Rites acknowledge the movement from one phase in life to the next in an intentional, ceremonial and communal way. Rites have been, and still are practiced in widely diverse cultures of the world and serve as a form of cultural cohesion and individual and collective renewal. Rites are an innate part of being human.
There are three stages to many rites of initiation or passage. The first is separation and in this stage leaving the familiar is acknowledged. This is an ending time, a time of loss which often brings grief. The second phase is the threshold or initiation time. This is the in-between time where we are no longer in a familiar state or place, and have not entered the new. The final stage is return or re-incorporation. This is the phase, where we step into our new purpose or vision and the beginning of when we integrate our new way of being.
Traditionally, rites of initiation ceremonies were experienced in wild nature with the support of community. There are cultures today where earth based rites are still enacted as part of ordinary life. In other modern cultures, these rites such as vision fasts and vision quests may not be as commonplace, but can be experienced with the support of community. The intention remains the same – as an initiation into full human maturity and as a questing for our soul’s purpose.