As my remarks on this book will be surprising, I start with a detailed synopsis:
Brennan's Foreword says that those born in the Amazon basin who are destined to become shamans (the word is Siberian, by the way. "Medicine doctor" would be a preferable term) cannot escape their fate, try though they may. The reason for this, which Brennan does not know, but I do, is that in his previous life the individual dabbled in casual magic, and was sloppy about his work. The astral entities the magician created in that previous life, which were still roaming free at his death, came back to haunt him in his next life. That is all. This is but another demonstration of Newton's Law of Cause & Effect. Or why it's not such a good idea to take up magic, or become a nadi reader in India, but I digress.
Delores, as she calls herself, cautions us to avoid the cheap & gaudy vendors who hawk "initiation" from street corners. Sage advice, which, to my regret, neither author observes. She then says initiation is stage-managed by unseen guides for your own benefit, and is exclusively the province of those who are "spiritual". The process takes three lives, the end result is a subtle physical transformation, though as she never deals with any other than the present life, it must be that all her candidates have already got two lifetimes experience already. She mentions "SOL", which is short for Servants of the Light, which is an organization which she, and Norris, run. SOL is mentioned frequently in the book. This book may well be an extended advertisement for it.
Stephanie's Introduction starts with her memory of a dream that Delores gave her on April 1, 2003. In the dream, Delores said that Stephanie was a candidate in good standing for eventual initiation. A few months later the two were on the phone, when Stephanie asked Delores if there were any books on initiation. Delores said, "NO!!!" Which is untrue. There are many such books, but, believing otherwise, the two women set about to write this one.
Chapter 1: The First Degree.
Stephanie leads off with the stories of Monica & Stephen, two individuals she met, befriended, and persuaded to join the SOL. Stephen's treatment is more detailed. SOL requires candidates to study the dead king Osiris (quoted from page 18), as well as submit to 42 assessors. As a result, Stephen became ill with meningitis, he split up with his then wife; he became homeless & had to live with friends; he got a new job, and took up homosexuality (pg. 19). Which is to say that esoteric orders, of whatever legitimacy, are nothing to mess with. The section ends with a note on Monica. She was scheduled to be initiated in September, 2001, but the events of the 11th day of that month delayed matters for a year.
In her section, entitled The Red Cord, Delores talks about those who have been called to be initiators, i.e., those who make the event happen. She then describes a typical (first) initiation, which involves a preparatory period of contemplation, before the candidate is blindfolded & given a series of tests (questions & answers, I think) after which the blindfold is removed & the candidate stands before the initiator, for a ceremony that sounds remarkably like a fundamentalist faith healing, as commonly seen in tent revivals. Whereupon the new initiate is presented with a red cord and a "magical ring" is placed on a "finger" (not specified) indicating that he is now "married" to his spiritual order. He is then to behave himself, attempt to learn things that had previously baffled him, and be an initiator for his lessers. Do first initiations ever go wrong? According to Ashcroft-Nowicki, when things go wrong, the blame rests with the initiator, and the problem was the ritual was premature, or the candidate was inappropriate.
Stephanie ends the first section by noting that Stephen had one initiation in 1991, followed by a second in 2004. Stephen experienced "emotional clearing" as a result of these two experiences & now is a Neuro-Linguistic Pratitioner & clears the emotional blockages of others. For her part, Monica says she now remembers parts of her previous lives & now finds life more peaceful. She is now busy with her own lodge, whatever that may be. (Amway, anyone?)
