Initiation is: a beginning
a gate that leads beyond the fields we know
that opens into a whole new journey
into the perilous heart of the labyrinth
that shows us how little we know
—Gabriel Carrillo, “Initiation”
In a later stanza of his poem on Initiation, Gabriel describes Initiation as “the great work; the greatest act of magic; the deepest sharing and trust.” What is seldom adumbrated by those who venture to discuss this deep and truly perilous subject is a profound truth. Initiation is not really a single moment. Just as each sephira on the Tree of Life in the Qabala is a gateway to all other sephiroth, the moment of Initiation contains within it the energy of all moments. It is truly a Time that is no Time, a Place that is No Place, a Point of Singularity that intersects with the Infinite.
I would like to point out that this poem has been posted on a website, but for reasons beyond my ability to explain, the final line of the poem was omitted. It reads: Without the chain of transmission, there is no Faery.
It has been said that it is truly the Gods Who Initiate the aspirant, and there is a profound truth to that statement. We know of occasions upon which properly trained Priest/esses made the gestures, performed the rites, and uttered the Words of Power, and yet, in the words of a very old order, “the Hound turned his nose up at the cake.” I can only say that one Initiate knows another. The signs and the sense through which they are known are instinctual; gut-level.
I have been reading the book Shower of Stars by Peter Lamborn Wilson. It is a meditation upon initiatory dreams. PLW explores material from the world of the Sufi mystics and the Taoist sages and a number of other cultural spheres, including the dreambooks of ancient Sumer and Egypt. The concept makes me think of a poem Dion Fortune composed, a prayer to Great Pan (whom I have experienced myself as a God of Initiation):
Open the door, the door that hath no key –
The door of dreams whereby men come to thee.
The Door that hath no key is the door of gnosis, and over that door is written the words “Know Thyself.” For, as the Goddess teaches in the Great Charge:
And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou know this mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.
These teachings, which most of us receive early on in our studies, point to another truth we would be wise to remember upon reaching the Gate of Initiation. The act of the Initiation rite is, as Gabriel also says in his poem, “a marriage that weds us to the Other, yet makes us more ourselves.” Over many years of both closely examining my own experience and thinking about the implications, I have come to realize that Initiation brings one to the threshold of the Door that opens into Mystery. The rite poses a question for the candidate. Many come to the threshold and receive a glimpse of the vistas the beckon beyond. And many choose to go no further. The door is always there; one may linger at the threshold for ever. It requires great effort, of a kind that cannot be told, to take the steps onto the path that lies beyond this seemingly “ultimate” moment. The choice is one each Initiate must make for hirself.
Further words from Gabriel’s poem:
… the wild and perilous Faery Power
That is the heart of Faery
more than words or gestures or symbols or names
that is passed in silence loud as the roaring sea
at the heart of the world
and in chanting as soft as the wings of the dove
that we touch through the one who brings us
through the beginning and links us in
the unending chain of transmission
one to one to one through time
since the ancient beginning.