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Coming of Age Ritual: From Boyhood to Manhood
By Malakus, Nov 03, 2003

Over the past weekend during an emotional upheaval I "Birthed" the concept for the ritual. This ritual is a coming of age ritual for a young man. It will probably be performed around the age of 12-16. The tone of the ritual should match the boys nature and needs to guide him into manhood.

Location: A wooded remote area or camping site.

Supplies needed:

  • A guide lantern
  • Deer hide lion cloth
  • A cloak if the weather is cold
  • Veil or face covering
    This represents the passing between the worlds, the thin veil that stands between boyhood and manhood. It should obscure vision but allow the boy to either see his feet or to see vague figures as they approach.
  • Bonfire
  • Staves and masks for each archetype
  • Gifts from each archetype and male participant
  • Representation of childhood from the boy/man to give up.

The Archetypes: All the archetypes are wearing masks and holding staves that are indicative of their nature.

Priest 1: The New Man
Invoke Loki
Mask: face of the fox
Description: Just past puberty if possible, very youthful yet having past being a boy

Priest 2: The Father
Invoke the Green Man
Mask: made of leaves
Description: If possible a father of an infant or young child.

Priest 3: The King
Invoke Herne
Mask: horned
Description: a mature man who is around 40+ years old, the God at the apex of his power

Priest 4: The Grandfather/Sage:
Invoke Magus
Just past puberty if possible, very youthful yet having past being a boy
a black mask which entirely covers his face
Description: a mature man who is around 60+ years old.

The Great Mother
She is never fully seen by the boy/man only heard or seen through the veil.
Description: A mature woman with a strong yet kindly voice.

Beginning: The Mother Grove
The boy who is entering into Manhood is abducted from the encampment where he is staying. The women of his Mother Grove try to “fight” the men off from abducting the boy. This fight is not intended to cause anxiety in the youth. Reassurance should be given by his Father who leads the group and takes the boy with them. When the skirmish is over and the boy is taken off by the group of men the women mourn the loss of the child.

The boy is stripped of his clothing and dressed in a deer hide loin cloth. He has a veil placed over his head – it is difficult to see through but not impossible. Now his journey begins.

The Journey
The boy is led by his Father who will carry a lamp to light his and his son's way.

First Stop: Loki/Rainbow Dancer
At the first prescribed stop the Father and boy will meet Loki/Rainbow Dancer.. Loki speaks to the boy of his dreams, wishes and hope He informs the boy that these are necessary even as a man. That he should not give them up but allow them to mature as he matures. Loki tells the boy that they will meet at the appointed place in the appointed hour. Loki guides the Father and son on to their path and turns his back on them to go back down the path from where they came. Possibly whistling (?)

Second Stop: The Green Man
At the second stop the Father and boy will meet the Green Man. He represents the boy's earthy nature. He is the boy sexual responsibility as a carrier of sacred seed which is necessary to begin life. That he must act intelligently when it comes to the act of procreation. The Green Man as tells the boy that they will meet in the appointed placed at the appointed hour. The Green Man stands in silence as the Father and boy leave.

Third Stop: Herne
At the third stop the boy is addressed by Herne who speaks to the boy of his wild nature, what it is like to be the hunter and the hunted. He will charge the boy with the responsibilities of becoming a man through Him. He will then tell the boy that He will meet him at the appointed place in the appointed hour. Never revealing when and where that is. Herne withdraws into the woods as the Father and son take up their journey again.

Fourth Stop: Magus
The Father and son continue there journey until they reach the last stop on their journey. Here they meet the Magus who is robed in black and whose face is hidden. The Magus speaks to the boy of his inner true self, his highest ideals, his magical self. He symbolizes Divine Wisdom. When he is finished speaking he tells the boy that they will meet at the appointed place in the appointed hour.

The Gathering
The journey is now completed. The Father and Sin approach the gateway of the ritual. Prior to the ritual itself the boy was asked to select something that symbolizes his childhood and prepare to part with it. (When the boy is abducted those who abduct him must be sure to acquire this childhood symbol to be given to the Father to take on the journey.) At the gateway the Father will stop the boy and inform him that he must now give up this childhood symbol in order to enter into the world of men. The boy must surrender the symbol before the rite can continue. The symbol is left at the gateway.
The boy enters sacred space where the men are sitting or standing in front of a bon fire chanting. "hand to a hand, brother to brother, life to life."

The circle opens to joyfully admit the Father and boy. The boy, still veiled, is placed before the balefire facing the gateway through which he just entered. Four men at various stages of the lives serve as Priests.

The Claiming
Herne approaches to claim the boy as a man. Just as he begins he is interrupted by the final archetype; the Great Mother. She speaks to the boy of his union with her and to truly become a man he must understand her magics as well. Herne and the Great Mother will debate over who this boy/man belongs to. The Great Mother informs Herne that the boy/man belongs to Her. Herne informs Her that She was there at his conception and birth and that She will have him in death but now the boy/man belongs to Him. Finally the Grandfather wins her over by saying that though men belong to him during life that they serve the Goddess as protector and companion. She accepts this, blesses the new man, gives him charge, and departs.

The Spirit Brother holds his staff with a deer hoof end over the boy's heart while Herne claims him as his. During the claiming the boy's veil is removed and the boy/man will see Herne for the first time with his hoof on his chest over his heart.

Heren may now give the new man a gift that represents his archetype. He may speak further to the boy of his mysteries.
In turn each of the other three archetypes enter the circle from a dark corner outside where they have been waiting. Each may speak further to the boy of his mystery and present the boy with a "gift" which will enable the boy to commune with the archetype in times of trial in his life as a man. Each claim him as a man.

After the claiming is finished four members of the circle approach the boy/man for the anointing. While the anointing is being done the four archetypes leave and return dressed as they wish.

The boy is taken to his Father who is the first greet the boy/man now as a fellow man and a guardian of the male mysteries. The Father takes the newly made man to the North quarter where the Great Mother will speak to the newly made man bestowing Her gift to him. When the Great Mother speaks She is not seen only heard as if Her voice were being carried on the wind.

The newly made man is taken to each man in turn in the circle who gives a gift representing some aspect of wisdom that they have learned of life and wish to pass on to the man before them.

When all have granted their gift the newly made man is asked to bestow his blessing upon a horn of ale which symbolized the cup of brotherhood of all peoples. The cup is shared with all in the circle and symbolizes the universality of men.

Ending
End with a simple feast held where the ritual has been. More cups are filled, stories share in the spirit of brotherhood. As the night wears on towards dawn the newly made is left to himself, the balefire and the night. He returns to the campsite from which he was abducted no longer a child but now a man with all the responsibilities of a man.

 


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