“So, I present for reflection in the end; when you seek a self initiation, what do you seek? When you state a denomination or traditional pedigree to your initiation, what are you really stating? When you state you are priest/priestess – who are you really and why did you took on this office?”
These are loaded questions, to put it mildly. I have spoken with Nicholaj a little already and am confident that I can respond to these questions directly and openly here without fear of offense. For another inspired response to this essay of Nicholaj's check the Eyeless Owl blog here.
As to the first, as you say in your blog the initiation of the self is the beginning. It is the beginning I think of anyone’s journey regardless of where that journey might find its conclusion. It is the formulation of a desire to penetrate the mysteries. You emphasize the egoic quality of this action, the self-validation inherent in the assumption of the role of Initiator. You’re right of course that this is the precise mechanic by which the self-initiation is produced, but I wonder if that is truly the root of the thing. I think that in the vast majority of cases we have each been touched in some way, compelled in some way to reach toward the invisible. Some thing, some moment happened and the invisible didn’t seem so invisible and all we knew for sure was that we didn’t understand. At all, not even a little but we wanted to and each of us reached into ourselves in this way, showed that desire to our errant ego’s and said; I want this, this is what you’re about now. Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold did not wait to be given a shovel to start digging, the children of the grave-diggers never do. We were all born with one hand in the dirt already.
The two latter questions I will have to address together. I personally do not regard myself as a priest but rather as a sorcerer or a witch-doctor. There has been considerable debate between Vanessa and I regarding the differences (or if there really are any on a meaningful level) between these two roles, no consensus has been reached. Up here in the secular north of the New World the two things were traditionally considered altogether distinct yet anthropologically speaking there is little difference between them and it must be conceded that the animist perspective slowly taking hold in the North is closing the gap between the two (the Vatican is once again training exorcists).
Even among the magical Orders and traditions practical application of the mysteries is considered base and perverse, any function of the divine at the material level is suspect. The exercise of influence or power over the natural order is a primal violation of the Protestant ethic, which pervades contemporary secular society at every level including those preoccupied with the invisible and its exploration. Thomas Karlsson’s lecture at the first Esoteric Book Conference regarding the ‘proper’ use of the Goes comes to mind. From this perspective any kind of real intimacy is full up with poison. The priest, the lover, the popular icons, even the familiar spirits all impossibly hygienic. You can stick your cock/soul/heart into anything in the secular north and never get dirty, that’s how they dream it should be.
I could not have gained entry into the one decent Lodge/Order/Coven out of maybe a hundred or more New Age prayer circles masquerading as magical collectives without giving up my fistful of dirt. In the land of the impossibly hygienic the man with graveyard dirt in one hand and a bleeding carcass in the other is the devil himself and this is as true of the Western Ceremonial Disciplines (and yes I am including Wicca here) as any other part of contemporary western culture. I realize that I am an unhygienic breed with death and magic leaking out of every seam but I must not, cannot concede that my function is ‘improper’ to borrow Karlsson’s terminology precisely because it is my function. It is true perhaps that all I do is stir the pot but surely a Nganga can see the righteousness in that, in wanting to just let it be that. Messy, miraculous exchanges that ignore race and creed, gender and dogma.
As such, it's those forms that moved the invisible (at least for me) that command awe or reverence and that is a pure thing I feel. A complete surrender, like how we surrender to music or sleep, a complete letting go that leaves only the body to remember because the body (the bones) always remembers perfectly. I think I need not lay claim to a pedigree to appropriately tremble at the dream of the Mariwanga or to lament my severed ancestry. In fact I feel that I should not and am quick to point out that I am just a crusty old hoodoo and not a priest of anything or anybody and I don’t need to be to have commerce with the invisible. I wish this distinction was better understood because I do in fact deeply respect the necessity of closed collectives but feel deeply wounded by the casual disregard with which the uninitiated have come to be regarded among western occulture. It is precisely because I am without pedigree that I revere those spirits who have adopted us feral children into their mysteries.
In your blog you reference the familial nature of Palo and the sort of ludicrous imposition of some stranger plopping themselves down on your couch and declaring themselves a part of your family. I agree that this sort of appropriation and imposition is outrageous and worthy of vocal derision from the practitioners of the Diasporic Traditions but I also feel that it is equally ludicrous to demand that all other healthy and dynamic exchanges be predicated on my adoption into your family. I can’t be a friend of the family? The charming Canadian friend with the good ganja? Everyone needs a friend like that and shouldn’t there be space for that to be a natural process? At some point (various points, actually) two embattled sorcerers without the blood in common had to give up their ghosts to one another or none of the New World religions could have come to pass. While I think the legacy of that should be preserved and that this is one of the priesthoods primary functions I think we need to be careful not to confuse the legacy with the spirit of empathy and openness an exchange like that is built on.