Frank Waters on initiation

“Hush, son! You are in the womb of Our Mother Earth. You will be here many, many months, a long, long time. You have entered a child. You will be reborn from here a man. Then you will know why it is you must stay. Let there be no more whimpering, no more questions, son…. You are in a womb: in it the eyes, the ears, the nose and babbling mouth do not function. The knowledge that will come to you is the intuitive truth of the spirit, the quiescent wisdom of the blood, transmitted through senses you do not use outside. The pulse of the earth throbs through these walls which inclose you; the embers there reflect the heat of its glowing heart; that little hole runs into the center of the world, into the lake of life itself. Remember you are in a womb, child.

“Listen, son. In your mother’s womb you were conceived. From an individual human womb you were born to an individual human life. It was necessary, it was good. But individual human life is not sufficient to itself. It depends upon and is part of all life. So now another umbilical cord must be broken—that which binds you to your mother’s affections, that which binds you to the individual human life she gave you. For twelve years you have belonged to your lesser mother. Now you belong to your greater mother. And you return to her womb to emerge once again, as a man with no mother’s hold upon him, as a man who knows himself not an individual but a unit of his tribe and a part of all life which ever surrounds him.

Lithops, sometimes referenced as "living stones"

Lithops, sometimes referenced as 'living stones'
Image credit: Per-Anders Sjöströms kaktussida / cactus page

“Listen, son. You were born into the human-animal life of sense and nerve and will. But it is necessary that each man sometime be born again: into the consciousness of an even greater life.

“You have learned what in your ordinary animal-existence is necessary for your earthly body.

“Now you must have awakened in you the instinctive need for self-perfection in your inmost spiritual being.

“You must be taught the laws of world creation and world maintenance, the laws of all life whatever form it takes: the living stones, the breathing mountains, the tall walking rain, as well as those of bird and fish, beast and man.

“You must learn that each man has the debt of his arising and his individuality of existence to pay; that this debt must be discharged as early and quickly as possible so that you, as I, as all, may assist in turn the most rapid perfecting of other beings—those like ourselves, and those units of life advanced to the degree of self-individuality.

“For only in this way can life progress, can life exist.

“What is more fitting then, son, that to learn this you must return to the womb of the earth which is the mother of all life? That you be reborn from it into the greater spiritual life as you were born into the lesser life of the flesh?

“Peace, my son. And with it understanding. This period of your gestation will be long—twice as long as was the first, for the life it bears will be likewise longer. The lessons will be difficult, but they will be unceasing. Voices will speak them over and over until their meaning flows through your blood, though the words which must never be repeated be unintelligible to those who have no heart to understand.

A Tibetan father and son on a pilgrimage around China's Mount Kailas

A Tibetan father and son on a pilgrimage around China's Mount Kailas
Photograph by Lynn Johnson
Image credit: National Geographic - Tibetans Evolved to Survive High Life, Study Says

“You will be taught the whole history of our people, of our tribe. How they had their last arising from the deep turquoise lake of life in the center of the world, the blue lake in whose depths gleams a tiny star, our Dawn Lake. How they emerged from a great cave whose lips opened into the world we see, from whose lips dripped water to congeal into perpetual flakes of ice whites as eagle-down. You will understand then, son, why those of our clan are called the Deep Water people; why our kiva, this kiva, is called the Eagle-Down Kiva; the meaning of our masks, our dances, our songs. You will see this cave. You will finally see this lake—our Dawn Lake.

“But behind all this you will learn of previous emergences. Of the significance of the four elements, corresponding to the four worlds from which man has successfully risen. The fire world of rampant primordial forces; the world of air which separated from it; the third world of water which then came forth from the vapourous air; and the present world of earth. From your understanding that the body of man is itself a world derived from these four and hence composed of their elements and corresponding attributes, many things will be plain.

“You will perceive this kinship to all the living creatures of these four kingdoms of fire, air, water, earth. Not only his chieftanship over them, but his responsibility to them. For you will begin to understand that there is another world, a fifth world to which we must all arise, and for the gaining of whose attributes this initiate is a preparation.

“Hence you will be taught, as those Old First Ones were taught, that the pine tree, the corn plant, have a life as we, but that they may be used and that they accede to their sacrifice for the maintenance of all life. You will be taught that the eagle, the trout, the deer, each has a life as we, but that they may be used and that they accede to their sacrifice for the need of progression of all life.

Rain clouds seen from Märket

Rain clouds seen from Märket
Photograph by Niklas Sjöblom
Image credit: Flickr

“But through all these truths will run the one great truth: the arising of all individual lives into one great life, and the necessary continuance of this one great life by the continual progression of the individual lives which form it.

“You will learn that this continuous progression seems to extend infinitely into time. But you will learn likewise that time also is an infinity.

“And that is life. Life must be lived, not learned from. And that is why in full consciousness only there is freedom. And that is why you learn awareness. To life life, in full consciousness, in freedom. Unbound by possessiveness, the possessiveness of your mother, the possessiveness for your son.

“Now I can say no more. You will grind your own corn: it makes song come easier. You will make your own moccasins: busy hands free the mind to the spirit.

“Now I, the father, having deposited his seed, withdraw from this womb.

“Now I, the father, say good-bye to his child.

“We will meet again. But as brothers. As men together. As equal parts of one great life. No longer separated. But in that consciousness of our oneness which gives us our only freedom.
Frank Waters [ foundation ] in _The Man Who Killed The Deer: A Novel of Pueblo Indian Life_, ISBN: 0804001944, (Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 1970), p. 97-100. First published (1942).

Frank Waters Posted on behalf of on Sunday, August 21st, 2011 under Quotations.


  1. Beautiful. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this up.

  2. Nice one, Greg. Thanks.

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