contemporary therapy must start to devote more efforts to understanding the psychology of ritual processes—the analysis of space and ritual processes involved in therapeutic practices. Therapy has typically neglected the ritual’s psychosocial, initiation and development role or viewed it as somewhat pathological or repressive. Humans must start participating in mythological narratives and ritual enactment to gain adequate containment for archaic numinous libidinal energies. The divine source is natural to the true self that everyone struggles to locate and regulate, channel adequately in a life-enhancing manner.
The world is divided into two distinct modalities, the sacred and the profane.
The profane cannot connect to the divine source with no power to renew life, through which regeneration can occur. Profane space is a faultless expanse, homogeneous in a fundamental unreality, devoid of creativity. Establishing and maintaining a boundary within a sacred space is vital as one enters a new human experience—the primary condition of containment and isolation, where one is safe from intrusion or invasion. The sacred space is dangerous for anyone who comes into contact with it unprepared, as they cross the thresholds of the temple unconscious and vulnerable. Broadly speaking, the initiation ceremony comprises of the following phases.
- Preparation of the sacred ground
- Separation of initiates/novices from their mother
- segregation into a bush/forest or isolated camp
- Operations and rituals performed on novices, such as circumcision, scarring etc.
- They must undergo several ordeals, breaking taboos or finding inner resources to survive. Each element has a sacred or religious element attached.
The novices are first transferred into an embryo/ womb ( hut /bush), incubated, and reborn. They become socially responsible and culturally awakened in adulthood and emotional maturity. Gestation and rebirth must be repeated, ritually and symbolically, to attain a higher level of existence and consciousness. Modernity contains fragments of a shattered universe, a profane space where man moves, governed and driven by the obligations of the industrial society.
The phases of initiation strip the modern man of his stature, image and attributes, where one faces ambiguity and uncertainty, facing new ordeals and guidance. This liminal space of ambiguity and disorientation represents the in-between worlds caught in limbo and doubt. The liminal phenomena actualise as symbols, integrating the intellectual and emotional meaning to the novices.
The opposing liminoid space of modern society manifests as dependency and completion for recognition within the main culture. Separate parts of the whole liminal space have split off to pursue different destinies as specialised genres. The liminoid is permeable and without boundaries, unable to sustain and hold the intensity of the transformative process characteristic of the liminal state.
The onset of the initiatory process occurs when a given psychosocial phase or state begins to manifest as symptoms or morbidity. The fabric of consciousness is torn down by crisis, subtle or dramatic and begins to rigidify and deteriorate. The previous consciousness is either willingly rejected by an individual or destroyed without repentance by the individual’s will, endorsed by a catastrophic event of ritual actions. If mishandled and disrespected, the creative power may turn destructive, whereby the initiate never regains ordinary consciousness or emerges as a monster. Correctly handled and nurtured, it provides a womb-like locus for growing and maturing. A new space and gourmet of consciousness for the task or vocation that awaits the initiate. With a new consciousness, the initiate is reintegrated into society with needed knowledge, attitudes, values and behaviours.
The quester manifests high levels of aspiration, where they have difficulty acting in the mundane world. Unwilling to participate in group and social activities, they want to engage in more rigorous, intensive personal disciplines to gain the attention of authentic occultists. This individual has the subjective experience of being special, chosen by supra beings or agencies who hold special knowledge and assign them a special task/role. The individual undergoes a radical shift with a new sense of meaning and significance, a potency of willpower. Great work is a common thread within the journey of initiates as they take on assignments with different levels of focus and scope.
The Quester`s Journey
Ten Characteristics of the magus image
- The supernatural or mysterious origin of the hero might be divine
- Portents of birth – a sign or warning that a momentous or calamitous event is likely to happen.
- Perils manifest in their childhood – evil wishes or parents, rescued from an evil stepmother.
- Some kind of initiation – into the mystery of the occult with diabolical wisdom- a preparation period modelled within ceremonies.
- Distant wandering to seek new wisdom – a descent into the underworld and an ascent into heaven
- A magical contest and battle
- A trial of persecution develops from the contest as the hero wins. He is nearly vanquished at the trials, which generally bring about his doom
- The last scene – a solemn or prophetic farewell in the form of a confession or repentance.
- A violent or mysterious death – the ritual of the dying god. An unnatural death and descent into the world of Hades
- Resurrection or ascension
Encounter groups show similar characteristics in attempts to provide ritual ground for transformation.
They attempt to formulate a contract for group functioning, regulating the time, space, and boundaries for a process to occur. In the role of the powerful elder, the group’s leader observes the members’ performance. They intervene and punish each member who breaks protocol and threatens group cohesion. This space works as the conduit for transformation, an interpersonal field that allows unconscious material to manifest without terrorising the participants if the frame is broken. The boundary becomes too permeable, and Unconscious collusion to avoid the truth manifests. Liminality, in short, always develops within a context of containment, where boundaries are tended to by the ego of the individual involved. Any acting-out behaviour and symptoms should be considered liminoid in nature.
Liminality – disorientation and confusion in the middle stages as one stands at the threshold of initiation
Liminoid – disintegrating subjectivity, the trigger for the transition between fantasy and reality. Having characteristics of a liminal experience without any resolution. A graduation ceremony might be considered liminal, while a rock concert might be considered liminoid.
Moore, R.L (2001) The Magician and the Analyst, Xlibris Publications