A Ritual of Self-Initiation
In The Babylonian Tradition
Initiation means "beginning." This beginning can be the initiation of something, or intiation into something. If you want to become a magician, you must be initiated into magic. Initiation into magic is the moment when you make an explicit commitment to fulfil two obligations - to realize to the utmost your individual potential, and to serve other people with everything you have. These two themes express the Great Work. You are already doing both of these things - if you dare, magic puts you in the fast lane to awareness of this fact, and thereby makes you better at what you do. Remember that medicine, the knowledge of healing, is a branch of magic.Be careful not to read too much into either of these obligations. Their meaning unfolds slowly, over the course of a life. But remember that they are one act. Spending hours in meditation and esoteric study appears selfish to those who think they know better what you should be doing; but these things are exactly the things you need to realize your potential - only then will you know what you have to give. You cannot serve in ignorance. When you begin to feel expendable, you are doing someone else's bidding - but this may also be the moment when you make the breakthrough. Conversely, volunteering in a soup kitchen or a shelter can open you up to parts of you potential you may discover in no other way. You can not exercise compassion in the Lotus Position. Initiation, then, is the moment when you decide to undertake the Great Work. The aim of an initiation ritual is to "get the ball rolling." This is an apt phrase, because it implies that, although you make the initial move, it soon rolls of its own momentum. Magical initiation is like that - you ask to be initiated, and you make the first gesture: you will know you are successful when you stop pushing, and find yourself running just to keep up. Every magical system exists because someone achieved initiation, and looking behind, told what they saw. But not all those who become masters teach their system - some do not even know they have a system - yet those who do become part of a school or found a school. Every religious tradition has a system: the longer it has persisted the richer it is. But every student, every master, interacts with other students and masters (they are the same thing), so that it is impossible to say that the school is native to any one tradition. Professional interpreters of systems, who make their livings on divisions, must deny it, but all systems are the same. This is simple to explain - all people are the same. What distinguishes systems, and what matters in the initial choice of a system, are then the same subtle differences that make you different from everyone else - the fact of infinite diversity. Yet apparent chaos, or infinite difference, forms patterns - some of these patterns are the cultures of humankind.
Many people will glide easily from their religion to their religion's esoteric tradition. In modern commercial culture it is not so easy. Individuals must choose among the many traditions being sold in the marketplace. With such a wealth of choice, it is difficult not to think "Maybe Tibetan Tantra is better than Theravada Buddhism:" and then a few days later "Maybe Sufism is a more authentic tradition than Kabbalah." But you will never get anywhere jumping around from book to book, teacher to teacher, class to class, yoga to ta'i chi, sex magick to macrobiotic diets to The Process to past life regression. The reason is that all these traditions are authentic, and all lead to quick and immediate success - but only if you are authentic, if you already know what's going on. Authenticity is the simple recognition that all these paths, all these glittering colors so neatly packaged on the shelf, all these teachers smiling with the calm assurance of attainment, lead back to one source - your own heart. In the context of a life where you have probably given up on the tradition of your childhood, or where you may not have had such a tradition at all, you must learn to feel and trust your heart a little to make a choice to which you can be faithful. For this reason every tradition demands that you have a period of introspection before it will accept you. To remain authentic is the promise you make at your initiation.When you have made your choice, you must make it hard to forget. This is the main reason for rituals of formal induction into the tradition. The more arduous your initiation, the less likely you will be to forget your oath. And the fact that you have undertaken the difficult, symbolic procedure, will show to those directing the initiation that you are serious. This is true just as much for an initiation into a visible society as for initiation into an invisible society, such as a self-initiation. You are not really alone. The following initiation is based on the Babylonian tradition. But remember that all systems lead to the same goal. As such, this self-initiation can be used to dedicate yourself to the path of magick in general.Initiation: The Dedication To Magick