The September Teaching: Rites Of Passage
How I Came To Develop A New Birthday Tradition
In The September Teaching, The Grandmother of Time looks at Rites of Passage. I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that in the days of yore, rites of passage were observed and celebrated more so than they are in modern times. While we still celebrate births and unions to the degree of annual observances, many other rites of passage get little more than a glazing over. The suggestion here is not only one of devaluing these important milestones, but of devaluing ourselves.
I take that concept one step further, especially in the field of being biologically female: choosing to hide away from certain rites of passage such as sexual maturity, pregnancy termination, cronehood, etc… also speaks of shame. Our body’s functions such as menses, miscarriage, abortion, and our shifting away from youth tend to be relegated to a corner of scandal and secrecy.
why are we not emboldened, and looking to find support in these times?
I was never so fortunate or aware as to have a celebration upon attaining sexual maturity, but I can look back and question how my relationship to my own menstrual cycle would have developed if it were something that was openly acknowledged and honoured. How would I relate to it differently had it been welcomed into my life alongside those who were already inducted into this aspect of Women’s Mysteries? I openly admit that menstruation is my least favourite part of being biologically female – I’ve never had the desire to procreate, so I would be pleased to have never experienced it to be quite honest – but what if I had been guided towards this biological cycle with reverence and cheer rather than as an inconvenience needing to be hidden away from the world? It’s never far from my mind what an absolute paradise it would be to spend that time of the month bonding with my sisters à la The Red Tent rather than having to carry on like normal while my body is screaming out for ease, comfort, and rest… More’s the pity that society is structured to make a taboo of this very natural process.
besides biological milestones, we reach personal development achievements throughout our lives that are worth celebrating.
Setting up our first home away from our parents, travelling on our own, getting an education or a promotion we have worked hard for – these are more readily celebrated in today’s society as there are no physically embarrassing taboos associated with them. I was raised in a celebratory clan, so we cheered on the changing of the seasons as much as we did the growth and progress of our friends and family. The text in The Grandmother of Time suggests that this is not as common as I understand it to be, stating that birth, birthdays, marriage, anniversaries, and death are the major rites of passage that are observed in modern day life. I like to think that most folk are more freely flowing with thier joy, and find the means and ways to celebrate more often that what is outlined in the book – it has certainly been my experience that they are. Still – I’ve missed out on some important rites of passage by not acknowledging those with the obvious physical and societal taboos, and I can’t help but wonder how they might encourage my own growth and wholeness as a spiritual being to experience them.
is there a way to recapture those moments when we stepped across the threshold of a rite of passage?
While we can’t go back in time, we can write our own rules. I may have had my first blood more than 30 years ago, but there’s no reason I can’t welcome and celebrate that rite of passage on my next cycle. We may have missed out on the rites that would heal us from the loss of a child, even if the pregnancy was terminated willingly – this may be painful to revisit, but there is no reason we can not perform a ceremony to say goodbye, while offering ourselves forgiveness and the opportunity to heal at the same time. Even in cronehood, can one not recall those times of our past, and give them thier due if we feel the call to? I believe that we can, and it is my intention to give myself the gift of acknowledging those passages already embarked upon over the next year.
the grandmother of time gives outlines to celebrate age-related rites of passage.
Seeing how it was my own mother’s birthday earlier this month, I chose to explore the Birth and Blessing Of The Newborn Baby ceremonies on the eve of her birth. While neither was present with me at the time, I was able to invoke my mother as the child, and my grandmother as the mother through meditation and visualization – if you are practiced in these skills, you know they can be just as effective as being physically present. In these ceremonial rites, I blessed my grandmother as she cradled her newborn daughter, wishing her health, strength, happiness, and autonomy. I then blessed my infant mother, as my grandmother held her up and presented her to Sister Moon. At the end, I found myself immersed in a bottomless well of mettā, and flooded the world with the joy that washed over and from me… Towards my mother, who I could not share space with at the time, to my maternal grandmother, whom I miss every day since she vacated this plane when I was only a teenager. A great, deep sense of peace, love, benevolence, gratitude, and honour flowed from me, carried me, and brought me so close to each of my mothers that I felt them there with me, an interval part of me, and I of them.
It was a breathtaking experience of unexpected and indescribable depth that quite frankly left me positively glowing in that feeling of rebirth.
So was born a new birthday tradition. I shall celebrate these rites of passage with the love and support of all my ancestors who have gone before me, and place these gifts of love and ritual at the feet of those who are here, there and everywhere.
So much better than a bit of gift-wrapped tat, don’t you think?