Initiator and Initiations
Initiator and Initiations

Initiator and Initiations

An initiation is a ritual beginning into a particular tradition. Within the Golden Dawn it becomes particularly important because it requires you to experience the equivalent of psychic surgery. An initiator has to link the candidate to their Higher Self, to what is called “the tradition” and also the egregore of the group and the spiritual force behind the Order.
This is tough magic and unfortunately appears to be the most glamorous, which is why everyone wants to do it. It is the sort of thing that a person standing on the sidelines thinks they can do but rarely can and there is a reason for this.

Not a DIY manual for a tradition
For the initiator to be able to initiate within a tradition, they have to be members of that tradition. This sounds obvious, but most of the time is one of the rules that is quickly ignored for the sake of expediancy. There are a lot of groups which are formed by someone with a cursory reading of Regardie’s Golden Dawn. Actually this attitude is one of the things I am responsible for encouraging. I think that if people want to run a group then the only way they will find out how it operates is to set one up and see.
However I need to qualify that now. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that only works when you are starting a new tradition yourself. I do not believe it works where you are taking an existing tradition, such as the Golden Dawn and trying to start your own group.
There are lots of Golden Dawn groups out there which you can join and train to the right level that you are allowed to initiate, you do not need to self start and indeed it is not desirable.
Using Untrained Hierophants results in some
fairly strange 0=0  initiations 
Within the Golden Dawn system the minimum level that a candidate can even think of initiating is the ZAM grade 5=6. It is specialist work and requires extra training. The Golden Dawn provided a series of instructions called the Z documents which were a basic outline for the 5=6 grade and covered the 0=0 initiation ritual. However these were instructions for ordinary members so that they could work out what was really going on in these initiations and apply them to their own magic. Heirophant work was specialised and was often carried out under the training of the Chief Adept. The role was considered so important in Whare Ra that Hierophants were rarely changed and picked up additional magical experience that they passed on to their students. All this added up to a considerable corpus of material which often differed from the Zdocs or even other Hierophants.
If a person has not been through the tradition to the 5=6 level then they have not had the various aspects of their sphere of sensation opened to the various powers. There are more to the grade initiations, for example, than initiation into the elements. They open the person to different powers and levels and give them access to forces that they might not have had before. The outer order is about integrating the person so these forces do not overwhelm them.
For example, in the 1=10 a person will find that they will be initiated into the forces connected to their 12,1st and second houses. If they cannot control their finances or ignore there physical health or personal hygiene then these issued will become exacerbated until they do.
While this is not a popular view of the grade system, as many people seem to think that the adoption of outer order grades should be automatic, it is also possible to fail a grade completely. This happens when the personality cannot take the load of that grade and starts to fragment. Normally it simply shuts down, reverts to the behaviour patterns and goes no further. Other times it explodes in a form of self-destructive mental breakdown. In the old days the person would be held at that grade until they had resolved their problems, or, as was more likely, they would leave in a personality storm. These days orders are more inclined to let the person carry on up the ladder of the Order in the hope the problems will go away.
The problem usually flares up in the Portal Grade where the person has another go at balancing it. If they fail again they rarely get another chance and usually exit from the Order.
At the 5=6 something else happens to the student. It is here they are opened up to the traditions deeper spiritual levels, they also have a personal experience of their higher self. The lower self, which they have been working on for years, is pushed downwards and greater control is given to their Higher Self.
It is from this position, and only from this position, that a person can initiate into the First Order.
If any of the grades are missed, or a person failed their initiation and they attempt to initiate, they will be using the symbolism of the rite to initiate into their own ego because that will remain the dominant force.
The universe might step in and assist their victims and help them have a spiritual experience from the exercise, but it will only go so far. It will for example assume that the student needs to learn discretion. Instead of treating a magical order like a game, or a club, they will learn the hard way that opening up to ego-driven and disconnected people ultimately leads to doom.
The Grand Order of the Envelop and Post Box had a
tough initiation
It is not over egging the pudding to note that initiation not only can stuff you up it can make you very well. One initiation I know of resulted in the candidate being put in hospital. The initiator did not believe that the problem was their fault, they simply blamed the student. The problem was an initiator who failed their Portal grade and was doing their utmost to avoid Godforms within a ritual because he/she was an atheist.
So when you join a group it is vitally important to ask your initiator “who trained you?” If they say that they have a signed lineage back to the Priests of the Sun of Atlantis, or that they are the head of a tradition which trained all the great magicians, stop them there. Ask them “where did you personally get the training that takes you to states which are at least 5=6 and a point that you can initiate me?” After all you cannot initiate someone into a spiritual place if you have never been there. If they have had no training to that level, it is safer to give them a wide berth. It is a bit like saying I can fly you to London if you trust me… but I dont know where it is and I don’t have a pilot’s licence.
I would be equally concerned if someone is not sure what they are doing, but they have to start somewhere. This attitude is common in groups which are formed by reading Regardie. This is a bit like going to a brain surgeon and him admitting that he has no experience, but he will learn a lot while he is in your skull.
The specialist initiation training is preferable, but if a person has been working on their spiritual self then often they can wing it, particularly if they are getting the sort of contacts they need to build a real magical order. But if that is the case they must have a lot of experience to get the depth of contacts required.


