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An Initial Overview of ADF Initiation

As I mentioned, I cannot speak much to the tests I underwent as a Candidate for Initiation, but I can say that they were of a specific character:

  • The tests were frightening to face, but they were not tests designed to maximize fear. Instead, they were tests that challenged me in interesting ways, ones that I was not entirely comfortable with in all cases. Though I can describe one particular moment as one of the most frightening I have experienced, the initiators did not go out of their way to induce fear, nor was fear the object of the tests.
  • The tests were mentally, physically, and spiritually demanding, but a person prepared through doing the work should not experience many issues.
  • Some tests may be done in the presence of non-initiated witnesses, while others are meant for the initiate to be alone during them. There is no requirement for witnesses, but for a Candidate who has a community, the community may bear witness to certain aspects, and may welcome the new Initiate upon successful initiation. Regardless, the final Ordeal is known only to the Candidate.

It took me twenty-four hours for my body to get back to where it was before my initiation: until about 8 PM the next night, I was so exhausted, emotionally and physically, that it was hard to smile or converse. The drive back down to Columbus seemed to take all day (though the company of Rob H. and Jenni was exceedingly welcome and helped immensely), and I found myself stretching my back, wiggling my fingers, and cracking my joints as often as possible just to relieve some of the pressure that seemed to be everywhere on my tired, worn out body. I don't think I have ever been quite so exhausted.

I really felt like I should have taken Monday off of work, giving myself two full days to recover from the experience. I also needed to take a good look at my robe, as this initiation may have been its last ritual: I was not kind to it throughout the rite, and it was stained and torn beyond simple washing and repair.

I am, of course, still processing everything. As a result, there are separate entries in which I describe what three particular lessons I've learned, and the work that will go along with them. I feel a need to go more in depth on what they (broadly) mean to me: focus, center, and joy.

It is not up to me to reveal the three tests I underwent, though the Clergy Council witnessed two of them and I suspect that word will get around as we initiate others when uninitiated witnesses speak of the tests they've seen (the third was witnessed only by my initiators and, partially, by my fellow initiate): in hindsight it was pleasant to be surprised by the form these tests took, and what they were in particular (I had been ignoring all posts related to the Initiation purposely). I wouldn't want to "spoil" it for anyone, but suffice to say that anyone who has done the work and been dilligent about completeness and depth will pass the first two. The third is harder to prepare for, though Trance 1 and 2 will likely bring the candidate the required skills.

I will also discuss the omens I received. I am still digesting them, and taking them to heart: two were generally positive, two were generally worrisome, but all were promising to an optimistic reader. . . and those who took the omens were optomistic, so I don't have to read that optimism into the spreads on my own.

I'm looking forward to hearing my oath (it was mostly extemporaneous, but recorded) so that I can go back and write it down and keep the wording with me. Fortunately, the journey upon which it was based leaves a solid impression, and I need not worry about the general notions behind it being forgotten any time soon.

Two things were taken with me into the initiation that I wish to mention, though:

First, when I was consecrated as a Dedicant Priest within ADF, I was given a bottle of mead by Mary Jones. I did not drink it then, but held onto it, with an intent to break it open to celebrate my ordination as an ADF Priest in a few years, when I took that next step. As I thought of the sacrifices I must make, though, I knew that this bottle was not for me to keep, but for me to offer: something that I had attached such a special significance to, something that I had held onto for so long, and it became the ideal sacrifice to the Ancient Wise. . . for I offered to them a gift I meant to share with my closest friends, from one of the most special occasions, from someone I respected deeply. This drew them nearer to me, and brought them into that *ghos-ti- relationship in a way I have always wanted to do. It was a matter of breaking out the best of the best, the "special" drink you have been saving for just the right moment. . . and that moment was perfectly right.

Second: About a year ago, Art sent me a bull pin. I had never worn it before Saturday, but something told me to grab it before I left. As I underwent the most frightening portion of my Ordeal, I felt weight of this pin, and the pin of three silver cranes my Grove presented to me at my consecration, upon my breast. That weight reminded me that no matter how scared I was, no matter how much I wanted to call out, I was supported by friends, family, and the Kindreds in ways I had never known before. These two pins were the only ritual items I took with me, and their presence was a deep assurance as I faced that fear.

To all those who were with me at this rite, in prayer, in silence, or in spirit, thank you. Without my community, I know that I would not have passed even the first test this past weekend.

Now, onto the first lesson of this journey I undertook: Focus.


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