When do we become men? When do we stop being boys and officially cross the threshold into manhood? For ages many cultures tell their children when its time. For hundreds of years indigenous cultures have practiced puberty rites of passage, often marked by some test of character or endurance, some feat which earns them the right to cross the threshold and join their peers in adulthood.
America has a culture, has lost these rites. Forcing our youth to create their own rites of passage. Loosing virginity, joining a gang, committing their first crime or first visit to prison. A point sharpened by the admissions of several inmates I minister to is that they're in prison because they were trying to prove they were men.
I submit the absence of these rites contributes the to decline of western civilization.
Our "Book of Shadows" teaches the observance of our Sabbats and Esbats throughout wheel of the year, but it also contains our rites of passage.
Several months ago at one of our ceremonies, my oldest son was handed a weapon. He reached out and grasped it with both hands and as we held it together we recited this catechism:
Q: What is this?
A: A weapon.
Q: What do weapons do?
Q:Why do we kill?
A: Only to feed and protect our own.
Q:Do you swear to feed and protect us with honor.
A: I so swear.
We recited this catechism every time he held his weapon and we practiced and trained until winter came. This summer he was handed a different weapon, one that's more focused on the "feeding portion of his oath."
It wasn't easy, the current was strong but that's where the fish are. Its difficult enough to swim in the cold flowing waters, the six foot spear made it more awkward. He swam over an hour before the perfect opportunity presented itself. He slipped under the water quietly and glided silently towards his first fish, he waited until the fish turned sideways showing his full side. The tri-tipped spearhead shot straight through the midsection and into the earth below. He leaned in holding the spear down as the fish flailed to free itself, his lungs burning he stayed beneath the surface until the fish gave up.
He finally came bursting out of the water gasping for air, holding the still impaled fish over his head, as he made his way back to shore. He cleaned it the way he was taught, never hesitating. When we returned home later, he presented his mother the meat from his first hunt. She was so proud. Tomorrow we'll go to Grandmas to cut the firewood for the coming ceremony, his rite of passage. I don't know which one of us is more proud.
Thank you Lord and Lady for such a powerful fish, blessed be.