Last week I was asked to do a Naming Ceremony, one of those lovely, approachable and inclusive Pagan events. Rather than being for an infant the ceremony was at the request of a young woman. She asked me be Priest for the rite which was perhaps closer to a Confirmation (in the Christian tradition) than anything else.
For these kinds of things I like to have a sense of the movements, the key acts within the ritual, and rarely do I use any written script. I asked Mum if she would tell us all (there were about 40 people at the ceremony) what name she had chosen for her daughter. Then I was able to ask (since she wasn’t a baby) if her daughter would accept her name (she did).
After a blessing with the four elements I asked the younger brother of the girl being named to come forward. I reminded her that one day she too would be an ancestor, would be the care giver to others (even as she cared for her brother as his older sibling) and perhaps one day (like the people standing around her) she would be parent or guardian to a child of her own.
Travelling to the other side of the island as couple of days later with my children I was able to spend some time with my parents. I was struck by how my Dad, although still a very lively man, is getting old (he’s 75). In the light of my own words at the Naming ceremony I became deeply aware that it is quite probable that in a few years time he will become one of the Ancestors (with a capital ‘A’) and I will become the oldest male in my immediate family.
These realisations dawn on me, on us, and so we feel ourselves as part of the flow of existence. As I’ve started work with the Chaos Wheel of the Year model (see HERE) I’ve been linking this process with the phase between Midsummer (yellow magic) and Lammas (red magic). In this system we (that is me and Frater Pelagius) have been exploring the idea that each of the eight sectors of the Wheel relate to a phase of life. Midsummer to Lammas relates to the period from our 40’s until our 50’s. During this phase we find ourselves fully mature and part of this maturity is about the cutting down (the red magick process) of our parents. They fall like the Lammas grain, they are harvested into the Ancestral realm.
When we are babies we are born into the on-going play of life. Gradually we pick up the script, start to improvise our own lines. When our parents leave the stage responsibility to continue the script (and of course a new phase in our power to amend it) falls to us.
In practice this point on the wheel reminds us (whatever age we are) to be mindful of the process where we must separate ourselves from others, from our parents (when we are born, when we are named, and when they die). It also reminds us that this separation isn’t about rejection but is a necessary condition to transformation. The song of John Barleycorn expresses this beautifully, where the violent assaulting of little Sir John by the farmer, the miller, the brewer is essential for his transformation into ‘the strongest man at last’.
Listen to Damh the Bard’s version of this classic HERE
So here’s to separation as a process which is essential to our transformation as magicians, as individuals. Not rigid isolation but a flow which is punctuated by moments of revelation and renewal.