RITE OF PASSAGE – MAIDEN
This beautiful ritual can be adapted to suit any group of people, whether wiccan, broad pagan or simply the kind of folks who believe in a greater spirit. It is such a wonderful community act to perform, one that encourages self respect, and welcomes a girl child into the fold of womanhood as a powerful, beautiful, spiritual event rather than something degrading or frightening – or worse, ignored (enforcing a cultural “taboo”).
Preparation for the Mother:
Firstly, you need to prepare yourself emotionally and spiritually to support your child through this scary (change, leaving behind childhood, etc) and exhilarating (new beginning, becoming a woman) passage. Do this through meditation, quiet time, ask your guides/angels to be with you and help you, ask the Goddess/Creator to shine through you during this time.
Next, you need to gather all the items needed. These include:
- For the purification bath: Candles, a bell, a white robe, or just a sheet, with a red cord or ribbon to tie it around your daughter. Flowers/herbs/essential oils great if you can.
- Gifts from the quarters: A feather, a tealight candle, a sea shell and a small tumbled stone or just a plain little pebble from the garden
- Gift for your daughter: a necklace with a moon pendant, or a moonstone
- A basket of wine/champagne and cups for all participants at the circle
You will need 5 participants in the rite who will play an important role – that of the 4 quarters (earth, air, fire, water) and spirit. They will each wear a mask (a nice exercise is to get the maidens to decorate the masks in the build up to the ritual). Your daughters must choose the guests / participants they would like present. There are only 2 rules for them in choosing their guests – only women, and no-one younger than them. Out of the guest list, you may select these 5 ladies to help you. Ask guests to bring flowers (don’t have to be bought, wild or from the garden also lovely) and if they’d like to contribute a plate of snacks, as well as their own drinks.
You will also need to decide on a venue for the rite. It preferably needs to be outdoors on a new moon, with a plan for cover if it rains.
Preparation for the Maiden:
You need to ask your daughter if she would like to undergo a rite of passage to become a woman. If she says yes, you then need to tell her she will need to do a bit of preparing before the rite.
The first thing she must do is choose an item which represents her childhood to her. It can be an old treasured teddy bear, a favourite old toy, an outdated photograph, an outgrown cap, whatever. There must be emotional attachment to it. When she looks at it, it reminds her of good, warm, happy memories of childhood. This item will be both a sacrifice and a gift. They will be giving it up, so it mustn’t be a family heirloom!
The second thing she must do is make a collage on a piece of A4 paper. Ask her to use pictures and words to represent the person she wants to grow into. The woman she is becoming. Think of words like strong, loving, confident, happy. She could include images and words representing goals, like becoming a vet, or going travelling.
Day of the rite – Fasting
Lastly, ask her if she is prepared to fast until circle. Fast time should begin minimum of 6 hours, maximum of 10 hours before circle. She can have water and fruit as she deems necessary.
Two hours before the rite – The Purification Bath:
Two hours before you leave for the rite, prepare a bath for her. Light a few candles, add some flower petals and/or sprigs of herbs and a few drops of essential oil, or light an incense stick (rose, jasmine, gardenia all great). Go with red and white colours. Place a bell next to the bath.
As the maiden enters the water, recite these words (or something similar):
“The bud of your youth is maturing into the bloom of womanhood. Relax now, meditate on your journey. When you feel you are done, ring the bell.”
When she rings the bell, meet her in the bathroom, wrap her in a robe, and lead the maiden into a darkened room, with only 1 or 2 candles burning. Explain that she has begun the rite of passage, and you now create a safe, sacred space with her to talk heart to heart. This is a beautiful and pivotal moment with your daughter as you surround her with love, respect, protection, and a sense of equality as one woman to another. Sit with her, and ask her what it means to her to be a woman, what she understands womanhood to be. Ask her if she has any questions she’d like to ask you about womanhood. Topics that you should discuss with her in this sacred space include sexual awareness, sexual identity, safe sex, abuse issues, body awareness. Even if you have covered these topics before, go beyond it to core fears, core truths. Be brave, and trust Goddess/Creator to hold you both and guide you both in love and trust and beauty. When you are done talking together, leave her in the darkened room to meditate. Collect her from the room when it is time to leave for the rite and ask her to fetch her childhood item and her collage.
Preparation at the Circle:
The high priestess or leader of the rite (HP) will smudge the area and cast the circle. Guests need to be at the circle before the maidens arrival time so the HP can have every-one smudged and anointed and in the circle before you arrive with your daughters. The HP and guests will decorate the circle with the flowers and candles so it looks really beautiful and feminine. The HP will set up a table as the altar and give the 5 helpers their masks and make sure they have their gifts of the quarters.
