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Mass initiations

I had someone ask me if I thought why it was impossible to initiate a group of people roped together. After all some Golden Dawn groups initiate people in this way, as do masonic orders, and Mathers explained to his AO members how it could be done.
If the ritual has NO MAGIC at all it is quite simple to do as many as you like, but magically it is impossible for most magicians short of a secret chief to do properly. Even if you take the most basic instructions in the Z documents and do not embellish them with half the godforms it takes an extremely competent magician to initiate more than one person at a time. I do not believe that there is a single person living who can concentrate that well and besides the Golden Dawn Z structure prevents it happening.
Feel the intimacy of  this mass ritual.
I know Mathers said it was possible for the AO but at that point he saw the order as something to make money from and largely abandoned the magical Z documents. However in his earlier work he described things like the astral body of the candidate being split from the candidate and being placed between the pillars… try and do that with half a dozen people. Then try to see their sphere of sensation interact with various godforms at different times while holding your wand the right way up and not going wibble.
I used to think that roping together was possible for the last part of the elemental grade rituals. This was because I thought that the magic was somewhat limited and it appeared to be just reading out long teaching. Of course since then I have found that there is a lot more work to do in the final sections of those rituals which I had not been told about before and these are just as complicated as the other sections.
So if it is magically impossible to initiate that many people why do groups do it? Because they need to get the maximum number of bums on seats for their groups. They do not care about the quality of the magic, they want the quantity of people. This might be, if they collect dues, to make money for themselves, but it could also be for the ego value of having a large temple. Either way it is not a group that anyone serious about magic should be interested in joining.
One side issue to this is how many initiations can someone carry out properly? Over the years as the technical requirements for an initiation have gone up, I am finding that I can initiate fewer into the 0=0 and 3=8 and 4=7. I tend to manage three ok in a day but I will need a large glass of wine before I can speak coherently… Doing a fourth still works but I am certainly flagging.    I have been doing these for a while now and I am sure there are people out there who can do one or more more than me.  However the bloke that can do six in a day is lying to himself and the people who he is initiating.
The reason is not just the stress of the rehearsal, or the visualising, it is managing to hold the connection open for that many people. It is also the knowledge also that for the next week I will be as sick as a dog however buzzy I feel on the day. I am sure that there are better magicians out there who can do better, but I would be careful of any group that suggests that you can be initiated with a crowd of people, or even that the Heirophant can manage to initiate more than four people a day and that the fifth person will get the same level of attention as the first.
Bringing someone into the mysteries is a sacred task. It cannot be done as if you were operating a production line with everyone getting the same experience. As each candidate approaches a godform, it will react differently to them based on their experience. You can see this as the officer’s voices change in ritual as the godform energy changes. That is impossible if large numbers, either roped together, or not, are involved.
My advice is that you do not join any group which suggests that something is possible.  You will come to regret it later.

10 thoughts on “Mass initiations

  1. Great post, Nick. Obvious points really, for anyone who has studied or got papers on the inner side of the initiations. Still, I keep hearing about groups doing what you describe. It fairly gorms me out.

    As for how many a day… as Kipling might say, “you’re a better man than me, Nick” – I’ve only ever done two of any Grade on the same day. Guess, if I had me Weetabix i could go for three, but the size of our Order has never required it.

    Keep putting out these sensible posts, Nick, and people may actually start thinking about it all. Thanks 🙂

  2. Great post, I would just like to pick up on the idea of capability. How exactly is a magician meant to know their full capability to perform a certain number other than trial and error?

    Reason I ask is that many of these discussions seem to be pre-established as a response to fraudulent Hierophants when seems to me that deluded Hierophants might pose the greater risk. Frauds in this case being through ineptitude rather than malice.

    There is also the idea of performance, while one may perform the initiation rituals what about the internal performance of the godforms and the astral bodies. I know a great many individuals who “see” something and accept the something as an indication of presence and never look for it again. Can’t help but wonder if this is as widespread as my experiences have been?

