by Caroline Ziel
“I ring the bell
So we can tell
The story of her passage”.
The incantation began.
Leelee was a thirteen year old young lady who had just started her “first blood”. Night was unfolding around us and our circle of women stood in the shadows of a cold Saturday evening. We had come to honor this passage. We were eleven women. Some of us had already passed into being crones. Others were still of childbearing age. She stood in our midst and we asked her: “Are you ready? Are you really ready?”
We wanted her to know in the cells of her being that monthly bleeding wasn’t just about cramps and tampons and the need for protected sex. It was about being fertile for all of life–it was about possiblities. One by one we reminded her who she was:
“Leelee, you are creative. Leelee, you are spunky. Leelee, you are helpful and kind and caring. You paint and dance with abandon.”
We wanted her to be firmly rooted in the splendid reality of who she is so that she can blossom into all that she can be.
l rang the bell again and asked her if she was ready to move into maidenhood. She said “yes” and her grandmother walked her out to prepare her for the passage.
Later, one by one, we asked her to remember: “Your body is an altar. Remember that it is sacred. How you live your life is an act of worship. Your words have power. Bring light into a world that sometimes seems dark. Be the light in your own world.”
We then made an arc for her to pass through. Our arms stretched across her and we joined hands, remembering pieces of our own journey into maidenhood, into womanhood, into cronehood.
Later that evening we pondered the importance of having community, of being community. It’s so easy to get lost in the demands of the day and to become isolated with life’s expectations. What Leelee helped us learn that night was not only that we need to honor our passages, but that we needed to continue to extend to each other the hand of remembering. We need to hold each other in the light and remember to be the light in our own lives. We need to remind ourselves that our own lives are sacred and to find a way to renew that awareness day by day.
Caroline has been a delighted member of SCN for three years, and a member of Writing Circle 6 for all of that time. She is a gardener, grandmother, and goddess centered woman who is grateful to have the support of this circle.