In addition to the normal circle set up, the following is also needed:
- About 8 feet of twine or string, preferably red thread
- a pair of scissors
- Anointing oil
- A small cup or bowl of water
- Three lengths of red cord: 1- 9 feet, 2- 4.5 feet
- A scourge (also called a flogger)
The candidate must bring with them, or have done the following:
- Decided who in the coven they wish to be initiated by and who their sponsor is, and also have discussed with the initiator how they wish the initiation to be performed, particularly in regards to dressing for the ritual and the scourging.
- 9ft white cord (about the thickness of drapery cord, which is what we normally use, and secured at either end with embroidery floss so it does not fray). This cord should not be knotted prior to the initiation.
- 4.5 ft (or 6ft for those with larger feet/ankles) cord in a color of their choosing and prepared the same way as the white cord.
- Any tools they wish to consecrate for their Craft work (this is not required)
- Removed all jewelry except for earrings or body piercings. (This is mostly for safety reasons. If there is particular jewelry that the candidate wishes to wear, they may wear it.)
- Optional: Have taken a ritual bath or shower. This can be done at the candidate’s home before coming to initiation, or at the house of the initiators. Or, alternately (and what we commonly do now), the Blessing of the Hands ritual can be performed prior to initiation.
Preparing the Initiate:
The initiate is left to meditate in separate room while the circle is cast. When the circle is cast, the Initiator, or Sponsor, will leave the circle with the red cords and blindfold to where the candidate is waiting. The initiator gives the candidate the passwords required to pass into the circle (Perfect Love and Perfect Trust) and asks if the candidate is ready. If the candidate is ready, then the 9 ft cord is used to tie the candidate’s hands behind their back, and the ends are tied in front of the neck to act as a lead. One 4.5 ft cord is tied around the right ankle, the other above the left knee. When tying on the ankle cord, the initiator says “Feet neither bound nor free.” The initiator then blindfolds the candidate and leads them to the edge of the circle.
The circle is cast in the usual way, and the appropriate gods are called in. The Initiator (or Sponsor) opens the circle and brings the candidate to the edge of the circle. The Initiator puts their athame to the candidate’s heart.
Initiator: You who stand on the border between the worlds, have you the courage to undergo this rite? For it would be better to impale yourself on my blade than make the attempt with fear in your heart!
Candidate: I do.
Initiator: And what are your passwords?
Candidate: Perfect Love and Perfect Trust
Initiator: Then with the third password (Initiator touches fingers to their own lips, then to the lips of the Candidate), I welcome you into this Circle of the Wise.
Initiator (or Sponsor) then pushes the candidate into the circle, then closes the gateway (or the gate is closed by another in the circle).
The Initiator takes the candidate to each quarter while saying:
Initiator: Hail to the spirits of the [East, South, West, North], I present [candidate] who is properly prepared to be initiated as priest and witch!
The candidate is then led to the center of the circle and turned around at least three times (a chant or toning can be added here). The candidate is then made to stand in front of the main altar.
Initiator: In other religions, the postulant kneels while the priest towers over them, but in the Craft, we kneel to welcome those who will take their place among the Wise. (Initiator and other coven members kneel or sit as they are able.)
- Blessed be thy courage, that has brought you to these ways.
- Blessed be thy faith, that will worship at the sacred altars.
- Blessed be thy body, that shall enact thy will.
- Blessed be thy heart, formed in strength and beauty.
- Blessed be thy breath, the emblem of life
The initiator stands and then picks up the red thread and scissors.
Initiator: Now we are going to take your measure.
The Initiator measures the candidate for their entire length with the string, cuts that length. They then wind up the measure and puts it on the altar.
Initiator: Before you are sworn, are you willing to pass the ordeal and be purified?
Candidate: I am.
The initiator causes the candidate to kneel and put their head forward (or in any position that allows the candidate to be comfortably positioned for scourging), and binds their feet with the ankle and knee cords (or binds their feet to the chair with the cords, or any way that can symbolically represent this binding). The Initiator then takes up the scourge (flogger) and rings the bell three times (or another coven member can ring the bell).
The initiator gives three strokes of the scourge.
Initiator: Seven (seven strokes), Nine (nine strokes), Twenty-one (21 strokes)
Initiator: You have bravely passed the test. Are you ready to swear that you will always be true to the Art?
Candidate: I am.
Initiator: Are you ready to protect and defend your family in the Craft, even from themselves?
Candidate: I am.
Initiator: Then repeat after me: I, [candidate’s name] in the presence of the Gods and Spirits, do of my own free will, swear that I will keep sacred and holy the Mysteries of the Art. That I will use my will and moral compass in the practice of my Art, always remembering that all beings are part of the Divine, and that all of my actions are sacred and holy rituals. This I swear by my hopes of a future life, mindful that my measure has been taken and knowing that my magick may turn against me if I break this, my solemn oath.
The initiator helps the candidate stand up. The initiator then picks up the water.
Initiator: I will now give you the triple sign. I consecrate thee with water.
The Inititator moistens their fingertip with water, touches above the pubic hair, then the right breast, to the left breast then back to the pubic hair. (Triangle of First Degree) They then pick up the oil.
Initiator: I anoint thee with oil. (The Initiator touches in the same places)
Initiator: I consecrate thee with my breath, priest and witch. (The Initiator breathes on the candidate in the same places)
The Initiator removes the blindfold and cords and puts them in front of the altar. The Initiator and the rest of the coven members then welcomes the candidate, now priest, into the coven.
The Initiator blesses the cords that the new priest had given them earlier to bring into the circle. The Initiator ties the white cord around the waist of the new priest.
Initiator: I now tie the white cord, which is a symbol of the light of knowledge, and signifies your entrance into the learning of the Craft. Let this remind you that you have dedicated yourself to this path.
The Initiator ties the colored cord around the right ankle three times:
Initiator: This cord is also a symbol of the oath you have just taken in the presence of the Gods and Spirits, and is a reminder of the Law of Three.
Initiator: At this time, we also give you back your measure. Legend has it that when witchcraft was still a secret practice, this would be kept by the leader of the coven, to be used against you if you betrayed the coven’s secrets. Since we no longer keep secrets, we give this to you as a reminder that your oath is between you and the Gods, and you may come and go as you will. Keep it, burn it, or do with it as your will desires.
The Initiator leads the new priest to the center and says:
Initiator: In the name of all the Gods and Spirits, I salute you, [name], newly made priest and witch!
The Initiator leads the new priest to the quarters, saying:
Initiator: Hail to the Spirits of the East [South, West, North] and hear ye that [name] has been consecrated priest and witch!
The coven has the mystic repast, Sacred Bullshit time, and then the circle is closed in the usual way.
This initiation is based on the First Degree Initiation found in:
- Janet Farrar and Stewart Farrar, A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches Handbook, Phoenix Publishing, 1996
with initial redactions of gender by Grandfather Star (Rev. Gina’s first craft teacher) and further redactions over the years by the Circle of Cerridwen.