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
Location: A wooded remote area or camping site.
- 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.
- 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
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
Description: a mature man who is around 40+ years old, the God at the
apex of his power
Priest 4: The Grandfather/Sage:
Just past puberty if possible, very youthful yet having past being a
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
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 boy is led by his Father who will carry a lamp to light his and his
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 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
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.
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 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.
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.