Having started my occult path before the arrival of the internet I am “old school” and believe that initiation is not something you get automatically.
A friend of mine in another school is having problems with a student who felt he should be initiated because he said so. He had shown up, paid his dues, and he felt he was ready. He was so shocked when his teacher said no, he left in a huff and then started to attack the teacher online for not noticing his greatness. Like many modern “magicians” he has failed to see that his very actions are exactly why the teacher did not want him initiated yet.
The assumption was that rejection was the ego of an autocratic teacher. I understand how he felt. I was in the Servants of the Light for many years, working hard and not getting initiated. I remember feeling at the time – why is that person getting initiated when I am being ignored? With hindsight, there were political reasons, but at the time I was not aware of that. But what I believed at the time, and still believe, that you will be initiated when you are ready for it. Years later I got the initiation I was looking for and it took me out of the SOL style system and into the Golden Dawn. Again, with hindsight that was always going to happen, but I needed to learn some things before it did. Staying within that tradition meant I learnt those valuable lessons before leaving.
Teachers do miss initiation candidates… but
But students are not the only ones who are arrogant about the reasons for initiations. Teachers can, and do fail spot promising students and get lost in their own games. Ironically when my then teacher who provided me with that much-awaited initiation, expelled me, he did so fully assuming it was the end of my magical career. He told me that I would play around with “uncontacted groups” never going anywhere. It was then I realised what initiation was and how it was only tentatively tied to a group or tradition and you get your initiations in different places over your life. In my career, I have had four real initiators before I met my own contact and did not need them anymore.
In the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea we get loads of applications from people who expect that because they have applied we will initiate them and let them in. However, in a real school it does not work that way, indeed you should be deeply suspicious of groups that want you to be a member or recruit you.
Initiation is a big job
Taking a student is a big task that the Order itself has very little say in. People are bought to schools by the life forces behind them for a purpose, which may or may not be initiation. But coming to a school does not make you a member of it – you might be just passing through, or just be being given a chance to start your occult career. Some groups focus on beginners and accept that they are going to get a lot of tourists passing through, but the more serious schools, particularly those with a lot of initiations, do not have the time to waste on those students who will just rush to the next newest shiny object.
Each school, if they talk about it, or even acknowledge it is based around a set of contacts who specialise in a field of training. It is those contacts who do the initiation in their school not the chiefs, or the order. If they do not want to initiate you, getting on with the human group leader will not help you, the initiation will not take place.
Testing for Initiation
In MOAA we ask people wanting to join to carry out a series of pathworkings to see how they get on with our contacts and ask for detailed reports back. We ask for symbols so we can see what the student is getting at a level they have not worked out yet. Often the would-be student is telling us that contact in the pathworking is earnestly telling them that they will be part of the order, while the symbols all around them are quietly hinting no thanks.
Before someone is initiated they must have some semblance of stability. That is not to say that perfection is possible, but they should not have any obviously alarming traits which show that there will be problems further down the line.
In some groups, where you wait several years to be initiated, you are expected to sort out a lot of those quirks before being plugged into the contacts. In GD groups the first level of initiation power is applied gradually and will cause you to focus on different aspects of your life. Obviously any one of these initiations you can fail and “break” and some personalities are so damaged and fragile that breaking is a certainty.
Sometimes you cannot tell if someone is going to break or fail a grade, often it is obvious. The group leaders often have an inkling but still hopes it will not be the case. It is usually the blue-eyed boys or girls who are mostly likely to fail. It is the plodders who do not attract attention who quietly go up the grades that succeed.
When people fail a grade, it is spectacular and usually the leader of the group is the target for abuse. I used to think that this was part of the individualisation process, but now I am less certain. More often the people who go bang in this way are doing so because of problems that they refuse to face and would rather project it onto the group leader. Parental issues are the biggest problem, with mummy or daddy issues played out violently on the teacher who did not give them what they wanted. It is more likely that they will continue to ignore the issue for the rest of their life and take their problems to the next group they join, or their relationships, or workplace. If the problem is crippling, then chances are they will leave practical magic. One modern trend is to fail an initiation in one group and then suddenly be attracted to another group which will not challenge that weakness, or which convinces you that all your problems are the fault of your old one.
The point of all this is when you hear someone bad-mouthing their teacher because they refused to give them the initiation they felt they deserved, understand that you are seeing the problem that prevented them from being initiated. Try to understand that teacher themselves will also be sad that the amount of effort they put into that student did not help them see that problem. If the teacher really was at fault, then advice the student to move on and find the occult teacher they need.