Initiation is also seen as an important rite of passage. Ideally, an Initiation not only marks a stage of learning and/or achievement, it also acknowledges, or triggers, a change within. There is a definite mystical element to a good Initiation, and a person's Initiation has taken when they show evidence in their life of some deep inner revelation and/or change.
Initiation rituals may differ little from Tradition to Tradition, but the words and ceremony are only the surface of an Initiation. The personal experience is what is important, and this cannot be understood through reading, but must be lived through and assimilated. As Wiccaning does not guarantee a person will become Wiccan, the choice to take training and get an Initiation is an important rite of passage. The first step is Dedication. This is the commitment a person makes to himself or herself, to the Wiccan Community, and to the Goddess and God, to learn about Wiccan and study the religion and Craft. Being a Dedicant shows a certain level of commitment, yet does not confirm the full membership that Initiation does. Each Tradition and group has its own rules, but a somewhat recognized standard in Wicca is that at least a year-and-a-day must pass to progress from Dedicant to Initiate. Since Wiccan training covers the religion and practice of Wicca, including possibly the practice of magick, ethics, and divination, a year and a day may sometimes seem short. But many Dedicants may have already studied on their own, and have a head start. An important part of Initiation is learning a groups technical language, the buzzwords, so the person can communicate effectively with others of the Tradition.
There is no specified age at which Initiation becomes an option, though many groups will not allow minors into their groups, for consideration of alcohol use and also legal protection. A fifteen-year-old may be fully informed and mature enough to make a choice of religious path, but the parents may not allow the person to actively pursue that interest. All these restrictions can result in cutting most young people off from the possibility of Wiccan training, but until society takes a more benign view of Wicca, the restrictions will probably continue to exist.
As a person learns and progresses within Wicca, there are three Initiations
or Degrees available. A somewhat common phrase states, A First Degree
is responsible for themselves. A Second Degree is responsible for others
of their immediate coven or group, and a third Degree is responsible
for the community as a whole. Each group and Tradition has its own definitions
and levels of learning and expertise for each level. The minimum time
period for progression for First to Second, and Second to Third, is
again the usual year-and-a-day.