The word “initiation” stands for the action of admitting a person into a new kind of religious or societal status. Esoteric schools of thought in both East and West have long since realized, however, that true initiation is much more than one ritual: initiation is a journey. A path that takes us forward, with all its branches.
There is some variation in definitions of the path of initiation, but the view that I perhaps the strongest subscribe to is the following:
The path of initiation is a spiritual evolution in which a person overcomes various mental hurdles and broadens their spiritual views, understanding, and abilities. The person’s lesser consciousness of the spiritual side of the universe grows into awareness, and with the increasing knowledge, the person acquires tools to further deepen their understanding. The path of initiation integrates the spiritual with the psychological.
Phases of the path of initiation can be ritually consummated. However, in order to achieve the right to be initiated, a person must become worthy of the knowledge to be received. What is meant by this worth is a deferential, conscious, spiritual worth.
The concept of the path of initiation may sound complicated, but I see it more as complex. Since the phases and nuances of the path vary somewhat depending on system and world view, my focus in this article is on shedding light on the path of initiation in the Temple of Chrysalis in particular.
The significance of the initiations in the Temple of Chrysalis
The path of initiation in the Temple of Chrysalis also corresponds to the idea of a spiritual evolution. A chrysalid walking the path of initiation performs a journey during which they learn new things about themself, others, the world, the universe, and realities. During the path of initiation, the chrysalid expands their subjective reality in such a way that what they once were only superficially conscious of, now captures their understanding on a multidimensional level.
Along the path of initiation, the chrysalid goes through a conscious self-development, which they steer to the best of their ability. The course of the path is however not straightforward, and not always completely clear. In addition, the teachings offered in initiations are not unequivocally mere teachings, but also hypotheses the Telea can inquire into. In this way, the knowledge acquires complex meanings. Part of the path of initiation is, after all, to learn to navigate the multiplicity of levels on which knowledge and ideas can be examined.
The various phases of the path of initiation have different meanings and purposes. Different phases drive the chrysalid into exploring different themes, which in turn expose them to certain types of experiences. These experiences, again, bring the chrysalid closer to the insights they must discover in order to make it further down the path.
The path of initiation introduces us to the beauty of the world and guides us into perceiving all of existence in a comprehensive way. Through the path we experience things we would not experience without going through initiation. We attain wisdom and growth. We conquer our shadow sides, one by one, or we learn to live in harmony with our demons. We learn to see colours in the black and white. Most importantly, the path of initiation leads us towards the Imago.
Initiation takes place in multiple realities
During the initiation, the chrysalid learns new information, or learns to look at old information in a new way. Most of the esoteric knowledge of the Temple of Chrysalis can be examined through more than one kaleidoscope. Every kaleidoscope, again, can be examined through different realities. Thus your mind processes the initiation in several distinct ways: psycho-physico-socially, spiritually, and magically.
Following the path of initiation, you will most likely also make discoveries abstract and near impossible to express in plain language. You may visit realities with such content that the means of communication in this reality cannot describe the sensations, feelings, and experiences that arise.
True change usually takes place intramentally. It happens in the way we think, in our world view, in our outlook, and in how we treat ourselves, our surroundings, and other people.
These mental changes usher us towards spiritual changes. And it is the spiritual changes that tend to be the powerful, abstract experiences and surprising insights. Arriving at spiritual observations opens up to the individual the very widest network of realities, which occasionally exceeds the level of comprehension prevalent in our current reality.
The findings of spirituality are also more fragile to maintain if your mind is still captive to its old habits. Indeed, a part of the path of initiation is a cyclical, revolving motion. Like a wheel rolling foward, during its rotation we experience each stage of the lepidopteran metamorphosis. A new imago is a new holistic, spiritual milestone.
It is somewhat uncommon that, as a chrysalid, you could just hang around scratching your backside and complaining how there isn’t enough ham on your microwave pizza, and some spiritual awakening would suddenly appear and turn your world upside down. To make room for your spiritual findings, you must first work on your mental landscape. The mind and the body, in turn, are firmly connected and support one another.
