Coming of Age

There are many different kinds of coming of age rituals around the world. Sadly the western world is lacking in these important life ceremonies. Coming of age rituals help differentiate levels of responsibility and times of life. They can and should be very significant markers in our lives, times when we transition from baby to child, from child to teenager, from teenager to adult and from adult to senior. These are societal changes of status, but there should also be rituals to signify the physical change from childhood to physical maturity and childbearing years to menopause. These are just as significant spiritually as they are physically and may not exactly coincide with the societal changes of life.

These coming of age rituals should be set according to the person celebrating them, not necessarily according to society's guidelines. For instance a child choosing to give up their favorite blankie to become a "big kid" is a very important ritual for one child, but perhaps not for another. The transition from child to teenager may come on a thirteenth birthday for some, or earlier or later for others depending on their level of maturity. Each ritual should be centered around the celebrant and what is right for them. For example for some girls an official ceremony celebrating their first menses would be a very empowering experience where they could learn from trusted adult women of their first times and of mishaps and the joys and tribulations of being a woman in a physical sense, as well as the more intimate issues of being a woman such as sex, hygiene, pregnancy and diseases. For another such a ritual would be horribly embarrassing and would undermine the entire idea of the intimate nature of such a ceremony. For such a girl a special day spent alone with mom or another trusted adult woman at a day spa or the beach or some special place might be more appropriate.

As you see there is really no way to dictate such rituals. It truly depends on the person the ritual is for. If the ritual is for yourself spend some time thinking of what you wish to achieve with it. Think of the stages of life you are transitioning from and too. If you are trying to plan a ritual for another, ask their input if at all possible. Make sure to plan it around what they will be comfortable with.

Coming of age rituals are more important than ever in our society where we often wonder what part we are playing, where we get different responsibilities at different times. It is often hard for younger people, not to mention adults, to have a sense of solid transitioning through life in modern society. Instead many people are caught in an almost unending in between feeling, not quite child, not quite adult, no longer in the prime of their life, but not in the decline of it either. We need to bring back the safety and pride of knowing where we are and where we are going.

Following are some ideas for a coming of age ritual for a young lady entering adulthood:

How about sit in a circle, and have each woman say something about themselves and their world when they were eighteen? Include yourself -- perhaps you should go first to avoid having your thoughts deluted by others. Hopes and dreams and fears, single or married or engaged or with child, etc. Have they seen their dreams come true, or have their dreams changed, or are they still chasing rainbows? What was the world like when they were eighteen--what was expected of them, what did the world have to offer? How much has the world changed, and do they like the changes? Finally, ask each one for a bit of advice, write down each bit, whether you agree or not, in a journal, and meditate on the wisdom of those that have gone before.

written by Tongue Tied on

Here's a few things my mom and I came up with. Very formal attire required, we're thinking a very fancy cocktail type party, just because I've never been old enough to go to one. Every one will bring a family recipe, or just a favourite to give me.

Since it IS going to be my birthday, presents are nice. Mom is going to ask that the women give something special, something a woman needs. A recipe book, a family heirloom (not one of THEIR family's, one for me to make an heirloom) Stuff like that.

Then, we will sit in a circle and each person will talk in turn. Be it to say a poem, give best wishes, a prayer, some good old fashioned words of wisdom, etc. Whatever they want. Even I will do something like that.

written by RavenNightSky on