"DEJA BROOM" denotes a blog repost from my old site. Feel free to read anew, or refresh your memory to re-live the ranty goodness. Otherwise, feel free to skip ahead to more modern mayhem!
Call me a stickler for semantics here, but "self-initiation" is an oxymoron, a misnomer.
You can perform a DEDICATION ceremony by yourself, which would be to acknowledge to the Gods your desire to align yourself to the path or to become a self-acknowledged priest of a certain deity or deities.
However, an INITIATION refers to the beginning an endeavor with others, being taken into the fold of an existing brotherhood or sect and to be adopted by those who are already members. That, obviously, takes other people...it is, by its very nature, not a solo act.
That said, a Dedicant may well be just as proper as any Initiate for the tasks of witchery, but a dedicant would most likely be an eclectic practitioner, one who follows his or her own course of study. Whereas an initiate would be beholden to the methods and practices of the group/tradition/brotherhood to which he or she has now joined.*
Just as one cannot bestow knighthood on ones self....but one may yet be and act in accordance of chivalry just as virtuously as any knight. It all depends upon the style of road you wish to travel.
If you prefer eclecticism, then dedication is probably the best way to go. If dedication satisfies you in what you hope to accomplish in your eclectic practices, then own it and let it stand. Nobody can make you doubt who and what you are. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
If however, you want to espouse what a particular traditional path does, then you must seek out a mentor of that tradition who will agree to sponsor and train you as one of their own. You have to participate in that path by immersing yourself in it. They have an established and prescribed method of training, a unique orthopraxy and a given set of materials ---- and materials is not limited to just written, but also oral and demonstrative lore. Logic therefore dictates that it is impossible to initiate yourself because you cannot already know those materials if you are an outsider. You cannot bring yourself into something which you are not already a part of.
It is a chicken or egg sort of thing really.
But eclectic folks tend to get all upset about this "dedication is different from initiation" idea.
If they'd actually stop with the immediate screaming jump to defensive stance, and instead just shut up and actually listen to or read what non-eclectic folks have to say instead of assuming things we didn't, they would see that we are in agreement with them about not needing to be in a coven to be a witch --- that one may indeed dedicate one's self to the Gods and become a perfectly respectable, valid, witch.
What is important here is that someone who dedicates is just as legit as someone who has been initiated. They are just two different ways, two separate means to achieve roughly the same goals of communing with deity.
*And for the record, if your family is already practicing together in a family-held witchcraft tradition and you've been participating in family rites since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, then initiation, per se, is not required. You are already part-and-parcel with your family and thus it would be redundant to seek out "adoption into the brotherhood" to sanctify what already exists. You're sort of a built-in Initiate.