By Madame X © 2005
Each house has its own traditions regarding ascension, or promotion of its members. Generally, there are 3 levels, the first being initiate, the second Calmae and the third Elder. This rank progression is often referred to as 'the ladder', and the traditional time between ascensions is a year and a day. Should they become sympathetic vampyres, Donors and Black Swans can of course become initiates, and move respectively up the ladder [I am not one to judge what practices anyone may hold as their tradition, but I must say I am always surprised to hear that Black Swans become Elders within a matter of months in some households <shrug>].
House of the Dreaming has one pre-emptor level: Dedicant, which can be equated with a pledge. This pre-emptor level is not dependent on time lines, but on lines of kinship. Initiation will happen when the bonds are felt; a prolonged period of evaluation is common and doesn't at all equate with rejection. HotD Dedicants are encouraged to actively participate in the House of the Dreaming Interest discussion forum. A variety of opportunities will be offered to dedicants to demonstrate their personal level of distinction: Discussion topics, assignments, research, projects, coordinating socials, special invitations to house-wide/community-wide events, to even the solicitation of personal opinions concerning inner-circle matters where the application of House philosophies come into play… All of these are opportunities for recognition, participation, interaction, motivation and growth. Any Dedicant who is unable to dedicate time toward House business for the duration of three consecutive months, will automatically lose Dedicant status.
Initiation is traditionally a time for the individual to learn about the self, their inner nature and to develop often latent abilities. It is a time to learn about the customs, practices, appropriate behaviors and traditions of the family and community at large. It is a time to deepen family bonds and develop a sense of loyalty and commitment thru family involvement, tests and ordeals. After a year and a day the initiate may be ready for Calmaeship, if the traditional requirements have been fulfilled and with the sponsorship of at least one Elder. There are some isolated occasions that after many years of community involvement and service, an initiate may simply become recognized as an Elder without rites or formalities.
House of the Dreaming Initiates are not required nor expected to actively participate in any other forum, e-group, site, or administer to dedicants, guests or community issues. They are merely encouraged to actively participate in the House of the Dreaming Inner Circle discussion forum and maintain periodic contact with the family. HotD initiates have a full plate. They are expected to familiarize themselves with our community, come to terms with who they are, test the philosophies of Our House, as well as adjust to a progressive mentorship (when applicable). Initiates are encouraged to attend all social Household functions and are expected to actively participate in all Dreaming Parlors. But Initiates have also a huge project to complete - the Dream Book - a collection of perspectives, experiences and aspects of awareness; this book is needed to fulfill their requirement toward ascension to Calmaeship. Any extra work to the house offered by the initiate is extra credit and must be regarded by all in that light. It is usually during this time that Initiates will fully come to terms with the Veil of the Waking Dream and understand the path of our family; sometimes and despite our careful consideration we find that our although our ties of kinship are strong, our philosophies diverge. Our Family is not for everyone we expect a very strict code of conduct and a dynamic focus on self-development. Initiates will be offered the first Household Ring and a Dream Book to begin their journey during the "Rite of Fire and Blood" our initiation celebration. Initiates are expected to use the name of their Mentor and the name of House of the Dreaming as part of their signature in any formal internet correspondence.
As a Calmae the individual may opt to delve further into the community, by joining pre-existing organizations or initiating innovations that appeal to their ideals and the betterment of the community, seeking not only membership but heavier charges and participation. Traditionally Calmae are now adult members of our community, and are able to take on students, wards or chylder; by teaching others, their own learning curve is amplified. Calmae can initiate guilds and clutches; while initiating new organizations may seem to be a good idea, good Calmae realize the need to strengthen and unite the community, not splinter it. After a year and a day the Calmae may be ready for Eldership, with the unanimous sponsorship of all house Elders.
In direct opposition to our initiates, HotD Calmae are encouraged to be active participants in community issues, expanding or honing in their interests and goals. They are expected to attend all social Household functions, are expected to actively participate in all Dreaming Parlors and attend regional gatherings. This is the time to network and form friendships outside the family. HotD also encourages our Calmae to take on wards, students and chylder; keeping in mind that we prefer quality over quantity and a strong candidate over a useful candidate. We recognize becoming a Sire as a great responsibility, as the Sire is responsible for the behavior, education and development of all their Wards. 'The Rite of the Body of Light' is the family's ascension celebration when an Initiate embraces Calmaeship; there they will receive the second Household Ring with which to continue their path.
Elders are those seasoned ones in the community who have dedicated time and effort towards the betterment of the society. Eldership can certainly mean different things to each Elder. Traditionally they are the hosts, the teachers, the mentors and the leaders of our community. Their wisdom comes not only from extended experience but also from a preternatural connection with those that have come before and those yet to come. Elders are outstanding individuals who have achieved significant maturity on all levels (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual) and who have proven to have a strong understanding and constant application of the Household's philosophies and have achieved highly for themselves and the Family. Elders ought to be exceptional role-models who are looked up to by other members of the community for their community endeavors and mentorship skills. Elders are there to provide guidance, a sense of direction, settle disputes, and help junior members establish themselves in the community. Like Calmaeship, ascension to Elderhood is determined within HotD according to tradition. The traditional HotD ascension celebration to the title of Elder; is referred to as "The Rite of the Spheres", where the Elder receives the third and last ring of the Dreaming.
The dilemma occurs when there is no family structure to appeal for ascention. The individual has either failed to find a family that parallels their philosophies, has been out cast by the society, or has opted to be solitaire. Such individuals are known as Ronin, and can still climb the ladder with some assistance from the community. In our community, Elder endorsement and support is essential. It is required not just for ascensions but for any type of movement ie: initiating organizations, taking on wards or chyder, obtaining new mentors, taking leave, planning events etc… Within a family structure, there is a pre-existing dialogue with at least an Elder, but Ronin must seek Elder endorsement as well. Ronin who chose to evade traditional protocol and shun tradition are known as 'rogues' and are unrecognized by traditional organizations. While some cities may have "courts", many do not. A "Court" is a geographically based society; a periodic community gathering where members of various households, seekers and ronin gather for celebration, training, socialization, ritual and education. A triumvirate of Elders is usually established as the officers of the court to plan itinerary, set the location and date, provide guidance and settle disputes. It behooves the individual to seek out the local Elders and appeal for a hearing, also known as a 'Trial' or 'Conclave'; such Conclaves are rare and conceded only as special privileges. Some communities opt to have this type of Conclave once a year. Just like in a traditional Court hearing, a minimum of three Elders must be present, (each from different houses as to avoid bias) and there will be an extended formal dialogue between each Elder and seeker to determine level of aptitude. Traditionally, the initiate seeking Calmaeship needs the endorsement of a majority of the Conclave, while the Calmae, seeking Eldership needs a unanimous endorsement of the Conclave. The Conclave can then opt to conduct a simple rite of ascension.