Initiation takes many forms, it may consist of an individual submitting to a chosen Deity or new spiritual path, to undergoing a rite of passage that marks a point of reference from where the initiate can or will never be the same mindset than before entering the ritual or initiatory rite of passage, such as marriage, graduation from a civil or military organization or a rite of passage from a boy to manhood/girl to womanhood.
The importance of Initiation Rituals to 21st century heathens is a subject which I would like to address today; for just as it was of importance to mention time and again in various ways throughout Scandinavian, Germanic and Sami/Finnish folklore, to our Norse Ancestors, a profound change or awakening of understanding into the deeper mysteries of seiðr or elite warfare (and its effects on the psyche or consciousness of the practitioner) can only be entered I feel, after a person underwent a classic “Initiation experience” shared by ALL indigenous pre-Christian spiritual paths worldwide.
Just how important is an initiation ritual to contemporary Heathens who take up the Stav and follow the occult path of seiðr?
Important enough to show up in varying descriptions within the motif of not just Norse and Northern European mythology, but in all the ancient Indo-European worlds descriptive stories; understood in the three levels of execution which Joseph Campbell writes: Separation-Initiation-Return.
Our Ancestors understood to properly wield a deeper and more specialized form of magical craft which they viewed impacted the entire community as a whole, (both in seiðr and the magics of the elite warrior) these skills took not only training and preparation, but also a willingness to commit oneself fully to the trials and tribulations that would arise within the training process towards mastery of such deep, powerful and sometimes frightening, esoteric skills. But I hear you say ‘that was then, why do we, as intelligent and rational people need to submit to arcane, and perhaps what some may view as outdated or obtuse actions? What significance if any do they hold?’
This issue of Initiation, its meaning and importance, is as relevant today (perhaps more so!) than in the past. Our global society, ever expanding, becoming spiritually homogeneous in nature and activity is more concerned with the acquisition of material and the temporal satiation of the five senses than the search for meaning and its own soul.
I would submit that this moment in history is more important than any before as a society once divested of its soul, its roots, becomes dangerously unsustainable and has the potential to destroy itself through ignorance or imbalance. In my 30 plus years of doing Northern Esoterica; I hold the strong opinion Seidr and all old Norse occult arts (when seen as a truly ancient mystery path) must be the vanguard of protecting its deeper workings from those not awakened to the deeper kennings and power these paths hold.
Believe it or not, there ARE many 21st century Völva’s, Seidkona’s, vitki’s, seidmen, trolldómr, bersrkr’s (“bear-skins”) or ulfheioinin’s (“wolf leathers”), and Galdur Runur, who are NOT online sharing everything they discover and practice within their esoteric heathen occult work.
Like in ancient times, it is still believed by many that if a powerful Ancestral path is taught, it is to be taught only to those of either the trusted family line, or to someone willing to undergo a rigorous initiatory experience to prove the many years of dedication wouldn’t be wasted or squandered, or worse, used in ways it wasn’t intended.
Even in this 21st Century world, there are those who are still known to practice Forn sed with the steps involved of teaching these arts within the framework of Joseph Campbells epitome of the stages (as well as importance) of Initiation Rites, enable contemporary Norse Occult members that ever powerful transformational step from the mundane to the awakening stage; providing them with a positive sense of validation, worth and of value.
Indeed, initiatory training and the ceremonial observance of its stages of compleation, when properly functioning and executed, sustains its initiates and the society in which they operate. These types of rituals can be done within groups or alone, created by many or one in a setting of the participants needs, likes, or choosing the main thing to come away with by this post is that not only are initiation rituals very traditional and necessary today just as they were in the ancient past; moreover, they are very fulfilling and complimentary to a rich deep practice of reclaiming Forn sed authentically and personally in the very social and homogenized, disconnected Spiritual world of today.