Self Initiation to African Spiritual Systems
I’m seeing a lot of talk about self initiation into African Spiritual systems and I’m amazed. Back in the day, when our right to initiate into our ancestral traditions was stolen from us, our ancestors resisted in every way possible. They fought like hell to retain our spiritual processes. They died trying to do the rites their ancestors did. They understood its power and relevance. There wasn’t 1 ethnic group in Africa that didn’t have rites that gave license for priesthood and not one involved self initiation. Even hoodoo had specific initiation rites done by other Hoodoo doctas until people started abandoning or forgetting the last vestiges of ancestral practices. But they always knew that those gifts they had needed to be channeled and developed with another master.
So it’s one thing for our ancestors to try to make do when they were forbidden to practice. When they were forced to practice another religion or be whipped . Even for those who still don’t know any better to continue to practice the religion of their slavemasters and colonizes. They are only doing what they know and was taught out of fear. Its another thing all together when their descendants who do know their systems survived and are now thriving and available and they are free to practice , actively refuse to honor their ways. But they are arrogant enough to say they are self initiated into said traditions and start to call themselves authorities. It is not only an insult to those who sacrificed to undergo those ancient rites of initiation, it is a slap in the face to the very ancestors and divinities who created the initiation rites to begin with. And truly…let’s be honest…it’s pure ego…Spirit has nothing to do with it. And because they are assuming authority by wanting to teach other, its fundamentally deceptive.
Where did the idea of self initiation come from?
The idea of self initiation came from a European couple (the Ciceros) who wrote a book called Self Initation to Golden Dawn in 1995. It was based on a in person initiation system developed by Alyster Crowley who founded Golden Dawn Initiation based on Hermetic, Kaballistic and a hodgepodge of other systems. It was these rites that gave birth to the new Wicca /Pagan movement which birthed New Age. The Cicero’s self initiation book created Golden Dawn rites people could do themselves via visualization. This system was never for African traditions or people seeking ancestral knowledge.
Now we have people to who are taking a page from the Ciceros and trying to make it apply to ATRs as if our systems are the same. They are not even close. One of my elders told me you don’t even know what you don’t know and it applies in this case so much. They don’t understand the ase a developed priest has not to mention the years of relationship they have with the spirts they initiated to. It’s the stuff you dont know that goes into the process that can hurt you. To be honest you can’t even describe it even after you go through it.
Self initiation is like someone self studying heart or brain surgery or dreaming about it and feeling qualified to perform it but never had anyone teach them how to… or never correcting their errors or testing them. Who would put their lives in that persons hands? How does any of that make you qualified?
Or, It’s like some random person thinking they have a right to talk and hang out with you because they know your name and looked at your social media profile. You too would be like ,”hey I don’t know you like that! Who are you?” That’s what people are doing with these divinities. Not to mention the nonsense they claim to be doing in the name of that divinity.
And yes, there are people who are in touch with “Spirit” and or have a calling to initiate. It’s important to understand, however, that a calling doesn’t mean they are initiated. You have to answer a call with acting on it in life. Having spiritual experiences may be more an awakening to something higher, but not an indication of any finished process. It’s the difference between potential and actualization. Experiences are to give you motivation to act on that awakening by seeking that which can make it manifest in this world. Spiritual gifts do not translate into initiation.
An example is my best friend who was born with a veil ( a caul over her face that was called a natural ancestral veil.) She could see the ancestors from day one. Spent her life giving messages…better than any priest I’ve ever known. But she knew she needed to be initiated for her protection and to fully activate the ase to work better. Not doing so made her sick because the rites she needed wasn’t done. She never initiated and she died early because of it.
I too was born very gifted long before my initiation. I have seen and talked to spirits and even orisa before. I’ve invoked very powerful beings in this world and the multiverse! I was one of those who believed it was optional… I felt I was already doing the work. Divination, healing, teaching. I even dreamed I had a full initiation and deep down believed it was so…until I lay in a hospital bed and those “Spirits” explained either I initiate on this realm or I won’t walk again. You see , I spent 6 other lifetimes as a priest and this was my 7th… Those gifts and dreams came from previous lifetimes but they made it clear I still had to undergo initiation this lifetime to fulfill my destiny. The spirit world recognized my gifts, but not me as an initiated priest. The initiation and the training that followed is what gives the “license “ and spiritual authority to work on other’s behalf with those spirits as a priest.
Lastly, as our ancestors said, anything worth having is worth working for. Take your time. Haste makes waste. Shortcuts will only make you the laughing stock in the end. Seriously, no one respects a fake or wanna be. And it could hurt you more than help. There are legitimate practitioners available now. You honor your ancestors best by doing what they couldn’t do. You dignity depends on it.