So, initiation. If one wants to self initiate, one must first understand what two things are; ritual and initiation.
Ritual is any codified behavior, be it an elaborate ritual or a simple routine of food, music, and hygiene in the morning. Initiation is a little more complex than that so I'll use the words of Therion: “To place the aspirant in fertile spiritual soil in which to grow.”
A lot of people don't have access to an organized group which offers initaiton, so thankfully there are alternatives, but first some context.
While there was a strong initiatory tradition in the East and Ancient West, these modes of expression fell out of favor with the decline of Gnosticism. Not even Dee (that we know of) was officially initiated. After the failure of the Alchemical Revolution in the late 1600's, the Rosicrucian manifestos circulated in Germany. While we don't know what their rituals consisted of, even if it wasn't an elaborate trolls, the first appearance of a coherent initiatory body comes from Freemasonry developed in the late 1600's as well.
You can read about Freemasonry here; http://sacred-texts.com/mas/dun/index.htm and here: http://archive.org/details/bookofancientacc00mcclrich
They tell the story, in Blue Lodge, of Hiram Abiff, with the Yorke Rite being a portion of Blue Lodge for a long time as evidenced by the Royal Arch degree being found in Duncan's Ritual. The stories come from Biblical allegory using symbolism to teach a system of philosophy and ethics.
Out of this comes the modern Rosicrucian Orders starting with SRIA. We can assume that the G.'.D.'. kept most of the system intact when it was appropriated by Mathers and Wescott, with a number of elaborations. These rituals can be read about here: http://english.grimoar.cz/?Loc=book&Lng=2&Back=nam&UID=121 and in Temple of Solomon the King by Crowley (It's on Hermetic.com).
So, in the Z1, or Neophyte ritual of the G.'.D.'. the aspirant is equalized and harmonized by the four elements and purified/cleansed by Spirit. This theme even follows into A.'.A.'. Neophyte ritual; in M:TP it's explained that the Neophyte gains Shin in the procession of YHVH; or an incarnation of spirit into a perfected man. Pyramidos http://hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib671.html (T'raa), though, goes a step further and frames this in the context of a journey; the character of which is the same as the Passing of Tuat, or a descent into the Underworld, being reborn not in perfection but this time irrevocable changed (in the context of the ritual).
This, of course, is not the only form of initiation; the OTO early on presents itself as an allegory of being entered into the camp of your enemy while on a journey to a symbolic city of perfection while seeking ancient wisdom. The structure and precepts of the Order are explained through this allegory; Minerval is pre-birth, 1* is Birth, 2* is Life 3*, death, and 4/PI, as perfection. These ritual may be read here http://english.grimoar.cz/?Loc=book&Lng=2&Back=nam&UID=121
Wicca does somewhat of a mix of the two; a search for Alexandrian Book of Shadows or Gardenarian book of Shadows will yield results. But what of this to the solitary practitioner? Well, never fear, as we've already gotten a handle on what initiation entails, and we have the example of Liber Pyramidos as an individual rite, we can make extrapolations from there.
There are a number of systems from which we can glean information; it's the Typhonian stance that all initiation is self initiation, and in many senses this is true; the ritual only serves as a capstone to a spiritual experience that happens near the time of initiation. Speaking of Typhonians, Chumbley offers a wonderful perspective on self initiation in Azoetia. http://esotericonline.net/docs/library/Grimoires/Andrew%20Chumbley%20-%20Azoetia.pdf
Another fine resource for self initiation is by (ugh) Nema. This text should be taken with a grain of salt. Part two should be completely ignored. Her k-bal analytics are a little weak but the explanations of the paths are decent enough. Mooncup rite is….seriously lacking. In my view, the farther she gets up the Tree in her explanations the worse it gets. But, here - http://www.scribd.com/doc/70813782/Maat-Magick-A-Guide-to-Initiation-Nema-1995
For those of you who are edgy enough cunts, even the O9A has some value, and their self initiation material can be found in NAOS. http://archive.org/stream/Naos-APracticalGuideToModernMagick/Naos_2008#page/n13/mode/2up It's a little lacking in spots but it also serves to give yet another example of what's going on. Other left hand path systems can be ferreted out by the intrepid reader.
The basic core of what's being evoked is the same; the perfection of the self in the eyes of a cosmological system. That said, it's not untoward for a solitary practitioner to mix and match, such as in between the high-falutin' mystical concepts of A.'.A.'. and the practical moral training of OTO or any other combination you can think of.
So when I originally posted this it seemed some of you1) wanted a detailed explanation of how to get yourself up and running with all of this; something I cannot do. Initiation is supposed to be intensely personal. I can, however, give a deconstruction of what most early initiation entails. That way, one can have framework on which to hang the fine details. I often find that making these rituals your own as opposed to blindly following the format of another (save in the case where you're seeking entry into a group, in which consistency is preferred) is more effective.
Generally you're going to have an opening. This serves as the time when you make the establishment of liminal, or sacred, space. As such this generally some form of banishment, or even a simple roll to account for officers (See rituals of Freemasonry and OTO). This can be as simple as a nu-sphere ritual or something from Chaos, or as elaborate as what's found in ritual magic manual here http://english.grimoar.cz/?Loc=book&Lng=2&Back=nam&UID=1702
It would be worth noting that the form of opening and closing for the planetary rituals can easily be imported for those who wish to have a long and complete opening for rituals of initiation, especially if one plans to do a Tree of Life progression as per the Golden Dawn or other such systems. Essentially one would only be stripping out the direct involvement with planetary intelligences with the initiation replacing them. Hell, some folks if they're going it alone might want to include them.
From there it proceeds to the reception of the candidate. This serves two purposes, first to generally imprint the methods of attainment and pertinent symbols onto the candidate. In solitary/A.'.A.'. work this serves to establish the held cosmology in which the aspirant seeks to attain. In fraternal orders this part serves to introduce the structure and nature of the Order, the hierarchy if you will, it's purpose, etc. This reception will also serve to frame the narrative structure if there actually is one in said initiation ritual.
Then it's the initiation and Ordeals. The initiation itself should serve to do one thing and one thing only; to forge oneself as a suitable vessel for the spiritual forces one seeks to gain contact with or access to. This is often where accusations of brainwashing come from. It must be remembered that in an honest initiation the goal is not to break down the individual and replace him, but simply to add another strong component to the personality. The initiation, often, for beginners, entails a purification, as seen in Z1 where the candidate is passed through each element in turn. Again in the Vault of the Adepts where the secret of the Rose Cross is divulged. Again in the kisses to the points of the body in BTW's 3rd degree. Again in the concept of Squaring in Freemasonry. Whatever this purification actually entails is up to the individual or the rite in question, but it is nearly universal, going back through the mists of time. The Ordeal serves this restructuring by breaking down conceived limits. This comes in many forms as well, from willful bodily harm, to the consumption of strange drugs, all the way to intense sexual contact. The idea here is to help serve the restructuring of self by a shock to the senses in which the mutation of identity can be a little easier.
Finally, a closing, this should run as the opening began, but in terms of group ritual it would be with the candidate as a full member in said removing of the liminal barrier and return to normal function. In the case of self initiation it would done under the pretense of control more than aspiration, as is seen in Pyramidos. These rituals often give a psychological boost as well, something that Aquino calls Aeonic momentum or Aeonic boost. Balancing of self in the ritual chamber precedes a balancing of self in the mind, thereby making the individual more effective in his endeavors.