Rite Celebrating Coming-of-Age at 18

This ritual celebrates a rite of emergence – of one emerging from the protection and restrictions of childhood into the freedom and responsibilities of legal adulthood (at age 18 in the USA). The ritual shares liturgical elements with the Imbolc ritual in the Sacred Grove tradition: the circle Casting using a selection from the Book of Ecclesiasticus, and the Charge of the God and Goddess.

The CircleAltars are placed at the periphery of the space to be used, at the cardinal points of the compass. Seating is arranged in concentric circles to within three feet of the altars, with at least a six-foot diameter clear space in the center and radial openings allowing access to the altars. If the South altar can be placed at near the base of a large tree and the North altar with a view of Standing Stones, the setting is ideal. If this is not feasible, then a potted tree and other greenery should be placed behind the South altar (with respect to the center of the circle) and a large stone on or behind the North altar. A sword or athame is placed on the East altar; a chalice is placed on the West altar.

Eight or more participants have scripted roles, including Seeker, the new adult, and one or both parents (who may double as Quarters). The ritual is suitable for an intimate, indoor setting or a larger outdoor setting that is small enough for the speakers to be heard. While the ritual is in the Sacred Grove tradition, it is assumed the new adult is not a Grove initiate; attenders are welcome from all paths at Seeker’s invitation.

The rite is intimate and particular to the transition to adulthood of a single Seeker. Scaling it up to accommodate multiple Seekers is not recommended.

While moving toward and into the ritual space, the group can sing “Listen to the Lord and Lady’:

||: Listen to the Lord and Lady call Their children in the moonlight :||

The Preparations

All but Bard are seated in circle; Grove candle stands unlit on North altar. Quarter candles (unlit), matches, and water or sand to suppress flames are on the Quarter altars.

Seeker will have prepared for this rite of passage by developing a personal statement of ethics.

Required special tools include Seeker’s birth certificate (and passport, if available) and the necessary forms for US voter registration and, if Seeker is male, US Selective Service registration.

Parents, Grove, and guests have been alerted to the opportunities to offer gifts (material or otherwise) to Seeker.

The Warning

Bard speaks:

We gather tonight to open the Veil between the worlds, to seek the Lord and Lady, and celebrate the Mystery of Emergence. Seeker, who has reached the legal age of adult responsibility, has freely requested and prepared for this rite.

Hear this warning: To be touched by the Lord and Lady is to be changed, and that change ripples outward from this center through all the worlds. If you open yourself to Their touch, you put at risk your comfortable view of the world. You risk experiencing a sense of awe to which worship is the natural response. You risk discovering Deity as your Lover and your Beloved.

Bard lights Grove candle.

Let none remain who is unwilling to be changed by Their touch.

Marking the Circle

Priestess speaks from center, turning slowly deosil with wand extended to cast circle and addressing all gathered:

Hear these ancient words of praise to Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom – a song of emergence:

Priestess facing East:

Ecclesiasticus 51:13-16, 20b-22 (from my CPE graduation, with thanks to Rev. Tammy Wooliver). The modification of the last verse is my own.

Before I ventured forth, even while I was very young, I sought Wisdom openly in my prayer.  In the forecourts of the temple I asked for Her, and I will seek Her to the end.

Priestess facing South:

From first blossom to early fruit, She has been the delight of my heart. My foot has kept firmly to the true path; diligently from my youth have I pursued Her.

Priestess facing West:

I inclined my ear a little and received Her; I found for myself much Wisdom and became adept in Her.

Priestess facing North:

To the One who gives me Wisdom will I give glory, for I have resolved to live according to Her Way.

Priestess facing East, retracting wand:

From the beginning I gained courage from Her, therefore I will not be forsaken. In my inmost being I have been stirred to seek Her, therefore I have gained a good possession.

Priestess embracing wand:

As my reward the Gods have given me the gift of language, and with it will I offer praise to Them.

The circle is cast. So mote it be.

All rise and remain facing the center.

Claiming the Circle

The four Quarters stand facing the center.  The Claimings are spells and should be spoken with conviction and intent.  The participants respond So mote it be! to each of the Claimings.

East speaks:

In the name of the Lady of Light, and in my own name, I claim this circle as a place of Men.  Let all within be bound to speak and hear the Truth.