The guests will all be seated inside the circle, there will be 4 women standing at the 4 quarters in masks, one standing at the altar in a mask, and the HP will be standing at the entrance. Mothers then lead their daughters to the area, but leaving the daughters a few steps from the circle, and mothers approach the HP at the entrance to the circle alone. The HP greets, smudges, anoints the mothers. One at a time, HP challenges each mother by asking, “How do you enter?”, and the mother replies, loud enough for your daughters to hear clearly “In perfect love, and perfect trust.” Enter the circle, and sit down. Your daughters will stand or sit where you left them. HP will begin speaking:
“Our modern culture has forgotten to honour the Rites of Passage in a Woman’s life. In not doing this, we miss the opportunity they provide of celebrating and welcoming the huge transformations that we go through. Honouring rites of passage is an ancient tradition seen in all cultures across the planet. Our rites of passage happen whether we bring consciousness to them or not. And the experience we have at each of these times of transformation in our life is what teaches us about what our culture expects of us in our new role and how that role is valued, whether we realise it or not.
The experience a girl has, how she is treated, the messages she gets, both subliminal and specific, inform her of her culture’s value of woman and how she is expected to behave. In many traditional cultures, the rites of passage around a woman’s fertility were enacted with the seriousness and reverence they deserve. The cultures that honoured the feminine rites of passage of the menarche, childbirth and menopause were those that honoured the feminine in all respects. They were peaceful cultures where women and men were equally valued, living their lives in harmony with the Earth and the cycles.
The way the menarche, a physical expression of the feminine, is dealt with in our culture, our families and our communities, influences how a young woman understands what it “means” to be a Woman, a cyclical sexual fertile female human being. It also influences how our culture feels about and treats the Earth and her resources. Understanding and respecting a woman’s cyclical nature, starting with the Menarche of our daughters, has a healing effect on our Earth. In valuing our blood, our cyclical nature, feminine magic and teaching our daughters to do the same, we participate in the healing of our Earth.
Everything about a woman’s life is cyclical, there is a never ending spiral of growth and decay, building up and letting go, energy out and energy in. It happens every month with the menstrual cycle and every 29.5 days with the lunation cycle, every three months with a change of season and every 25 or so years of one’s life. Same cycle, different speeds. And if you’re lucky or more correctly in tune, then your monthly cycle and the moon’s, will be synchronised, just as nature intended.
We need to welcome our daughters to womanhood and teach them that they are special and valued. We need to tell them that it’s important that they honour their cycles and go with the flow. We have chosen this night to do this within a circle of women who welcome the new young woman, the initiates, into the sisterhood. We will share stories and make wishes and blessings for the new woman’s future life. You are honoured by being asked to share in this beautiful passage tonight, and I charge you each to open your heart and share love with our two daughters.”
Spirit will walk forward to the entrance, and lay two white flowers down over the threshold, before beckoning the young maidens to come forward. Spirit then returns to the altar. As the maidens reach the threshold, HP will ask them
“Do you feel ready to begin the journey into womanhood?”
They both answer yes.
“Have you been told about the journey?”
They both answer yes.
One at a time HP asks them “What have you brought to offer as a gift of thanks for your childhood, to leave behind as you leave your childhood behind?”
They will each in turn show HP their item, and HP may ask them to tell me its significance to them, what it means to them. HP will then say:
“Are you ready to make your sacrifice?”
They both answer yes.
“Then lay down your childhood now at the threshold to your new path, that of womanhood, and pick up the flower offered to you by Spirit.”
HP then anoints them and challenges them into the circle. HP and the maidens approach the altar together, and HP speaks to the guests:
“These two before us have laid down preparation, they have meditated on their past, and their future, they have fasted, they have been purified, and they have had council .We are gathered here this night under a New Moon to bear witness, to lend our support, our strength, our sacred femininity, to welcome with love and blessings, these two maidens onto the path of womanhood. New Moon calls up the Maiden aspect and celebrates the power of growth. Just as planting is best served under a New Moon, so is a maiden’s awakening.”
HP shows them to put down their collage and the flower in front of an unlit white pillar candle.
“As I light this candle, think for a moment about your hopes for the future, goals you will set and the woman you will endeavour to become.”
*Moment of quiet*
“I now call upon the blood mothers of these two daughters in front of me and ask them to come forward.”
Mothers come forward and stand next to their daughters (holding their daughter’s hand).
“Do you acknowledge yourselves as the mothers of these two maidens before me?”
Mothers answer yes.
“Do you give your blessing and support to your daughters who seek to be initiated into the next level of wisdom?”
Mothers answer yes.
“Then, maidens, hear my words. You enter into the sacredness of womanhood. Open to you is the sacred knowledge of feminine sexuality, of the female warrior, of the power of the moon and the changing of the tides. Your body is a precious vessel, your soul part of the greater being. You are a young woman now, and before long you will be a full adult, responsible for your own choices as you make your way in the world. We expect that you will choose wisely and make the most of your potential. All doors are open to you! All things are possible! Your goals and dreams can be accomplished. Only you can limit yourself. By participating in this Rite, you agree to pursue your highest and best ideals in the face of all odds. You will strive to be the best you can be. Do you understand and agree to all these things?”
Maidens answer yes.
As they answer yes, the mothers bring forth the necklace for their daughters, and put them around their necks, as HP continues:
“Then receive this blessing:
Blessed Be these maidens, now and forever.
