Two years ago I had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine, Holly, about Rites of Passage. She is a young mother and one thing that she said really struck me. She said that when a child is born everyone celebrates the child (as they should) but they do not properly mark the parents’ life changes with ritual. The ritual needs to honour the person that the mother and father were, but will not be again. The Mystery has reached down and touched them, and their old self, their old identity has died, like a butterfly bursting out of a chrysalis. So, the following group ritual emerged from our conversation. Please use it, if you acknowledge my authorship and do not charge for its performance.
Ideally the two officiants would be parents, simply because one cannot embody the Mystery if one has never experienced it.
Parent Rite of Passage (for Samhain)
Preliminary Grounding and Centring
The Priest will explain why this is done and lead all in a brief meditation to ground before casting the ritual circle.
“We are all children of the same Grandmother Earth
We are born from the same great Parents
The All-Mother and All-Father of humanity
Sisters and Brothers to the trees and the sky,
Our blood like the rivers and our tears like clouds,
Our breath like the wind
We are all of one breath,
All of one Community,
Prepared to enter the sacred space.”
Casting the Circle
The Circle is swept and cast as follows:
It begins with only the Priestess and Priest in the space. The Priestess sweeps the area with a broom counter-clockwise. The Priest then casts the circle with his athame (ritual knife) while saying:
“This is a Place that is not a Place
and a Time that is not a Time,
Halfway between the Worlds
Of Gods and Mortals.”
while circling around 3 times clockwise. He leaves a doorway, through which everyone is welcomed into the Circle with a blessing.
“Guardian of the Watchtower of the East,
Guard this Circle.
Open the way for the power of Air.
Bless us with clarity of thought and wisdom.
With the first breath of life we began this great adventure,
Let that first breath of life fill our circle
With the blessings of Air.”
“Guardian of the Watchtower of the South
Guard this Circle
Open the way for the power of Fire.
Bless us with courage and determination.
May the power of fire make us wilful and strong, passionate and tender.
“Guardian of the Watchtower of the West,
Guard this Circle,
Open the way for the power of Water.
Bless us with love.
May we love easily, and may we be loved easily.”
“Guardian of the Watchtower of the North,
Guard this Circle,
Open the way for the power of Earth.
Bless us with health and strength of body.”
Priestess calls the Goddess. “I call for the presence of the Great Mother, to bless our Circle.”
Priest calls the God. “I call for the presence of the All-Father, to bless our Circle.”
Priest calls the Ancestors: “We are beginning the season of death. The leaves are falling from the trees, the last harvests are being gathered, and soon the snow will fly and cover the ground. At this time, the veil between the worlds is thin and the Honoured Dead, our Ancestors, walk among us. We call them here to join us in blessing the Mothers and Fathers of our community.”
Priestess calls the Mothers and Fathers: “When a new child is born and brought out into the community, we all celebrate her or him. As we should – how beautiful and full of promise each new child is! But we sometimes forget to celebrate the great change in the lives of the mothers and fathers of the children. They have gained and lost and passed through the Mystery of birth also. Today, I would like all mothers and fathers who wish to be blessed to please step forward into the circle.”
Priestess (speaking to mothers): “Mothers, you each have done something wonderful, making another life inside your body. You each have become a different person, growing out of your old self like a butterfly from a chrysalis, adding to yourself, becoming a mother. You will never not be a mother, although that is not everything that you are. You know something now that you did not before – you have experience of a Mystery which those who have not passed through this way cannot know. ”
“Could you have been another kind of butterfly? Yes – life is a series of maybes, of options not followed up on as much as those we chose. Except when there is no doubt – the child is born and is real, not optional, the illnesses of age strike, and youth is gone. Walking through the veil from maiden to mother brings a wonderful gift and potential, but there is a loss as well. The maiden still lives within you, but she is second now and always to the mother. Mourn your lost maidenhood and its freedom and grow in the path you have taken.”
Priest (speaking to fathers): “Fathers, you each, with your partner, have done something beautiful – you have created a new life. You, too, have each become a different person, a father. You will never not be a father, although that is not everything that you are. You know something now that you did not before – you have experience of a Mystery which those who have not passed through this way cannot know. ”
“We are not in charge. Nostalgia and regret at lost options are keeping us from living what is. And keeping us from growing into ourselves – say good-bye to these maybes that will never be, move on without regret or nostalgia and become real in the life you have. Walking through the veil from youth to father brings a wonderful gift and potential, but there is a loss as well. The youth still lives within you, but he is second now and always to the father. Mourn your lost youth and its freedom and grow in the path you have taken.”
Priestess: “The Mystery of parenting is not this one event, the birth of your child. It opens up each day when you wake to the love that you feel for them, the vulnerability that you have – there is no fear greater than the fear a parent feels when their child is in danger, there is no shame greater than disappointing them, there is no pride greater than having your children be proud of you.”
Priest: “Mother is the word for the Goddess in the heart of a child.”
Priestess: “Father is the word for God.”
Priest: “Now, to the end of your lives, you carry the Goddess as Mother, the God as Father. We bless you here, as we bless your children, with the hope that you will carry them well, and draw strength from Them.”
Food and drink blessing:
“It is not we who bless food and drink
But they who bless us
For by their nature they nourish our bodies
And by sharing them
We create community.
Carry food and drink around the circle to everyone.
Thank you to the Gods for their presence and blessings.
Directions will be dismissed by those who called them.
North: “Thank you Powers of the North. Guardian, release your hold and let the energy of the Earth return to the Earth.”
West: “Thank you Powers of the West. Guardian, release your hold and let the energy of the Water return to the Water.”
South: “Thank you Powers of the South. Guardian, release your hold and let the energy of the Fire return to the Fire.”
East: “Thank you Powers of the East. Guardian, release your hold and let the energy of the Air return to the Air.”
This Circle is Open, yet unbroken. Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again.