The Grand Initiation- In Which Lisa Get's Her Booty Kicked. Again.

May 31, 2012 by

By Lisa Campion

Lately, I have been pole-axed by the Cosmic Two By Four. Dope smacked by the Universe. It’s not much fun, really, but I know better then to resist. Mostly I just sigh and Assume The Position.

In other words I am an Initiate in the midst of a grand spiritual initiation. It’s one of THOSE, another big growth opportunity. Every trauma we have in our live is a potential initiation experience and it can initiate you, or cripple you. Your choice. And I am right smack in dab in the middle of a booty kicker. – Ok, there is the hook. If you keep reading, I promise to dish all the details.

I remember a friend of mine telling me about her quest for spiritual initiation. She was (and is) a devoted spiritual initiate and was working with a shaman. She fasted, she learned the appropriate rituals, did the sweat lodge and a vision quest. It was wonderful, but not really the life-altering doorway to another realm she was looking for. The day she got home, she got test results back from her doctor ushering in a long and ultimately successful encounter with breast cancer.

That was her real initiation. In hindsight, she realized that all the preparations she had done with her shaman teacher just prepared her for the real deal, her rite of passage through breast cancer. It cracked her open, turned her inside out, strengthened her, healed her and in fact, initiated her.

I will tell you one thing, a real initiatory experience is not for the faint of heart. Nor are they usually available on command. Mostly, they just show up in some mysterious way, on God’s Cosmic Time, not our own. And they put us through the wringer, but they also soften us, open our hearts, make us look inwards, strengthen us and set us back on track.

We have many initiations in life, big and small. Some are changes that are sanctioned by society, like baptism, confirmation, graduation, weddings and finally the Grand Initiation- death and funerals. I think of these as the Hallmark Initiations, not to diminish their power, but because we can always walk into a drug store and by a Hallmark card to honor them.

There are others that are perhaps more powerful and not always Hallmark appropriate. These include those life-altering experiences such as:

  • Illness- like a cancer diagnosis
  • Divorce
  • Death of a loved one
  • Job loss
  • Bankruptcy, ruin or financial failure
  • Exile or homelessness
  • Sexual experience or awakening
  • Energetic openings and kundalini experiences
  • Falling in love
  • Spontaneous spiritual epiphanies

They all sound like a big bundle of fun, don’t they? These are the real doozies and they all have some things in common. There are certain ingredients that make up one of these turn-you-inside-out initiations.

First of all they don’t come on command, they usually just happen of their own accord. I am not sure if it’s fate, or part of our contract, or our own souls just decide we are ready for an upgrade. But generally when we get the Total Life Crash and Burn Initiation, it’s not because we ordered one like take out.

For example, can you image standing in line at the Cosmic Café and ordering like this- “Hmmm, I think I’ll have an order of the Serious Illness Diagnosis, with a side of Financial Ruin, and top it off with a double scoop of Rocky Relationship. Make it to go… ”

“Sure thing Lady. We gotta a special on the Total Life Crash and Burn, it’s a two for one, you can buy one for your friend! Total life detonation guaranteed! No solid ground left to stand on is our goal. You’ll be standing on the smoking ruins of your life in no time at all, or your money back!”

I think not so much…

So the role of the Grand Initiation is to break you up, to destroy the old you and bring about a bone deep transformation. There is always an aspect of death in an initiation. The old you must die and a new you must be born, phoenix like, from the ashes of the old. In the case of cancer and other terminal illnesses the choice becomes very clear, simple even. It’s change or die.

This is a high stakes game and as a healer, I have seen many people answer the call, make radical changes, do their work and totally heal. And others who for whatever reasons of their own don’t and die. The real kicker with this type of initiation is sometimes you can do all your work and die anyways, since God moves in mysterious ways. Once you see death through the lens of the Greatest Initiator it makes more sense.

Death is, of course, the ultimate initiation experience, and one we must all face in our time. And if you think about it, meets all the requirements of the deepest initiations. We literally change states, like water changing to steam, taking on a higher frequency as we go. I find comfort in this view, when death stops becoming the enemy to be fought against, but rather an inevitable and perhaps even welcome leveling up experience.