  1. The Untrained Hierophants conducting the 0=0 Initiation looks fun though I do prefer to keep my feet firmly on terra-firma! 😉

    I’d be curious that in setting up new traditions from within the GD system i.e. following Regardie’s tome and starting afresh what makes some groups work and others fall flat on their faces? Is it simply some are sincere seekers who don’t get lost in ego-inflation along the way or are the ones that make a mess of their Temple and initiations prone to doing so from the start?

    Thats possibly beyond the scope of the post above but I believe I noted a distinction between those using Regardie as the big black tome of the Golden Dawn and therefore infallible and those who use it to ignite and begin a search for the wider Tradition?

    I do like how this post highlights the terrain of the initiating officer a bit more. Much to consider and think about.

  2. Hi Nick,

    A wonderful post detailing so many important things. Thanks.

    I think a lot of people do not quite realise the potential problems with, as you say the ‘magical surgery’ that GD initiation actually is. I give an example on MOTO about a Hieriophant who ‘forgot’ the Godforms and inner work required to put down the Evil Triad in the 0=0, and would attempt to do so from his own will. His initiates all bore the same magical and then personal problems because of this. And there were nothing to be sneezed at.

    I cannot agree with you more concerning the need for an initiator, in the GD/RR et AC, tradition to be well prepared. My teacher outlined this in three main areas (1) their own initiations, (2) their own magical Hierophantic training (including inner contacts) and (3) their own successful personal navigation and integration of the spiritual effects of the initiations into their daily life. All three are required.

    The Z docs are but a start and the few excellent Orders I have had close contact with over the years have material that builds on the Z in droves. So anyone coming in and thinking they can read a few books and do it themselves without a lot of prep will come a cropper for sure.

    One of the things I have seen done over the years is someone gets initiated into a few Outer grades, or to Portal and then for whatever reason leaves and start their own group. They automatically assume an Inner role in that group and are not ever initiated into it, and thus their initiations in turn will suffer.

    Also people often leave groups for personality reasons, which are not the best motivations I think. I did not particularly ‘like’ most of the senior members of my initiating group, but I respected them. To leave a group based on our personality likes and dislikes, or any ego reason, is stupid as it sets up the ego-personality as king.

    Your analysis about the effects of the initiations, shutting down, portal re-activation etc is spot on, I think. I hope a lot of people read your words carefully. I was still under the impression, mistaken so it seems, that most Orders would still hold people back in certain grades until the integration was complete. This is really essential, as we all unfold uniquely in our own way and time. Allowing someone to move forward without integration is stupid, stupid, stupid. If someone leaves ‘cos they are not allowed to move forward in these cases, that would be damnably stupid, as not only is the integration incomplete but the ego is again made king.

    Regardie has to wear a lot of this, with his ‘a couple of hundred Watchtower ceremonies = Adeptus Minor equivalent’ nonsense. And other writers who think if you can ‘control the elements’ at will = Adeptus Minor. So you get these folk who pick up Regardie’s Ceremonial Magic or whatever and they are doing the Watchtower for a few years, with no training, no inner work etc., Then later they form a group, they’re the most ‘experienced’ and are suddenly a 5=6 and initiating folk. No personal initiations, no transformation and no Hierophantic training. Again, bloody stupid.

    Thanks 🙂

  3. I can attest to some of what you’re talking about here from the perspective of being an untrained hierophant. A number of years ago I performed an initiation on a friend who was also my apprentice in the work. I thought I was ready to do this, and that he was ready.

    His experience of the initiation was extraordinary and deep and powerful, and I think he benefitted enormously from it; he’s never told me otherwise, though I’ve asked several times if it served him well.

    But afterwards, as we shared food and grounding afterward, a curious feeling began to settle over me. He settled into this new role quite easily, and wore the initiation well. He left to go home, and this curious feeling broke through me, from fingertips to the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I became aware of meridiens and channels through my being and through the air around me. Something of electricity, something of blood flow, something of chi, something of spiritus. And I had a sense of several powerful voices saying, “Well, that was stupid. We initiated him because you were the one asking… but now we have to do the work on you that makes what we just did allowable.”

    I didn’t sleep that night, as forces and foci and energies passed through me and around me. Yikes. I got wired in more ways than one. And the last thing I remember about it, shortly before dawn, was “Don’t do this again until we tell you, you can.” And I saw signs in that moment, which I understood to be signals that permission was granted.

    I feel enormously graced by the experience, and recognize that what I was told was correct: It WAS deeply stupid. And I have not since heard the voices, nor received signs that permission has been given.

    So I agree with you that initiation is best done by trained initiators. It’s the reason that Tibetan Lamas give empowerments, and Christian bishops ordain priests and deacons; and shamans train shamans, rather than just letting anyone to perform these acts. I think I was stupid, and deeply lucky, and it was only because I performed the initiations with high intentions for the candidate, and a humble approach for myself, that I didn’t do obvious or lasting damage to either of us.

    But that night was one of the most frightening moments in my life as a magician so far.

  4. This is the meaning of true (initiatory) lineage, rather than mere paper (institutional) lineage, the former being where you get someone in the know to tell you the hidden visualizations and mental directions of energy that the Hierophant needs to use for best effect.

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