So mote it be.

West speaks:

In the name of the Sacred King, and in my own name, I claim this circle as a place of Women.  Let all within be bound to Perfect Love and Trust.

So mote it be.

South speaks:

In the name of the Lord of the Greenwood, and in my own name,I claim this circle as a place of Nature.   Let all within be bound to the Sacred Web of Life.

So mote it be.

North speaks:

In the name of the Queen of Heaven, and in my own name, I claim this circle as Sacred Space.   Let all within be opened to the presence of God and Goddess.

So mote it be.

Sealing the Circle

Bard speaks:

We have stepped beyond time, to a place not of Earth.  In the presence of the Lord and Lady, we join together and are one.

Beginning with the Bard, each person takes the hand of the person to the left, repeating We are one.

When the Circle has been joined all around, all repeat together We are one.

All sit except Priestess, Priest, and the four Quarters.

Inviting the Guardians

East lights red candle and speaks, facing outward:

To this circle of challenge and commitment, I call for one to stand in the place of the Sword, to teach us courage and discernment and to uphold the pillar of the East.

Guardian of the Sword, Hail and Welcome!

All: Hail and Welcome!

West lights blue candle and speaks, facing outward:

To this circle of joy and celebration, I call for one to stand in the place of the Cup, to teach us compassion and understanding and to uphold the pillar of the West.

Guardian of the Cup, Hail and Welcome!

All: Hail and Welcome!

South lights green candle and speaks, facing outward:

To this circle of honor and connection, I call for one to stand in the place of the Tree, to teach us of life and change and to uphold the pillar of the South.

Guardian of the Tree, Hail and Welcome!

All: Hail and Welcome!

North lights white candle and speaks, facing outward:

To this circle of mystery and transformation, I call for one to stand in the place of the Stones, to teach us mirth and reverence and to uphold the pillar of the North.

Guardian of the Standing Stones, Hail and Welcome!

All: Hail and Welcome!

The Mystery

Welcoming the Lord and Lady

Priest invokes Lady.

Bard speaks:

Hear now the words of the Great Mother who is called Isis and Freya and Brigid and many other names.

East speaks:

Think not that I am far from thee, for thou canst see my visage in the moon, and hear my voice upon the wind. I am the silence of the sea, and the secret of the standing stones. I am the beauty of the green earth, and the mystery of the stars. I am the Mother of all things, and the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe. I am the source of thy beginning, and I am the fulfillment of thy desire.

Priestess invokes Lord.

Bard speaks:

Hear the words of the All Father who is called Osiris and Woden and Lugh and by other names beyond counting.

West speaks:

Thou knowest me not, but I am with thee. My face is the sun, and my voice the thunder. I am the strength of the forest, and the keenness of the sword. I am the rune giver; the patient teacher; the revealer of secrets. I am the warrior, the defender of the weak and the companion of heroes. I am the Horned One. I am the gateway to the Mysteries, and I am that which Mystery reveals.

East speaks:

Arise and come unto us, for mine is the womb that bore thee and the breast that nursed thee. Thy joy is our joy, and thy sorrow, our sorrow. We would teach thee the ways of healing, and the joys of love, for our law is love unto all beings. We give the knowledge of the eternal spirit, and beyond death we give peace and reunion with those who have gone before. We would lead thee to love and to freedom. Call on us, and we will show you the hidden paths.

West speaks:

Follow my white stag into the deep forest. There is mystery in the wild places, and a path that leads between the worlds. The path is not easy, for it leads to that which cannot be given by another. Those who would share our freedom must create it anew within their own hearts. But no one who walks that path walks alone. Fear not to call on us, for we have not forgotten our Children.

The Working

Bard speaks:

Settle into a comfortable position that you can maintain without conscious attention while we journey together between the worlds.

South leads grounding and centering using imagery of being within a tree, flowing down into the roots, into the deep silence of the Earth.

South speaks:

Placing your hand on the bark of a great tree, feeling its life, you find yourself within the tree feeling a hand on your bark.

South leads the journey down through the roots into the deep silence of the Earth to a grounded state, then back up through the roots, then up the trunk into the branches, feeling the wind and sun, brimming with life.

