Sovereign Earth 20 – Initiation

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Every so often, an event occurs that changes who you are and what you think
Being born is our first significant initiation.

When you were born you cried
And the world rejoiced
Live your life so that when you die
The world cries and you rejoice
The world cries and you rejoice

It is also an initiation for the parents – especially the initiatory process which the Mother has to go through.

On the evidence of birth, It could be said that the greater the initiation, the more risk and danger there is associated with it. Let’s have look at initiation more widely.

The next ‘big one’ in personal terms is the transition from childhood to adulthood  – from girl to woman; from boy to man.   For girls, there is an obvious and quite dramatic shift as evidence of this transition.  Nevertheless, they greatly benefit from having older caring women around to help them through. My three daughters have given me some insight into this stage in their development. Yet, I am a man and cannot know it ‘from the inside’
With boys its different:
Having worked with teenage boys for around a decade, it is remarkably revealing how powerful and transformative an effective initiation can be.  Sadly it is a  relatively rare rite of passage in our society these days. Yet once in our past, such rites would not only have been commonplace but essential. Indeed all indigenous cultures have initiation into manhood at the core of their tribal process.

Fire transform me, lead me to my passion
Fire transform me, lead me to my passion
I choose life -yes –  I choose courage
I choose life -yes! – I chose courage
To dance within the flame
To dance within the flame

It is said that it takes a whole village to initiate a boy – and that shows just how demanding and powerful it is. In our own rites of passage experience with Journeyman UK, there are two men to each boy.  This may sound like a paradox – yet it is essential.
It is also said that if we do not initiate our boys then they will burn the village down; Look at what is happening to the world, from local vandalism to national acts of degradation and destruction ’the boys are at play’ .   Most of our so-called leaders are still boys; their behaviour confirms this. The consequences for the world are disastrous.
The key change that happens when a boy is effectively initiated, is that his boyhood dependency on his mother is healthily shifted to one of honouring the ‘greater ‘ mother – wider society and the earth itself.

Mircea Eliade said that Initiation is
“a basic change in existential condition. Initiation recapitulates the sacred history of the world. And through this recapitulation, the whole world is sanctified anew… [the initiand] can perceive the world as a sacred work, a creation of the Gods.”

Effective Initiation shifts from dependency and being supplicant , to taking responsibility and ’stepping up’  – e.g. to be a respected leader.  How many of our current leaders are respected?

it is difficult to convey the essence of the initiatory experience, however, here is chant which gives a hint of what it is about:
“Fire sacred fire, burning through the night
Come to me in the dreamtime
With your visions of light
Circle round spiral down
To this heart open wide
Healing light, burning bright, dry these tears that I’ve cried.”

I came across this old favourite of mine, which kind of fits here, perhaps reflecting the effect of initiation at its best.

“May I develop complete acceptance
And openness to all situations and emotions
And to all people.
May I experience everything nakedly, completely,
without mental reservations or blockages.
may I never withdraw from life
Or centralise onto myself
May my heart be laid bare and open
To the fire of all that is.”

– Reggie Ray

There is an intimate relationship between effective spiritual initiation and fully developing as an adult.    See what I have written below about Kegan

I believe that a true initiation has the capacity to remind each of us of the essence of this chant:

“Why have you come to Earth – do you remember?
Why have you taken birth?  why have you come?
To love, to serve and remember
To love, to serve and remember
To love, to serve and remember
To love, to serve and remember “

Visualisation –  Take ourselves to a sacred grove –  I’ve seen one or two of you refer to it as the ‘Global Grove’ because there are people here from all around the world.
The following is an invitation and only if it feels right for you:   In the centre of the grove is a blazing fire.   Knowing you are held and safe and fully protected here, I invite us each to walk forward toward the fire.  You stand before it and hear this song:

Fire transform me , lead me to my passion
Fire transform me , lead me to my passion
I choose life -yes! –  I choose courage
I choose life -yes! – I chose courage
To walk within the flames
To walk within the flames

Then -and only if it feels right for you to do so – as a symbolic act of transformation, you simply walk through the fire.   Your commitment is to your greater good – toward fulfilling your full potential.  For your greater good. For the greater good.

