Update: The original title of this post was “My Gardnerian 2nd-Degree Elevation.” I underwent this rite with this coven in early May 2015. At the time, my group understood itself to be dual-lineaged in the California and Long Island lines. In late August 2015, the HPS learned she was misinformed on the Long Island lineage. Because of some ambiguity in the creation of the California line, many Gardnerians outside the California line do not consider them to be Gardnerians; however, most who hold this lineage do consider themselves Gardnerians. To be respectful to both sides of the argument, I changed the title of this post to “My California Gardnerian 1st-Degree Initiation”.
I no longer believe the initiation I underwent at this time to have been a Gardnerian initiation, and I do not claim it to be so. I left the Pacific Northwest to move to Indiana in mid-May 2015. I was initiated into a Whitecroft line Gardnerian coven as a first degree in November 2015. This is now what I consider to be my Gardnerian initiation. I honor the instruction and love I was given in my former coven, and I deeply cherish my relationships with this coven family. I do not, however, continue to practice its tradition.
In October 2015, my former HPS was taken through all three degrees by a Long Island group in Portland, OR. It is my understanding that she will ensure any of her California downline who wish to undergo initiation into Long Island will be afforded the opportunity, either by her hand or by the group who initiated and elevated her.
Just before our Beltane ritual on May 3rd, my HP and HPS elevated me to the second degree, with coven brother X in attendance. So. Insanely. Much. has happened since that day, I sometimes think that the elevation ritual was just a dream. But it happened, and it was just as lovely as my initiation.
Obviously, the specifics of the ritual are oathbound, but my emotions are not. My mindspace at the outset of the ritual was probably closest to “Oh my gods, I really hope I’m doing this right” and I was trying to be super serious so as to pick up on the cues I was supposed to follow. But at the same time, I was so ridiculously happy, I was struggling to not be flippant. It was such a weird mental position–I’ve never experienced anything like that before. As the ritual went on, gravity eventually set in and I found myself in another struggle–the struggle to really let go who I had been to make way for a new me. I don’t let go easy, and this part was so hard. At one point, I literally felt like I was suffocating in an oven and very nearly begged to be let out of the circle. In fact, it almost snapped me out of ritual mode–I was certain the room was too warm and I was about to have heatstroke. To be honest, the room was a little warm, what with it being tiny and there being lots of candles and four bodies heating it up…but it was no furnace! That extreme heat and pressure was all from another place. Maybe my mind, maybe magic, but definitely not reality.
My coven leaders asked me to pay attention and note any changes in myself in the weeks following the elevation, but I find it hard to determine just what changed through the elevation, what changed through life, and what changed through both. In the two weeks after the ritual, though, when all was relatively calm, I noticed that I had much greater certainty in “knowing.”
A good example of this happened the day after the ritual. I drove back to Tacoma early in the morning and stopped off at my favorite coffee place, Valhalla roasters, to acquire much-needed caffeination for me, Y., and X., as they were staying with our HPS who doesn’t drink coffee. As I went to put the tray on the passenger side floor of my car, I suddenly knew that it was going to spill. So I secured the lids onto the cups and the cups into the tray and held onto it as I proceeded onto my HPS’s house. I was also driving much more carefully than I otherwise would have to help prevent a spill…but a drunk homeless man stepped out in front of my car and I had to slam on the brakes. Forty-eight ounces of Valkyrie French Press ended up all over my car, just as I had known it would. After the adrenaline wore off and I’d mopped up the mess and acquired new coffee, I realized that if I hadn’t been driving that carefully, I would have slammed into that man for sure.
These odd moments of “knowing” aren’t always connected into huge events either, I’ve noticed. A few days after the elevation, I was on my way to work and very uncharacteristically decided to stop at Dutch Brothers and get an Irish cream coffee. Over the past year, I can count the times I’ve grabbed coffee before work on one hand, so this was a freakish little whim. Even odder, as I was ordering I just decided to order a second–a white chocolate mocha–deciding that my co-worker Shannon needed a mid-morning treat. I’d never bought anyone at work a coffee before. After all, everyone is very picky about their coffee, and I’m always broke. But I just “knew” the moment I ordered it that it was needed. And, sure enough, as I handed the drink to Shannon she cried, “How did you know?!” Apparently she’d dropped her perfume bottle into the coffee she’d got for herself that morning and was going nuts without the usual caffeine. Even weirder? I had no idea what Shannon actually liked in her coffee…but she told me her standing Dutch Bros. order was the white chocolate mocha.
Now, I’m no psychic, and I would be the first to chalk these things up to coincidence. And maybe they are. But I have been so certain of things these past few weeks. I knew when I flew out to Indiana for job interviews that I would have an offer at the end of that trip. (I did, but I turned it down. Even though I fretted about that decision, I also knew that I would get “the dream offer” if I was patient.) I knew when I saw the apartment I was going to get and how awful it was that I would find a better place–and I did that very night! In fact, when the owner of the place I’m in now sent me pictures of her living room, I was shocked to see couches exactly like what flew into my mind when I had thought of “a better place.” I’ve known at every job interview I’ve been on since whether or not they would extend me an offer. That knowledge has definitely helped me stay patient and wait for a position with the best “fit.”
This weird certainty has definitely not been how my mind has typically worked–I fret over minutiae like I’m getting paid to do it, and I’m always drafting Plans B through Q in case Plan A is a bust. The certainty has definitely made life easier in the face of all the changes, and I am thankful for that.