Rites of Passage


My son Isaac (Izzy) turned 7 in February.  We had the usual birthday celebration with friends and family and a rainbow cake.  On the morning of his 7th birthday I looked him in the eye over breakfast and explained to the three children present that 7 was a very special birthday.  At age 7 he was no longer a baby, or infant, but he was a proper boy.

“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man”-  Aristotle, The Philosophy of Aristotle.

In Piaget’s famous theory of Cognitive Development age 7 represents a new phase, and it is thought the chakras have reached a certain level of development by this stage.

In Isaac’s case, it is clear to me something has changed.  He is definitely interested in spending more time with Lance, he just finished reading his first real book (368 pages!), and there is a stronger sense of his own self.

I feel Western culture lacks somewhat in the meaningful celebration of rites of passage before getting married.  For most there is no celebration of womanhood / manhood in the teenage years, or sense of becoming a recognised adult at 18.  I think rites of passage for a person can help with honouring the self and gifting the self with more responsibility in the family and society, so it is important that the group offers that extra responsibility.

To mark the occasion of Isaac’s 7th birthday we were keen to do something with the tone of a rite of passage, so we organised for the three of us to go walking in the Royal National Park, without his younger sister.  This was perfect as we often talk about preparing to go trekking in Nepal and is something as a family we are working towards.  On the day he insisted on carrying his own bag, although we offered to carry his food and water, he refused.  He made his own lunch (for the first time ever, without me asking him to do it), packed two toys and his water.

We set off into the bush mostly downhill. He was collecting things as he went and popping them in his bag.  We stopped several times for food and rest.  It was a beautiful day and he felt excited to be doing something special with us.  After 4 hours in the forest and beach it was time to climb the hill.  It was tough and half way up he sat down feeling tired, thirsty and a bit emotional.  This is the transition period in a rite of passage, where the baby in him would want to be carried, or just stop.  He pushed though it quickly, with a drink and encouragement from Lance.  He drew on his strength and practically raced me to the top with his bag on!

He had such a wonderful sense of achievement at the end, that we can only get from facing something difficult and drawing on our inner strength to overcome it.

Below is a link I found which talks about different male rites of passage.  Something to think about.