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Rites of Passage - food for thought.

I was asked by three people last week about rites of passage. They were such similar questions I felt I couldn't ignore the internal reflection I have had.

Here is a food for thought blog.

Rites of passage, what is a rite of passage?

It's dictionary definition in the Oxford Doctor is "a ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone's life, especially birth, the transition from childhood to adulthood, marriage, and death.

A rite of passage is a transition in life, a marking point, often where an inner developmentchange occurs. It can be age related and growing up, getting menstrual cycle, reaching puberty, having a baby, getting married or separated, menopause. Theres is also achieving our goals, university, or moving up jn a career. These are just a number of rites we can experience.

Traditional rites of passage of our ancestors would have looked so different to the rites of passage we have today. Culture and society, belief systems would have been so different. Our ancestors, those that lived with the land would have no doubt known rites of passage in a different way. Rites of passage in survival skills and being part of the community, rites that connected you to the land and rites that help you find yourself as a human and your place within your community too.

Native American, Black Elk, speaks of rites of passage in his book 'Black Elk Speaks'. He writes when we moved into square houses from round houses, we forgot our rites of passage, and our children no longer have a sense of stability. (The book I no longer have and quote I cannot find on line but I read it out so much in my drum workshops I know you'll find it in the book if you look.)

Those words have stayed with me. At first they broke my heart. I ponder if my ancestors, those who also lived in round houses, closer to the seasons and earth, would share Black Elks views.

I am not native american, my ancestors were European, I am a white European, but I am human. I was born on earth, as we all are. I too feel rites of passage can bring a great sense of empowerment, or achievement and also connection to ourselves. I believe rites of passage can aid our stability, and connection to place too. Bringing a greater sense of wellbeing.

The art of facilitating rites of passage ceremonies has been lost, and evolved into different rites like dads wetting the babies head in the pub following a birth, a first pint at 18, passing driving tests, university graduation...

The first rites I saw as sacred ceremony, instead of social ritual, aside from a wedding, or christening, was a friends croning ceremony. She had reached a certain age and friends got together to mark this time and honour her life, wisdom and achievements. It was beautiful. Then after that at a goddess camp I went to we honoured two friends in rites of passage ceremonies, a menarche ceremony, and croning.

I then marked the rite for my sons puberty through a ceremony with a friend who was a ceremony at a camp.

These ceremonies, where time stands still in a place of liminal time, just for a moment while we mark a stage of transition of life, are just so magical, and so empowering. They are remembered for life.

I would like to suggest to you, to think of the rites of passage you may have experienced in your life.

Are there any transitions you haven't marked and would like to?

What transitions would you like to mark as a rite of passage in the future?

How would honouring your rites of passage impact your sense of self?


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