Blessed Be their eyes that they might see the brightest path.” (Mom kisses daughter’s eyes)
Blessed Be their lips that they might ever speak the truth.” (Mom kisses daughter’s lips)
Blessed Be their hearts and may they ever seek its council.” (Mom kisses daughter’s chest)
Blessed Be their feet and may they ever walk in beauty.” (Yes, you bend down and kiss their feet J)
You can then give them a hug, and go sit down again. (*If the kisses are too uncomfortable, they can be left out)
“So mote it be! Go now, and seek out the four quarters. May they always guard and guide you.”
As HP says this, she points the maidens towards the masked woman at East, and she steps forward as HP points to her).
The maidens approach her, and she reads:
“Greetings to you, young women. I am the East from whence come the sunrise, the dawn and new beginnings. May this gift of the wind remind you of your creative power to shape your own new beginnings as you pass through the gateway of childhood to walk the path of emerging adulthood. Love and blessings to you, now and forever.” She hands them each a feather, then points to the masked woman at North, who steps forward. East steps back.
The maidens walk around the quarter to her, and she reads:
“Greetings to you, young women. I am the North from whence comes the fiery warmth that causes what is sown and moistened, to ripen. May this gift of the fire assist you in remembering your own fiery ability to bring to fruition that which you sow. Love and blessings to you, now and forever.” She hands them each a pretty unlit scented or coloured tealight candle, then points to the masked woman at West, who steps forward. North steps back.
The maidens walk around the quarter to her and she reads:
“Greetings to you, young women. I am the West from whence comes the rain to water the seeds within our Mother, making her fruitful. May this gift of water remind you that from the sea comes life. All life requires your respect and protection. Love and blessings to you, now and forever.” She hands them each a sea shell, then points to the masked woman at South, who steps forward. West steps back.
The maidens walk around the quarter to her and she reads:
“Greetings to you, young women. I am the South from whence comes the cold and snow that forces us to retreat and rest, allowing us to go deep within. May this gift of the earth remind you of the mystery and power of your own inner journey as you sit in silence listening to the wisdom of the voice within. Love and blessings to you, now and forever.” She hands them each a stone, then points towards the masked woman at Spirit by the altar. South steps back.
The maidens return to where they started from and face the altar and Spirit, who reads:
“Greetings to you, young women. I am Spirit- the centre, the inner core, the kernel of life that is unique within you. I will bring you your psychic self. I will bring you the Goddess and the God. Here is a gift freely given…a picture of the Great Goddess…she of a thousand names…She who is. “
She holds up a mirror covered in cloth. The maidens lift the cloth and look into the mirror. HP continues,
“As you look at your own reflection, know this. Your gift from Spirit is that You are the Goddess, the Goddess is you. Treat yourself with love and respect and honour, for You deserve no less.”
Spirit takes down the mirror, and goes to join the rest of the ladies sitting around the circle. The other 4 masked ladies sit too. HP continues, and tells the maidens that they have another task to perform. HP turns to the altar and indicates the burning candle.
“You are back where you begun this passage, but richer in blessings, and wisdom. You are no longer a child. You are Moon Maidens, Warriors, Women, and you begin the path that will take you to adulthood. Remember always that Thou art Goddess. Remember also the joy in childhood, and never let childhood be so far behind that you cannot turn easily to regain a laugh or play a game. Now, as your first act on your new path, blow out the candle and send your dreams out to the universe.” The maidens blow out the candle together. HP continues: “So mote it be!”
“I now read a passage from the Aradia Charge:
And I have sung the song of the sea. And I have listened to the sighing of the wind; I have heard the hidden secrets of the Sun, And I have drunk of the tears of the Moon, I have seen the beauty of the dawn, And the sorrow of the sunset, I have lain ‘neath the darkest dark of the night,And I have beheld the might of the mountains.
For I am stronger than the sea, And freer than the wind. I am brighter than the Sun, And more changing than the Moon. I am the hope of the dawn, And the peace of the sunset. I am more mysterious than night, And older than the mountains… Older than time itself. For I am she who was…Who is….And who will be”
HP turns to the guests and says “Sisters in womanhood, I present to you these two young woman, children no more! Please come forward and welcome them!”
Guests come forward and take turns hugging the maidens, congratulating them etc. (you might all sing a little of the “We all come from the Goddess” in the background during this part if so desired). HP quietly walk around the circle and thanks the quarters, spirit and creator for joining us, and opens the circle. Pick up some flowers or petals and throw them over the maidens, encourage others to do the same while you all hug them and laugh and congratulate. You can then open the wine/champagne and pour a small cup for every-one there and hand out. All can then sit down, spread out, sip of wine/ champagne and chat. As HP has opened the circle, people are free to get up and move in and out of the circle at will, as some will do as soon as drinks are poured to pop to the loo etc, that’s why I recommend I do it at that point. When the wine/champagne is finished you can tell every-one to get out their snacks and drinks and let the feasting begin.