First rite of passage reflection: collecting rite words


a place for inspiration: afternoon light in a chapel in Plain, WA

On my search for the “rite” words to inspire me and others on this creative journey toward a meaningful mentored celebration for my daughter, I wish I would have come across this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”

But I didn’t. There were pale samplings of written fare that spoke about painful rites practiced on girls over the centuries. There were interesting menstruation rituals I looked at quite shyly. And there were more luscious ceremonies like those in India where girls are given a new sari, sprinkled with fragrant water, and donned with a crown of flowers. But none of these were traditions embedded in our own experiences, our own culture (and at times, I admit I was grateful). I was looking for something not beautiful and borrowed, but something that resonated in the caverns of our own sense of places and spaces, here, where we are living.

Our culture, or at least my culture, didn’t have a precedent for rites of passage, so creating my own seemed like a good place idea. Perhaps my daughter would pass our new traditions on to her own daughter someday, and on and on until new traditions became established, familiar, even cherished ones. When you start from scratch on most anything, you have to  brush the top layers away until you get to rockbed. And rockbed for me was touched upon by asking these types of questions: what kind of gathering would allow for the sharing of stories to ease the pain of being alone in the adolescent years? what gifts of wisdom would be most worthwhile to Ginny? how can I craft an experience that allows her to walk away feeling loved, affirmed, and more clear-eyed in gazing at who she truly is? how can I provide a fun and exuberant release so our time together is not excessively heavy?

These questions and thoughts were the touchstones to ponder. They would help form the new words I’d be sculpting from. I would eventually collect and add others on: symbol, feasting, keepsake, music, blessing. I would look to these key thoughts to be my inspiration to hold closely in the desire to share extravagantly with my daughter the riches of being a woman at the nascency of this rare and precious journey.


hand painted peace flags dancing in the wind

10 thoughts on “First rite of passage reflection: collecting rite words

  1. I invited my closest sister-girlfriends to my daughter’s ceremony, and asked a dear friend who is Cherokee to perform the ceremony…it was so amazing. Even though we are not Native American, I wanted some kind of sacred ritual to mark this passage, and the whole weekend was absolutely transcendent. I’m so proud I did this for her; it’s so important. Good for you for honoring your girl this way.

    • That sounds so beautiful. I love hearing stories of others’ experiences in creating meaningful events and moments for their daughters and sons. And what a rich experience for your daughter that you invited your Cherokee friend with a depth of knowledge in this area to help create this for her. So lovely. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you so much! I’m finding I’m really enjoying creating and polishing these little gems of writing. Thank you for entree into this sweet little world (big world : )

  2. Fearing not and being bold to start plant a lovely seedling of uplifting tradition is brave and wonderful. I was struck at the heart when I first read these passages, thinking I never did this for my daughters. But the feelings of failure for having not done this for my own daughters was nipped in the bud right away by the wonderful understanding that just as quickly rose to the surface: It’s never too late to begin implementing a tradition – old or new – that promotes my daughters through the continued rites of passages in their lifetimes. Further expanding that thought to going beyond blood ties, for women who may not have children, we are always presented with opportunities to come along side of others and celebrate them and/or uplift them through traditions we create for ourselves to do just that. It’s a win/win because the love we put out there rolls back to us. Thanks Gina for sharing your words. I love you.

    • Thank you for sharing your wise, wise words, T! Such goodness in those words. Yes! Life always brings opportunities for new experiences, events, and celebrations, as there are always thresholds to cross. And I like you thought that beyond our daughters we can adopt children, as well as create threshold crossings for ourselves, which opens doors and windows for others to do the same. You’re awesome, T! Love you back!

  3. Even when our daughters are adults, rites of passage will follow. In my own mind, I think of future events as marriage, the birth of children. We will cherish and celebrate the heart to heart connection as women and mother-daughter like no other event could compare. God has given us a special kinship with our daughters – such a blessing!

    • Thank you, Sue. You are right. There are always opportunities for meaningful events with our daughters. The key is to be aware and celebrate those times- to make an intentional and meaning-filled moment when they come to us. I’m sure we’re both looking forward to many of those in our futures!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s