2. The Second Degree:
Stephanie introduces us to Paul. Paul had taken his first initiation 3.5 years before & was now a candidate for the second degree. She gives us Paul's chart, but not his actual birth data. I don't know why authors suppress the data, as charts are easily worked out. Paul was born around February 15, 1962. A moment's work & I could have the precise date, time & location. Paul was in fact born about ten days after Jeanne Dixon's famous prophesy of the birth of the Anti-Christ on the 5th. Norris does a bad job of delineating the chart, which, with a massive stellium in Aquarius & the 5th house, is mostly about group sex, or would be, if Saturn would let him. But instead Paul took up Neuro Linguistics. He then had his Saturn return (which, given his stellium, was not the most pleasant), met Delores, decided upon his fate, and took up Hawaiian magic. Which, given that the 5th is children, and that children can be seen as magical events, fits. (Sex magic, or so I would presume.) Stephanie seems dimly aware of this, as on page 43 she quotes Paul as saying his current girlfriend wasn't his proper magical partner. She also unwittingly calls him a barefaced liar, in these words: Paul has a unique ability to compartmentalize and systematise information, and thus to maintain and sustain many different kinds of relationships at many different levels simultaneously. (pg. 43) This is the very definition of a liar, and of no one and no thing else.
For his second initiation, Paul is to consecrate his very own temple. In the process the Lords of Light were moving him around quite ruthlessly to achieve their aims, or so said Delores. Paul's second initiation involved play acting Lancelot with a Gavin, as Galahad, in other words, as "father & son". The preliminary rites may have included ritualistic sex with an associated female, the text is deliberately murky. Having introduced homosexuality with Stephen, we are looking for it between Paul & Gavin, and the text is, again, murky.
Stephanie then take up Erica, a 60 something survivor. She is immediately paired up with Yolanda & again I am left wondering about the sexual overtones. It is odd to see candidates paired off in this fashion. In the run-up to her second initiation, Erica spends time in spirit communication. She also has a notable psychic experience, which Stephanie explains as Uranus transiting two degrees away from her natal Mercury. (The astrology in the book is no better than this.) Yolanda turns out to be a member of Erica's lodge whom Erica has given some personal attention. Erica's second initiation is not described. It might be the exciting psychic events which led up to it were more interesting.
For her part, Delores, in The Siver Cord, gives details. The powers granted to a second degree initiate are under the control of the initiate & can be freely varied according to whim. Delores says, Once an initiate, always and forever an initiate, life after life. Which, given the program she's pushing, I personally find unlikely. Unlike the first initiation, which was given on demand, the second is given on the whim of the initiator. Afterwards, we learn that With the acceptance of the silver cord you give the responsibility for your actions, words & deeds back to the Savior of the Age! (pg. 64) Which sounds a lot like a karmic Get Out of Jail Free card, but actually means that all your subsequent misdeeds become part of the karmic liability of the planet as a whole (as if they weren't already?). Delores then asks, Do you still think being an initiate is fun? Well, yes, frankly, as nothing, so far, has been the least bit challenging. What is a second degree initiate expected to do with himself? To submit to possession by the order's spirit guide. What happens if the second initiation goes wrong? That's too horrible to describe, according to Ashcroft-Nowicki.
Stephanie writes up the Chosen Road for the 2nd degree initiate. As Delores had previously stated, second degree initiates concern themselves exclusively with magic & occultism. Which I think means that if you want to be the next Aleister Crowley, this is the sort of path you should follow. (Or Dion Fortune, who is frequently mentioned in this book.) Which makes The Servants of the Light essentially a trade school. Both authors tell us constantly that the purpose of initiation is so that we can better serve, but the only service on offer is propagation of more lodges. Which reminds me, again, of Amway.
The Third Degree:
In The Candidates, Stephanie starts off talking about herself & her road to the third. Lots of changes were necessary. Only a few candidates are deemed worthy. Of the "thousands" of members of the "many" SOL lodges, scattered throughout the world, there are only two dozen Thirds. Which makes me think, not of Amway, but of a 33rd degree Mason. The Third requires a vow of Unreserved Dedication, and if it wasn't already clear that SOL is a cult, it should be by now. We meet Ariane, who goes from her second to to the third in two years. In the process her life becomes one of ritual magic. In addition to her magical work, Ariane took up psychotherapy. The third initiation is a twelve hour ordeal, about which nothing can be said, although since candidates live through the process, there is nothing all that fearsome about it. (It is described as a "death experience", but no twelve hour process can truly be said to be deathly.)
