Most faiths have some element of making a formal commitment to the chosen path. This causes some debate in the witch community as obviously there are no hard and fast rules about what can or indeed what should be done.
The oft quoted phrase "It takes a witch to make a witch," really gets my hackles rising. I detest anything that seeks to make any type of religion or spirituality elitist and unavaliable. And as someone who works with deity, I find it verging on the offensive if anyone tells me there is something another witch can do that my deities could not manage equally as effectively.
I've talked before about how to start a path toward witchcraft (practise the craft, work with magic, do rather than read). Progression on the path and affirmation that what you are doing is right for you is much the same. Its about doing rather than doubting. Reading esoteric (smug) articles by either Trad Witches or Wiccans who insist that you have to jump through their various hoops before you can earn that coveted "title" of witch will not be helpful. Now that's not saying that you can just decide to be anything you want overnight. If you are looking at belonging to a specific tradition, established belief set or even a coven then obviously there will be requirements you need to fulfill. But to be a practising solitary witch following your own crooked path, whatever initiation (if any) you choose is down to you.
So an initiation. More accurately if you are not entering a specific tradition what you are actually performing is a dedication. This can be a dedication to deity, the elements, ancestors, spirits you work with or even to yourself. It is your own personal rite of passage. It is the turning point in your own study of the craft where you feel there is no going back, when you have committed yourself to your practise and your beliefs.
Initiation for a solitary can be completed by another witch but far more likely is that it will be a solitary ritual. Wiccans have the practise of the traditional year and a day of study before formal initiation takes place. I did actually choose to observe this period myself. Dedication is not a step you should take lightly. The further you follow your craft, the more doors you shut behind you. I do believe it is important that you really take the time to understand what you are doing and why it is right for you before you make any symbolic gesture of permanence.
The private details of my self initiation will remain private. I don't understand the need some people have to share everything with the world. All I will say however is that I designed and wrote the ritual from scratch myself and if you don't feel up to that, copying one out of a book won't cut it. This is a milestone on your path and in your life. Take the time to write something real and beautiful. If you can't, try studying for another period and come back to the dedication when you can give it the commitment it deserves.
I'll just add that one of the best descriptions of an initiation I have ever read was actually in a children's book. If you can get your hands on Margaret Mahy's The Changeover, the section of the book dealing with the steps into witchcraft are extremely well written. Excellent inspiration for anyone looking to design their own ritual. (I've told you before, good ideas can turn up pretty much anywhere.......)
There is a saying that once a witch, always a witch. I struggled to understand that before my own initiation. The concept of not being able to go back was confusing. Surely if I ever wanted to give up my craft I would just stop practising and that would be it? But it isn't really as simple as that. Its not so much that you can't go back, its more than you've developed a knowledge that makes it impossible to live your life back at the point at which you started. Witchcraft gives you an awareness of nature, spirit and philosophy. It forces you into an awareness of both your own power and your own insignificance. It sets you apart from who you used to be. And just like you can't undo the knowledge you have learned, you can't turn the clock back to be the person you used to be.
For me, my initiation into witchcraft represented the opening of my eyes to what lay beyond the mundainity of the world. And once I had an appreciation, an understanding of what really matters and what really doesn't, I knew I could never get my previous relationship with the trivial back. But the really fundamental change for me was that I could never want it back again either. I'm a witch to my bones.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1406911 (Krappweiss)
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