Initiation is an ancient practice that marks a transition point in a practitioner’s life with ceremony and symbolism.
Initiations can also be called rites of passage; many ancient forms still survive throughout the world. Some of these initiations are well known in Western culture, such as wedding rites, baby showers and funerals. Others, such as those when we enter a new animist practice or begin a new relationship with a spirit helper, are much more personal.
Initiation practices are helpful when:
- We make the leap from childhood to adulthood.
- We enter a new relationship.
- We leave an old relationship.
- We embark on a new spiritual path.
- We begin the dying process.
Every time we move from one life stage to the next, initiation can help us to honour and let go of the old and become open to the new.
Initiations usually include a form of ceremony; this can be formal or informal, public or private, planned or spontaneous. We often create on-the-spot ceremonies for these moments of transition, as part of our inherent animist natures, for example when we create shrines of flowers in the places where people die.
Initiations are both about the persona who is transitioning in their life, and about the witnesses of that transition, if there are any. In an animist tradition, when we begin a new phase of practice we often experience an initiation with only our spirit helpers as witnesses, but in public rites of passage the whole community may be the witness.
To begin working with initiations for yourself, consider how you might honour your new animist practice. Explore methods to create a ceremony for this new relationship, or allow yourself to be guided in creating a spontaneous initiation ritual.
For more about ceremony in animist practice, join the free 12 week Foundation in Animism course here: