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25 February 2007 @ 06:16 pm
Convocation 2007 VI: The Shaman's Path  
Okay, this changed me forever. The meditative journey in the Sorcerer's Initiation.

First of all, I want to say that I did not go into this journey consciously seeking initiation. Instead it was my goal to see healing. Because I am coming to think that is my purpose in this life. Not to learn about courage, or about tolerance, but rather to learn how to heal myself. There will be more on that in another post.

I did not seek initiation because for a long time now, since starting as a Witch, I have seen my journey as a transgendered person as being an initiation, and a shamanic one at that. I faced my Shadow, I made peace with it. I metaphorically died and was reborn a new person. Honestly, these things all trans-folk go through are what Witches are supposed to do, if they can, and I suspect that many never can achieve except the most dedicated. That is not a knock against anyone. I know how hard it was for me. I had to be pushed kicking and screaming into facing my Shadow. It was literally that or suicide.

So I never thought it was necessary. Been there, done that I have always said. Well, the Universe had other ideas. Maybe I should say that it knows better than I do. You would think that I would have figured that out by now... For initiation is not something done once, but rather something done over and over again as one grows, just as facing the Shadow is.

On to the journey-work. It was one of Chris' standard guided meditations. He played a hand drum, and led us into trance, to the great World Tree, from there to go where we would. The moment I got there, I met Crow and he descended into me, transforming me into the Crow/Human that I always am when outside of my Astral Temple. I looked at the tree a moment later, and Hekate was standing there at its base, in her form as the Crone. She was smiling at me. That sly sort of smile that hinted she knew what was coming. Beside her was an opening in the trunk of the great Tree, rimmed with human skulls.

She did not have to say a word, or even gesture. I was to enter. So I did, flying into the opening and laterally through a cave. I came out not in the Underworld, as I expected, but rather in Outer Space. The Earth was far below, and the stars all around. I flew directly toward one of the stars, and it quickly came to fill my view. I did not turn aside, but flew directly into its glowing white fire.

In the heart of the star, I burned. First went my feathered hide. I did not realize it at the time, but now upon reflection I see that is where Crow left me, as all spirit guides must in the moment of final decision where the shaman must face their test upon their own. When that happened, I ceased to be that Crow/Human. Rather I was my normal self, embedded within brilliant white flame.

It was not fast, but rather a slow destruction of my body. My hair and clothes went first. Then my skin. My muscles followed, and finally even my bones were reduced to ashes. Even those disintegrated completely in the nuclear furnace of the star.

And yeah, it hurt. A lot. It was not a physical pain however, so I cannot really describe it. I simply have no reference points. All I can say is that it was agonizing. Yet not in the sense that one would think.

I died.

I felt no fear however, because I knew exactly what was happening. I figured it out when I flew into the heart of the star and Crow left me. This was the Shamanic Initiation.

When it was done, there was nothing left of me. Nothing except my consciousness. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with a sense of grief. It felt as if my heart was breaking. Like when Mercury died. I felt so sad and crushed that I cried, and I mean in the physical world (it ruined the makeup in one of my eyes).

At the time I had no idea why I was so sad. But now I realize that I was grieving. For myself. I had died, and I was sorry. Also, as Blair would later tell me, one cannot move on from death until one has grieved. She is right of course.

Then I felt a presence beside me. It was Hekate, not as the Crone, but as a woman in her prime. She brought darkness with her, and with it she created my body anew by adding layer and layer of it upon my consciousness, my spirit. When she was done, she drew stars from the sky and set them on my brow in a band of light. Then she drew forth silver from the earth, and set it as a belt around my waist.

She took my hand and led me from the heart of the star, back into the void of space. I could see the Earth in the far distance, and stretching from it to us was a long line of people. They were of all ethnicities, genders, ages, genders. I saw a Native American man. A Native Australian. A nun. People from ancient Greece. People from the turn of the century. People from all times. There were trans-folk of all kinds. Some the gender-queer who do not try to conceal their trans-ness, some like me who try to blend in. There were also many non-trans folk. There were gay people. There were straight people. There was even a young punk rocker with a spiked mohawk.

It was the Hidden Company.

Hekate led me to the Earth, passing each member of the Company on the way. Each looked at me and nodded in approval. Finally we came to Earth, landing on a hilltop crowned by a great apple tree, with the sun setting in the ocean to the west. This was a place Hekate commonly took me. I think of it as Avalon.

