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Understanding Wicca: Initiations, Dedications and ‘Officially’ Becoming a Wiccan
Greetings, friends. This article is primarily aimed at those just starting their way on the Wiccan path, to help you familiarize yourself with all these new terms and concepts that can be so head-spinning in the beginning. New solitary Wiccans sometimes come to a point at which they wonder—how do I make being Wiccan ‘official’? Do I need to get an initiation to be a ‘real Wiccan’? And where do I go for such things? How do I make this happen?
Make yourself a cup of mint tea and have a seat—let’s talk about initiations, dedications, and what officially makes you a Wiccan.
When are You "Officially" Wiccan?
Traditional Wicca (Coven Based)
Go back to where it all started.
About Wiccan Initiation
One of the best things you can do when you are confused about a term is to turn to the dictionary for clarification. At Dictionary.com, the relevant definition for initiation is “formal admission or acceptance into an organization or club, adult status in one's community or society, etc.”
The key understanding we need to take away here is that an initiation is something that’s done to you, by someone who belongs to a specific group, bringing you into that specific group—in Wicca, that would be a coven. When you join a coven and complete their training and membership requirements, the initiation is when they mark your admission. It does not necessarily grant you any kind of privileges outside of that coven, not even in another coven of the same trad.
Self-initiation is an oxy-moron, it’d would be like declaring yourself a fraternity member, without an actual fraternity accepting you into their fold. There's nothing wrong with not being initiated; there's nothing 'less Wiccan' about Solitaries. But calling oneself initiated when you were never trained and accepted belittles the efforts made by those who have put in the work and time.
It is Said Only The Gods Can Make a Wiccan
The Misuse of the Word Initiation
There are authors—who are otherwise reputable authors—who will perpetuate the idea that you should a self-initiation to be Solitary Wiccan. This is simply a mistaken use of the term. Initiation is not what makes you Wiccan.
Some people will lead you to believe that you need to be initiated generically by any random Wiccan—but initiations are meaningless unless you are actually joining a specific Wiccan coven. That’s a little like someone coming along and accepting you into a fraternity to which they don’t belong.
If you really feel you need initiation to validate your religious path, you should seriously consider seeking coven membership. But initiation makes you a group member, it’s not what makes you Wiccan.
So How do I Become Wiccan Then?
Simply deciding to be Wiccan is enough to make you Wiccan. Once you read some books, begin to understand what the religion is about, decide to start practicing it—congratulations, you are as Wiccan as anyone who tried to initiate themselves or tried to get generically initiated into a non-existent coven.
Being Wiccan is a choice… we’re not a club; there is no membership process. Groups and solitaries operate autonomously. It’s between you and your Gods.
When You Are Ready
About Wiccan Dedication
One thing initiation has going for it—it’s a rite of passage, a way to formally recognize that decision to become Wiccan. These kinds of rituals have great meaning—which is why so many different religions have some kind of rite of passage for new members, such as baptisms.
Converting to a religion is a transition; but long, slow transitions can make you feel stuck in limbo. The rite of passage helps you snap out of that limbo. It’s a ceremonial acknowledgement. It’s the border with the big sign that tells you that you’re firmly in Wiccan territory now.
The Solitary Wiccan’s alternative to initiation is a dedication. The dedication ritual involves making your formal declaration that you’ve done your initial research, you’ve made your choice to walk the Wiccan path, and you are going forward now trying to live the Wiccan life.
This can be a very moving, beautiful ceremony. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you want. You can do it alone, or if you have friends who are also becoming Wiccan you can have a joint ceremony. If you have friends who have already dedicated themselves, you may invite them to join in your ritual and celebrate your newfound faith.
However you proceed is up to you, but the most important thing to remember is this: ceremony or no ceremony, the only person that makes you ‘officially Wiccan’ is you.
© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright