Friday, July 22, 2011

The Red Thread (and the Initiatory Process)

I have the sense that the Red Thread is one of the deeper Mysteries of the Craft as we are coming to know it. This sense is based on the fact that both Glaux and I find ourselves referring to it regularly in symbolic ways and during Craft discussions, but I am having difficulty putting my thoughts together in any coherent manner in this blog entry. The fact that we are able to point to the symbol as a deep point of connection for our magic, but verbalization seems to fail on some level, tells me that "here be a grave Mystery."

Perhaps in order to approach the Mystery, we should only look at one aspect of it in this post. The Red Thread and the Initiatory Process. 

The "Red Thread" is the moniker we use to refer to the line of Witch Blood that connects us to Tubal Qayin. A few of us come to this Tradition with ties to Qayin, bonds or possibly even Witch Marks that we reinforce through charms or the process of admission into a curveen. Many create that link through specific ritual.

Our system of admission is actually quite simple. We have a beginning level which we call Greening. I'll reserve full discussion of this level for another post, but I'll say here that this is the level for "children" within this path -- whether literal or figurative.

Next is Adoption, and it is at this time when the Red Thread is linked. This Tradition is linked very intimately to flow and nature of the family, so the Adoption corresponds to the time of puberty. When a child has come into physical, mental and emotional maturity sufficient for the study of basic magic, she may be brought into her Craft family. When a Seeker, regardless of physical age, has passed the period of initial giddiness and done some serious work and review of his aims as a Witch, he too is eligible for adoption into the Craft family.

The goals of the Adoption Rite (which you can also think of as a Dedication) are to forge a formal magical link between the student and the coven and to establish a formal training period of at least a year and a day. (This period is until the age of adulthood, in the case of family trad practitioners performing the Adoption with teens and tweens.)

This rite can happen at any of the Gates or Castles. In other words, it can happen at any Sabbat.

During the course of the ritual, the candidate is challenged and queried by the curveen members. Provided that she meets with approval at the end of all challenges, she will take blood oath on the anvil. There are two points to make note of here: 1) participation in the ritual doesn't guarantee success; and 2) the anvil is the "oath stone" of the Tradition and is intimately linked in symbolic terms to Tubal Qayin. 

The candidate is given a Red Cord to wear at the waist, which is a reminder of the Red Thread itself, the umbilical cord, and the fire of Qayin's forge. He is also given a bone and silver ring, which is symbolic of the bone soul (intimately related to the Red Thread and the Ancestors). The ring should be fitted to the Witch's index finger in his power hand, as this is the ultimate location where he will be tattooed with the Stang (or Witch's Mark) at his Raising.

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