So initiation doesn’t only take place in physical reality, but first and foremost in the mental and spiritual world. However, in my opinion, it would be wrong to completely forget the physical and the worldly, as they are part of a natural layering of realities, just as the mental and the spiritual are. In order to achieve a spiritual development, you must often first work on more concrete and earthly matters. This way, you’re clearing away hurdles and walls in the path of your spiritual side. It is, for instance, probably more difficult to focus on self-development, much less spiritual observations, if you’re suffering from untreated medical conditions.
Occurrences and changes in the physical world are usually consequent on the spiritual initiation. And on the other hand, physical things affect the mental and thereby the spiritual. A time might come when we leave our bodies, and at that point it no longer matters. But as long as we operate with other human vases, our body remains an important tool.
Therefore, where in some systems the physical side receives less attention, if not even a disparaged status, the path of initiation in the Temple of Chrysalis also observes the part of the bodily in the initiation. Once in a while one hears about worlds of thought where the body is seen as “just” a proxy, with negligible value of its own. The Temple of Chrysalis sees the human body as a vase, which is like an avatar that makes communication and experience possible.
If the importance of the connection between the physical and the mental feels difficult to fathom, think of life like a multiplayer computer game depicted from a third-person point of view. In the game, there is one universe into which the players, using a character editor, can generate a character. The character has various attributes that affect how good it is at performing the tasks or challenges encountered in the game. Someone’s character is a great fighter, another’s character knows healing. You’re the player deciding what the character does and where it moves. The longer and the more deliberately you play, the better you become as a player, and at the same time the ability points of your game character increase. If the player doesn’t make mindful decisions in their godly role, the character is just a lifeless pile of pixels. But if you don’t have a character, you can’t play the game at all. You’re simply out of the game world. The game world, in this context, symbolizes objective reality.
Objective reality is a hallucination agreed on by the majority.
The body, again, is a representative image enabling communication in this common reality most familiar to us. The body is a vase carrying in us what our eyes can’t discern, what our ears don’t hear, and what our skin does not feel.
The path of initiation can, in theory, be walked even if one is quadriplegic and unable to speak. It is just considerably more challenging, because it would require assistance from other people, and receiving such in the necessary extent isn’t always guaranteed. However, on a theoretical level, it is possible. Even if you couldn’t use your body, it would still exist in an objective reality and enable some degree of navigation on the level of reality we know. Hypothetically, I dare to presume that a person spending a substantial amount of time with their own mind might make discoveries in a way that could lead them to a decidedly unique path of initiation.
So, the vase is connected to the mind, which in turn is connected to the magical spirit. This alchemical triangle of existence engenders the psykhera, the magical body-mind, the balance of which is associated with discovering the Imago.
The path of initiation encompasses several degrees
Initiations in the Temple of Chrysalis are divided into thirteen degrees, that is thirteen initiations, and the degrees each belong to one of three categories with unifying themes. The deeper meanings of the themes, as well as the contents and requirements of the degrees, are esoteric knowledge. The exception is the first degree, which is the most public of the degrees, and towards which the member candidate—the pre-telea—aspires. The actual contents of the degree are not open knowledge, but the journey towards the degree is revealed to prospects.
The first degree makes the person a telea and officially introduces them into the path of initiation. “Telea” is derived from the official name of the first degree: Ho téleios sýntrophos tês khrȳsallídos [Ὁ τέλειος σύντροφος τῆς χρῡσαλλίδος], which roughly translates into ‘the fulfilled/full/complete companion in Chrysalis’.
In order to receive the first degree initiation, a chrysalid must undergo a trial. During this probational period the person goes through the so-called telesis. Originally coined by the American sociologist Frank Lester Ward, telesis [τέλεσις] is a term that refers to an intelligently designed and executed progress. It is a process in which the input of the person is intellectually and consciously directed towards achieving an end result. When it comes to the path of initiation in the Temple of Chrysalis, telesis means that the person’s progress towards the objective—the initiation—is deliberately constructed. The prospect goes through specific phases, tasks, and moments with the purpose of leading them to their goal: membership in the inner circle.
