Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

Self-Initiation Rituals

Sometimes you know you have crossed–or are about to cross–a threshold. You are moving from one chapter in your life to another, or changing your status in some way. Perhaps it’s attainment of a professional license, or moving to another location. Perhaps it’s taking on a new role that you take very seriously as a part of your identity.

Such a moment may be a time for a very special rite of passage: an initiation. And particularly, you may need to do that initiation alone, so this post is focused specifically on how to create such a ritual for yourself*.

I did such an initiation for myself many years ago. I hiked up to a hidden waterfall near where I live. Alone there in the forest, I stripped off my clothing and submerged myself in the pool at the top of the waterfall (cold!), as an act of “washing off the old” and being reborn out of the flowing water.

Then I got out and, wrapped in my cloak, I went through the following steps. Self-initiations are as varied as individuals, but mine included some pieces you might want to use:

1) Drawing a symbolic circle of protection around me, I acknowledged that the ritual was a nod to growth and commitment that had already happened;

2) I invoked the names of “powers” (qualities) and abilities in the name of what I dedicated myself to;

3) (optional) I declared a true name (which can be a “magical name” or a secret alias and known only to you, or just your legal name, if that’s what you prefer) and a title (my title was “Green Knight”–at the time I was a full-time advocate for the environment of my region);

4) I charged pertinent tools–mine included a pen, my briefcase, my Palm Pilot (it was awhile ago!) and some ritual tools–running them through incense smoke;

5) I declared a solemn pledge of commitment to my heart’s path;

6) I anointed my brow with a sanctified oil to symbolize openness to wisdom (I used sandalwood oil and used a finger to draw a circle in the middle of my forehead);

7) I made an offering of peeled fruit and wine to the creatures of the sacred place where I did the ritual, and enjoyed some myself;

8) I invoked/summoned help. No path must be walked alone; the dedication includes a commitment to find the right allies and work with them well.

9) Finally, I declared that the dedication was complete, the title had been attained, and the subject (me) now walks the Earth in service to Life, Love, Beauty and Truth. I “undrew” the cricle. The ritual was complete.

I put my clothing back on, and hiked back down the canyon, feeling changed, full, inspired. Alive.

*Initiations can be done with groups, too, and be very moving and wonderful. I’ll post about those sometime, but this one is for a solitary self-initiation.


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