Rites of Passage
A rite of passage is a ritual that symbolizes a passage of a person through a phase of life. It integrates the physical, mental and spiritual elements of your existence with the human destiny of birth, coming of age, reproduction and death.
Any rite of passage involves the death of a previous stage in life in order to step into a new stage with an expanded ethical standard to live by. Traditional rites of passage allow us to honor where we have been and move forward, with courage, into our new responsibilities.
Each rite of passage incorporates the same pathway which begins with separation, followed by transition, and ends with reincorporation or rejoining the community. Joseph Campbell alluded to these same phases in his writings about the hero’s journey. We all become heroes as we confront a true rite of passage from youth to adult, from singleton to marriage, from independence to parenthood, from adult to elder and from life to death. The practice of death as a rite of passage honors this journey and the courage it takes to travel well.
To successfully embrace a rite of passage requires that one accept the death of the previous stage of being. Only after this acceptance is achieved can a period of meaningful preparation occur. There are deeds to be completed, accomplishments to be recognized, and lessons to be learned. Along the way, the strong connection with the self will loosen. In the process of this rite of passage, it is not uncommon for one to experience an altered state of consciousness, in which the mysteries of life – and death – are revealed further.