There are many forms of initiation and my own experience is that life will provide us with whatever we need in this regard at the appropriate moment and according to our need and what we are capable of coping with.
As well as the initiation of birth there is the guaranteed one of death – which I looked at in-depth last week.   For many, initiation into relationship, partnership or union is a key marker on life’s path. This also comes with its call to develop – to grow and flower further. That perhaps is the key aspect of initiation; to shed a skin (sometimes more than one) and dare to step into a new way of being. This inevitably involves a transition, which for it to be meaningful, it seems has to be memorable and usually testing in some way.  These testing times can be to varying degrees but consider the journey of the butterfly, first as caterpillar then as pupa, and into chrysalis where it literally breaks down and disintegrates before being born or reborn – as the amazing and beautiful butterfly.   Those potential butterflies that don’t make it through the other initiatory stages, don’t make it to butterfly. Might our lives have some parallels? I tend to think so.

‘ To go in the dark with a light is to know light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.’
~ Wendell Berry

“Into the silence of the night
Into the silence of my heart
I am making my dreams come true
You are making your dreams come true
We are making our dreams come true”

An initiatory poem of mine

When on the wind I freely skate, and graze
the very silk clouds of creation
Wave turbulent wave
Such is the remit of full life’s desire
And in tumultuous harmony do I aspire.
To scratch and scream
To scour the earth
In rage to seek what wisp folk
Only glean in fancied dream
I will not shun the goal nor heed defeat
But catapult upon the currents
Of those who breathe deceipt
Into the bounteous spiral of oh such rare delights
As course through magic sky veins
Of the earth in flight

– JJ Middleway

 

Initiations and the path of development, are not linear or straight, but rather spiral and often weave back upon themselves.  Trust the process is what I have learned – So long as the intent is worthy and sound – then simply “Trust the process”.

Here is the Kegan model for developing into an adult   – with sincere thanks to my friend Dick Baker for bringing to my attention.

  • Stage 1 — Impulsive mind (early childhood)
  • Stage 2 — Imperial mind (adolescence, 6% of the adult population)
  • Stage 3 — Socialized mind (58% of the adult population)
  • Stage 4 — Self-Authoring mind (35% of the adult population)
  • Stage 5 — Self-Transforming mind (1% of the adult population)

I would suggest that an effective spiritual path -authentic and dogma-free – is what can help us navigate the developmental stages of life and provide a map and the tools to navigate our way through the maze towards full and healthy expression ( ultimately through being totally in harmony with life and all of creation)
Kegan (a former Harvard psychologist) shows that adults go through 5 distinct developmental stages (just like children).

Becoming an ‘adult’ means transitioning to higher stages of development. It means developing an independent sense of self and gaining the traits associated with wisdom and social maturity. It means becoming more self-aware and in control of our behavior, as well as increasingly aware of, and better able to manage our relationships and the social factors affecting us.

However, most of us — about 65% of the general population — never become high functioning ‘adults’, i.e. we never make it past Stage 3 (out of 5 Stages!). We still lack an independent sense of self because so much of what we think, believe, and feel is dependent on how we think others experience us.

Many of us think that being an adult simply means getting better at what we do (i.e. acquiring more skills and knowledge). Kegan would disagree.

According to Kegan, becoming an adult isn’t about learning new things (adding things to the ‘container’ of the mind), it’s about transformation — changing the way we know and understand the world (changing the actual form of our ‘container’).

Transformation is akin to a “personal Copernican shift”. Prior to Copernicus, we thought the earth was the center of the solar system. Then Copernicus came along and showed that the sun is at the center. So while nothing physically changed, our entire conception and perception of the world was transformed.    Such is the nature of initiation.

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Magic Imagination

This is the first volume of poetry by JJ reflecting his early work in the mid to late 1990’s.  It includes classics like  ‘Ode to Woman‘, ‘I am not a Christian‘ and ‘Come Dream the World Anew‘. JJ’s deep love of the Earth and of life, permeates these poems

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