Rites of Passage

It is wedding season, and one thing I LOVE about being ordained is performing handfasting (Pagan wedding) ceremonies. I don’t have the opportunity to perform them as often as I would like, yet this month I have been invited to perform two of them. Hooray!

age-cycle-womanThe first one was this past weekend, in the beautiful city of Kelowna in the interior of BC. My family took the weekend for a family trip, and visited my husband’s mother, and connect with a student of mine for an initiation. The next one is next week, near the beach on the Island. I’m looking forward to that one as well.

Marriage is a rite of passage, a celebration of the love between two people. The ceremony acknowledges that love, and shifts the relationship, affirming the commitment of the couple to each other, surrounded and witnessed by loved ones.

Because of one rite of passage, I missed another. The celebration of life for my friend Shelby, who crossed over several weeks ago, was also this weekend. That rite of passage was more for the people left behind than for Shelby.

We underestimate the importance of these rites of passage. Rites of passage change the participant, and mark a shift from one stage of life to the next. Marriage and death are obvious shifts. There are other moments in our lives that ought to be celebrated – birth, becoming an adult, achieving a big goal, separation from a partner, becoming a crone or sage… anything that feels significant.

Our society marks some of these moments – bachelor or bachelorette parties; baby showers; graduations; funerals. The goals, and endings (whether jobs or relationships), and aging – those we often let pass without recognition. And when we let them pass, we soon forget the importance of the lesson, or the things we went through to get where we are.

So mark those moments, as I did with my tattoo. I’m not saying you ought to get a tattoo at each of these points! Do *something* to acknowledge the moment. Go out for a nice meal. Light a candle and make an offering to the God or Goddess you feel most connected with. Throw a party. Make the moment special.

What moment would you like to recognize with a rite of passage?



In Memory of Dawn

On Wednesday morning of last week, after being delayed for two hours, our flight touched down in Minneapolis. I was tired, and looking forward to seeing my family. I turned my US phone on (I have a different phone I use while I am in the US), and sent a text message to my parents to let them know we had finally arrived. We still had to disembark and then go and pick up our rental car.

When I received the answer to my text, the whole trip changed in an instant. My parents were at my sister’s. My cousin, Dawn, had died.

Shock. Sadness. Frustration that I was stuck on the plane. Anger at my dad for being so blunt about how he broke the news. Gratitude for him not putting it off. Concern for my aunt. Disappointment that I hadn’t gotten to see Dawn again. All of it all at once.

Dawn and MaryDawn and I shared a lot, especially early on. I guess that happens when your moms are twins and share a lot themselves. They got married on the same day in the same church. Dawn and I were born seven weeks apart. We were baptized on the same day in the same church. We celebrated our first birthdays together at our grandmother’s house.

We spent many a holiday playing together at Grandma’s house. We often got matching items for Christmas – dolls, pajamas, clothing. Our grandfather called us “twin cousins”. Together we read, and re-read, (and ruined from reading) my mother’s ElfQuest graphic novels, and then spent hours pretending we were elves. My little sister was in on that last bit, too.

Dawn and I went to summer camps together, including flying to Michigan (her first flight) for a two week camp the day after my grandfather (on the other side of the family) passed away.

I remember going to her house for one of her birthdays, and staying up all night with Dawn and her friends. The next day, I was so tired, I crashed after everyone left. My aunt woke us up at dinner, and I still couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was the best!

We shared many of the same interests. One summer I went with her to her grandparents’ farm in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota. We spent the week listening to the Monkees (the one record they had that even remotely interested us), and reading through the suitcase of Sweet Valley High books that she had brought. We both enjoyed going to ValleyCon, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and we both enjoyed theater.

Even though we didn’t live in the same town, we could count on family gatherings to connect. And then we’d spend the whole time together. The distance grew in University, and especially when I got married and moved across the continent. But I always looked forward to seeing her.

I was looking forward to visiting her on this trip. I was planning to sit with her in the hospital and catch up. Instead, I ended up going to her funeral.

It hits really close to home because we were so close, the same age with so much in common. And I thought she was improving.

Dawn and BriannaShe leaves behind a three-year-old daughter, Brianna, who doesn’t fully understand that mommy is gone. I won’t go into that whole story here, however, Brianna needs our help. You can learn about her story here.

I love you and I miss you, Dawn.