Any initiation experience of this caliber also contains within it a test of some kind. The Initiate is required to surpass the boundaries of what they knew in the past. As an Initiate you must go beyond what you ever thought you could do. In the good old tribal days the Initiate would study for years and then you might have to climb a mountain, battle a fierce warrior, or get rowed out two miles into the ocean and get dropped overboard to see if you can swim to shore. Think of Luke Skywalker in his Jedi training. Luke’s final initiation was to battle with Darth Vader and to choose love.

No doubt your trial would bring about an altered state of consciousness, which is our last ingredient for a real kick-booty rite of passage. In the old days you might lick a tree frog or take some peyote, fast or sweat. Or meditate for days. I have also seen the same type of altered state of consciousness happen in chemo patients, or with the heavy grief of a loss.

And finally all this stripping down of the old, breaking away barriers and challenging yourself creates an opening for something miraculous, an encounter with the Divine. Somehow the Divine steps into that open space in you and grants you Grace.

All of this is recipe for a new you. At the end of a Grand Initiation you are no longer the same person you were. It’s important to understand this. If you have gone through one of these babies you may notice you have a strong impulse to change your name, move far away, completely change the way you look or what you do. Get a tattoo. Chop all your hair off. Pierce something. Or just move to the opposite coast. We instinctively want some kind of external manifestation of such a profound inner shift.

I heard a story once about a shamanic rite of passage in which the Initiate had to begin the process by giving away all their possessions. Then came a time of fasting and days of rituals including sweat lodge for purification. In the final stage of the process, the Initiate had to dig their own grave as a symbol of the inner death that was to come.

On the way into the grave- a dark nasty hole in the ground covered with a blanket, there was the licking of the psychedelic tree frog. The mind-altering substance, done in a sacred way continued to break down the barriers of the mind, breaking the ego’s control of the mind.

The Initiate spent an uncomfortable night tripping his brains out, being eaten by demons, dissolving and decaying, surrendering into death, feeling that his old self was complete sundered and broken. After an interval of peace, in the quiet before dawn, the Initiate saw the Great Spirit. It is only after we pass through dissolution, death and surrender that we can experience that level of the divine. In the morning, the Initiate emerged with a new name and a new set of marching orders straight from God. And a sense of inner peace like you read about.

Now don’t get me wrong, not all initiations are terrible experiences, all though all of them are awe-inspiring. You can also be initiated through more pleasant spiritual epiphanies like falling in love, or climbing a mountain and having a peak spiritual experience. I know someone whose initiation came from hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.

He said enlightenment hit him after about six weeks on the trail, mostly spent in his own company. He reached the top of a mountain peak as the sun was rising and BAM. He was at one with the universe and knew his place in it. He had found himself. Humbled, on his knees with tears streaming down his face, he finally found peace.

Sometimes our initiations happen quietly, in a moment of happy illumination after years of meditating. Or through a love affair that invites deep tantric sexual union. Hopefully, we have all had some of those too. You will know if you have, because an experience of that nature changes you forever.

I have been through many of my own initiations in my life and so have you. If you look back over your life, you will be able to discern yours easily. I am right in the middle of one myself and it’s a doozie. At forty-seven years old, I find myself going through a divorce. Again. It’s so odd, it happened very suddenly and with a finality that has my head spinning. I certainly did not expect to find myself a single mom with four teenagers at this stage in my life. But all I can do is bow to the experience and let my heart continue to break open even more.

And there is it, my old self is lost, dissolving, dying. All I can do is surrender into it and let the grief have its way with me. And have faith that there is some higher purpose here. It’s a Grand Initiation and I choose to allow the initiation to happen with as much faith and grace as I can muster.

Many of my clients and friends are also going through different kinds of extreme changes. My theory is that is it a sign of the times, part of The Shift. All the things that no longer work in our lives and our world are breaking down, I see a lot of people ending relationships, losing jobs, dealing with health issues or losing significant people in their lives. So if that is you, I offer you the same comfort that I offer myself. Keep the faith and let the process of initiation work on you. You will come out the other side into a better place, I guarantee it. (And get a good support team, it really helps.)

A real initiation is not something you can walk away from, it just happens. I might have never done it otherwise, since honestly who would choose such a thing? Or I might have ordered a more pleasant one off the menu. As it is, I can only bow to whatever higher wisdom then I that is in operation here. Bow and assume the position. Which is me, prostrate in prayer and meditation. What did you think I meant? ;-)

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