I was recently asked about initiations as they pertain to shamanic healers. There is a lot of talk in some areas about “What was your initiation like?” “How were you initiated?” “He isn’t a real ______ (fill in the blank) because he didn’t undergo the correct or a real initiation.” This has got me to thinking about my own initiations both as a healer and in my Pagan religious practice.
I have been through many initiations, some planned some not planned. So expected, many not expected.
When we think of initiations as healers, I think we can be blinded and expect that these initiations will be like those we have experienced as a rite of passage through school. Stand in a line, wait for your name to be called, and collect your diploma from the guy on the stage.
We think we can plan, and anticipate. I will have my initiation on this date, at this time, and it will last for 30 minutes. And afterwards I will be all changed.
But… But initiations aren’t like that.
Initiations can’t be planned or prepared for. They’re not happy times come and poof! you’re a shaman, or a healer. These kinds of initiations are messy, and they can last weeks or months. Initiation is a birthing process, and birth can be painful and slimy and yucky. It can also be very rewarding, but you have to get through the messy bits first.
Initiations are wailing and crying so hard you have snot coming out of your eyes and blood coming from your nose.
Initiations are losing everything that made you who you are in life. Your home, your job, your family, your sanity. Being left broken and alone, and not knowing if you will be able to survive the next hour let alone the next day, or week, or year.
Initiations are trying to pick up the broken pieces of yourself, and being told – No.
Initiations are having to leave behind eveything that you thought was you, and allowing your self to be rebuilt.
Initiations are letting go of the need to control, the need to know exactly what will happen and when.
Initiations are stepping off the edge of a figurative precipice and trusting Spirit to catch you. Even when you don’t fully trust yourself.
Many view initiation as being the end of a journey. The culmination of hours, days, weeks, years of study. My own experience has been that initiation marks the end of one stage of being, and the beginning of another.
When you are at the beginning of any stage of being, it doesn’t matter what wisdom you bring with you or previous life experience, you are a beginner. When I say – I am initatied in this practice I do not say it to indicate that I have mastered it, I say it to indicate I am a student, I am learning, I am experiencing. I am becoming.