When people act “Crazy” compared to conventional methods, they often search for some extraordinary space that will allow them to leave an old phase of life and experience entry into a new one. A three-phase structure of initiation as a transitional process is related to a sacred space.

  • Phase One – everyday consciousness is challenged as life becomes less viable.
  • Phase Two – the individual’s world dismantled and deconstructed
  • Phase Three – reconstitution, reintegration and renewal of life.

Major life events like crisis, grief and reintegration represent one of the three distinct phases of initiation. Entering the sacred space is always an ordeal, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. One must undergo rituals of degradation and humiliation at the threshold and submit before crossing over into the transitional space. Entering the process requires humility, an unbent knee or an unbowed head. The immature ego does not function well within these phases. Without linear time one becomes disorientated, reality testing is suspended, and primary process thinking manifests. A willful submission occurs, a controlled regression in the service of the ego, as one enters analysis or spiritual life.

A centre is needed to make contact with the regenerative process, the archetypal self.

Modern cultures fragmenting and illnesses result from inadequate containers for true authenticity and numinous experiences. Many of the DSM categories and symptoms can be interpreted in terms of field initiations.

Vessels of Analysis

The therapeutic and working processes involve three components: the client will submit, create capacity and a new container, and enact the integration.

  1. Submission – One can’t become a group member without submitting to the governing rules and regulations. When you join therapeutic groups, you commit to an act of submission and process, which is substantial and dangerous.
  2. Containment – the space to face split off truth and aspects of the ego. A place where you are sufficiently held by a “good enough mother “, attuned to the organism without emotional or physical intrusion. One must have optional frustration to grow. The pampering and engulfing mother does not allow such frustrations, leaving the child uninitiated. The better the object relations in childhood, the easier it is to shift libido (psychic energy) in other phases of life.
  3. Enactment – the practising and experiencing phase. The trying of new images of self and object other. The liminal space allows you to try different things in a playful mode. A new ego adaptation needs to shred off one to allow a new one to grow (snakeskin).

Archetype of Initiation

The first phase is the coherent conscious sense of self, one`s psychosocial identity ( Jungian persona ). The middle phase is the land of limbo, dissolution, a wasteland of nowhere within a sacred space. This is the tomb, the belly of the whale, with the destruction of the former consciousness and life world, which requires incubation and isolation. Once in the incubation for a sustained period, you have been cooked right in the alchemical process. This is the time to leave and re-enter the ordinary world. Without a ritual leader or spiritual guide, the temptation to inflate the go is inevitable. The ego will resist and fight to avoid the act of crucifixion.

As part of the self separates and differentiates, the object other (mother /leader) is used to shore up the self-structure. The object infuses the vitality and energy needed to allow the child/client to incorporate and contain new emotional shifts and experiences. The therapist must hold an intense idealisation of fascination, fantasies compounded with aggression and erotic desire. Object-relational and intrapsychic change occurs within the intersubjective field and interaction between 2 people. Clients with a damaged Ego-self axis are impressed when they are accepted and heard by the therapist, where the therapist becomes the centre of their life and new experiences. The self within the centre can reconnect and hold the tension of opposites, strengthening the ego and establishing greater stability.

The therapist becomes aware of the trickster or inner critic, who will undermine and compromise initiation attempts—the castrating aspect of the anima and the envious aspect of the animus. The grandiose self needs the perfect mirroring of the idealised parental imago, the vanity of the anima. The animus demands perfect behaviour, standards and morals. The child is abandoned, rejected or punished if they betray loyalty or break taboos. This may result in infantile neurosis, acting out conflicts of ambivalence with coercive behaviour. Designed to keep the idealised image (mother) intact whilst desperately clinging and trying to escape simultaneously. The mother who stops self-assertion and explorations is the same object who provides safety and imaginary love.

This defends the good object against aggressive drives

Ritual Process

Modernity has led to the individual’s inability to experience and enter a sacred space. They have lost access to knowledgeable leaders and wise elders who underhand the need for ritual and rites of passage. Modernity acts like an immaculate perception and conception, untainted by shadow dynamics, with no need to inquire into such falsehoods and infantilism. This manifests in three ways.

  1. Inadequate provisions for the initiation process into transitional states are required during a crisis of natural life cycles.
  2. The lack of Rituals for resolving conflicts, be they interpersonal or intrapsychic. Integrating our shadow, we develop the ability to work with and learn to keep one`s individuality within groups. To resolve conflicts and reduce emotional reactions to objects within the group.
  3. The lack of bonding rituals to facilitate species identification and ego structures. Technology has generated social distancing and withdrawal, creating less social fabric and foundation bonding.

We lack adequate mature masculinity and femininity images and believe maturity is inevitable without any work or process. For instance, we may discuss the midlife crisis but not realise or be aware of the ritual dimensions in such pivotal life events. We need to develop a heroic ego and a new form of consciousness, where the ego needs dissolution and reconstitution—a death and rebirth through a ritual process. The heroic ego of modernity has proven to foster places grounded in its fantasies of moral superiority, where transformation is believed to occur via education and politics. We must look at containment during the process for great change in personality and society. The significance of liminal space and space for psychosocial “framing.” and “holding environment.” In this space, we can tolerate the terrors of change with its attendant painful truths and emotions.

In therapy, we can work with the dissolution of the inner organisation based on early structuring, which has maintained pathological elements in the personality. Deconstruction and deconfusion lead the way for integrating and healing towards wholeness and consolidation. The first task is to locate the divine source, connect with it, plugging into the regeneration and creative source needed in life. When one can not locate the source, one falls into chaos, the cold chaos of depression, with no energy within the wastelands of the soul.

Moore, L.R (2001) The Archetype of Initiation: Sacred Space, Ritual Process, and Personal Transformation, Xlibris, Corp.; 1st edition