Female Rite of Passage
Female Rite of Passage
Here's an offering of a female coming of age rite of passage based on the Spartan wedding ceremony. I was going to abstract from it and offer an outline as well, but I kept delaying posting because I just wasn't doing the outline. So if folks are interested, we can work on an alternative outline together.
Girl wakes up and dresses in favorite dress. She chooses a favorite item from her childhood and waits in her room.
Girl proceeds into main area, where adults are gathered. Presiding priest/ess announces that this is the day that ____ is to become a woman. Priest/ess asks girl if she is ready. If so, the Priest/ess asks the girl to offer thanks to the patron deity of girls for her protection over the years. Girl makes offering (incense?) and speaks her thanks. Then the priest/ess asks whether she has brought an item symbolizing her childhood which she is prepared to sacrifice. Girl affirms, and offers her item to a younger sibling, charity, or whatever.
Priest/ess says that it is now time for her ritual cleansing. Girl goes into bathroom and draws and takes bath, which has bath salts and herbs which the girl has previously prepared and dedicated for this purpose. She will be told to come out when she is fully dressed.
While she is in the bath, her clothing is stolen and replaced by boys'/men's clothing, so that when she emerges she finds stuff like boxer shorts, tube socks, etc. Also there will be a blindfold there.
When she emerges, she will be led to as liminal a spot as possible. (A basement feels like it is neither inside nor outside, for example.) Her hair will be cut and she will be laid on a surface that is neither a bed nor not-a-bed. (The Spartans used a bed of sticks--a table would probably work.) She will be told that she is neither a girl nor a woman, that she is
at the point between, the magic moment wherein the future will be determined. She is now to walk the ways between, and find her new patron, her new direction. She will need to ask her patron what new responsibility she must assume, and what new privilege that may entail.
The girl will then be left alone in silence for a long time. (No, I have no idea how long that should be.)
After awhile, the attendant returns and asks her if she is ready. If she says yes, the attendant will help her up, and tell her to choose the direction of her steps. (This assumes either that more than one exit is possible, or that different meanings can be assigned to different directions.) This is the omen-taking.
After her direction is determined, she is led either to a bathroom or dressing room, where she shall find a new adult-looking dress, stockings, etc. The attendant or other women will attend to her, perhaps shaving her legs, putting on make-up, styling her hair... When she is done, she shall return to the main area.
The priest/ess asks what she has learned. At this point she shares her direction, the responsibility she must take on, and the privilege she now expects as a new adult.
The attendant then reports the omen, (based on the direction she chose while blindfolded).
Blessings are called down on the waters of life, and they are shared. (Champagne, perhaps?) All drink to the health, wealth and happiness of the new adult, and to the community thus strengthened by her addition.
This may be followed by some adult activity, like going out to dinner with adults-only. But the rite isn't fully over until she returns to her bedroom that night, to find that while she was undergoing her rite, the adults have somehow transformed her room, so it is no longer the room of the girl who left it that morning, but is now the room of a young adult. (Rearrangement? New bedspread? Stuffed animals no longer on display? Different things on the walls?) [Ed. Note: Bardd Dafydd later suggested the possibility of taking a different name, which Deborah heartily agreed was a good idea.]
Ritual and Practice