the legitimate initiations of the Soul. That is completely internal.”  _ Samuel Aun Weor

Initiation in ancient spiritual lodges

To be an initiate means that one is accepted into an inner circle whose teachings and rituals are meaningful only to other members of the group who share this common experience. It confers a sense of status and belonging, and of having been uplifted through the disclosure of divinely inspired wisdom. The candidate seeking admittance must first prove him/herself worthy of inclusion into the group or magical tradition. The ritual of initiation is meant to purify and prepare the candidate to receive the secrets and teachings of that tradition or current. Anew initiate does not receive the total volume of knowledge immediately but in gradual stages. This process of spiritual evolution begins at the bottom of a hierarchical ladder, each step of which is accompanied by an additional initiation ceremony and further study.

Initiation is also a wonderfully fulfilling experience. A candidate entering the temple for the first time is in a heightened state of awareness; adrenaline is pumping through the body, and the senses are amplified-the the whole being of the candidate is poised and ready to receive an influx of energy. All of this is brought about by the conscious decision to be initiated. We have seen some candidates moved to tears or fainting with joy from the energy of an initiation ceremony. This is the power of the decision to begin a spiritual Path.


The need for Self-initiation is born out of the fact that it is not always possible for prospective students to find authentic sources. Nowadays, unfortunately,  the majority of spiritual centers around the world are nothing more than business models revolving around money and power. Therefore, self-initiation is the most authentic way to be practiced using the modern age of open information and non-profit spiritual communities where real initiates gather for the sake of the Art. The source of the spiritual initiation is Nature, therefore, all the aspirant needs to do is to prepare the temple of his own mind-body for the natural process to begin and unfold.

“Man has been an alchemist from the time when he first raised himself, and with the powers long latent pronounced himself as human. Experiences are the chemicals of life which the philosopher is experimenting with. Nature is the great book whose secrets he seeks to understand through her own wondrous symbolism. His own Spiritual Flame is the lamp by which he reads, and without this the printed pages mean nothing to him. His own body is the furnace in which he prepares the Philosopher’s Stone; his senses and organs are the test tubes, and incentive is the flame from the burner. Salt, sulphur, and mercury are the chemicals of his craft. According to the ancient philosophers, salt was of the earth earthy, sulphur was a fire which was spirit, while mercury was nothing, only a messenger like the winged Hermes of the Greeks. His color is purple, which is the blending of the red and the blue-the blue of the spirit and the red of the body.

The alchemist realizes that he himself is the Philosopher’s Stone, and that this stone is made diamond like when the salt and the sulphur, or the spirit and the body, are united through mercury, the link of mind. Man is the incarnated principle of mind as the animal is of emotion. He stands with one foot on the heavens and the other on the earth. His higher being is lifted to the celestial spheres, but the lower man ties him to matter. Now the philosopher, building his sacred stone, is doing so by harmonizing his spirit and his body. The result is the Philosopher’s Stone. The hard knocks of life chip it away and facet it until it reflects lights from a million different angles.”

_ Manly P. Hall

It was Israel Regardie‘s wish that students of the Golden Dawn tradition quietly and patiently continue the Order work and goals as instituted by Mathers and Westcott, without a lot of hoopla or fanfare. Regardie was a man of strong convictions who was adamantly opposed to several of the factors which historically tear magical groups of all traditions apart and shift the focus of such groups away from spiritual concerns-including schisms, egotistic pontificating, or self-aggrandizement on the part of group leaders, the idea of soliciting money in return for grade initiations, and pointless bickering between this group and that group. And for all that Israel Regardie has done to singlehandedly keep the G:.D:. tradition alive and available to all, some people now claim that Regardie had no lineage to the Golden Dawn, in the same manner, that some Wiccans have tried to denounce Gerald Gardner after all he had done for Wicca. There are even some individuals, who after supposedly self-initiating themselves into high degrees, now claim that self-initiation is not possible for others-that the prospective student must go to them for a proper initiation. Not all magical groups or fraternities manage to maintain their high spiritual ideals under the onslaught of such integrity-killers as ego or profit-making.

Continue reading on Self-Initiation


[1]. Israel Regardie, The Complete System of Golden Dawn, pp. 154–65.

[2]. Self-initiation into the Golden dawn tradition.

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