by: Shawna Jacques
First version originally published at <http://foxipher.livejournal.com> on February 8, 2011
Internal Rites of Passage
Rites of passage seem to be something that much of modern Western society does not value or even clearly define. I have gone through and guided others through a few different rites of passage and other initiatory rites. Due to the secretive nature of such things, I can only speak of them in general terms, but the subject is worth exploration.
We all, as fellow humans, have certain basic categories of life experiences in common. Assuming all goes well, we are born, we grow through childhood, hit puberty, and mature turbulently (and to various degrees) into adults, live our lives out in various ways, and we die. Inherent in the process of living are commonalities that, if we celebrated them a bit more, we would all likely be much better support to each other, and perhaps hold more compassion for one another, across family, community, national and regional lines. Rites of passage are typically celebrations of going from one stage of life to the next. They are included in the category of “initiations,” but that category also includes acceptance and entrance into external mysteries, groups, and other such things.
I believe that, if we choose to be sufficiently self-aware, we also go through our own internal rites of passage and initiate ourselves into new mysteries. These are mysteries contained within ourselves. Even when we express them to others in the most eloquent way, there is still an element that is verbally unexplainable, as if trying to describe the vivid details of a sleeping dream. It is still important to talk about these mysteries with each other. We are not solitary animals by general nature (there are always exceptions, but I speak of our species in general), and we can learn from each other concepts about self-discovery and gain tools from each other in order to better suss out our own internal landscapes and how to change them if we choose.
In the last year, I myself have gone through some changes for the better. I have learned, mostly the hard way, more about personal responsibility. I have gained insight into magick and surprising places I can find it: knitting, music, art, intelligent conversation, the internet. I am learning, every day, the nature of courage and its relation to fear. Some of these thoughts have been prompted by a science fiction musical I was in, some prompted by conversations with various friends, and some by other things I’ve seen, heard, said, and done in the last few weeks.
I conclude this: no one can initiate us into the mysteries of ourselves except ourselves. We may come upon these realizations during initiatory rites into external mysteries, but in the end we must ultimately seek to know ourselves from within. The whole concept is by nature somewhat tautological in its semantics, and it feels true to me.
As we approach Spring Mysteries Festival XXVI, my thoughts drift toward the Adult Affirmation of Path ritual that takes place on the evening of the Thursday of SMF. Though we have another ritual called the Adult Rite of Passage which takes place at Hekate’s Sickle Festival in November, the AAoP serves also as a rite of passage in addition to its stated purpose of path affirmation. Follow the footsteps of those who have gone before you into the depths of and underworld and the depths of yourself. Return ready to better take hold of your own life, within and without, using your experiences and discoveries as tools.
What will you discover about yourself?