She walked to the tree and plucked an apple, offering it to me. It was large, hard, and brilliantly red. It surfaces shone like it has been polished, reflecting the sun from the sky above. Without a word or hesitation I bit deeply into it and ate a mouthful, then proceeded to eat the rest of the fruit.

At that point Hekate reached up and pulled the sun from the sky, placing it in one of my hands. Then she reached up again, bringing the moon this time, and set it in my other hand. I looked down at them in my hands, day and night, then then drew them into my torso, incorporating them into my being.

Then Hekate filled me with the four elements. She poured water down my throat, followed by dirt. Then she made a fire spring up at my feet, and it quickly rose up within me (not without) encompassing my entire being. Finally she surrounded me with smoke, that congealed tightly around me, and was absorbed into my skin.

She took my hand again, and we turned to face the Hidden Company in what was now the night sky overhead. They were all smiling and nodding at me. I felt a great sense of joy then. I felt reborn. I was so happy that I rose up in the air with my arms upraised. As if I had just scored the winning goal in the Stanley Cup.

That is when Chris called us back. Suddenly crow was there with me again, and we flew back the way we had come. Back through the tunnel. Back to the other side of the World Tree, where Hekate waited for me, once again a Crone, with a look of intense satisfaction on her wizened face. Finally, I returned to physical reality.

I was glad Blair was there with me. I was leaning on her for the whole rest of the ritual, which went by in sort of a blur. She told me later that I was white as a sheet, and that she had put her arm around me because she was afraid I was going to collapse.

When the time came, I did enter the center of the circle for initiation. sugarmaplelife was one of the people performing the annointing. So I went to her. I was first in her line in fact. I saw Andrew was among the others seeking annointing, though Blair was not.

That was pretty much it.

I have never experienced anything like it. I have had many powerful journeys. But never, ever like this. Not even last year during the God Meditation. This was just like all of the Shamanic Initiations that I have read about. Not only from Pagan sources, but especially from anthropological ones. I journeyed to the otherworld, I was violently slain and my body destroyed, only to recreated, with something magical added. In my case it was not only the power (and balance) of the four elements, but also that of Day and Night, Light and Dark, as well as the Heavens and the Earth (the headband of stars, and the belt of silver). Other Shamanic traditions talk of the new shaman being filled with crystals, or a strange fluffy white substance, well, all sorts of things. Mine obviously reflect my background as a Shamanic Witch, and as a Semnotatoi of Hekate.

I died. I was reborn.

Addendum: Looking back on my experience, I noticed something. There was almost no speaking at all in my journey. I remember greeting Crow when he came to me, and thanking him when he left at the end. But that was it. Neither Hekate or I said a single word to one another, in spite of how dramatic the experience was. I think that is because I know her so well, and she me, that there is no need to speak much of the time now. She looks at me and I just know what she is thinking, and she in turn knows everything in my heart. She is the Goddess of dark places after all...
Current Mood: rejuvenatedrejuvenated
Current Music: Ayumi Hamasaki - Rainbow
(Deleted comment)
Danielle: hekatesubrosa_florens on February 28th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)
Thank you for relating that. It was amazing.

I am struck by the similarities. Maybe that is simply because yours was also an shamanic initiation. On the other hand, maybe there is something more than that. One reason I try to explore other traditions, even if like Ascension Magic I know that they are not for me, is that I find it a good way to separate the chaff from the pulp. Because if something is genuine, it will be reproduced over and over.

For example, I have seen that the basic mechanics of magic are the same in every tradition around the world, be it Lukumi, Witchcraft, Shamanism, Chaos Magic, etc... They each use different terms and have some different theoretical ideas, but when you boil it down they all do the same thing. That tells me that it is not just a bunch of nonsense. So when I see people describe the same basic things, it tells me there is something going on there.

I Especially note what you described as the painful/not-painful phenomena. That sounds like what I felt. As I said, it was painful, but not any physical way that I can relate.

I also noticed that as in my case, the Goddess also never said a word to you. I do not think that was an accident in either of our cases. I have been thinking about it, and I believe the reason is that initiations like this are mysteries, rather than secrets. Their wisdom cannot be told to another as a secret is, rather they must be experienced in order to be understood. So there was literally nothing for either of our Goddesses to tell us. The initiation itself was what they had to tell us.