In the Violet Cord, Ashcroft-Nowicki talks of the various colors of cords & robes & cassocks. Which sounds a lot like the various belts in Judo. As with the second initiation, the powers conferred at the third are a tweaking of that which were given at the first - which means that Ashcroft-Nowicki has only one Rod of Initiation & can use it in only one way. A third degree initiate is enabled to perform initiations of the 1st & 2nd degree, but only with the permission of some mysterious higher up. If this is an actual person, that person is presumably Delores Ashcroft-Nowicki, but if not, it is the unseen guide or discarnate inner plane master who runs the Servants of Light itself. That there is such a disembodied entity I have no doubt. That any living person should follow its direction frankly horrifies me.
Stephanie writes of the Chosen Road of the 3rd degree initiate. It brings chaos (which is true of any initiation), but a manageable sort. Seventeen months later, Ariane was through the worst of it. (I've known people who had worse cases of culture shock.) Ariane's marriage required a "new understanding", which I think means No More Sex (that old canard!). Thirds take direction from the inner plane master(s), as if they were imbeciles, in my opinion, because that direction seems only to involve creating new lodges & gaining new adherents. What a waste!
In the closing chapter, The Initiator, Stephanie gives us Ashcroft-Nowicki's chart. For someone in her position, publishing a chart is a stupid thing to do. I have worked out the birth, which was in England in June of 1929. I will suppress the other details, but, as I mentioned, when you have a chart, working out the exact date & time is simple enough.
* * *
If you want to join a magical order, that is no concern of mine. Servants of Light is but one of many. Will you become a Better Person because of it? Well, yes. Whatever you do, whatever sincere & honest efforts you make in life, will forever make you a better person.
But is this Initiation, as the term is generally understood? A change that will immediately & forever mark you as some sort of Advanced Being?
The goal of initiation is not to teach you magic. Nor to encourage you to found copy-cat schools, nor to put you in contact with Exalted Inner Beings. All of which is navel-gazing, at best.
The goal of initiation is to free you from the wheel of incarnation, to liberate you from the toils of the earth, to remove you from its karma, to restore you to your rightful place in Heaven, with the full awareness & knowledge you have earned, for yourself and by yourself, through an eternity of toils, trials & striving while on earth. That, and nothing more.
When Ashcroft-Nowicki said there were no books on initiation, she mispoke. Initially I thought worse of her, but I think she had a reason. So far as what she said, and what Norris wrote (the ink on paper that has been published) they are both wrong. There are dozens of books on initiation. If she knowingly lied, she's not a spiritual leader that I want anything to do with. If she had some other meaning in mind, then I still don't want anything to do with her, because I'm just not bright enough to figure it all out. (I like things simple.) Of the many books on initiation, these are certainly known to her:
Initiation, Human & Solar, by Alice Bailey
Discipleship in the New Age, volumes 1 & 2, by Alice Bailey
Krishnamurti The Years of Awakening, by Mary Lutyens.
These are well-known to all in Ashcroft-Nowicki's field.
There was a crush of people looking to get "initiated" in the first half of the 20th century. The Theosophists had their Esoteric Order. Alice Bailey, herself a member of the Theosophical Esoteric Order, founded Lucis Trust which had its own esoteric school. Students in that school, candidates for initiation all, were for a time given direct instruction by Bailey's Tibetan contact. These instructions were compiled & published as Discipleship in the New Age, vols. 1 & 2. These are still in print. The names of the various individuals are given only as random initials. It is said that Dane Rudhyar was among them. And there were the Steiner people, the Moriya people, the Gurdjieff people, the CC Zain people, the Order of the Golden Dawn people, Crowley's group, Dion Fortune's group & literally a dozen others. Go Google & you will find even more.
