Marking Initiation (and a spread!)
At every level of initiation I've gone through in Ifa, my spiritual teacher Iyanifa Ifalade speaks these words:
"Now that you have been initiated, you must continue to initiate yourself."
The understanding is that the ritual means nothing if you are not willing to commit to the growth it requires. The ritual means nothing if you are not going to be in service to your community with the gifts you received. The ritual means nothing if you don't believe in your own capacity for change. Initiation is a call to our spirit, asking us if we are ready to honor our divinity so that we may be a light in the world.
It is also an affirmation that initiation isn't always behind temple doors.
Lately, I feel as though I'm being called to step into my power. I'll tell you right now, I'm scared of it even as I'm thrilled about it.
That's the thing about spiritual growth, isn't it. At some point all the work you've been doing underwater, all those lessons you've been integrating, all the wisdom you've learned and earned ask to be put in practice.
To move from without and make itself known in the world. I don't know about you, but for me it's been so much easier in the past to hype myself up and affirm myself when I'm not at best than when I'm doing well. Thing is I'd been doing that for so long, picking up broken pieces of myself, that I didn't know how to move in the light!
After being forced to feel small for so long, learning to take up space is a massive undertaking. Unlearning all those defensive habits that kept us going once upon a time but now hold us back is some of the most difficult work to do.
This too is initiation ritual. It is the call we must answer to and cannot ignore.
We are beloved of the universe, of Spirit, ancestors, and teachers. We deserve to take up space and let our lights shine as bright as they can. We are empowered to meet the destiny we promised ourselves at the creation of our souls.
Marking initiation, in and out of the temple, is important because it gives us a chance to see how far we've come, and how far we can still go. It gives us a pause to evaluate the lessons that experience has taught us, and invite new ones that will carry us further.
It also gives us a chance to share with the community that keeps us going, giving thanks for their support and re-committing our service to them in turn. It is why initiations in Indigenous traditions have always been a community event.
Think back on the initiations of your life, in and out of spiritual spaces. And love on yourself for how far you have come and how far you're still going to go.
And if you'd like some assistance with your reflection, I have a spread for you!
A Spread To Mark Initiation
1. Who you are before (draw from Courts).
This position gives you some idea of what kind of energy you've been in and what might evolve. I suggest drawing from the Courts if you're using a tarot deck.
2. What you (should) leave behind.
Learning how to let things go so that you can move forward. Defense mechanisms, bad habits, and self-sabotage that we used as survival measures may come up here. Be gentle to yourself as you reflect on them and practice release.
3. What you (take) with you.
Your experience has given you lessons to integrate as you shift into new space. It is important to identify them
4. What support you will need in this new energy space.
Like I mentioned above, in indigenous traditions, when someone moves into a new stage in their life, this initiation is marked with the community as witness. To be affirmed, to be seen, to be witnessed is a powerful thing. Not just during the initiation but after, and at every new initiation after it. Bring in your community, spiritual and physical.
5. How you can best meet this initiation from a place of empowerment.
In times of change, when we are asked to expand and take up space, we can sometimes revert to old ways out of habit. Even when things are going great! And when things aren't so great, we still need to understand where our inner power comes from.
For me, the death of my mother was an initiation. Thanks to support and lessons I'd integrated, I am thankful to have been able to meet the grief from a place of healing and not just loss. It was hard, but it made it so much easier to go through the grief journey with this energy.
6. How you can be of service to your community and the movement with this new wisdom.
Connecting to each other, supporting and fighting for each other keeps us alive in a world growing colder by the second. And we all have something to offer. It may not be that all of us can run for office or heal the sick, but we all have something to offer to our community (and not just people, nature, ancestors, these are all parts of our community). Let this position help you find your gift.
7. What energy marks this new space (draw from Majors).
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I suggest that you draw from Majors if you use a tarot deck as this will be pretty significant and long-term energy.