Can you practice Wicca without having been initiated? And the answer is yes. In fact, even in tradition British, Gardnerian, Wicca you're practicing for a year and a day before you're initiated.
Lots of people these days are practicing Wicca based on taking courses or reading a book. It used to be a cult. It used to be hidden in the back of the broom closet. And now it's quite public and it's a wonderful thing. So there's lots of teachers and lots of opportunities.
However, Wicca is an initiatory tradition. And to undergo an initiation is an amazing experience. So if you have the opportunity, if you've worked with a group of a people for a year and a day, if you have tremendous respect and trust for them, if they're skilled and wise and experienced. If they've conducted initiations before. If they're humble and have a sense of humor, sense of humility, if they know what they're doing. Then that's a good group to entrust your initiation with.
And initiation is, it's basically an ancient shamanic practice. It's the means by which you leave behind a false life. The life that is the life that you've been told by parents or society is the life you're supposed to live. In other words you're supposed to be an accountant, you're supposed to, you know, work selling cars, whatever it is. And it can also be, you know, the old belief systems, the old religious belief systems. It's, we call it a descent into the underworld.
Unlike the Abrahamic faiths which tend to see the divine as heavenward, you know where you go up and out, the indigenous traditions, the shamanic traditions, the pagan Wiccan traditions, and all of the reconstruction, the revivals, all of this tremendous rich array of a renaissance of the indigenous traditions of our particular ancestors. These are all shamanic traditions at their heart that see a descent. Where you go in and down. You go into the earth, into yourself. You go in.
And it's almost like the dark night of the soul, in some sense. It's a challenge. And it's a journey of trust. In Native American traditions it's frequently called the vision quest. A youth would go, a young man or young woman, it could happen at any age, would go into the wilderness for several days and fast and seek a vision. So it's a visionary experience in which you essentially give you over to the scared and it appears to you. And it may give you a spirit guide or a name, a song, a vision for your future. In my case, it pulled forth a vow that I would help reestablish the old religion in Italy. And that's what I found myself committed to doing in later years.
So you descend in and through and then you come back up. Then you return to the world. And so the myths, and these tend to be the myths of most of the dominant religions, actually, of death and rebirth. That the old self dies, the false self, the manufactured self, cultural norm self, is left behind. You shed it like a skin. And the genuine self, the authentic self, the true self reemerges and back into the world.
And when you reemerge, you come with a gift. It's hard. It's hard to come back into this world because this is not a very sympathetic culture for spiritual mysteries or for making those kinds of journeys. But it's actually essential. Because that descent is also what nature does. And so we follow the path of nature, the seasonal cycle, right? Where you have winter and the seed gets planted in the earth and reemerges in the spring.
So an initiation is like that. It follows that innate, spiritual wisdom of the lifecycle that's revealed through the planet. And we emulate it through the rite itself. And it's extraordinary. It's probably one of the single most profound transformative spiritual journeys that you'll take. And life will initiate you as well. Life will initiate you. But to understand the initiation, and it initiates you again and again. But to really fully understand it, it helps to go through the formal process of initiation.