Common Ground: The Kinship of Metaphysicians

A syncretic approach to esoteric teachings - the golden threads that connect Pagans, Yogis, Rosicrucians and Masons.

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Initiation: It Doesn't Just Happen in Fraternities

Here’s a funny thing:  I had been a fan of initiations for most of my life - but never until my 60’s did I realize that every stage of my life was an initiation! 

I used to think that initiations were elaborately staged rituals like fraternity hazings, designed to teach certain lessons. They were very different from real life, since the neophyte was never actually in danger. They seemed to threaten deadly penalties, but if the initiate lost heart and gave up he was safely whisked out of the ritual space and deposited outside. He would never again be invited to join that organization, but at no point had his life or limbs actually been in danger.      

This false danger is described in Paul Christian's historic double volume, The History and Practice of Magic, wherein he conducts the reader through ancient Egyptian initiations of astounding technological complexity in a vast subterranean tunnel connecting the Great Pyramid with the Sphinx. His description has persisted through the ages and is enshrined, with only minor variations, in the traditions of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC. 

A similar illusion of danger is created in the Third Degree of Masonry, in which the initiate is made to play the part of a semi-historical figure who was attacked and murdered; but of course the violence is only symbolic. After all, his brother Masons need new members! They have no intention of losing a good man, especially since he has already been unanimously voted in. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle describes a terrifying initiation in his Sherlock Holmes novel, The Valley of Fear. The initiate is told to step forward as he feels sharp needle-like points pressing against his blindfolded eyes. When he proves his bravery by proceeding, the points melt away. 

How dense of me, to miss the next intuitive connection:  that the initiations of Life possess the same assurance of ultimate safety, because death itself is an illusion! When you are in the proper spiritual consciousness, the physical outcome makes little difference; for your life goes on anyway. You simply make the seamless transition from material manifestation to immaterial…and eventually back to material again. 

Initiations are not virtual reality; they are actual reality. And their point is not survival, but learning. What is important is to say, “Yes, I accept this initiation” - to enter into it with full attention and to persevere to its end. You will probably make some mistakes as you proceed; but that is part of the lesson, too. 

Some of our life initiations take years, and lead us through stages of increasing complexity. Others may be over in a couple of hours or a few days. The initiation can be frightening or painful. But if you go into it with your spiritual eye open, you will come out the other end knowing a lot more than you did before. And, regardless of the form you find yourself in, you will still be you! Frank Herbert says this beautifully in Dune:  “Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” 

Your perception of the world will have changed, and you yourself will have changed as a result - without losing your essence. This is the very definition of an initiatory experience. 

Real initiations are not easy, for what would be the point? Losing a loved one is an initiation. Bankruptcy is an initiation. Having your Social Security check delayed by petulant politicians is an initiation. Heart attack, stroke and disability are initiations. Cancer is an initiation. Alzheimer’s and death are stages in a long initiation. Once in, you have no choice but to continue to the end. But you will come through, when all is finally over, restored to yourself. For Alzheimer’s only affects the brain. It has no power over the soul. And the wheel continues to turn. 

You will be you again. A wiser, steadier, more confident and compassionate you. This is the metaphysical meaning of the initiatory experience. This is the philosopher’s stone that transforms base elements into spiritual gold. 

It would not be reasonable to expect our initiations to stop, because the entire purpose of life is to experience initiations - and, by means of them, to learn…to develop…to evolve…to become ever stronger like steel pounded and tempered in a fire…to grow into wise souls. It doesn't matter that we get tired; it does not signify that we don't always like it. Those in charge of these issues aren't impressed by our whining.  

The Goddess is light, life and love. She is also Kali and the Morrigan. She preserves and teaches us through all of Her aspects, whether or not we think we're ready for the lesson. 

 

 

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A student of esoteric traditions since the age of 16, Ted Czukor (Theo the Green) taught Yoga for 37 years until retiring in 2013. For 26 years he was adjunct faculty for the Maricopa, AZ Community Colleges, teaching Gentle Yoga and Meditation & Wellness. Raised in the Methodist Church but drawn to Rosicrucianism, Hinduism and Buddhist philosophy, he is a devotee of the Goddess in all Her forms. Ted has been a Shakespearean actor, a Masonic ritualist and an Interfaith wedding officiant. He is the author of several books, none of which made any money and two of which are available as .pdf files. He lives with his wife Ravyn-Morgayne in Sun City, Arizona. Their shared dream is to someday relocate to Glastonbury, England. theoczukor@cox.net.

Comments

  • Jamie
    Jamie Sunday, 13 October 2013

    Mr. Czukor,

    Thank you for this post! I'd never really thought of initiations in that way before.

