WHEEL OF INITIATION
In some ways of life, our path is depicted as being along a wheel where each of us emerge onto the wheel at an optimum, specified point. We travel in an organised method around that wheel, completing the journey at what is again, the optimum location on the wheel.
For the spiritual seekers among us, this book will be of great help and significance. It covers the initiatory journey of ‘everyperson’ from the moment of taking the first step on the great inner journey to the actual initiations that mark the integration of the individual living an authentic life.
Ms Tallard Johnson has 30 years of experience as a Transpersonal counsellor and a writer of spiritual books. She holds regular initiation groups and gives talks and seminars far and wide.
In this work she offers a structure for the aspirant as well as a useful array of spiritual tools to use on the way. The more I read, the more I felt at ease in the author’s capable hands.
It is not necessary to hold any particular faith or religion to embark upon this journey. Ms Johnson harnesses her own knowledge, experience and wisdom with that of ancient spiritual cultures and philosophies, such as Native American, Buddhism, Taoism, Shamanism and Christianity, and with insightful modern writers.
The Wheel is visualised as a compass with the four directions delineating the segments of the wheel. This is the usual realisation of the Native American Medicine Wheel. The writing style is easy to read. A concept is introduced with some apt quotes from wisdom texts, then an elaboration of the initiations in that segment is provided. This is interspersed with stories of people who have undergone that particular initiation.
Discussion of the initiation in real-life terms follows. Briefly, one enters from the South where intentions and agreements are made for the journey. Then one proceeds to the West where basic transformation of negative beliefs, habit patterns and mind-sets are adjusted and recapitulated. In the North is the working toward sacred reality through exercising mindfulness and spiritual principles. Finally the journey takes one to the East. It is here that the reintegration of self and communities happens.
This all sounds fairly straightforward and fast. It is definitely not fast! There is a lot of hard work and dedication involved. Right from the formulation of intentions to later dealing with advanced initiations, focus and determination are required. As with life in general, there are ups and downs. Ms Johnson is quite clear on this. She offers sage advice for the difficult times. She also recommends that the student seek out a good and reliable teacher.
In the Appendix on Teachers and Groups at the end of the book comes what I consider to be the best part of all. Ms Johnson agrees that the journey of initiation does not depend on participating in a group. However, the support and wisdom from a group and a good teacher can be invaluable. But there are many false teachers out there. She gives some commonsense guidelines for the search.
Such things as questioning authority and believing nothing at face value are basic tools of discernment. Rigorous investigation is required. Your own core values are also essential. Some teachers have their own, self aggrandising agenda which involves creating a ‘following’ and will react negatively to being challenged by a student. This is a hallmark of a teacher to avoid. Ms Johnson goes on to list the signs of spiritual seduction, then the hallmarks of a good teacher. Readers, please pay close attention to this Appendix!
There are many books on spiritual initiation and others on the Medicine wheel, but this one I found to be well organised and extremely useful for both the newly intentioned as well as those who have been distracted, disheartened, stumbled or lost their way.
It is an intensely practical book that will help you take the first step or jump back into the Wheel.
– Reviewed by Jennifer Hoskins in New Dawn 124