Once upon a time, the rites of passage for men and women were tied to natural events — puberty, sexual union, becoming a father or mother, reaching menopause or elder status. In the modern, western world, our rites of passage are almost exclusively tied to academic or professional achievements — getting our driver’s license, gaining the ability to vote, graduating elementary, jr. high, high school, and college, marriage, and finally professional retirement.
With this shift of focus, we have moved away from what naturally binds us to our womanhood (and manhood). We have moved away from ancient traditions that helped to guide us along our roles as individuals and within society. I think, also, by moving away from those innate milestones, we have trained ourselves and each other to look to the Outside for approval and status, rather than within our natural design and Divine calling. Instead of confident men and women who honor their bodies and inherent status within their communities, we have insecure beings who float around wondering what their purpose in life is and where they belong in the world, grasping at any definition or sense of belonging someone else might give them. Whether it’s healthy or unhealthy. Whether it continues the cycle of nature — at its most primitive level, the survival of a species — or destroys it.
As a modern people, we may know how to hang a diploma on our wall, but we don’t know how to birth a child. As a modern people, we are really good at voting and protesting and posting and dividing ourselves into oblivion, but we don’t know what to do with Grandma now that she is done at the office and she can’t knit us blankets anymore. How many self-help books did our ancestors need? Oh, how quickly do they fly off the shelves these days…
What if the rituals that tied us to tangible truths (“I am in my monthly bleed.” “My body just gave birth.” “I am someone’s grandfather, grandmother,” etc.) were the ceremonies that kept us grounded and intertwined with the forward spiral of nature? If we are a part of nature by design, then remaining attached to those veins and arteries could only nourish us, body and soul. When we sever that cord, we deprive ourselves of the ability to thrive and replace it with something crudely manufactured where we spend the rest of our existence slowly tearing away, clawing at simple survival.
Thankfully, there is hope, as long as you are still breathing. Wherever you are in the world and in your personal timeline, you can honor your lifecycle at any point. Most importantly, I believe, you must honor these milestones as you come to them to effectively remain tethered to the innate truths of your journey on this earth. To not only reclaim your rites, but to honor others’ as well, and reignite the lanterns along the Path that guides each of us home.
If we, one by one, began celebrating these moments in our lives and taught our daughters and sons to do the same, we could begin to heal the wounds of past generations, and secure the future for a healthy, grounded, woven community of people who, once again, honored themselves and their Divine role within nature.