Modern Rites of Passage

“And therefore, all of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout from the heart—perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakable public example—but authentically always and absolutely carries a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacent. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you.
Alas, if you fail to do so, you are betraying your own authenticity. You are hiding your true estate. You don’t want to upset others because you don’t want to upset your self. You are acting in bad faith, the taste of a bad infinity.”

– Ken Wilber

Rites of Passage are important to us whether or not we practice or believe in any religion. A rite is a celebration that can be simple or elaborate, solitary or shared in a group. What matters is how it supports each individual in transitioning from one phase of life to another.

Whatever calendar system one adheres to, there are changes in consciousness that are signaled at the beginning of each new year (or birth date). When such a change is truly honored in some way it tends to become much easier to adjust to than if it were ignored. When it comes to the Gregorian New Year for example, many people do not feel at all fresh and “new”. To the contrary, there is often a tired, withdrawn tone that does not indicate that it’s time to go full speed ahead. There are many reasons for this, some depending on which hemisphere of the Earth is under consideration. Nature provides the perfect examples for us in how to conduct a full-on Rite of Passage, complete with all the right colors, shapes, elements, scents and sounds. Originally, humans followed Her lead instead of seeking domination.

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One of the things that modern man suffers from most is a lack of honor. We have collectively forgotten the honor of Self, of Earth, of Relationships, of Change. Without honoring life’s many transitions and simply glossing over them to get on to the next thing, one misses out on so much. No wonder that so many walk around without much of a sense of purpose, direction or passion in life. Low self-esteem, low energy and low vibrations permeate much of the modern landscape.

Major life changes are regulated instead of honored and everyone experiences the ramifications of denying the sacredness of Life and trashing it instead. Between Birth and Death there are several other important changes that once were heeded more closely in ancient civilizations. Seasonal rituals, initiations into adulthood, menstruation, marriage, motherhood or fatherhood, relocation, preparation for battle or self-defense, loss and healing through ceremony were all honored in some way.

There are obviously some very intimate life changes that are not necessarily the kind one would wish to let others in on and others are quite Universal. Both kinds of changes deserve some deep acknowledgement and reflection in a way that brings proper closure to what was, brings the focus to the present and empowers one with the fuel to move forward without fear.

There are those who abuse Rites of Passage also for their own nefarious ends. They understand the significance of numbers, symbols, archetypes and the subconscious and use these to manipulate instead of empower during a major transition. Ultimately, over some stretch of time those who engage in “Black Magic” find themselves bound by their own spells.

Being disinterested, traumatized or even “too busy” to include some kind of Rite of Passage which could be as simple as getting the help needed to move onward often means that something desperately needs to be honored in order for progress to be made. For those who have a strong aversion to religious, spiritual or what they consider to be New Age terms, finding any way to give something proper credit as a transition is being made will suffice and still do wonders that may enhance overall wellbeing, happiness and productivity.

One can be the person who always feel as though things are happening to them, such as through loss and misfortune. Conversely one can be the kind of person who consciously engages with change and therefore effects their own environment in profound ways. In this instance, change becomes transformaiton.

Major changes are inevitable. What we do with these changes is what makes each of us who we are.

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