My understanding of initiation is generally via context, not definition. Although Steiner had specific definitions I can’t remember what they are and I have a book about the Rosicrucian society that probably has a definition in it’s apendix but maybe I’ll fish that out after I give my initial response
First off I first heard the word used to describe entering the world of Druidry and in other contexts to describe entering a shamanic training of some description. Specifically I was initiated into a Bard of the Loyal Arthurian Warband when I knelt beneath Arthur’s sword and was knighted in Stonehenge on Spring Equinox 2006.
But what that actually means is entirely subjective, to my story, to one’s definition of Bard, and to one’s definition of Druidry. There seems to be a theme of facing fears when it comes to initiation. You hear of tales of Native Americans lying alone in a hole in the ground over night or of African boys left in the wilderness. When I was knighted I had to face a broad-sword.
So, based on personal experience and the context of things I have read in books I would say – Initiation is the first step into a new path of shamanism and/or magick, usually within a group, and usually involving facing a fear or some form of surrender.
But that leaves the question, can you have spontaneous initiation?
Without a group, without formalities? I think of Rebekah Shaman. When she went to Peru to study ayahuasca she accidentally dropped her passport in the Amazon. Probably a spontaneous initiation triggered by the universe itself and/or her subconscious.
Anyway, here comes the part I’ve been wanting to get to. The really personal bit. I have a theme in my life of being initiated by older women.
I can think of 4 times my friendship with older women has led to a more magical life, although 3 are all linked to the Steiner way.)
The first was the Druids. I would not have met Arthur or the Druids if I had not become friends with a woman named Susanna. She was in her 50s or 60s and I was about 24 when we met. And 26 when she took me to loads of ceremonies and I finally got knighted a Bard.
I slept in West Kennet long Barrow. On a winter solstice. That was the story that convinced Susanna to introduce me to the Druids
Then there was my friend Ali. She’s in the same age range, maybe a bit younger, 50s. I met her in Bristol, she has a yurt in her back garden. A real character.
She suggested, out of pure intuition, that I volunteer at the Steiner school. “I think the kids would love you” 3 years later I was training to be a teacher and learning all about Steiner’s spiritual path, Anthroposophy.
Then my course leader Lynne became my friend as we bonded over my depression (her first husband had it, and Leonard Cohen’s son has it, a friend of hers!) Anyway, she was my friend and guide along my whole Steiner journey and a wealth of Anthroposophical info. And most recently our speech therapy tutor on my course and her friend, the head of the UK Anthroposophical Society just funded my ticket, room and board to go to the Anthroposophical Society Summer Conference where I ended up performing, making new friends and becoming a member. That was based on their intuition once again. I learned a long time ago to trust the intuition of older women and it has put me in the right place at the right time each time.
Although to be fair I’m missing out an integral part of the story, although I had an inner knowing spontaneously and just knew that rap and poetry was all I wanted to do. Shortly after I moved to Bristol I had an experience that convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the most important thing I could do was spread love, money, fame etc, all of that fades but in a world where nothing lasts forever and we’re just concepts anyway and nothing really matters the only thing I could never regret was spreading as much love as possible. That was an initiation that was not like any cliche, out of any formal druidic or shamanic order but more powerful than most of my spiritual experiences. and I’d almost forgotten just how important it was.
INITIATION by KP Kev the Poet for Roots and Permaculture