In my interview with Rachel Hart, we talk about the coming of age ceremony, or 13th birthday “rite of passage,” she planned for her daughter. She was inspired by the blessingways she holds for moms-to-be in her midwifery practice.
“Turning 13 is a rite of passage from childhood into adolescence,” Rachel said. “Our society doesn’t honor that in any way. I know so many people whose mothers never even spoke to them about getting their period.”
While some celebrate getting their period, many girls wouldn’t want the extra attention that would bring and want to keep that moment private, so the 13th birthday just makes sense.
Rachel is just as passionate about this topic as I am. We both believe that this is something that should be honored and celebrated. And we want to put these ideas out there for all of you in hopes that you will also start this tradition with your girls. Rachel has graciously written out for us all the details of her daughter’s ceremony, and provided a few pictures.
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Disclaimer- None of this is my original idea. I was simply playing on other traditional ceremonies, especially the blessing ceremony we offer to our moms around 36 weeks of pregnancy to celebrate and honor the holy vessels women are and the transition they will experience through labor and motherhood.
I wanted her 13th birthday to be a celebration of her transitioning into womanhood, without the potential humiliation of lots of attention surrounding the start of her period, so I chose the 13th birthday as the time to do it. I invited four of her friends and their mothers. I wanted her to feel beautiful and special and surrounded by women and friends who love her. The attention to detail as far as aesthetics was just as important. What woman doesn’t like feeling beautiful and being surrounded by beauty?
- I ordered flower bouquets of assorted daisies and roses for the mothers. I had flower wreaths for the girls’ hair.
- I planned a dinner for after the ceremony.
- I had matching silver bracelets with each girl’s birthstone on it, and matching bracelets for the moms with their birthstones as well.
- I decorated the walls with pictures of Hannah from birth to 12 years and hung them in the shape of hearts.
- I printed around 30 woman-inspiring quotes and pictures to remind the girls how unique and important and capable they all are.
- For the ceremony I used a white blanket on the floor with places set with the wreaths, bouquets, and candles all around the blanket and room, so the only light was candlelight.
- I asked the guests to bring a gift of love, something handmade, or something special they wanted to tell Hannah.
- We all gathered in a circle on the blanket, moms next to their daughters. I explained what the purpose of the ceremony was and we passed a smudge stick around the circle to clear the energy and prepare ourselves to be fully present with the experience.
- I dabbed a little lavender essential oil on her forehead and held her hand while I said a prayer. Any beautiful scent is ok. It’s just to add to the beauty of the experience. The prayer I recited is the same that we say to our moms during their blessing ceremony. “Full Name”, On the day you were born, God lifted you up and said, “Behold, all you on Earth, into your midst has come this new life. Born of God, Child of the Universe, all creation celebrates the gift of you.”
- Next, we honor all the women who have come before us and offer our blessings, so each person lit a candle and said, “I am “Full Name”, granddaughter of …“Full Name”, daughter of…, mother of…, and we offer you our blessings.” The person who receives the blessing says the same, except she finishes with, “and I receive your blessings.”
- The guests offered their gifts of love. Someone made Hannah a collage of different times they had spent together, for example.
- I also had family members and her 5th grade teacher, who was such a blessing, write letters to Hannah that the guests took turns reading. These were letters of encouragement for her teenage years and their wishes for her in the future.
- We cut out the circle of women poem “Woven” (see below), and after each person read, we would say, “The circle is never broken”, to signify the bond we have as women past, present, and future. Then we gifted each guest with their bracelets and closed with a prayer of gratitude that was just made up on the fly.
(Each person reads a line at a time.)
As women have always woven, so we weave this ribbon into the circle of our lives.
As women have always woven the time and the fates, so we weave this ribbon into the circle of our lives.
As women have always woven the seeds with the earth, so we weave this ribbon into the circle of our lives.
As women have always woven baskets and tools, so we weave this ribbon into the circle of our lives.
As women have always woven threads into clothing and shelter, so we weave this ribbon into the circle of our lives.
As women have always woven words into poetry and songs, so we weave this ribbon into the circle of our lives.
As women have always woven, so we weave this ribbon with the Goddess who is with us. The Goddess is with us. May we feel her presence in our daily lives.
We call on the Goddess whose body we see and feel reflected in our bodies.
We call on the Goddess whose blood, like our blood, flows with the cycles of the universe.
We call on the Goddess whose circle is never broken, whose circle we are a part of wherever we go.
Today we do not break this circle but each of us carries part of it into the world.
The circle is never broken.
(Repeated as a group after each line is read.)
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THANK YOU, RACHEL! For all these ideas and resources. Please, reader, take these and be inspired. Honor your daughters and please share the experience and your own ideas and resources with us here in the comments.