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Joseph Campbell, renowned storyteller and interpreter of the mythological, has stated about Rites of Passage, “Nature initiates women and society initiates men”.
What he means is that women learn through their bodies about being women (menses, childbirth, menopause) and men have to be initiated through the culture. But we have largely forgotten about meaningful rites for boys. Too many men are grown boys until they come to a point in their lives where they must grow up, either through the military, the birth of a child, or some other initiatory activity, like hunting, fishing, or an actual initiation. Women also need to be acknowledged for being who they are, as mothers and in the culture at large. Acknowledgement of being, is one of the most important things we can do for each other, especially the children.
In my family, we do just that! We acknowledge each child coming up with a ceremony when they turn 13. Originally inspired by a Bar mitzvah and African tribal rites, I created a secular/spiritual ceremony with the help and permission of my sister Kisti and her husband Sid. We call it the Blue Heron Ceremony. It has been in our family since 1982, when Lysne, my niece, turned 13. I carved a bird, a fledgling Heron taking off from it’s perch just for the occasion. Now, a grown woman with her own children, she and her husband Craig, are offering the ceremony to their children. During a summer vacation we gathered in Door County, Wisconsin, we honor another child of the family. Listen to the family describe the ceremony and the effect of it on their lives over the years and may it inspire your family to do something similar.
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