The shabby side of initiation can be read in Mary Lutyen's book. From 1920 to July of 1929, Jiddhu Krishnamurti was put forward as the New Christ. Which, for a time, he was. He was unable, however, to surround himself with qualified people. Instead, charlatans sold "initiations" in his name, to whomever had the money, or the influence. Krishnamurti struggled in vain to control it, but gave up in disgust in 1929, disbanding his Order of the Star. Which was one of the turning points of the 20th century, though few know it.
So what is "initiation"? Initiation is a process that involves DEATH. Not metaphorical death. Not "gee I just escaped death" death. Not some sort of fancy psychic experience, regardless of intensity or duration. DEATH. By the end of the ceremony, the candidate is physically dead. Initiation is not for the squeamish. You get nothing for nothing. What will you give for this precious thing? Will you give your life? No? Then what did you expect?
I am broadly in agreement with Bailey's five initiations, and I am broadly in agreement with Benjamin Creme's list of initiates, their ray structures & Points of Evolution, which I have extensively studied. These are people from all walks of life, because, in reality, initiation in no way restricts one's free will. (Creme is a tragic figure. His great project has failed, the forces behind it - the "inner plane masters" were false. I am hopeful something can be salvaged from his work.)
It seems to me the first initiation can take a great many forms. Of an actual esoteric order, I once heard of an initiation that went like this:
The candidate was placed in a small room, alone with a very poisonous snake. He was told that to be successful & become "initiate", he had to hypnotize the snake, render it harmless, whereupon he could leave the room. But, alas, he was given neither training, nor preparation, for this feat, and the usual result was tragic: He died by snakebite. Because, in fact, had he hypnotized the snake, he would have failed. Only by dying of snakebite could the candidate complete the process & emerge, in his next life, as an initiate. Was the school murdering its candidates, knowingly, deliberately murdering them, murder in the first degree? Yes. It was. That was the whole point. Now do you see why I scoffed at this book & its trivial "initiations" ?
There is yet another form of first degree initiation, one handed out lavishly in many states & countries. It is the Death Penalty. This has been raised to a particularly high art in America, where "lucky candidates" often spend a decade or more on Death Row, enduring an almost (almost!) endless series of appeals and stays, hopes that are raised and then crushed. This cruel inhuman process concentrates the mind to a wonderful degree, but it also brings up a serious problem:
Once the candidate has been rendered dead, his soul & spirit are free to draw whatever lessons from the experience they wish. Will he have "learned his lesson", will he be a good & holy man in his next life? Or will he be filled with feelings of the most horrible anger & vengence? The executioner / initiator has no way of knowing! It is for this reason alone that the Death Penalty is such a monstrous, evil act. Let people find their own way to initiation! There is no reason the state should be blundering about!
Because initiation, the first, in particular, does not make you "good". It does not make you "holy". By mastering death you become more powerful. That is all. This is why candidate selection is so very critical. To some extent, every life we live, every death we endure, are all minor initiatory experiences. But when death is raised to ritual (and executions are always ritual) the power of death to transform becomes overwhelming.
The newly minted first degree initiate, in his next life, knows that he is different, knows that something horrific has befallen him, but does not know what. He spends many years, sometimes entire lifetimes, struggling to make sense of himself. He eventually realizes he is the master of the world, that it is his servant. At this point he styles himself as "The Greatest" - often using those exact words to describe himself. This is a moment of pure ego, and it has its expected result: The Greatest is quickly entangled in the toils of the world & settles down to actual work. As a religious cleric, if that is his choice. As a ritualistic magician, if he desires. As a thespian, if that is his wish. As a loving husband & father. As a ruthless warrior or even sadistic killer, if that is his bent. As a writer, a poet, a musician, a composer, an artist, a scientist, or a politician. It is his choice. All US Presidents, for example, were & are initiates. There is no possible way any lesser a person could ever attain the post. (Yes, even the wicked & stupid ones were initiate.) Whatever his occupation, he will be among the leaders of his field - in company with his fellow initiates, in fact. Initiation in no way limits free will, but rather, expands it. Which is why the last thoughts the candidate has before he undergoes his ordeal are so critically important.
