Rites Of Passage – Childbirth Rituals

Introduction

A rite of passage refers to a ceremony that marks the transition from one phase of life to the other. Although, it usually describesthe tumultuous transition from the stage of adolescence to adulthood, it refers to any of the life’s transitions (Births and Beginnings, Partnerings, Initiations, and Endings or Death). The designing of the experiences from the rites of passage work in assuring that initiates emerge from the experience with a newly empowering story, which helps them, be able to take responsibility for the decisions that set the course of their future. The initiates find who they are and the kind of life they wish to build basedon their own exploration of personal values(Arnett, 2014). The individuals find the extent to which they connect to their community. The self-exploration as one gets through a process of rite of passage makes one develop a stronger sense of personal responsibility to every aspect of their lives and the larger world which they are part of (Blumenkrantz, 2009).

This research paper looks at the ritual of childbirth as an event in one’s life cycle and acknowledged across cultures to be an important rite of passage. The customs and traditions that circumnavigate the birth events can be complex and elaborative. This is due to the fact that the ritual of childbirth is celebrated variedly across regions and countries and with different ethnic and religious groups(Scott, 2011). The childbirth ritual is examined in this paper within the context of the three criteria for the rite of passage:

Separation Phase

This first stage entails the initial event and the following consequences. The stage of separation means that an individual is taken out of, or rather from their normal daily existence or routine. The ritual of childbirth encompasses a process of bringing forth or bearing offspring. Such changes in life catapult the infant into an entirely new way of life by separating him/her previous way of living a fetus to being a baby.

Transition Phase

This stage marks the time spent confused, or lost, or in denial, “sometimes in despair”, or even “wandering in darkness.” At a point in this stage, one begins to find ways of adjusting to the darkness by finding coping mechanisms. The transitional stage brings awareness and one begins to find treasure. Childbirth brings this treasure as the infant comes to awakening consciousness, discovers meaning and value of life. He/she discover new and infinitely better ways to live and of being (Scott, 2011). Gradually, life starts to reveal its concealed mysteries, and one discovers new joy and purpose in life.

Incorporation Phase

At this last stage of the rites of passage, we integrate the new knowledge gained into our lives. A person incorporates what he/she has learnt as part of who he/she is now. The stage encompasses application of the lessons learnt in the first and second phases (Arnett, 2014). It is a time of re-emerging. At this point, it said that one has received the message and has passed through this particular rite of passage; childbirth, into a new way of being. Thereafter, life continues to present to the individual and us in totality as the human race, more and more such initiations.

Conclusion

Any rite of passage entails filling the voidthrough acquisition of power and knowledge, affirmation and rebirth. With the re-gaining of the knowledge of ancestors or receiving the vision of a spiritual guardian, the individual returns to the ordinary world where his/her self is re-defined, with a new status.


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