Rites of Passage

I recently listened to a very interesting talk given by a high priestess of a particular coven from the East of England, they worshipped the ‘Old One’ as their main deity. This witch and her coven were very sexual in nature with their rites and used more ancient methods of practice compared to the modern day ‘wiccan’ society who I find amusing to say the least. She also referred to her God at times as Old Horny as this coven frequently gave themselves up to their horned god as a sexual sacrifice in exchange for their intentions being met.

Apparently, the coven had 12 women and only one man (lucky git) who became the Old One for their Esbats. These meetings took place on the night of the full moon every month in a clearing at the side of a cemetery in the early hours.

The high priestess was asked by the interviewer how people were chosen for the coven when there were recruiting (as the doors were now closed), and she said that they must initially pass through the darkness and be received into the light?

Neophytes were to abstain from food and water in the presence of the high priestess, which was always on the day of the new moon and on that same night towards sunset, they were taken to a remote wood which was known to be notoriously haunted and left there naked the entire night on their own until morning. They were instructed to stay within the area and would be retrieved in the morning by the horned god!

The initiates who managed to stay the course for the entire night reported being scared stiff and frightened beyond any degree they had ever experienced either as a child or an adult. They saw moving shadows, heard distant screams and what sounded like baby’s crying. As you could imagine, some just couldn’t handle it any further and fled in terror. As the fear lurked near them and through them more and more, a strange force came over them and they began to embrace their fears and by accepting their situation (albeit eventually), they slowly started to feel nourished and refreshed by it all until the dawn of the morning air thoroughly cleansed them in the light.

I thought this was one of the most beautiful initiations into traditional witchcraft I have ever heard of. Placing someone in a position where they will have to deal with intense fear will definitely take them through a change in perspective of how they will view life thereafter. It will make you mentally stronger with more confidence and will allow your mind to open up to potentiality and possibility. It is these traits and many more which has made this coven very powerful indeed; The terrible thirteen have improved their lives beyond all expectation because of their rite of passage into the light where they now have no fear, only a zest for life.

There is a group of Shamans in the california do the same but on lsd. Ruby Wax did it. They lead you to the forest and leave you there alone for a night whilst your out of your nuts. Your supposed to meet your Totem.

I can only say I whole-heartedly agree with this - when you’ve faced down a certain level of mortal bone-deep terror, and moved on without lasting trauma, then you’re alchemically altered by the experience forever.

One of the good things about core shamanism is it encourages people to seek out personally-meaningful initiatory experiences, that’s its “inheritance” from traditional indigenous shamanic practices. It can also heal people - as it did me - by showing you how to view past events as rites of passge, not unjust wounds nor things that have to scar you forever… it’s a change of stance only the would-be initiate can make for themselves, but that path does have a good track record for helping people see things in a more empowering manner.