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the transition and attendant ceremonies, such as ordeals and rites, involved in passing from one state or status to another, often from childhood to adulthood. It was among the most important social institutions of early humans. The ordeal measures the initiate's worthiness to enter the new status. Initiation may mean the cessation of contact with those who have not been initiated. Seclusion, mutilation, symbolic representation of death and resurrection, the display of sacred objects, special instruction, and restrictions on the initiate are frequent attributes of the ceremonies. Many early societies had puberty initiations. Their purpose was to induct the young person both into the full status of an adult and into the religion of the group.
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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Different traditions of Wicca have different forms of initiation, but all contain the same basic ingredients: a challenge, an oath of secrecy, the imparting of certain knowledge, and a symbolical death followed by a rebirth.

Mircea Eliade says, "The term initiation in the most general sense denotes a body of rites and oral teachings whose purpose is to produce a decisive alteration in the religious and social status of the person being initiated." He goes on to say that the initiate emerges from the experience "endowed with a totally different being from that which he possessed before his initiation; he has become another."

Certainly the central theme of all initiations (and puberty rites) from around the globe involves palingenesis—a death and rebirth. To show this rebirth, an initiate will take a new name, which is usually one of his or her own choosing. For example, a newly elected Roman Catholic pope selects a new name. Nuns also choose new names when they take their vows. In many religions, a new name is taken when a person formally enters that faith.

Like the old religions of ancient Greece and Rome, the Craft is what would be termed a "mystery religion"—it is a religion of initiation, with an oath of secrecy. You cannot be born a Witch, just as you cannot be born a Roman Catholic. You can be born into a Witch family, but you do not actually become a Witch until you have been officially accepted into the religion with due ceremony. Where the Old Religion differs from the New, however, is in the fact that, as an alternative to a coven initiation, an individual can initiate him or herself (Self Initiation), becoming what is known as a Solitary Witch.

Gerald Gardner, in Witchcraft Today, deals extensively with the Villa of Mysteries on the Street of Tombs in Pompeii, Italy, which was the home of the Dionysian Mysteries. Within the villa, the walls of an initiation room are painted with a series of frescoes showing a neophyte passing through the initiation. Gardner points out the similarities between these scenes and the stages of the Wiccan initiation.

First, there is a challenge, which ensures that the would-be Witch is sincere in his or her desire to become a part of the Old Religion. As in many such rituals, the initiate is then blindfolded and bound. This symbolizes the darkness and restriction of the womb prior to birth. As is the case in many other similar rites, a ritual, cathartic scourging is then performed, which represents the symbolic death. An oath to preserve the secrets of the Craft is taken, and then, at the rebirth, the cords and blindfold are removed and certain knowledge is imparted. The ceremony ends with a celebration of the person's entry into a new life.

Initiations are performed male to female and female to male. In other words, a male will be initiated by a Priestess, and a female by a Priest. The same format is found in many areas of folk magic, where herbal and magical lore are never passed to a person of the same sex. The only exception is that a mother can initiate her daughter, and father his son; no other female-to-female or male-to-male ceremonies are allowed.

Only adults are permitted to undergo initiation. A child can be taken into a coven, although he or she must be the child of a couple that already belongs to the group. Today, no one under the legal age is admitted unless he or she is related in that manner.

Margaret Alice Murray addressed the admission ceremonies at the time of the persecutions. According to her researtch, one of the requirements of the candidate was "the explicit denial and rejection of a previous religion." The evidence at some of the trials said that, in addition to verbally rejecting the former religion, an action was also required, such as trampling a cross underfoot. Both of these acts were probably required at that time to ensure that the applicant was a true Pagan and not a spy of the Church, since such declaration and defilement of the Christian symbol would have been considered a mortal sin. To an Old Religion follower, the cross held no special significance, and therefore its trampling was of no consequence. Such denials and tramplings are not a part of Witchcraft today, and they were only included in the Middle Ages for the reasons stated.

Murray also speaks of a Witch's Mark, or Devil's Mark, and suggests it might have been in the form of a small tattoo. Again, this may well have been the practice at that time to separate the true believers from the spies. To have such a mark would mean risking one's life, as discovery of the symbol would inevitably lead to the gallows or the pyre. Few spies were willing to take such as risk.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the excitation of a chain chemical or nuclear reaction as a result of an external influence on the system (such as an impact, light, ionizing radiation, or a neutron flux). In technology initiation is understood to mean, in particular, the excitation of detonation of an explosive by exploding a small portion of a detonating powder that is sensitive to a spark or impact. The charge of detonating powder is placed in the case of a priming cap or electrical detonator. Modern industrial coarse explosives (such as igdanit, granulites, and grain granu-lites) and water explosives (akvatol and ifzanit) are not susceptible to the detonating action (impulse) of a conventional priming cap; a relay detonator (such as an ammonite cartridge or a TNT charge) that is sensitive to the priming cap and increases the energy of the detonating impulse is used to detonate such explosives.



a system of rituals widespread in clan society connected with the passage of adolescent boys and girls into adulthood. The various rituals were aimed at preparing the young for work and social and family life and were accompanied, as a rule, by training; various, frequently agonizing, trials; surgery (circumcision, cicatrization, knocking out of teeth); and introduction into the secrets and myths of the tribe. After the original meaning was lost, some of the initiation rites were extended to still younger individuals. The practice of circumcision in Islam and Judaism, Christian baptism, and the investing of the sacred thread in Hinduism are vestiges of initiation.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about an initiation?

A dream about an initiation ceremony can mean that a change is taking place in the dreamer’s life. The dreamer may be evolving to a new level spiritually. Such a dream can also indicate that one is moving into a new career or advancing in status in some other area.

What does it mean when you dream about an initiation?

Initiation in the most general, anthropological sense refers to a rite in which the initiate undergoes a transformation in religious or social status.

The imparting of specific knowledge to the initiate, whether social or religious, is often a significant part of initiation. When initiation involves the acquisition of religious knowledge, such knowledge can be acquired, in whole or in part, through dreams. In Siberia, shamans, the religious specialists of traditional (particularly hunter-gatherer) societies, frequently experience initiatory dreams at the beginning of their vocations. These dreams often include the theme of initiatory death, in which the shaman is dismembered and then reconstructed in renewed form.

Within the Islamic Sufi tradition, many Sufi mystics began their spiritual quest as a result of guides who appeared to them in dreams. In the training of healers among the Diegueno Indians the healer-to-be undergoes a series of initiatory dreams, culminating in a dream in which he learns his secret medicine name. Roughly similar patterns of dream initiation are found among aboriginal Australians (e.g., the Arunta) and in a variety of Native American societies (e.g., the Ojibwa, Iroquois, and Mohave).

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


As applied to an explosive item, the beginning of the deflagration or detonation of the explosive.
The first action in a fuse which occurs as a direct result of the action of the functioning medium.
In a time fuse, the starting of the action which is terminated in the functioning of the fused munition.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.