Rites of Passage in the Modern Day

A rite of passage has been used as a way of initiating boys to men, girls to women and leaders since human existence. Traditionally the boys and girls would have a becoming of age ceremony at puberty. Other rites of passage would include initiations into roles as cheifs or as healers. Regardless of the type of ceremony, each rite of passage supported a healthy and worthy transition into responsibility of maintaining a healthy eco-system for the community. This involved a deep understanding and awareness of their connection and consequence on the earth and their people, that is, an appreciation and understanding of cause and effect.
There are four key components to a rite of passage that ensures a complete metamorphous can occur. (identified by anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep)
  • The passing on of wisdom through story.
  • A challenge that supports a death to ego and delusion and a rebirth into greater compassion and connection to all of life.
  • A spiritual revelation that comes in the liminal state of separation and metamorphous
  • Affirmation within the community that reflects and acknowledges the change and initiation as a responsible adult or chief.
This traditional framework and ritual for transition is relevant and needed in todays world. The passing on of the wisdom of human existence and environmental needs are cruicial for a continuation of healthy community and eco-system. Within the transmition of these stories is the knowledge and tools of how we as people maintain harmony and balance within our eco-system. This harmony ensures the health, survival and thrival of our people and our planet.
The challenge is the crucial core of the rite of passage. It is relevant to environment. In cultures where physical survival was needed the rite of passage would be a test of endurance that ensured they would have the resilience and self-reliance to adapt to their harsh environment.
The true challenge in todays society is one of presence and awareness. In a world of noise and complexity we are faced with a whole new threat to life. The environment of todays world is one of mental dominance and structure. It is now harder than ever to maintain our connection to environment and our natural state of being. The challenge within our rites of passage is one of mindfulness and stillness. In nature we leave behind the noise and return to a place of deep listening and earth connection.
With nature and healthy challenges as our learning environment we open up another important aspect of the human experience, our connection to the spiritual. Anthropology, psychology and biology provide us with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the spiritual nature of humans. There are many studies based on ancient traditions that prove the benefits of meditation and ceremony. We know that meditation significantly improves brain function, mental clarity and wellbeing. We also know that in ceremony and sacred spaces there is greater cohesion within communities. These ceremonies are centred around commonality and intention that serve to create awareness and meaning on an individual level. When people come together in mindfulness and awareness there is a sacred space created for harmonic and meaningful relating. In this natural state more is possible. Imagine if our leaders, and community at large were able to live in a modern world in connection to their environment and natural state of being.
The final piece of the rite of passage is important for the integration and consolidation of this new way of being. It is clear that acknowledgment creates a supportive environment for any change within. This affirmation from community allows the initiate to step into their role with confidence and accountability. For once your gifts and responsibilities are acknowledged you can no longer keep yourself from them. And so, you step back into the everyday world, courageously accountable for all that you know and all that you are. Unwavering in your abilities and a master of self, ready to serve humanity with deep reverence.
This rite of passage provides a platform for our stewards to self-initiate in a way that has never been seen in our modern world. It is as old as humanity itself and it is necessary for global change.


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