Most covens believe in initiating new members. The idea of initiation is to make a person a part of a group officially. An initiation is a major step in your path and you should not go through with one unless you feel you are ready. Do not let yourself get pressured into it. It is something that should be a very special time for you.
I personally warn against ceremonies that require you to come in contact with blood of any kind, except perhaps your own drawn by a medically sterile instrument. I understand the symbolism, but there is no reason in the era of AIDS to threaten your life just to join a group. Wine or apple juice is just as acceptable, if not more so these days, than blood.
If you are a lone practitioner you might wonder what you need an initiation for. The reason for a self-initiation is to officially introduce yourself to the God, Goddess, and whatever powers you might believe in. It is something you do for yourself. It is a ceremony that marks a step in your life, a change. Markers like this are something that we have few of in modern society, but that are very important for our psyches.
A self-initiation is a very personal thing. You should think about how you want it to go. It will probably be one of your first, if not your first, rituals. Think simple. Don't try to make a grand and complicated ritual that you will forget before youve even gotten started. Understand what you can and cannot do and choose a ritual that fits your abilities and sense of style. You might want to choose a special place for this ritual, such as a place of power.
Here is a sample self-initiation to help you get started. It is not the simplest one and not the longest one, so I felt it would make a pretty decent example.
Best if done on a full moon. Prepare yourself with at least one hour of silence before beginning this ritual of dedication. Either wear a magical robe, preferably white, or go skyclad. Have your magickal name chosen. Have a dagger, chalice of water, chalice of wine, salt, incense, white candle in cauldron, a piece of magical jewelry, pentacle, four Element candles, and perfumed oil.
Follow the instructions under Circle Casting and insert the following spell work: Put a pinch of salt on your tongue and say something along the lines of, "I am a mortal, loved and cared for by the Triple Goddess and the Great God. Through the Great Mother all things are born, to her all things, in their season, return. Through her sacred cauldron I enter and leave this physical world, until by my actions I must no longer return to learn."
Set the perfumed oil on the pentacle; kneel before the altar, and say, "I (magickal name) come into this sacred place willingly. I come to dedicate my life to the pagan way. To the Old Gods, whose power is still strong and vital here, I give my word-bond to follow the ancient paths that lead to true wisdom and knowledge. I will serve the Great Goddess and give reverence to the Great God. I am a pagan, a stone of the ancient circle, standing firmly balanced up on the earth, yet open to the winds of heaven and enduring through time. May the Old Gods witness my words!"
Rise, go to the Eastern quarter and say, "Behold, O Powers of Air! I, (magickal name), am a follower of the Lord and Lady." Go to the Southern quarter and say, "Behold, O Powers of Fire! I, (magickal name), am a follower of the Lord and Lady." Go to the Western quarter and say, "Behold, O Powers of Water! I, (magickal name), am a follower of the Lord and Lady." Go to the Northern quarter and say, "Behold, O Powers of Earth! I, (magickal name), am a follower of the Lord and Lady."
Return to the altar, take the perfumed oil and, with a drop on the forefinger of your power hand, anoint your forehead saying, "Let my mind be open to your truth." Anoint your upper lip and say, "Let my mouth be silent among the unbelievers." Anoint your heart and say, "Let my heart seek you always." Anoint the centers of the palms of your hands and say, "Let my hands lift in praise of you." Anoint the tops of your feet and say, "Let my feet walk your secret paths." Stand in silence to receive a blessing.
Place the piece of jewelry on the pentacle and say, "This emblem shall I wear for all things magickal. Bless this (article of jewelry), O Great Ones, that I may be blessed and protected in all ways." Then undo the circle.