Once the initiate settles down to work, he inevitably becomes enmeshed into the affairs of men. Whatever he eventually decides to do with himself makes him a leader among men. Attracts the attention of the masses. Eventually their love. And no matter how shocking, how tragic, the means of his prior initiation, adulation eventually rescues his hardened heart, softens it, and brings him around. This may take a number of lives (upwards of ten, or so I've been told.) Eventually he loves the attention. Ultimately he cannot live without it. Which inevitably leads him to the second of the five great initiations:
The death that creates a second degree initiate is one of selfless love. The candidate sacrifices his life for the good of another. It is the soldier who throws himself unhesitatingly on the live grenade, thereby sparring his friends at the cost of his own life. Given that the circumstances of the second initiation are fundamentally different, recovery from the event is much more rapid. Given that recovery is more rapid, the advance towards the third initiation is much faster. Those whose first initiation was of anger & rage must somehow sublimate their emotions before they can advance further. If they do not, they can, of course, re-experience the horrors of the first initiation over & over again.
Having sacrificed himself for love, the newly reincarnate 2nd degree initiate finds love flowing back to him. And while some part of that is sexual, the primary quality of love is an unquestioning openness. Not just among the people he lives among, but in all possible ways. Suddenly all doors are open. All secrets are shown. He is like a small boy in a candy shop. His eyes get big and round and he excitedly grabs at everything he can. He doesn't know anything, he doesn't understand anything, but there are so many new toys to play with! So many new places to explore! As an example, if, as a first degree initiate, he had eventually settled on a life in music, he would have ended up a pretty good tunesmith. A songwriter. A John Lennon, or a Rossini.
Now, with a lot more to play with, he expands his horizons. He takes up symphonies. He becomes a Dvorak, or a Bruckner. Mere songs are no longer a challenge. He wants symphonic complexity. And in the process something very interesting happens. When he was a first degree songwriter, he had mass appeal. Most of his fans were hardly the sort of people he'd want as friends, but there were millions of them. Now, as a "serious composer", he has the adulation of the elite, but is shunned by the masses. His horizons have narrowed, without his being quite aware.
Of course, the ultimate challenge, the one the 2nd degree initiate will always rise to, is to understand death. To make it a structured event. He will sense it coming, he will puzzle out its methods, and, one way or another, when the time comes, he will make a conscious exit. It will be his ultimate challenge. Such was how Yogananda died. Or he may die in a rage, saying to the world, Enough! I quit! Which is how Beethoven died.
In the next life he expects to return as the all-conquering hero. Was not death the ultimate challenge?
Surprisingly, life takes an abrupt turn. Having conquered everything that was of interest, he has run out of things to do. So, he no longer has goals. He no longer has a clear purpose. Talent drips off his fingertips, but he is unable to make use of it. Many times thirds are employed as private secretaries (factotums) in their youth, to men who are their inferiors. Lacking clear direction, he may well take up his employer's profession, but if he does, he will most likely be branded a mere copy-cat. There is an interesting reason. A third is highly sensitive to the astral currents around him. As a result, he easily, and often unwittingly, picks up the thoughts & ideas of those around him. Which, having a perfectly formed mind (if you can figure out death, you can figure out most anything) he makes better use of, but still, it wasn't his own idea. Thirds are just as likely to be unwitting telepaths, verbalizing aloud the secret thoughts of their friends, which means that few will quite trust them. Fourth degree initiates have the same problems, only more so.
