Pagan Journeys > Paths and Traditions

Wiccan Initiation and Degrees

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This discussion was started here:

I thought it might be good to start a separate discussion that covers traditional Wiccan views on initiation and degrees rather than continuing to hijack that thread. 

Let me start by saying that I personally do not hold any Wiccan degrees.  For the first years in my spiritual journey, I practiced as a Solitary participating only occasionally in a group setting over the web and attending a few rituals IRL.  I am currently a dedicant to a tradition having lineage from both British Traditional Wiccan branches - Gardnerian and Alexandrian.  As I stated in the other thread, I believe that Solitary Wicca is a valid path and would not wish to disparage anyone's personal practice in any way. 

BTW and many other Wiccan traditions are initiatory in nature.  I think it is interesting and telling that Wiccan "denominations" are called traditions.  The defines tradition as "the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice".  Initiation is the rite of passage where the oath bound traditions and lineage (among other things that I am not going to discuss) are passed down in Wicca. 

Most Wiccan groups practice initiation in degrees or steps.  In BTW, there are three degrees and initiates are viewed as Priest or Priestess after they earn their first degree. They can then initiate dedicants such as myself into 1st degree.  Subsequent initiations and degrees are conferred as they are earned.  Please note the word earned - initiation is something that occurs after much study and hard work.  The initiate must prove that they are able to perform certain tasks and have the knowledge and maturity to accept the spiritual aspect of the initiation.  It is not something that happens spontaneously or lightly.

Which brings me to why us stodgy old traditional Wiccans are so obstinate about accepting the idea of self-initiation. Initiation requires proving oneself worthy to the community.  Being in communion with the Gods is a wonderful spiritual experience and a gift from the Divine but it is not initiation.  I have read about surgery, watched surgery being performed, and been in surgery.  That does not make me a doctor.  Becoming a doctor requires years of study under the tutelage of experts and so does traditional Wiccan initiation.

That makes a lot of sense! I'm still not sure if I will ever attempt to become initiated into any tradition--I'm not sure if any of them would fit me. Still, I would love to learn more about Paganism, and I've always loved the feeling of working my butt off and getting something rewarding in the end. Then again, it seems like I could do that on my own without earning a degree.

I will, however, probably do a self-dedication ritual at some point. In fact, I  probably should hhave already!

I would recommend that you dedicate when you feel the time is right - no need to rush.  My self-dedication occurred the first time I really felt the Divine touch and recognized it as such.

Just to further muddy the waters.... be sure you know which "BTW" a person is speaking of. There are British Traditional Wiccans AND British Traditional WITCHES...with coven rolls older than Gardner (He claimed to have been initiated by one, but there is no way of telling if it really existed.)

Yep.  That's why I said British Traditional Wicca early on.  :D


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