Formal Initiations

As followers of the Master, we walk the Via Christa, the Way of the Christ, which is the initiatory Path of Ascension to become as perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. On the way, we progress from degree to degree of ascension by tests and trials called initiations. An initiation is always an invitation to do better.

“Formal initiations form the rungs on your ladder of Ascension.”—Edna Lister

We must undergo many sets of formal initiations, including those of the Seven Degrees, the Labors of Hercules, the Stations of the Cross, the Thirty-three Degrees of the Via Christa and lesser initiations on every principle, law, degree, virtue, taint and sin. While these experiences may seem like harsh challenges and grueling, rejoice, for they form the rungs on your ladder of Ascension.

The Seven Sacred Degrees

Rebirth is not a once-in-a-lifetime act or experience. The rebirth in consciousness is perhaps the most common initiation you experience, hourly, daily. You are reborn in consciousness each time you say, "Aha!" When you see something new or make sense of what you have not understood before, you are reborn.

Baptism by Water is the initiation of the second Degree of the Disciple; you must walk on the waters of emotion. All emotional trials help you to overcome fears and threats to self.

Baptism by Fire is the formal initiation of the third Degree of the Adept, and describes the descent of the Holy Spirit. A Baptism by Fire stops just short of a Crucifixion, which involves the "death" of a body, a desire, a hope or some cherished idea.

Transfiguration: During Transfiguration, you stand in the golden silence to maintain constant contact with the Source, and name all things "Good." When you balance Love and Wisdom perfectly, to stand in balance under the pure white Light of the Christ, the materiality of self falls from your soul and your face shines as pure joy. Transfiguration is the initiation of the fourth Degree of the Mystic.

Crucifixion of self is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. You must willingly lay personal or self will on the transverse of the Master’s Cross until you respond only to the will of God for you. You must assume full responsibility for lifting everything, as you polish your standard of honor, ethics and morals. It is the initiation of the fifth Degree of the Master.

Resurrection is a law of doing under the principle of redemption: To redeem your own soul, you must resurrect all good from the dead in Spirit. Resurrection is the initiation of the sixth Degree of the Priest.

Ascension is a continually growing consciousness and awareness, a continually increasing rate of vibration and a continually expanding aura. Ascension is the initiation of the seventh Degree of the Christos.

Other Sets of Formal Initiations

Bridging the Abyss is a series of initiations that involves sacrificing the known for the unknown. An abyss in consciousness is a passage into and through the unknown that elicits all possible fears, doubts and uncertainties. The abyss in this series of initiations is one of consciousness, considered in quality and in quantity.

The Burning Bush initiation is the result of the personal desire to achieve and to know, which is great enough to consume the self-will. Becoming the burning bush is a culminating initiation that results from surrendering earthly earthy desires and will for the pure heavenly fire. To the spiritual eye, you appear as a bush, burning with spiritual light.

Burning Sands of the Desert: Navigating the dry, hot and barren burning sands of the desert is a series of grueling endurance tests asyou walk the Via Christa to reach your full Path of Destiny. You must face and overcome the sheer drudgery of the same old hard, boring, job, the same old ugly conquering of self. The more you complain, the longer it lasts.

A Thousand Burnt Offerings of self is a formal initiatory series that leads to fully opened spiritual faculties. Solomon’s thousand burnt offerings symbolize a thousand days of loving God enough to declare everything in life good. Your thousand burnt offerings are one thousand days of perfection, complete sublimation and sacrifice of self.

Sacrifices are initiations in which you are asked to surrender something you do not really need, but may still believe you do. The more the self desires to hold onto the trait or self taint that soul is offering up, the greater the sacrifice weighs in the balance. Your sacrifice must be dear to you, or is otherwise meaningless.

The Labors of Hercules is a series of twelve initiations that outline the soul’s advance in its ascent to God. The ancients used the stories of the Labors of Hercules to describe the initiations that a candidate must face while traveling one full round on the spiral Path of Ascension. The information we provide here is highly symbolic.

The Marriage of the Lamb is a series of initiations in which you focus will and desire in a process of sublimation until the self becomes subsumed in the soul. You must consciously lift your expressions of desire and will to become love and wisdom, loving as God loves, thinking and choosing as God thinks and chooses.

The Stations of the Cross compose a series of fourteen representations that depict the events surrounding Christ’s crucifixion. They cover the time between when Pilate condemned Jesus until he was laid in the grave. The fourteen Stations of the Cross are the minimum levels of initiation required to pass the Gates of Light and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Surrender: The world misunderstands surrender, interpreting it as the passive action of a loser, not the dynamic act of an ascending soul. To surrender is to let go. By letting go of self credits, self doubts and all thoughts of self, you conquer by obedience to the law of surrender, knowing that the Power does the work. Surrender is breaking self’s hold to let soul take charge.

The Temptations in the Wilderness: While the Gospels describe these initiations as a single series of events, they are recurring and cyclic in your life. You face these tests annually, and each time you advance a step or degree in ascension. All temptations are initiations of Mind, Substance or Power.

The Yetzirah Paths: Yetzirah is the third of four worlds in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, following Assiah and Briah. It is called the World of Formation, because created beings and objects assume shape and form on this level. Every thought assumes some degree of form, not necessarily visible to the physical eye, but existent. Most people create an impressive mess of mental monsters before they realize the truth of this law.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister


The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971.

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