    People like you make me wish there was a Pagan version of "The 700 Club", minus the religious fundamentalism and attendant hypocrisy.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Sunday, 13 October 2013

    That is very nice, Jamie. There are many bloggers on this site who deserve to have huge televangelist Pagan churches and lots of money! Unfortunately, most have trouble making ends meet. By the way, please call me Ted. I don't know how young you are, but I always gave the same permission to my community college students.

  • Jamie
    Jamie Monday, 14 October 2013

    Ted,

    It's something I started doing recently, when I thought about the differences between online and face-to-face contact. It occurred to me that I don't really know the people who sometimes bare their souls on the internet. It's also a great privilege for me, as a solitary Pagan, to be able to read the wise words of spiritual teachers like yourself.

    We won't always agree as Pagans, with regard to theology or politics or other beliefs. But I'm with Mark Twain. When you see two people with exactly the same opinions, only one of them is doing the thinking.

    Truth be told, I'm a middle-aged man. I realized I was Pagan in my late teens, and tried to ignore the call of the Gods. I tried to be a good Christian, tried to fit in with everyone else in the village where I live.

    It only made me deeply unhappy.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Tuesday, 15 October 2013

    Just out of curiosity, Jamie, what part of the world do you live in? Today I met a nice social worker named Jamie (James). But I'm guessing it wasn't you! Our Phoenix-area Valley of the Sun is not a village.

    You have many more years of Pagan experience than I do, though our stories have much in common.

  • Jamie
    Jamie Wednesday, 16 October 2013

    Ted,

    We live in northeastern Connecticut, among the stony hills and rocky swampland that I love. There is also some nice farmland here and there, not that I know much about it.

    In southern New England, there is no unincorporated land. The rural areas are divided into towns, villages, buroughs, and 'special services districts' (which is simply legalese for a de facto small city when you don't want to call it one...they even elect a mayor LOL).

    Most of my Pagan experience was spent trying to deny my Pagan experience was anything real. It was only in 2007 that I finally embraced what I knew, deep down inside, to be true.

    Thanks for asking!

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Wednesday, 16 October 2013

    My wife and I lived in Black Rock, CT from 1981-84. When I was growing up, my family had summer homes in Bethel and Woodbury. We loved the New England change of seasons and the Early American vibe; but the winter blizzards on I-95 got to be too much for us.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Monday, 14 October 2013

    I love the Twain Quote. And I appreciate your courtesy. When I was a young actor, it was considered respectful to address your established leading man and leading lady by their last names, until they honored you with their permission to be more familiar. (That little courtesy was ignored by some brash performers of my own generation, and was a cause of great embarassment to me.) So I acknowledge you and give you permission!

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Sunday, 13 October 2013

    Amen! The following is my personal observation, but I trust it, integrated into the material i teach, and it has held me and my beautiful initiates in good stead for decades. So you might like it. It is what I tell my students: "In Third Road, initiation never ends. Initiation is not one door, through which you step, and voila, you are superior to all non-initiates. Instead, each seeker faces specific life goals their Gods have deigned. Some stages of movement toward those goals require an appropriate initiation. Each of those initiatory gates requires different skill sets to pass through, and bestows yet other skill sets." (Third Road is the tradtion I have channeled this and other lifetimes.) This opinion of mine is not popular (what else is new?!), so my book, "Goddess Initiation" garnered a lot of criticism (some of it slyly indirect, sigh). But power is as power does: My initiates are players in the truest sense: People who do not boast of their power (I do that in their behest, lol) but who make the world a better place by going about their daily lives, being amazing parents, bakers, homesteaders, or whatever destiny their gods gave them. So, that is the end of my soapbox speech for tonight. ;-) Thank you for a sane article!

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Sunday, 13 October 2013

    I do like it, Francesca! Especially the part about requiring and acquiring different skill sets. I can't understand why this common-sense opinion in your book was met with criticism, since it is based on clear observation of people's lives! But none are so blind as those who will not see, and certain students are meant to learn from certain teachers. Others just won't grok the message. We gotta keep croaking it out, anyway. :)

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Monday, 14 October 2013

    Thanks, Ted. So much! I do not remember if the part re different skill sets is in my book. LOL, I spent over decade on that book, nailing down every last atom of it l, so you'd think I would remember everything in it. But once I do that with a book, I'm in the moment so much with the next project that I forget the last one. Anyway, my remark re different skill sets resonates with the overall message in that book. It never occurred to me anyone would get upset, despite all the years I worked on it. After it's release, when people started getting nasty, I thought, "oh, of course." I guess I am so busy doing my work sometimes that I don't realize how I out of step I am with people who "know everything." ;-) Gods, may more people be busy being themselves, so they they serve you and community and Gaia, simply by the light of their unique spirit shining. Ted, rock on!