In an effort to regain the popularity the third degree initiate dimly remembers from his days as a first degree initiate, he may pander to the masses. Make orchestral settings of pop tunes, for example, or wander the countryside as an itinerent preacher / healer, as Jesus did. No one understands him, no one knows what to do with him. If he achieves success, he also becomes a target. Many will envy him. Many others will fear him (fears based on their own ideas of what someone of his talents could do, rather than anything that he might actually do). Much to his surprise, the more he tries to please, the more he is shunned. What he does next is of interest.
Read Matthew with a critical eye & you will see the rabbi Jesus fell into this trap. (In other words, stop looking at him as God Incarnate & instead imagine yourself in his place.) He can heal the sick, he can perform miracles, he is wise and solemn. He entertains people as a moralizing storyteller. Why doesn't the world want him? Why is he forced to wander from town to town, unable to make a home? Unable to find a wife? Have a family? He becomes enormously frustrated. Finally he is seized with the idea that he can lead the miserable rabble to a better life, and throws the money changers out of the temple. But as soon as he flings the first one, he knows he has signed his own death warrant. Throwing the money changers out of the temple was exactly the sort of event the authorities had long feared. They moved swiftly.
The fourth initiation, known to Bailey as the Crucifixion, is when the initiate, whose life has become an enormous failure, commits suicide. This is what Jesus inadvertently willed for himself when he cleaned out the temple. Jesus failed. He died in an enormous rage, as was proven by the storm that brewed over his head. As soon as he was free of the cross, he raced back to the temple, intending to demolish it. But, lacking physical hands, the best he could do was to rip the curtain from top to bottom. Which, even so, was no mean feat. He then raced back into life as Apollonius of Tyna (such is the legend), where he was stunned to find that no one wanted him. The body he left behind, as Jesus, was, according to legend, reanimated three days later by the Christ himself. Reading the New Testament closely, you will discover that none of Jesus's followers recognized this new stranger in their midst. Which is typical of bodies that are reanimated by another entity. (Christians make such hash of their Bibles!)
The fourth initiation is suicide. It could be nothing else. The candidate, rejected by the world, in his turn rejects it. Turns his back on it. If the first initiation is a defining moment, this is a second. In all subsequent lives, he will never again be a part of the world. Which means there is no longer any point in rebirth, in a physical life.
Having been rejected by all, by the very earth itself, the fourth degree initiate comes back to life in a state of shock. He no longer sees any future. He becomes consumed in a quest to find out what had happened to him. As a child the memories are vivid. Sorting it all out, finding the WHY, even for a man of his considerable talents, can take the better part of a lifetime. This may have been Jiddhu Krishnamurti's sole defect, a desire to go back to happier days, when he was a celebrated savant, rather than progress on to his own proper fate. Once the 4th degree initiate resigns himself to his fate, he sets about constructing his new home in astral matter, such that when he eventually dies, he enters a transitory period of readjustment in his new abode. Krishnamurti did this publicly, as his "process". Which is the fifth, and for this series, the final initiation.
Such is initiation. Bailey's book, Initiation, Human & Solar, merely dances around the edge of all this. You must know how to read it. There is nothing, in any of this, that is ordained by inner guides. They do not move your here or there. You are not part of any school or lodge, except from your own foolish blundering. You are not, so far as I am aware, actually initiated by anyone into anything. You are, yourself, your own initiator. No one else. You are to succeed, or fail, on your own. The gifts you give to the world as a result, are yours alone.
There is a short-cut, if you want it. And it is pain free. Death free: Two thousand years ago Christ established the sacrament of Communion for the express purpose of assisting all to advance along their own, unique evolutionary paths. The Church permits you to take of this marvelous elixir once a day, starting at the age of 7. Should you do this, each & every day of a long life, the result will be that in your next life you will have moved ahead of your peers in the evolutionary scheme of things. You will be a leader. Should you do this for two or three lifetimes, you will be among the greatest beings on the planet. If you are serious, you will take ordination as a priest, or vows as a nun. If the Catholic Church is not to your liking, then any of its branches, which have retained direct Apostolic Succession, will do as well (among them, Lutherans & Anglicans). In fact, there are many among us who have already finished a series of such lives and are now, not Church fanatics, but leaders in their fields. Leaders in all fields. Am I proselytizing for the Church? If you wish. I am merely reciting what I know to be true. I am fully aware the Church is not acceptable to many. Not acceptable to me, alas. Or rather, I am not acceptable to it.