Membership in the inner circle begins the journey proper towards the different degrees of initiations.
The path of initiation is not a manual in bullet points
The system, or how I have spelled it out, doesn’t always explain what happens next, or why. This makes explosive moments of expanding consciousness possible, in case the chrysalid is capable of keeping themself open to such things: when the understanding arises from yourself, your experience will be the most powerful and the most effective. You must walk your path on your own feet, not piggyback on others.
For this reason, the language used in instructions can sometimes be mysterious and open to interpretation. It offers alternative directions to go, as well as certain hooks for the mind to catch hold of.
According to my observations, one of the greatest challenges for a walker of the path is to learn to understand that the path of initiation is no step-by-step manual to enlightenment. No one can know how long an individual will take to make the necessary observations to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, the path of initiation cannot be found on Google Maps.
One walking the path is therefore not living a life of uncertainty even if they couldn’t read a list of the next steps on the path in bullet points: they are living in a natural state that flexibly enables them to travel their own path in their own way.
Also, the guidelines to progress are usually given only once, and it is part of the development of the one walking the path to take things forward. They can always ask and make sure. But they will not be reminded, as that would mean someone else walking the path for them.
The path of initiation and the community
Although the responsibility for the individual’s own progress is the individual’s alone, the community does play an important role as well. Before a chrysalid can set out on a more independent journey, they will be integrated into the community. They will do their part for the community and practice with the others in the meanwhile, after which they will move towards more independent work if they so wish. But before this, they must learn the basics: the first thing to build for a house are the foundations, and only later one can pick the wallpaper.
During the trial, it is determined whether the pre-telea has the qualities it takes to complete the journey. Or more precisely yet: if the pre-telea is capable of going through spiritual growth both independently and within the community, and if they are able to make use of the community as an instrument of their self-development.
In independent workings, anyone can go in any direction, but when working with the community, one must consider both other people in the community and the community itself. That is why communal practice is immensely educational—as well as, on the other hand, demanding. In accordance with the views of the Temple of Chrysalis, individual work is tremendously important, but to be able to get to this point, the chrysalid must first see themself in the mirror held up to them by the others.
So, to be part of the community, a person must get along with other members of the community, and be able to blend their own needs into a harmony with the needs of the community and its individuals. They must be capable of sorting out conflicts and learn to choose their battles.
Synchronously to the person going through the path of initiation, the Temple of Chrysalis itself is constantly going through its own metalevel initiation. The Temple and its members together form a kind of an energy nexus where each constituent nourishes one another symbiotically, one way or another.
During the trial, it is determined whether the prospect is a potential symbiont for the community—or if they are more of a parasite. As wonderful as it would be to think that all flowers may bloom, such a way of thinking is somewhat dangerous and impedimental for a forward-looking community operating in a healthy way. Destructive at worst.
Whether it’s a company, an association, or a club, a community is the sum of the actions and the presence of its active members. Thinking about it from this point of view, the community achieves abundance when the doer department is independent, has initiative, employs its strengths, is enthusiastic, and has a broad enough base to distribute the load reasonably.
Without the chrysalids tending the fire, there is no Temple. Without the Temple, the path of initiation cannot be offered within the Temple.
The Temple of Chrysalis measures the qualifications of the prospect in many different ways, such as through tasks and interviews. Through activities, it is determined if the person is coming on as a freeloader expecting everything on a gold platter, or if they are ready to help and do their part on occasion.
For when the time comes to begin the true path of initiation, no one is going to come and lift the prospect’s feet but the prospect themself. The caterpillar can be offered food, but it must weave its own cocoon and wrap itself in the chrysalis.
The path of initiation and the spiritual significance of the trial
At first glance, one might think the trial process has nothing to do with spirituality or the path of initiation. This is not the case. The process is linked with the path of initiation in an extremely fluid and outright excruciatingly nasty way. The trial is built in such a way as to offer a relatively stressful environment in which the person has a very clear goal: to attain membership and the first degree.
