Initiation has always been an important part of the Mystery Religions. But what are the Mysteries that all Wiccans/Pagans talk about? According to the Gnostic writings they are, "Teachings on the metaphysical order and inner dimensions of the reality-truth-continuum. They are methods of mystical prayer and prophetic meditations that allow the initiate to awaken the psychic and spiritual senses of his/her soul." Initiation is suppose to awaken us to a higher understanding and higher levels of consciousness. Within that processed we are Changed. We should be able to see, with unbiased thought patterns, beyond the illusions of this world. However, there are consequences if that Change is not acknowledged within our lives. The Gnostics say, "The greatest betrayal of truth and light is revealed in one's own experience. This blasphemy can only be performed by an initiate. It's one thing if I live as an ordinary person in the world and have no other conscious experience than the world. Then I act in complete ignorance, not making a conscious choice. It is another thing if I have received initiation and had some experience of truth by the Gods and then consciously choose to follow in the way of the world and live in the way of an ordinary person. For once having knowledge through experience, I cannot forget or deny WHAT I know! If I betray that spiritual knowledge it will haunt and torment, both in this life and the next."
I feel that this is one of the reasons we need Wiccan/Pagan Churches. In the old days people got their initiations from covens. Today there are a vast number of solitary practitioners who do not want to be restricted to following one tradition. The eclectic Pagan Church offers Rites of Passages and initiations geared more to the individual's choice of his/her spiritual path.
The Southern Delta Church of Wicca - ATC is a Hierarchical Church. The process for making decisions within the Church are oligarchic. We do not promote one tradition above another. We see all traditions as being equal and valid. The purpose for adopting a Hierarchy system was not for individual power; but so that the Church's identity, as a whole, would have power. An example of this is in the following legal quote:
"In the case of a hierarchical church, however, the court adopted a rule of deference by the civil court to the determinations of a church court: Whenever the questions of discipline or of faith, or ecclesiastical rule, custom or law have been decided by the highest of these church judicatories to which the matter has been carried, the legal tribunals must accept such decisions as final, and as binding on them, in their application to the case before them."
Bright Blessings to all.