“In Latgalia [a region of Latvia] they say, 'Oh, as soon as the missionaries left, we all just jumped in the river and washed it off, anyway.'” (Sean McLaughlin)
It's the first of the traditional Three Questions asked by the Horned at an initiation (and later repeated during the Renewal of Vows):
Do you renounce the waters of baptism?
Old Craft initiations are very different from Wiccan ones. They're not secret at all. Those who wish to take the Oath must first know the Oath. How can you swear to something that you haven't had the chance to think through thoroughly? You need to know what you're letting yourself in for. One cannot join the Tribe of Witches all unwitting.
This is maybe the scariest topic for me- yet somehow I feel ready and eager to move into it. Maybe it's because the nightingales were singing so daringly this morning, or it's the storm raging outside.
There are countless books which will tell you the right way to do your initiation.I’ve read a number of them, both for covens and for solitary.None of them spoke to me.
Normally I’m a simple, as little fuss as possible, type of person.Once I felt I was ready to declare my beliefs, I decided to do a ritual – full out, go for broke ritual.I had it typed up, planned out, everything was going to go PERFECT.
All my life I went to church for others.My mother made me go when I was a child.I would sit in the church and argue with the minister in my head.I’d ask questions the Sunday school teacher didn’t want to answer.When my mother finally stopped making me go, I stopped until my children came along.My oldest daughter loved to sing, loved music.When my mother took her to church she fell in love with the children’s choir.For my daughters, I went back to church.I sat in the pews arguing with the minister in my head being more and more annoyed.However, my kids wanted to be part of the choir and the pageant, so I went.I volunteered to work in the kitchen for the youth group’s Wednesday night program because my kids wanted to be in the group.One day when the youth minister asked if my husband and I were members, I said no.He asked if we’d like to join and I laughed.It was a good conversation when I explained to him I considered myself agnostic (at the time).
When my kids stopped wanting to be in the church choir, the church group, I stopped going with great relief.After they stopped, I did nothing when it came to spiritual or religious beliefs.I didn’t believe the way my mother believed.I didn’t experience faith in the same way she did.I decided religion wasn’t for me.
As indicated in the introduction to this blog above, I discovered Jungianism and Neo-Paganism at the same time, through the writings of Vivianne Crowley, Margot Adler, and Starhawk, and the two have remained intertwined for me ever since. In fact, the first Pagan writing I ever read was an essay by Wiccan priestess and Jungian psychologist, Vivianne Crowley entitled, "Wicca as a Modern-Day Mystery Religion", in Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman's Paganism Today (1994). Wouter Hanegraaf has written that Vivianne Crowley’s Jungian perspective “is so strong that readers might be forgiven for concluding that Wicca is little more than a religious and ritual translation of Jungian psychology.” And, in fact, that is exactly what I believed. Even after realizing that that Paganism is far more diverse than I had originally thought, Crowley's vision of Wicca has continued to influence me.
Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, 1989 was the year when everything happened: my formal dedication to Freya, my father’s death, my study abroad in the Soviet Union, and finally the earthquake. I went out in the woods that day fully intending to swear myself to Odin. Since I was drawn to heathenry via rune magic and he was the patron of the runes, it seemed natural. Also, although I had not yet encountered the idea of sacred wounds, I felt close to Odin because of growing up visually impaired. When I was ready to dedicate myself to a patron god, Freya showed up instead. It would take many years before I understood why. I believe now that I was opened to Freya by sacred wounds, also, but at the time I could not even remember what had happened to me as a child.
I’m going to lump all the stuff about my dad into my next post, even though some of it happened the summer before my junior year and some of it happened at the end of my junior year. At the time, I didn't associate my father's death with becoming dedicated to Freya; now I wonder if she removed him from my life so that I could heal in time.
Recently I've been following with great interest an on-line discussion on the subject of reculement.
Recule is a word from the Craft's Norman French heritage; in Medieval French it meant “to draw back, withdraw.” A charming word for an unpleasant concept: in Craft contexts, it means “to revoke an initiation.”
What I find so interesting about this question is that in Old Craft thought (as I understand it, at any rate) initiation is, by definition, irrevocable. Although of course I can't speak for Old Craft as a whole (no one can), from where I live, no one can take away initiation because initiation cannot be given; it can only be taken.