Flowers from the hospital, because I have friends committed to cheering me up.

Flowers from the hospital, because I have friends committed to cheering me up.

There are a lot of ways to look at initiation.   The Online Merriam-Webster defines:


noun \i-ˌni-shē-ˈā-shən\

: the process of being formally accepted as a member of a group or organization : the process of being initiated

: a ceremony or series of actions that makes a person a member of a group or organization

: the act of starting something : the beginning of something

This doesn’t really cover the sense of the experience, or even the basis of an initiation ritual.  In most cases, an initiation provides a shared experience.  Members of the group have it, non-members don’t.  In that sense sex can be looked on as a form of initiation, or childbirth, or Harry Potter’s Thesteral which you can only see if you have seen death.   It is something that all the “information” about doesn’t come close to having the actual experience.

Experiences don't have to be identical to be shared.  I had quite the visitors in the hospital.

Experiences don’t have to be identical to be shared. I had quite the visitors in the hospital.

Another thing the dictionary doesn’t give us is that sense that once you’ve been through an initiation you can never go back.  Innocence is lost forever and a new perspective is gained.  This is why magicians are so unwilling (as a “club”) to share their secrets.  We all think we want to know how the trick is done, but once we know we no longer experience the same joy and awe as when we are being entertained.  It stops being fun, unless you are “the right sort” that is challenged by learning new and better tricks and performing them yourself.  Then you belong “in the club”.

That piece: Who “should” be initiated?  Who “belongs”?,  is another factor in the initiatory experience.  For most intentional initiations there is a training and testing period to see how badly you really want this.  It also allows the initiators to get a sense of “fit” for the group.  During this period there are often teasing hints about the initiation itself.   “We haven’t lost anyone yet.”  “Are you sure you’re not afraid of blood?”  “How much pain do you think you can tolerate?” These are the kinds of things commonly heard prior to an initiatory experience.

What is being hinted at is that initiation is meant to be transformational.  Rituals of initiation are designed to shift consciousness and point of view.  Initiatory experiences naturally do the same.  There is a reason that surrogate mothers, teens giving their children up for adoption, and people who experience trauma’s along with pregnancy change their minds after the child is born.  They no longer feel the way they thought they would because in a real way, having gone through the experience, they are no longer the same people.   You can argue that this is a small change in the drama of the moment, but I would suggest that there is still a real and permanent change in how the event is viewed, in perspective.

I truly feel like I have just been through an initiatory experience.  I was tested prior to my surgery, challenged with dietary restrictions and pre-surgery preparation.   I was given horror stories about the experiences other people have had and about what I was most likely to go through.  I was questioned, challenged, in pre-op, about how badly I really wanted this.  Was I willing to let whatever might happen happen?  I was reminded that this was an elective surgery and I could back out – even at that last-minute.  Now I find myself welcomed by others who’ve been through this process.  I am adjusting to the “new perspective” as I begin to heal from the surgery.

Bee balm from my garden.  I couldn't get close enough to the honey bee to get him in the photo.  Healing takes lots of forms.

Bee balm from my garden. I couldn’t get close enough to the honey bee to get him in the photo. Healing takes lots of forms.

It is, as the dictionary suggests, a new beginning.  As I am only at the beginning there is still much to learn and a long way to go.  But there is no going back, only forward on this journey.   I take my small steps filled with gratitude.  I’m grateful for the overwhelming support I have had.  I am grateful for the skill of my surgeon who against all odds managed to do this in the least invasive manner possible.  I am grateful for my own history and preparation which makes the first steps of this journey easier.  I am grateful for all those who’ve been here before me and who continue to light my way.

About lisaspiral

I've been writing and speaking about spirituality to small groups for years and am looking to expand my horizons. Hopefully this blog will inspire you to expand yours as well.

Posted on July 21, 2014, in Bio, grattitude, magic, Pagan, spiritual, spirituality and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Been looking for this post, Lisa. I’ve been thinking about you these last days and hoped your surgery went well. Now, it’s onward to a new life, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it with you.

  2. I couldn’t wait to see if you were going to blog today! So proud of this initiation that you have gone through, Lisa. Saw this picture on FB and was going to comment but didn’t get back to it. It’s such a lovely photo of you and your daughter. Wishing you the best as this newness unfolds.

    • It was fun to have her bring the puppy up. She figured if she walked she wouldn’t have to pay for walking, but couldn’t justify the time if she wasn’t walking the dog. So she asked what the rules were and met them. Thanks for the support!

  3. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Such lovely photos – I wish all hospitals were full of doggie visitors!

  4. Oh wow. It feels like only yesterday I read that you were going to have surgery. I hope it went well! And I think it’s great that you got an initiation – some people go through these – and similar – things without knowing anything, and end up complaining a lot afterwards. At least you got to know what to expect. 🙂

    • Well in all fairness it went MUCH easier than expected. 🙂 Thank you for the well wishes. I don’t want to be “one of those people” so I do try to pay attention.

  5. Congratulations on the success of your surgery. Also, happy 3-year anniversary of your blog!

  6. Wishing you the best and a speedy recovery, Lisa. I love that your dog is visiting you in the hospital. How cool is that?!

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