Rites of Passage
Every religion and culture seems to have them. The problem we face as Neo-Pagan parents is that we are trying to create (or in some cases re-create) rituals to celebrate or mark specific times in the lives of our children and families. This is what religion essentially IS anyway... a series of rituals brought together under the canopy of a central belief system (kinda), more often than not involving a community (or some sort). Man, I love the way anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep describes and breaks it down in his masterpiece “The Rites of Passage”:“Man's life resembles nature, from which neither the individual nor the society stands independent. The universe itself is governed by a periodicity which has repercussions on human life, with stages and transitions, movements forward, and periods of relative inactivity. We should therefore include among ceremonies of human passage those rites occasioned by celestial changes... from season to season... and from year to year” (Van Gennep (pp.3-4).
Secularists and religious folk alike still share an in-ant need to fulfill this craving. Naming ceremonies, secular emphasis on holidays, graduations... all are newer traditions that speak to this very human condition. Whatever words we wish to use, terminology or lens we view these acts through... it is essentially still special to us as a species.
Van Gennep, Arnold. (1960 reprint). The Rites of Passage, translated by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 198 pages. Available at Amazon.
Rinse, Lather, Repeat
Things from the beginning are becoming popular again. Just look at the styles which keep repeating in fashion, politics, music... nothing is original except maybe 10 stories, right? So why do we always seem to have the same problems unsolved? For example in Neo-Paganism there is this issue of Racism raising it's ugly head again... not that this is a topic to be ignored but the difference is that these discussions are not supposed to be coming from a civil space. Religion is exclusive and we cannot expect to play by the same rules as society when it comes to sacred spaces and communities. I would never barge into an orthodox Jewish synagogue or an Islamic mosque and demand for them to allow the genders to mix. Just because many mainstream religions and paths of spirituality have a history of tradition, does not make them more valid over the Neo-Pagan ideologies or methodologies.
The more I read of Crowley's work, the further my interest wants to pull me along deeper down that snake hole. Part madman, part genius: I GET what he was doing (or should I say, what Aiwass said and did). The thing is though... I'm not a 'joiner' and think the whole point of “Do What Thou Wilt” goes against organizing Crowley's philosophies into a religion. I contemplate the mystery of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel but have no idea how to get there without learning about Kabbalah (which I really don't want to). I also want to know what my True Will is, as I feel I am ON the very path but am Be-ing led either blindfolded or the torches of my lady Hekate's torches: only illuminating the present, where and when I am now. I am experimenting with the rituals of the pentagram, activating my yogic desire for movement and changing the ways I nourish my spirit (and body). I have come to realize I can only go so far in this spiritual path until my body will begin to work against me. The accumulated sludge in my lymphs, muscles surrounded by built up calcium and limbs aching to be filled with fire from Asanas... no more excuses as Uncle Al, with His buddy Lucifer, whip this blob into a voluptuous shape which expresses the perfection of my Self , not what others think I should be.