About Initiation, Part 3   Leave a comment

Go to Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

The circle of a dozen or so Druids in the grove ahead wait in silence as I approach with my guide.  Half are dressed in ceremonial garb, and the chief Druid, in addition to her white robe, wears a circlet on her brow.  Just below it, three streaks of white descend and splay outward — the three rays of awen*, spiritual illumination and inspiration.  They stand out on her tanned skin.  In that instant, other faces flash in my awareness — followers of Vishnu and Shiva, who wear similar ritual tilak, facial markings that identify them as devotees of their god.  I know from prior experiences that I have lived past lives in India.  Initiation often links us to previous openings of consciousness, a reminder of this long path we walk.

In the same instant, my awareness shifts again.  What we do here feels immemorially ancient — the grove, the gathered initiates, the ritual challenge, the spiritual power invoked to seal the rite, the sense of kinship with these people.  The circle also feels larger than the number I can see — many who are present come “without their skins on.”  The form of the rite is endlessly variable, and yet always the same at heart: Will I accept this opportunity to grow?  Even as awe runs its cat-feet up and down my spine, I think how many times I have no doubt answered with my life:  “No.  I am afraid.  Other things matter more.  Doing nothing is easier.  I don’t like change.”  But from these half-beginnings and false starts, and from the times I did inch forward, I have built up a reservoir of spiritual momentum that serves me now.  I have grown since those times, willingly and unwillingly.  I can do more now, because of what I did then. How much still remains to be seen.  But I am newly initiate. I have begun … again.

We cannot readily live in this consciousness all the time without training and discipline.  But it serves as a foretaste of what is possible.  This is, after all, initiation — a beginning, an open door.  How and whether I move forward depends on me.

“You are the best you’ve ever been,” a Wise One tells the disciples gathered to listen and question.  I measure this against a nagging sense of having lost much of what I once knew, and could do.  Is this an echo of wisdom and achievement I threw away sometime in the past, or an inkling of what lies ahead?  If I’m the best now, with the crap I know I have hanging off me, what kind of schmuck was I, oh, say a thousand years ago, or ten lives into the past?!  And so we introvert and let our weaknesses decide who we are, rather than knowing they are merely guidelines for where to bring the light, where to put conscious intention rather than unthinking reaction.  If I can perceive them, I’m part-way to no longer letting them rule.

Go to Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

/|\ /|\ /|\

*Awen (ah-wehn), a Welsh word meaning “inspiration, illumination,” also serves in OBOD some of the same purposes that OM does for meditators in other traditions.  As an echo of primordial sound, it is chanted in ceremonies and in private.

The three rays of awen are sometime represented thus:  /|\  (I use a triple awen as a text divider and as part of this site’s design.) OBOD uses a three-rayed awen, topped with three dots, as a logo and symbol of the Order.

Image:  tilak.

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