Rituals & Rites of Passage



Ritualized habits are ongoing events that are a regular part of life. They are what gives our life rhythm and cadence. The difference between a ritual and a ritualized habit (such as washing your face before going to bed) is that a ritual is performed with intention, consciousness, and with an understanding of its sacredness. While rituals are commonly perceived of as religious in nature, rituals can be highly personal and created to help us recognize the sacredness of our lives. Rites of passages can be enhanced and supported by the design of appropriate rituals.

Rites of Passage

Rites of passages occur in every culture. While they are often maturational in that they mark one developmental stage from another, they can also mark significant life events and help us to transition. Another important element of most rites of passages is the presence and participation of family and community members to bear witness to the transition. Examples of common rites of passages in US American culture are graduations, baby showers and marriages. Some well-known rites of passages of other cultures are the Australian Aboriginal walkabout, the Mexican quinceañera, and the Jewish Bat/Bar Mitzvah.

Rituals and Rites of Passages can also be designed to personalize an already existing rite/ritual or can be individually created to mark something significant that the culture does not honor as significant. Rites of passages can mark external events, such as divorce/separation and menarche (onset of first menstrual cycle), or an internal shift within the person. Ritual and Rite design includes an initial individual session (sometimes more than one, depending on complexity), the rite itself, and a closing individual session. Rites of passages can be supplemented with therapeutic support (e.g. holistic counseling, creative arts therapy, body-centered counseling, and bodywork/energywork).

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