Wednesday, January 31, 2018

To Name is to Create

A name announces our individual presence to the world. It defines who we are and how we are known. And so, the naming of a baby, the presentation of a new being into the world, is an occasion that is joyful and, also, one that can set the course in the life that is being lived. Think of how the name of a famous parent will create opportunities (and, perhaps, difficulties) for the life of that child. For the rest of us, the name may connect the child with ancestors and our family - it says you are one of us. The naming of a child is important.

I once knew someone who had been adopted. As an adult, this man decided to reclaim the name he had received from his birth mother. This was his way of saying this is where I came from, this is where I have chosen to belong.

Others of us may choose to change one or more of our names for other reasons. Many of us with some African ancestry may choose to find a connection to that continent through a name. When enslaved people were brought from Africa, their names were taken from them,signifying that their personhood no longer mattered. The often negative reaction received when a woman chooses not to take on her husband's name is a measure of the depth of patriarchal values. Some people may find that their birth name no longer fits them and they would like a new name - a rebirth - to show that they are a new person. 

Some of us may have names that are used only in particular circumstances, such as a name used by a Druid that connects him or her to a deity or some other aspect of the world of spirit. It is no small thing to give up an old name, or to take on a new one. It sets us upon a new way of being.

In one of the stories of Isis, she desires to know the secret name of Ra. Without his secret name, Isis cannot know his deepest, truest being, or claim his magic for herself.  By trickery, she finds the secret name of Ra and becomes the mistress of all magic.

A name is magic. Celebrate the giving of a name - whether to a baby, or when taking on a new name. Think about everything that this name means. It is who you are, or who you wish to become.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

To Honor Loss

Friends and companions, human and animal, will leave our lives, creating an empty space where they have been. We mourn their loss while we struggle to maintain the flow of or lives, now interrupted by sorrow. Let there be a space four mourning. Let there be the time for tears and the acknowledgment of loss. Let us not be too quick to 'get over it.'

Our grief may be private and individual, or it may be shared with close friends and family. Either way, we must not dismiss it. It remains a piece of us, always.

If a close friend or relative is dying, let us sit with that person, sharing the comfort of presence, a human touch and voice. We sit with the dying to ease their passing.

Let us come together at this time of grief with a funeral or memorial which honors the love and life of the beloved who is gone from us.

And let us, in time, find a space of happy remembrance, and a joy in what has been shared, and the love that is a part of us forever.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Coming of Age: How Ritual Can Celebrate this Passage

Many of us have not taken part in a coming of age ceremony.  The transition from girl to woman, or boy to man, is not often marked within western culture. Yet, is was seen as necessary to traditional cultures around the world as a way of continuing the values of the culture in new adults, and helping the young man or woman to understand their role within their society.

Missionaries and military formed a two-pronged attack on traditional cultures around the world.  The work of the missionary was instrumental in branding the ceremonies of the colonized societies as unnecessary, or evil. It was an effective way to destroy these peoples and cultures, leaving them open to exploitation.

What could a return to marking the transition to adulthood, achieve in present-day western culture?  Could it create a starting point for a more fulfilling experience for the new adult?  I would suggest that it could.  A ceremony, by itself, cannot take away all the trial and error that comes with this stage of life, but it can provide guideposts, a mindset that causes a young woman to consider her options within a specific framework of the experiences of women who have come before her, and whom she knows within her community.   It is the family and community aspect of the ceremony that provide the support and acknowledgement for the role that the woman must consider for her future life.

Although I speak as a woman, specifically about the transition of girl to woman, coming of age rituals are equally important for men to guide their sons, nephews and other young males within their family or community.  All too often, misogyny and rape is seen as acceptable, and women's sexuality viewed through the lens of the pornographer.   Young men, too, need to consider their role and behavior. 

The rite must include frank conversations about the questions that young people have, and the experiences they are likely to face. The rite itself, is only one part of the process.  The conversations must begin before any ritual, and ideally, continue afterwards. 

The young woman has many things to consider: How will she go about building a career? What will it mean to be a mother? What would it mean to delay motherhood?  What would it mean to make the choice not to be a mother at all?  How will she express her sexuality?  How does she see her body? There will be discussions about coercion and consent.

And most of all, a ritual will acknowledge and celebrate a new stage in life.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

How would you mark a life passage?

What would you look for in a ceremony to mark an important passage in your life?

The ceremony would need to be an expression of the core meaning of this change; it would need to reach into the center of what is happening in your life at this time, and point to the way forward.  You would need to feel the connection to these events within your heart.  The ceremony would be an expression of your authentic self.

It takes time to design such a ceremony - one that fits your beliefs, and is beautiful and meaningful to you.  It is important that I, the celebrant or officiant, work with you so that, together, we can bring together the elements that will be woven into this ceremony.

You may not be aligned to a particular religion.  Even so, we can be spiritual beings and touch the spiritual within ourselves and in the outer world through ceremony that gives us that connection without dogma.

If you are a Druid or a pagan, your specific path will be honored through ceremony.

We experience the spiritual and mark deep changes, finding the meaning of each passage as we move through life's changes.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Need to Mark Life's Changes

Passages are milestones to be honored and celebrated: coming into this world at birth; the naming of a new child; the transition from childhood to adulthood; the joining of your life with another; the transition to elder. Other transitions may be more painful and filled with sadness.  Or, perhaps, they come with a sense of relief when something has been outworn, and it is time to move on: a parting or divorce, a miscarriage, a death.  These, too, are events to honor, to mark, and to share with those who are close to you.
Ceremonies are not empty words and actions, they should be tailored to the individuals and families involved.  Like the events that they mark, the effects last in time and in memory.

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