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29 April 2008

Coming of age as a pagan

How pagans guide their children through the pitfalls of adolescence

By Lady SpringWolf

Just about all cultures and religions once recognized the time when a child moves into adulthood.
Some religions still honour the Coming of Age as a special time. But in our modern hurry up society, this remarkable event often gets over looked. We really disrespect our children by ignoring this time of their life.

Of course the big question is, when does a child become an adult. Some cultures believe the magical age occurs at puberty. Others set a common age at 13. To pagans, 13 is seen as the number of transition or change. Here the “1” represents an individual person stepping onto the divine path of the “3” Goddesses. To others it takes on a more numerological meaning. fNumerology adds all numbers together until there is only one, (1+3=4); four being a number of wholeness or the full circle of life.

The Coming Of Age rite is a confirmation of faith. If a young adult has chosen to follow the pagan path, they are accepted into the Coven or Clan. The Coven will conduct a rite for the young adult to dedicate themselves to the beliefs and principles of the pagan life and are welcomed into the coven as practicing members. During this rite the child chooses their identity within the Coven family by announcing their magikal name. The name they will be known as within the circle, to fellow members and to the GreatSpirits. If they were born into a family of Pagans, they may have gone through a Paganing, which is the pagan equivalent of a Christening. At that time their parents may have given them a magikal name. Now the young adult can retain that magikal name or chose a new one that has more meaning for them.

For girls, Coming of Age can be an embarrassing time. Often it’s something to be hidden, spoken about in hushed tones giving a young girl the feeling of shame. But during the old days, this was a celebration of life. Many pagan mothers are trying to bring back some of the old customs which celebrate this coming into womanhood. In this way, menstruation becomes a time of female energy, empowerment, a vital time for cleansing, rest and visioning.

The old tradition of ‘The Moon Lodge’ celebrates this view. This is a society of adult females who celebrate the Goddess within. It is a place where a young woman can learn about the balance of feminine energy and her own masculine energy within. She learns about honesty, self respect, her own empowerment and creativity with the support and guidance of her fellow sisters. Helping her to reclaim her power as a woman after centuries of repression.

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Similar to the Moon Lodge concept for women, is the Sun Lodge for Men. Entry into the Sun Lodge typically begins with a night of camping and a ceremony of drumming to call up the God energy within. It’s also a place for a young man to learn about his own balance and the energies of the Goddess within himself. Allowing men to reclaim their own feelings, emotions, nurturing and intuition that have been repressed by society for centuries.

In both of these lodge societies, young adults are educated about responsibility and accountability.
They are informed about the dangers and use of alcohol, drugs, driving, and sexuality. They find guidance, support and life long friendships through their Sisterhood or Brotherhood associations.

There is also a spiritual side to these gatherings as well. Young adults are guided in the ways to align their personal energies with the deities of their gender. To communicate with their chosen deities and how they can pull the energy of the Divine into their daily lives.

Becoming an adult in modern society doesn’t have to be something that’s feared or repressed. By openly communicating with their children, parents can build strong bonds of mutual trust and respect from early ages and into adulthood. By doing this parents are prepared to recognize the signs of maturity and can provide opportunities for their child to take on more responsibility. This allows both sides to enjoy this time of life and revel in celebrations for the Coming of Age.