  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte Monday, 14 October 2013

    Hailings!
    Greetings, Blessings & Salutations Ted & Francesca ....
    G. B. H. hath doth returneth!....

    Initiation?
    Try repeated, daily into weekly phone calls to a certain not-to-named 'State of California' 'Bureau of .......' for my 'licensing renewal'.
    Today was the now classic - "We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls. Please call back later....'. Click..." ...

    So good to read both of you again.....
    ..... & I do indeed mean read.....
    Much to carefully read, think about & understand? in this latest offering......

    Francesca .... A question .... How do I contact you about the 'scholarships' you mentioned earlier, elsewhere?.....

    Ted .... Still thinking on that photo posting question....

    & as a shared thought as I slowly dash away for more 'tendings & 'doings....

    Initiation.
    It may well not be so much the 'ceremonial ceremony' as it may be the 'long road travelled process' from 'A' to 'G' & all the points between.....
    You may already have said that.....
    Having yet again another 'weird-day' here.....
    Let's go 'tend a doing then read you both again if my eyes will permit that thru this 'unit'.....

    Blessings.....

    Benedictions.....

    Namaste.....

    G. B. Harte / Astorious
    10.14.2013
    14:55/2:55 pm pac

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Monday, 14 October 2013

    A scholarship, yes! Here's the drill:

    First, get on my mailing list: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

    Then, when I announce a class you want to take, call me to discuss scholarship, partial scholarship, or trade for that particular class.

    There is no point in discussing scholarship, etc, in a general way but only in relation to each class, and only once that class has been scheduled.

    Talking about it beforehand is a waste of time if, for example, when the class you want comes along, I've already given away all the scholarships to it before you call to let me know it fits into your schedule.

    I hope this info is helpful.

    I available by ph, off and on, 11 am to 7 pm EST, m-f. 814-337-2490. BB!

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Monday, 14 October 2013

    A scholarship, yes! Here's the drill:

    First, get on my mailing list: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

    Then, when I announce a class you want to take, call me to discuss scholarship, partial scholarship, or trade for that particular class.

    There is no point in discussing scholarship, etc, in a general way but only in relation to each class, and only once that class has been scheduled.

    Talking about it beforehand is a waste of time if, for example, when the class you want comes along, I've already given away all the scholarships to it before you call to let me know it fits into your schedule.

    I hope this info is helpful.

    I available by ph, off and on, 11 am to 7 pm EST, m-f. 814-337-2490. BB!

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Monday, 14 October 2013

    A scholarship, yes! Here's the drill:

    First, get on my mailing list: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

    Then, when I announce a class you want to take, call me to discuss scholarship, partial scholarship, or trade for that particular class.

    There is no point in discussing scholarship, etc, in a general way but only in relation to each class, and only once that class has been scheduled.

    Talking about it beforehand is a waste of time if, for example, when the class you want comes along, I've already given away all the scholarships to it before you call to let me know it fits into your schedule.

    I hope this info is helpful.

    I available by ph, off and on, 11 am to 7 pm EST, m-f. 814-337-2490. BB!

  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte Monday, 14 October 2013

    Francesca -
    Just went by the site You said to go to.
    I already signed up last week.
    You say to *not* sign up twice.
    If I signed up last week I should already be signed up.....
    Not doing it twice.....
    17:17/5:17 pm pac. 10.14.2013

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Monday, 14 October 2013

    Great, so we're good to go. Thanks for letting me know.

  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte Monday, 14 October 2013

    Francesca -
    Another 'warp-by'.....
    You may not know this but You posted three (3) times.
    Sprint may be having a Mondae but what system are You on for You to do a triple?.....
    17:07/5:07 pm pac. 10.14.2013

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Monday, 14 October 2013

    Geez, ted, sorry about the triple post. I hit the submit comment button, nothin happened. Or so I thought. Wasn't til third try I saw a post. Now I know to wait a loooooong time for the comment to appear. GBH, TU for pointing out my triple post.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Monday, 14 October 2013

    No worries. Actually, guys, I received all of your and Astorious' comments in duplicate - which means that I got your triple posting 6 times! It happens a lot on this site - I'm guessing it has something to do with everyone's having different Search engines - so I don't usually say anything about it anymore. I'd rather hear from a friend multiple times than none at all!

  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte Monday, 14 October 2013

    Warping by....

    Just now got off the cell-phone from a 22 minute 44 second non-event.....
    Recorded messages, then static-scrambled music then static-silence.....

    All of which suggests something to this one who has been staring at a wall for over 25+ minutes .....

    There may be a large measure of patience & perseverance involved in any such 'initiation'.....

    Just a thought.....

    Later? .....

    Astorious
    15:41/3:41 pm pac.
    10.14.2013

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