Sample Ritual for Coming-of-Age

We don't yet have a clear consensus identifying the threshold into adulthood. Here is a ritual based on one possibility, and on the assumption that the candidate is on relatively good terms with his or her parents. The theme of the ritual is changing the parent/child relationship from one of dependency to one of loving equality.

If the Candidate is establishing an independent household, that's where the Circle takes place. In any case, use the Candidate's own things on the altar, as much as possible. All consumables — ritual food and beverage, candles, incense, etc. should be provided by the Candidate, and all should be the best the Candidate can afford. Anything the Candidate has the skill to personally make should be the Candidate's own work.

The Candidate should also provide gifts for her or his parents, something small but very nice, and requiring thought and care in its selection, home-made if at all possible.

Others present should be relatives representing both generations of this family, and close friends of both generations.

Creating sacred space

Circle is cast by Candidate's primary lover or best friend. Guests may be in Circle as it is being cast or enter later, depending on local custom, but Candidate and parents wait outside. Officiant may explain to guests that they are gathered to bear witness as Candidate assumes the full powers and responsibilities of an adult. At a prearranged signal, e.g. the sound of a bell, Candidate and parents approach the Circle.

Officiant greets them at perimeter of Circle, asks them what they seek.

Parents (either one): We bring our child, who is ready today to become an adult.

Officiant: You have long watched over this child. Are you now ready to release him/her from the constraints and the protections of childhood?

Parents: (answer in own words)

If the answer is affirmative, the Officiant cuts a gate in the Circle and invites the Parents and the Candidate in.

Officiant (to Candidate): Before you can be ready to leave your parents’ protection, give thanks to them for bringing you to this point.

Candidate thanks Parents in own words and in specifics for their material and emotional support throughout childhood and adolescence.

Parents acknowledge thanks, offer any final words of advice

Officiant: (to Candidate) From this day forward, are you ready, willing and able to meet your own material needs in this world by the work of your own hands and mind?

Candidate: (respond in own words)

If Candidate will continue to live in parents’ home, use this portion of the rite:

Officiant: (to Candidate) Will you become a full partner now in this household, assuming a full partner's share of the expenses and the work of this home?

Candidate: (respond in own words)

Officiant: (to parents) Will you accept (Candidate's name) as a full partner in this household, allowing him/her a full partner's share in the making of decisions.

Parents: (respond in own words)

Officiant: Although a child may grow to adulthood and claim her/his independence, the love bonds of a family are lifelong.

The questions

The following questions are addressed by Officiant to Parents and Candidate:

Will you share your resources in the event of emergency or incapacity?

Will you share your insight and wisdom as requested?

Will you thoughtfully consider what insight and wisdom s/he offers you?

Will you continue to have fun together?

(other commitments may be added by mutual agreement in advance of the ritual. For this ritual, we strongly suggest that only mutual commitments be made.)

Follow this portion of the rite with the performance of appropriate poetry or music (perhaps George Gershwin’s Summertime from Porgy and Bess) - or any of the guests may be moved to say something

The blessing

Officiant: Parents, will you now give your blessing to the new adult?

Parents: (both give blessing to the Candidate  in their own words)

Officiant begins talking stick round, encouraging blessing or good wish from all in Circle, then ends with: May there ever be friendship and love between you. (Candidate's name), I give you charge of this Circle and wish you all good things!

The collegial feast

Candidate blesses and shares food with the people. When all are comfortably seated and eating, the Candidate present gifts to the Parents with an explanation of why each one was chosen.

When the time seems right, the Candidate closes Circle.

Return to Chapter Three -- Applications