From high in your branches, you look around and begin to recognize familiar spirits in other trees, some mingling their branches with yours, all swaying in the same wind, soaking up the same sunlight. Perhaps you can recognize all of us who have journeyed together this far, trees forming a grove – sheltering – inviting – welcoming –

Eagerly, perhaps, you slip down from the branches into your trunk, where you are feel a hand on your bark – and now you find yourself standing at the base of the Tree, feeling with the bark beneath your hand.

As you look around, you may notice the rest of us emerging and sharing the wonder of this place.

South takes time in centering to have each person speak at least his name, re-establishing the group experience, keeping it lighthearted.

Priestess speaks:

Here between the worlds we are together in sacred space, at the center of All, in the presence of the Lord and Lady. They are here with us, whether we perceive Them or not, for this is the Grove – Their home and ours. We are always welcome here – leaving our muddy shoes at the door.

Priest speaks:

Lady and Lord, we bring with us tonight Seeker, who has reached the age of legal responsibility by the laws of our nation and the customs of our community. With your blessing and in the company of friends and family, with and without bodies, Seeker steps tonight from childhood into fullness of adulthood.

Priestess leads Seeker to sit in the center of the circle.

Priestess speaks:

Who will tell us of Seeker’s journey to this place?

Priestess encourages others, most especially including Seeker’s parents, to share the highlights of Seeker’s growing.

Priest speaks:

Surely this journey was not accomplished alone. Who will tell us of the help Seeker has had along the way?

Priest encourages others to remember and praise the parents, teachers, ancestors, heroes, and family.

Priestess speaks:

Seeker, what might we have forgotten? What would you add to all that has been said of your life so far?

Priestess gives Seeker plenty of time to fill in any gaps. This is a time also for Seeker to acknowledge and thank parents and other helpers. Rising to embrace others is great.

Priest speaks:

Coming of legal age – turning 18 – brings very important changes into the web of support and constraint that holds your life.

Until now, your parents who brought you into this world and who have nurtured your growth have also been responsible to the community for the consequences of their actions as manifested in your actions.

This ends now.

Until now, others required their permission before interacting with you.

This ends now.

They – and we – can only hope, love, and trust that you will do as you will with insight, compassion, and a determination to harm none.

Mother speaks: Gives Seeker birth certificate

As a token of your official independence and freedom, we give you your birth certificate – with the name we chose for you when you came into our lives.

Guard them well.

Father speaks: Gives Seeker voter registration form and, if male, Selective Service registration form

As an adult member of this community, you have new privileges and responsibilities. We have done our best to help you reach this time in your life with as many choices open to you as possible. As a token of your freedom to choose and all it entails, we give you these [name forms].

Do as you will, and own your choices.

Others may have prepared appropriate gifts. Add their offerings here. Leave space for Seeker to respond.

Priestess speaks:

Whatever your relationship to this Grove has been in the past, the choice is now yours to continue, change, or sever it. Know this: you are welcome here.

We offer you our love, hospitality, truth, and company. If you come to us with questions or with tales of your adventures, we will listen well and speak truly of what we have learned – even share such wisdom as we have gleaned from our own journeys.

We will be honored to learn from you as you learn from your experiences. And we ask no more of you than honesty and compassion.

Priest speaks:

On behalf of the community, on the other hand, we do ask you to tell us what we can expect of you in the years to come, knowing well that time and testing may change the words but not the heart.

Seeker speaks:

Seeker reads the statement of ethics prepared for this occasion

Priest speaks:

Heard and witnessed! So mote it be.

All: Heard and witnessed! So mote it be.

Priestess speaks:

We are here in the Grove, surrounded by friends with and without bodies. Let us make ourselves at home and enjoy the company for a while. Feel free to share – or enjoy in silence.

The Presence

Priest and Priestess remain responsible for bringing the group together when it is time to leave.

The Closing

Thanking the Lord and Lady

Priest thanks Lady

Priestess thanks Lord.

Thanking the Guardians

Quarters thank Guardians.

The Return

Bard recalls everyone to normal wakefulness.

Priest and Priestess encourage informal discussion, commentary, questions, chatting over minor refreshments.

Opening the Circle

Bard comes to center.

Bard speaks:

The rite is ended, the circle is open. May the blessing of the Lord and Lady be with us all. So mote it be.

All: So mote it be.

Bard snuffs Grove candle.

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