Rites of Passage:
SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE . . .
Perhaps the most eloquent spokespersons are those who are preparing to go through Rites of Passage ceremonies, those who have experienced some of them already, and the families of young people who have gone through a ceremony.
Rites of Passage Participants
From a woman who had recently participated in the 33-year Rites of Passage ceremony, the Natural Self's Evolutionary Ceremony:
What I found was an amazingly powerful process that opened me up to validating parts of myself that I didn't even know existed. Some tangible effects I have seen in my daily life: I went from being a very messy person, not concerned about my external environment, to caring about having a clean inward and outward appearance in my life. I actually clean up after myself quite willingly now! (My partner really likes this one!) I also want to see my whole world, and I have gone from someone who only wears glasses for driving and watching TV, to wanting to wear them all the time so that I can see everything around me. I don't want to miss out on the nuances that I was ignoring previously. So these are external effects that reflect a new internal reality that is dedicated to clarity, and to clearing away the debris that has previously held me back. The processes of identifying with my warrior, my hero, my queen, my lover and my magician during this ceremony were all elements in the internal changes I have seen since that time.
One young man, age 18, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, has begun his Rites of Passage process. Having completed his first ceremony, and now receiving additional teachings, he had this to say about his experience:
"I like that I am being honored and recognized for who I am. People my age are being seen as punks and criminals, but there are people my age who are some of the smartest people I have met. The Rites of Passage indicate I am changing and becoming an adult. It is a tricky time. My first ceremony gave me a clear view of myself and my family, and I was able to see how much I have been shaped by my family and how my focus is really their focus. I am honored with heart gifts."
A young woman, age 17, also from Calgary, shared these words:
"The Rites of Passage call to me very strongly. I can't find words. I want to leave my childhood behind and not carry it into adulthood. I want to step out of certain patterns and into a clean slate. The women's circle gathering gifted us by sharing their personal experiences as women. Sharing personal pieces of themselves helps us to know some of them have gone through some of the things we are experiencing. We gifted them in return. Everyone came from the heart.
"To try to give it words takes away from the ceremony. This is a broad experience and words are so confining. The Rites of Passage give you the opportunity to know there is support out there. Help you on your journey in quest of Who am I? It is a way for parents and child to let go of each other, and to acknowledge that I have become independent and an adult now."
This young adventurer is continuing her spiritual path work in Red Lodge.
Another young woman, age 18, said:
"My overnight ceremony was good; it helped me to find my inner strength. It feels good to step into womanhood this way. I feel protected."
A fourth person, age 12, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, shared her experience with Rites of Passage:
"Rites of Passage, to me, is the most rewarding ceremony a teen can have. As I read in Star Warrior: The Story of SwiftDeer recently, you are truly blessed to go through this change in your earlier years. This ceremony celebrates the transition from childhood into adulthood. In this ceremony, you emerge from your child self and enter your adult self. Well, at least you try to do both completely. Sometimes, you get stuck in the middle. Rites of Passage is the initiation into the unknown. It's exciting, but at times, it's pretty scary. You don't know if you're going to be able to do everything you want to do. "Along with Rites of Passage comes responsibility. Rites of Passage is going to open up so many doors for me that have been closed in the past. I believe that with this ceremony I will become more connected with Great Spirit. This will be a truly awakening experience for me personally. I have also been praying for a Pipe. I feel that I should go through my Rites and know myself before receiving a Pipe. I think that going through Rites of Passage will introduce me to a new world spiritually.
"I send a prayer for all the teens out there who are preparing for their Rites of Passage. Stay in the light and walk in beauty."
Families, Parents and Guardians
From the grandfather of one of the participants in the First Seed Ceremonial Weekend in Arizona, August 2010:
I am deeply moved and grateful for the Rites of Passage experience. It has opened up a new way of thinking about relating to a young man in my life rather than just a growing boy. It has also opened his perspective of who he is and how he will relate to the world he is entering. Thank You. The weekend and level of care for the young men was beautiful.
From a parent of one of the participants inthe First Seed Ceremonial Weekend in Arizona, August 2010:
Rites of Passage are so important. Our young people and people of all ages need this experience of connection throughout our lives. This is as important as schooling. Thank You.