Wicca in New Zealand

Rites of Passage

2010 Sabbat & Esbat dates

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      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.

      Not all Wiccans will get all three Degrees, but ideally each Wiccan will train and study at least enough to get a First Degree. Wicca, as it is currently practiced, is a religion of 'Priests' that is, each Initiate is considered to be a Priestess or Priest in his or her own right and fully capable of communicating with their Gods directly. Some Wiccan Traditions reserve the title 'High Priestess' or 'High Priest' for people who have been initiated to the Third Degree. Some use that title for the leaders of a coven.