Rites of passage are very much a part of our lives and thinking. For any who are familiar with the popular massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft (WOW), we see benchmarks in our lives. We “level up”. Graduate from school, get promotions, get married, get divorced. There are rites of passage all through life, and yet mostly in this day and age the concept of marking a rite of passage has gone by the wayside.
You get these poor confused souls who were just recently divorced, or the recently widowed, or the recently adult, who are now lost in their social circle. So much of how they understand life is taken up in that role. We used to observe these things more formally, and there were formal ways of doing it. But the same people who belly ache about societies morals going to pot are so busy campaigning against the supposed violation of them that they forget their traditional duties. The priest was the baptizer, the christener, the marrier, not some wanna be famous bureaurocrat. The keeping of these traditions, even if they were couched in archaic language and superstition, was still a deep recognition of human nature. Many lines are grey today, the rites forgotten, the ancient covenants seriously neglected. Adulthood and even retirement now with so much downsizing.
What is this doing to us? This is a devolving influence. Even if you think that human spiritual motivation is just the byproduct of cellular memory and that human religious tendencies are an irrational way of dealing with the vast unknown, that center, helping those who are transitioning find a center, is part of the very fabric of our being. The elderly did once know what their place would be. As they entered the circle of the elders they went from hunting or gathering, even farming, to heading tribal council. They had a place. The young males were initiated into the rites of the hunt. First shown that the hunters’ way was a new world, and then shown how as they enter it they still are a part of the tribe.
It’s a language, a way to create, a much needed consensus so we can work together. Though that language, like language in general, has been seriously bastardized if not totally forgotten. It isn’t cool to be spiritual. It is overly sentimental to observe birthdays, morbid to remember the dead yearly. These were all rites that once mattered a great deal, and they were part of a total view. It is a reason to gather and reaffirm community. A sort of “we’re all still alive” thing, and well doesn’t it seem we forget that?
I’m not saying we need to cling. Even in the old rights of passage, part of those rituals and very much a part of human nature, was seclusion. This is the first stage of passage. A withdrawal from whatever your norm was. We don’t even do that, or if we do it’s considered crazy or inappropriate. If anything it’s the essence of not clinging and not obsessing.
It’s commonly stated that grown ups don’t mature. You have to be ‘producing’ yet we produce less. Our art, our communication, is stale, repetitive. If anything since we ignore the rites of passage in our insecurity everything becomes a rite of passage, but without first the disengagement that’s necessary for your mind to be clear so that you can realize what the hell you are doing. The frying pan to the fire, and the world burns. Anyone have a fiddle?
Even our psychologists are recognizing these stages in human nature, and warn if they are neglected they risk our mental health, but we keep on obsessing.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.