I want to be perfectly clear. For every successful initiation, there are a dozen failures. Perhaps a hundred. Each one, a life lost. A life cut short. A life wasted. Fated to reincarnate only to start all over again from the beginning, having gained nothing and lost all. Murder is murder. Groups that murder candidates do not write books, they are not found in towns & cities, they do not place ads of any sort. If, despite my ghastly story, you are willing & eager to sacrifice yourself & seek them out, you will never find them. They are hidden away in poor, sparsely populated countries, tucked away on lonely mountaintops, living in old & dilapidated buildings, where there are no roads, no nearby towns of any sort. They are not to be found in any guidebook. Whenever these groups come to the attention of the authorities, they are promptly broken up. So they hide.
As for achievement via suicide, know that even fourth degree initiates come to regret the deed. Suicides always destroy the friends & family they leave behind. In many cases, the suicide posthumously causes the actual deaths of his family & friends, one way or another. And even if he thinks he is prepared, thinks he has thought it through, thinks that he has perfectly hidden it from the world, the process is so strange, the energies so powerfully uncontrolled, that he will likely create only pain & suffering, for himself & for many others.
If you wish this boon, this greatest of all gifts, the one safe route, open to virtually all, is the Church. Regardless what you think of it, regardless of your own experiences, regardless of what you may have heard. Grit your teeth, smile nicely at the priest, and early every morning, jog over to your parish church & let him put the host on your tongue. You don't have to like him & he doesn't have to like you. You can, and I think, should, ignore everything he & his Pope says from their pulpits, as they often are, in fact, as mean and as petty and as stupid as they come. Remember you're not coming for them or their sermons. You're coming for the host itself. Establish a direct relationship with it, and be patient, and be happy. Ultimate liberation is a long, slow process. Perhaps someday the Church will not be the ultimate Yin-Yang.
Back to the book at hand. I did not expect it to be very good, but I was disappointed it was merely a shill for an existing esoteric school. No, that's wrong. The Servants of the Light is not esoteric, but magical. The degrees of initiation offered are not of the cosmic, eternal level, but merely stages in the formation of a magician. One with a distinct sexual slant, same-sex, if I'm not mistaken. As such, the authors are correct in saying their degrees of initiation are elective, optional, at the discretion of the candidate, or of the initiator. Ashcroft-Nowicki may be telling the truth in saying there has never been a book quite like this before. (Crowley might have done it, but I am unfamiliar with most of his work. Ashcroft-Nowicki & Norris both studiously avoid all mention of him.) Viewed in this light, you can practice Ashcroft-Nowicki's magic, or Crowley's magic, or Dion Fortune's magic, or that of a number of other schools.
And if you go down that route, you will, in your next life, learn the fate of reincarnate magicians. To be cannibalized by one's own, long forgotten spells & enchantments. To be compelled to again be the town shaman, or the nadi reader, or the magus. Over & over again.
Why would anyone do this? Want to be initiate? Because he wants to be a big shot & has heard this is the way to go. If he only knew the path ahead of him, either magical or cosmic, he might not be so cocky. The final question: Does an initiate know he's initiate? With almost no exceptions, an initiate can pass through all four stages and not have a single clue. This is actually a mercy.
I've heard said that the Tibetans teach that if you make a good death, you are immediately liberated from the endless cycle of death & rebirth. Which is initiation, no more, no less. Myself, I have long been curious about these strange creatures, these initiates, hence my lavish notes.
Wessex Astrologer, 113 pages.