Individuals who choose to mark life’s transitions with a rite of passage through ceremony and ritual are following in the footsteps of our ancestors.
The significant difference today, as compared to our ancestor’s day, is that there is a lack of elders. The wise women and men, who guided the community in ritual, who reassured the one crossing over to a new status by explaining their new roles, guiding and empowering them have been disappearing from our communities.
Elderhood is not a rite of age. It is earned through a lifetime of falling down and getting up. Elderhood is a rite of surviving the the journey of hard-won knowledge, experience, pain and joy of a long life and having been changed by it. I have experienced significant struggles that have transformed me because I did not linger. I came out the other side, changed. It was a slow realization for me that all those years of building up my ego are over, that now it is time to break down my walls, take that lifetime of knowledge, experience, pain and joy and impart the wisdom gained by giving back to the community in guidance, service and love. I so wish that there was a way that I could have been recognized, a way my community could have assisted me wisely across that threshold, with drums, song and cries. I am spiritually and emotionally renewed; I am changed, but I crawled to the realization of it instead of being carried joyfully by my people into it.
As a person called to the path of Celebrancy, I see the profound meaning in life’s transitions, the underlying human need to mark with celebration, to call out and cry, “Look, now! I am newly awakened! A change has come! See me now!”
If after that long journey in the belly of the beast you have triumphed, made it to the other side of life and feel that within you a fundamental shift in your deepest soul has occurred then reach out a hand for help in crossing your threshold, mark your significance and incorporation into the community as the wise and valuable person you have become. Celebrate this rite of passage into Elderhood. Claim you role as Elder and let me help you call out and cry, “Look, now! I am newly awakened! A change has come! See me now!”
“An elder Abkhasian woman who was famous for knowing many curses was asked what was the most terrifying curse than can be placed on a human being. Her answer, ‘Let there be no old folks in your house to give you wise counsel, and no young people to heed their advice.” – John Robbins, Healthy at 100