When the goal is clear and important, the fear of losing it can sometimes drive people into curious actions.
Fear brings out the worst in us. It brings out our shadows. This is immensely important knowledge with regard to whether the person is a suitable student for the path of initiation in the Temple of Chrysalis. One becomes an attention-seeking weeper in need of constant validation and head-patting. And if they don’t get what they want, they externalize their internal issues to be the Temple’s or its membership’s fault. Another one has had their ego fractured in a way they seek, under stress, to cover up by turning into a grandiose challenger and troublemaker. A third doesn’t really do anything at all to make progress, and complains that the Temple sucks because they haven’t been granted their initiation permit. And sometimes the person is all this.
But in these situations, the problems always lie much deeper. And in all these situations, the pre-telea has the opportunity to make observations that will take them forward on the path of initiation. Most often, our defences turn us against others if our own need was not fulfilled.
A pre-telea who left in a fit of anger may be telling a tale of how the community or the Temple didn’t give them enough attention. Turn this the other way around: the pre-telea is uncertain about themself and measuring their worth by the attention they get from others. Instead of playing the victim, they would have a glorious opportunity to understand their needs at a deeper level and do the needed self-work.
It is important for everyone stepping onto the path of initiation to understand what the path means. Occasionally, the expectations of a person who doesn’t understand the basics of esotericism are distorted, and they may have no awareness of what the path of initiation truly means. For instance, if the person expects walking the path of initiation to mean belonging to a nice and safe hobby group in which every difficulty is met with validation, they will be sorely disappointed. In addition, they will most likely be appalled by the mental workload that getting initiated means. Had I wanted to establish a heart-emoji-posting support community, I would have chosen something much easier as a format than an esoteric order.
The path of initiation in the Temple of Chrysalis is not made to conceal problems, but to slam them up to the surface to be tackled. It pushes us into the grasp of a constant cognitive dissonance, and the cognitive dissonance keeps tearing our subjective reality into pieces—so that our reality can be rebuilt.
The path of initiation towards the first degree teaches the pre-telea to understand their own internal structure. What we find inside isn’t always beautiful to look at. It is the first test of self-development. In practice, a phase is initiated in the prospect that will bring up to the surface in them the very things that are their areas of improvement. They will be gripped by a mental turbulence, which, in the best case, will lead to the broadening of their spiritual horizons.
Indeed, the true test is how the pre-telea will respond to these situations. Will they externalize their own issues and be left in their earthly prison? Or will they be able to smoothly use their body as an instrument of communication, to do the mental work, and finally to go through the spiritual opening up that will unlock them the gate to the first degree?
The path of initiation is often a lifelong journey of spiritual evolution that, ideally, presents us with an enlightenment-like state. Initiation is more than a ritual: it is a whole journey we go through physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The path teaches us to navigate different realities. It broadens our spiritual horizons and provides us with tools to also shape our reality. Doing this, we create much more of our path than a straight, one-way line: by laying the groundwork for our path right, we can create branches to it that will lead us to wonders we would never even have imagined we’d experience!
Starting down the path is, however, not for everyone, because the journey in initiation is arduous. A holistic transformation, and particularly resistance to it, can launch unpredictable behaviour, defences, cognitive dissonance, and mental breakdowns in us. If the foundations aren’t solid at this point, we will collapse and sabotage our own progress down the path of initiation. Many fail before the path truly ever even begins, and stumble over their own internal snags.
For this reason, the gradual nature of the path of initiation is so important. That’s why it is absolutely necessary to survey the qualifications of the person through a trial, and that the person is honest on their trial. The trial presents the pre-telea with a period of painful, searing, and self-reflective development. Either the prospect survives, transforms, and ecloses better than ever—or remains in their old reality and does not enter the path.
This phenomenon that begins the path of initiation—and often is repeated along the path—is also known by another name in the Temple: