Tag Archives: initiation

Preparing for Initiation

MiltonThere are four initiations in the martial art of Cabal Fang.  We call them trials.  The first one comes about 90 days after starting.  The fourth and final one, our equivalent to the Black Belt exam, comes after about 3 or 4 years of practice.

I always find myself gathering together the same basic tools at the last minute.  We have someone facing a trial tomorrow evening and, in rather atypical fashion, I decided on Saturday to go ahead and put everything together.   Then it hit me — why not make a little kit and have it ready to go?

I took an old suitcase that I inherited from my paternal grandmother and used Dupli-Color vinyl paint to change it from powder blue to black.    Call me self-conscious if you must, but the idea of strutting into a martial arts club meeting with a ladies’ powder blue, 1960s-era suitcase straight out of Breakfast at Tiffany’s didn’t appeal to me in the slightest.

The kit contains:

  • Gold altar cloth with green fringe (green, gold, and brown are the colors of our order)
  • Three green altar candles
  • Seven tea light candles with copper pots to mark off the initiate’s circle
  • Pitcher for dousing the initiate
  • Green towel to dry initiate
  • Anointing oil
  • Brass dish and incense cones
  • Multi-purpose lighter

This isn’t everything we need for every trial, just the core items that are used most often.  What a load off my mind not having to worry about doing something stupid like forgetting the anointing oil like I did last time.

 

Living Spirituality

Sunset view getting into my truck after work.

Sunset view getting into my truck after work.

If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change…. science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality.”  ~Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama¹

Spirituality must be alive, fluid, adaptable, and ever evolving.  Holy books are at best of little value.  At worst they are dangerous tools used as weapons by traditionalists to punish heretics and blasphemers.  The ideal method for teaching in spiritual matters is experiential, initiatory, and oral.

“However, transmission can fail.  When this occurs a tradition no longer focuses on or even appreciates direct experience of the sacred.  Then what is left is an institution largely devoid of direct experience of the sacred, without firsthand understanding of altered states and the transcendental experiences they access. Techniques for inducing altered states then give way to mere symbolic rituals, direct experience is replaced by belief, and living doctrine fossilizes into dogma. We might call this degrading process the ritualization of religion.”  ~Roger N. Walsh²

Some of the ancients took great pains to prevent the fossilization of spirituality into dogma.  This is why there is a great deal written about, for example, the Eleusinian Mysteries, but not not much written about what was actually experienced.  The experiences were the most important part, and each person’s differed.

This is why in Cabal Fang we use initiations to bring on spiritual awakenings that are unique to each explorer.  What a person needs is a guide to individual discovery, not someone to tell him or her what is right and what is wrong.

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¹ “Our Faith in Science” NY Times, Nov. 12, 2005  (by way of the excellent article at SOMA)

²Walsh, Roger N., The Spirit of Shamanism, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles, 1990, page 8

Deciphering a Coded 18th Century Initiation

Thanks to @damon_gang for tweeting this Wired article.  Facinating stuff.