How to know if your initiation worked

Seven months ago, I was in Seattle, Washington. I flew across the country to meet long-distance friends who were fellow devotees of Antinous. That by itself would have been a good and joyous thing, but I also was initiated into the Mysteries of Antinous the Liberator. My friends staged a powerful ritual for me, and I had a profound experience that felt life-changing. I came back home full of joy and faith, ready to change my life in all sorts of exciting ways.

Seven months later, my sister is dead at the age of 63, my building has been sold and I have to move, I have an unaddressed bedbug infestation in my apartment, and I’ve been suspended from my job until I deal with the bedbugs. I’m losing income because of my suspension and feeling desperate for a new job, a new apartment, a new everything.

As all this has been building, or should I say collapsing, around me, I kept looking for meaning. I began paying more attention to astrological transits as more and more of the outer planets moved in on my natal Sun in Capricorn. I did Tarot readings. And I did various magical workings recommended by friends, none of which seemed to do me much good.

On Tuesday I was thinking about things I needed to do, phone calls I needed to make (and wow, do I hate making phone calls). I had the idea, perhaps a kind inspiration, that I should make an offering to Mars and ask for his help, for the gift of courage. I don’t have many dealings with Mars, but I do observe some of his festivals and mention him in my daily prayers on Tuesday, so I felt okay about approaching him with this request. I kept thinking that I should do it on Tuesday, because it’s the day of Mars, etc., but it just didn’t happen. So I said fuck it, and did it Wednesday morning.

I composed a prayer asking for the god’s help. I compiled the prayer, the magic square of Mars, and an image of a Roman statue of him into a Google doc. I prepared offerings of water, olive oil, incense, and a red candle. Then I lit the candle and incense and made my petition, promising further offerings if the god helped me.

I got shit *done* yesterday. I kicked names and took ass, to quote Marvel heroine Mantis. *g* And not only that, I realized something which, in retrospect, should have been obvious: All of the real-life, mundane shit I’ve been going through has been the unfolding of my initiation.

How do you know when an initiation works? When you find yourself re-enacting the whole thing in “real life”. When it shatters your everyday existence and puts it back together. When the fear and the pain and the challenge become 100% concrete and interfere with your job, your health, your self-care. It sounds terrifying. But now I know I can, I will survive this, because I already did. I just have to remember what I learned in the ritual:
–keep moving forward
–be confident in myself and what I have already learned and accomplished
–the gods both challenge us and travel with us as helpers
–there is a time to surrender, but only to the gods, not to defeat
–my true motivation is love and service, for my gods and my community
–I have already died and come to life again as a god.

May these words help you through your initiations.

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Merri-Todd

Writer, musician, polytheist, and friend of birds. I groove on transformative works.

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