Here’s the dilemma: people can’t initiate themselves. The only way I can reveal myself to myself is if someone else is protecting, supporting, and challenging me. The person who’s undergoing the initiation has to feel safe enough to let go and challenged enough not to stay still. When the function of the ego, which is to protect the self, is taken over by others, we can go into a deep descent and find elements of our own soul. If I try to initiate myself, I’m either going to make the temperature too hot, so to speak, or too cold. Initiation needs caring others who know what temperature is right for me. This is a real problem in a culture that thinks, I’m going to do it all myself.
Something else you need is nature. In traditional cultures initiations don’t happen in the village. They happen in wilderness. Initiation is going to bring out your nature, which is connected to greater nature. But you also have to be connected to a living, meaningful community. It all has to come together. Mass culture often sets the individual against the community, because the community doesn’t acknowledge the uniqueness of each person’s soul. Instead of the community versus the individual, the goal of initiation is to get individuals involved in the community in a way that’s meaningful to them and inspiring to others.
– Michael Meade, interviewed in The Sun