  3. I will admit that I have in the past been part of a group that brought in Candidates one at a time for the first part of their Neophyte initiation (a non-Hermetic form of GD) and did the instruction part as a mass group. Fortunately, I have also been initiated in a Hermetic form of GD—well, they claimed to be Hermetic (it was early 90s, after all everyone did that during that decade…or at least, all the local groups did). Honestly, I can’t imagine doing more than two (maybe three) initiations in the space of a day. And the next day, even after just a single initiation, I plan on being non-functional.

  4. To be honest Nick, I have done up to 3 during a day… paid for it the next few days. It is hard to do, but I would not recommend more than 2 or 3 at the most, and that is not done at same time, they are put through separately.

    The drain is really tough on any Hierophant worth their salt.

    In LVX,
    Samuel

  5. I just wonder how these Temples end up in a situation where they have to even consider mass/group initiations because they feel that they have to rush a large number of candidates through quickly. I mean even of you just did 2 Neophytes a month, it would mean your Temple would have increased by 24 in a year. That’s a significant increase in membership for a Temple, I would have thought.
    I agree (based on my own experience of this) that doing more than 3 in one day is extremely draining. To this end, our Temple recently made a decision to do no more than 2 in a day and only if in the same Grade. If we have 2 Neophytes and a Zelator to do, then we’ll do the Neophytes on one day, and the Zelator on a different day. This limits mental confusion, caused by tiredness and caused by moving from one Grade (with all its associated energies and godforms) to another with only a tea break in-between.

  6. Yes, like Sr SD I find it hard, being in little ol’ Perth, to understand WHY mass initiations would be needed? Sometimes we do get a bottle neck, as our initiations are pretty much determined by schedule. Neophytes we do anytime of the year, but the other Outer grades are offered at set months (two options, opoosite sides of the year). Occasionally we may get students who go through the work faster, or those who skip the offering date for various reasons, so several are ready at the same time, hence the need for more than one a night. But mostly, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

    We’ve found the schedule methods works very well, allowing officers to focus on only one grade apart for the Neophyte for a time, to really work it well. No grade is offered really close to the Equinoxes, allowing newly installed officers to get up to speed beforehand. We try to match the months where the ‘elemental’ grades are offered to the seasonal cycles also.

    How does everyone else arrange their initiations? Ta 🙂

  7. Yes, like Sr SD I find it hard, being in little ol’ Perth, to understand WHY mass initiations would be needed? Sometimes we do get a bottle neck, as our initiations are pretty much determined by schedule. Neophytes we do anytime of the year, but the other Outer grades are offered at set months (two options, opoosite sides of the year). Occasionally we may get students who go through the work faster, or those who skip the offering date for various reasons, so several are ready at the same time, hence the need for more than one a night. But mostly, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

    We’ve found the schedule methods works very well, allowing officers to focus on only one grade apart for the Neophyte for a time, to really work it well. No grade is offered really close to the Equinoxes, allowing newly installed officers to get up to speed beforehand. We try to match the months where the ‘elemental’ grades are offered to the seasonal cycles also.

    How does everyone else arrange their initiations? Ta 🙂

  8. The non-Hermetic Golden Dawn group I was talking about only did Neophyte initiations once a year. The same goes for the rest of the Grades. So all the Neophyte initiations for the group occurred on a single day.

    Now, what I am curious about is how many initiations in the space of a single day was the original Golden Dawn doing. Looking over the history of Isis-Urania, it looks like they had to be doing multiple initiations at a time.

  9. Though Morgan does that mean Isis-Urania were right to do so? I’m not familiar with the MMS in question myself so I’m wondering if IU did multiple initiations at a time at what point and why were they stopped?

  10. Yes Morgan they were…. I think it was just as we started getting more magical we discovered that this was impossible, When you see the first Zdocuments, you can see that they were a little more simple… they are certainly basic in comparison to what MOAA does.

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