If you don't know, I generally work within a mostly Wiccan tradition of the sort practiced before the Llewellyn books were widely available. A lot of the current eclectic Wiccan traditions don't resemble what I do, although that doesn't make them invalid for the folks practicing them. It's just different.
That said, I've worked in a 3-degree system for most of my adult life (well, aside from the 4th degree initiation I received that's such a mystery I wasn't really told anything about it before or afterward).
To prepare folks for initiation, I was taught that fasting for 4-6 hours was preferable, abstaining from nicotine, caffeine, or any mind-altering substance was mandatory, and that eating a vegan diet for 3-7 days prior was ideal. For people on prescription medication, that's not always possible. Most smokers can't go 4-6 hours without nicotine, and most coffee/soda drinkers can't abide the idea of going that long without caffeine. The folks who don't follow the rules I was originally given are usually the ones most likely to have some sort of negative experience after the initiation, though.
I've seen a lot of different things happen to folks after their initiation, whether I was involved or not, and some of them were more negative than others. Always on the lookout to improve the experience for everyone, I'm interested in feedback from anyone who either recognizes these or has something else to add to the list.
After-effects of Initiation:
- Fatigue – is this normal, as a result of energy channels (meridians?) opening wider from the initiatory experience, or is it a result of too much energy being flooded through someone? How do we measure or regulate how much energy one uses to initiate?
- Confusion – I think when confusion happens and someone is “thinking fuzzy” for a few days after initiation, it may be a result of improper grounding, or something has gone wrong with the integration process of the new energy assimilating into the existing system to create the change that goes with initiation.
- Hyper-awareness, Insomnia – lumped these together because they can be sort of related. The initiate is highly stimulated by the initiatory experience, but they can’t ground enough to sleep, and the heightened sensory input that sometimes accompanies initiation also keeps them from relaxing. In some cases, they may need to be grounded by someone else if they’re unable to make it work. This should happen before they leave the place of initiation, to make sure this “hyper” state doesn’t kick in later as it sometimes does.
- “Purging” – I’ve seen everything from profuse sweating (elevated body temperature), diarrhea, vomiting, to gallstone or kidney stones post-initiation – sometimes even just after a Reiki attunement. I still don’t have a handle on this one, but I’m betting that it has something to do with pre-initiation preparations not done right.
- Sex drive – this one might be normal, but I’ve seen both elevated and depressed sex drive in people post-initiation, with no discernible pattern to indicate a cause either way.
- Flu-like symptoms – In at least two occurrences, I’ve seen post-initiation illnesses that appeared to be like a bout of the flu. Is it possible that in certain circumstances the immune system is suppressed by the initiatory experience, making the initiate more susceptible to infection?
- Fainting – had a big strapping lad pass out once, but later we found out that he fasted longer than instructed, so combined with the hot bath pre-initiation and the flood of energy coming at him as he approached the circle, the fainting wasn’t a surprise. The fainting afterward also wasn’t a surprise, but we fed him up and he seemed fine later, although he stopped practicing the Craft and couldn’t really explain why.
Your thoughtful responses are of course appreciated :)