Sometime in March of this year, a friend of mine came over for dinner to talk about his break-up. And, of course I was reminded about my own break-ups (both peaceful and not-so-peaceful, depending), my parent’s messy divorce, and my mother’s quite harmonious second marriage. A slurry of possible outcomes and scenarios of relationships swirled through my head. At this point in my life, it is clear that match-making has no rhyme or reason. Why is that?
Being at a loss of advice or words for my friend, I went for the reserves. I remembered a journal entry I made while reading Jessica Prentice’s book called “Full Moon Feast”. She quoted a particular teacher, Martin Prechtel:
…his words were on the Tzutujil Mayan culture about how two people become prepared for an intimate relationship:
“…ornate ritual that turned boys into men — a process that took many moons. The rite served to wean the boy from his earthly mother, but in the process he was married to the Earth Mother. As the young men went through the ritual, it was crucial that they brought their emotions close to the surface: they wept and wept for life…”
“…only an initiated man or Acha could marry a woman and not be miserable and disappointed…it was the same for girls, since the husband of an uninitiated women would have to be a God or he would be trivialized and discarded as a failure, or, worse yet, start believing that he was one!”
“…when his hallow-ness had been filled with the small goddess of his own heart, then when he married a woman, she could see that he could see her seeing him seeing her, and both looking at the little piece of God and Goddess that resided in the others’ “Heart Throne” and they were free to love each other properly, as themselves. Having understood and risked one’s life for the delicate survival of the divine, one would not readily or willingly destroy it, especially in the heart of the human being who can really love you.”
When I first read these quotes from Prentice’s book, I was really taken with the fact that this culture has an actual practice of preparing two healthy people for a life together. The idea of such intention and support from the community — a common understanding of the underpinnings of our human nature — was quite a beautiful discovery for me. Especially the last sentence in the last quote — “having understood and risked one’s life for the delicate survival of the divine.”
Later that month, my friend went to a sweat-lodge to process his transition out of his relationship and he sent me this quote:
“Native Women used to routinely withdraw from their regular duties of childcare and food preparation to a moonlodge during their bleeding in order to rest and receive dream guidance from the creator for their people. Some view this time of separation as a vision quest, a time to step away from daily tasks to focus on one’s relationship with Spirit. The people honored and respected these bleeding women and their sacred role by covering the work otherwise done by them, and even cooking for them and protecting them.”
Rites of passage have always interested me. Of course, I had my own variations growing up as a mostly European-American. There was Sweet 16 and the day I got my driver’s license; something still felt like it was missing, though.
I think what interests me about traditional rites of passage is that they have such a beautiful alignment with the natural rhythms of the elements; they link our consciousness with natural patterning. There are many major lessons I have learned in life, and one of these is about timing. When things happen at the right time and in the right way — in accordance with the pulsations of life — it feeds you on a whole new level.