I’ve been thinking a bit about rites of passage lately. I attended a rite of passage of a sort yesterday, a ceremony / gathering by indigenous people and supporters in recognition of 215 children whose remains were found recently. They were kidnapped and then murdered by Canadian churches and government. Finding proof of harm others want to deny is an important rite of passage, filled with many layers of feelings. Canada also is undergoing a rite of passage of responsibility, truth and reconcilliation. Births and rebirths are neither tidy nor pain free but can bring possibilities for hope.
I witnessed a more joyous rebirth this week as well. A longtime Pagan friend I had previously understood to be rather gentle gay young man has let me and the rest of her circles know that she is a woman this week. Her rite of passage was modern, the step of recognizing it and then announcing it on social media, on her birthday, making a birthday a rebirthday.
Rites of passage come in all shapes. Sometimes the most personally meaningful ones are difficult to convey to outsiders. Some are big and public, like births, marriages and deaths, with cultural practices for recognition. We as a planet have gone through one rite of passage with this most recent pandemic, at times both big and public, with rituals of mask wearing and vaccination, and at times intensely personal, like the individual changes in livelihood, vocation, relationships, health and goals each of us may have undergone on our own.
I am always drawn to recognizing and honouring a large change as a rite of passage. I am not sure why – I think it is because I believe in the philosophy expressed by holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Victor Frankl, that it is important to make meaning of suffering, and that meaning is made not of what happens, but of how one responds. Rites of passage are ways of framing how we respond tho things that are outside our control, of things we choose and things we do not choose. Of the inevitable losses that come out of even the most positive changes.
Many of us feel like we are in the midst of a birth, or crowning, or embracing that new delicate life, or mourning one taken from us, right now. Recognizing and marking a rite of passage, perhaps with a symbolic act, or just mindful, heartful recognition, has value. Remembering to acknowledge and express gratitude for that which gives our life meaning, has value.
One of the strengths of Pagan spiritualities is our flexibility to honour those rites of passage which our meaningful to us, whether with formal ritual, or with daily observance. To honour meaning is to make life sacred.
By the way, this blog has been recently recognized as one of the top 30 Wiccan blogs on the web by the editors at blogspot, also a rite of passage of sorts.
Photo by Tim Swaan on Unsplash