There is a serious lack of ritual in this culture.
Rituals were created to give people a sense of power, but also a sense of grounding, of rightness, of belonging. It’s not hard to see, then, why our culture seems to be missing these attributes.
When people from different cultures around the world sailed off to America for a new life, often their desire to leave was because they no longer wanted to be a part of their “old world” ways of life. Unfortunately, the old ways left behind were rich with wisdom and skillsets that only now, in their absence, are we beginning to recognize their importance.
Rituals surrounding transitional periods in a person’s life are among these lost wise-ways of life. Chief among these transitional periods are childbirth, coming-of-age (specifically menarche), and death. These are mysterious times that can be unsettling and chaotic. By surrounding these events with a traditional way of handling the situation, the changing person feels a sense of normalcy as well as specialness.
Rituals carry energy and power in themselves. When performed, the energy shifts the spirit of the transitioning person right along with their physical shift, so their psychology matches their bodily changes. These rituals are known as Rites of Passages.
What is most detrimental in this culture is the way we shield our children from these circumstances. Often kids aren’t brought to funerals or nursing homes for fear of traumatizing or upsetting them. Events such as birth and reproduction are glossed over. What becomes upsetting to children is the fear of the unknown surrounding these events because they are kept from the child’s every day experiences, despite that fact that people are born, die, and enter puberty every day.
Through the work I do as a birth and death doula and ritual coordinator, it is my intention to reinstitute these rites of passage in my community.
I will touch on these topics in this blog; for more information on the work I do, please visit my website.