What types of rituals do you incorporate in your life cycle events?
I really don’t like the way I phrased this question. I think it should say something like, “tell us about pagan ritual for life cycle events” or something like that. Oh well. You can incorporate pagan ritual into any life cycle event, and there are lots of people out there that have written beautiful rituals for those occasions. But honestly, there’s not one way to do any of those events. There’s not standard book of ritual that all pagans refer to when planning a wedding or preparing for a funeral. That can be freeing, because you get to be creative and incorporate your faith in whatever way you see fit without feeling so much pressure to do it “the traditional way”. Because there really is no traditional way in modern paganism. The elaborate rituals that we imagine our ancestors doing thousands of years ago are mostly lost, so most of what we do is new. That’s not to say that there are not rituals out there that have stood the test of time, that we still use today. I’m just saying that there are more opportunities to be creative. Whatever. What do I know?
I’ve had few life cycle events happen to me since I’ve become pagan. Kourtney and I did incorporate handfasting in our wedding ceremony when we got married, which as I mentioned before was mostly her idea. But that’s not the only pagan wedding ritual out there. Now that we’re married I’ve been thinking a lot about future life cycle events like pregnancy, childbirth, welcoming new life into the community and then even farther down the road, puberty/coming of age. And of course, eventually death. There are thousands of ways to honor, celebrate and/or recognize these major events in our lives. The problem for me that I’m just not that creative! I actually prefer having just a few options to choose from, and tweaking anything that I just can’t handle as is. I can appreciate having standardized traditions and rituals for this reason– for me it’s not about everyone doing things the same way, it’s kind of about using time-tested ritual. Not having to try to create something brand new. Having something pre-made can be like a lifeboat in a sea of chaos for people going through a major life event. I mean, have you ever planned a wedding? I have. It was madness. I can’t really imagine being pregnant, trying to plan a naming ceremony from scratch at the same time I’m trying to learn all about how to be a good parent and take care of a helpless human.
All this to say that, I think it can be hard sometimes as a pagan to not have a standard way of doing things. Ultimately it’s worth it, because you create things that are incredibly meaningful and tailored to fit your own spiritual needs. But sometimes the time tested stuff is just as fulfilling. This post doesn’t have any ritual examples, or tips for what to celebrate and when– you’ll have to go elsewhere for that. But lucky for you (and me), there are lots of people out there who are diligently creating meaningful ritual for those of us that maybe aren’t as creative, or don’t have the energy to devote to crafting a ritual right just now.