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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 What is fire? A science-backed guide to flames, and how we've made them. -  Vox

 

I gaze into the heart of the fire. I can't say I'm not feeling a little nervous.

It's my first conversation with N since, under my direction, we enacted the Men's Mysteries, the secret rites of initiation by which the tribe's boys become the tribe's men.

From my perspective, things went well. To judge from the shine that's been on this year's initiate ever since, they went very well indeed.

Still, N is something of a senior statesman among us: a man of unquestionable integrity, my elder in age, experience, and wisdom. He never speaks anything less than the truth, and what he thinks, matters.

Slowly, he nods his head.

“Well, I'd say that was a good one,” he says, “Just the way we've always done it.”

He pauses.

“And if it wasn't, it's how we always should have been doing it.”

Somehow, the fire seems to burn a little more brightly.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Celtic Spear Stock-foto | Adobe Stock

Well, N, having survived your man-making, you're now what's called a New Spear.

As for that reproduction La Tène Celtic leaf-blade spear that you carried as a sign of your new standing in victorious procession back to the village afterwards: that's the New Spear's New Spear, and you are now its keeper.

(In the old days, of course, you would have been initiated with a whole age-set of peers, and the Spear would have passed to the youngest; but these days are not those.)

So you are now the keeper of the tribe's New Spear, just as I am the keeper of the Great Ooser, the antlered god-mask that the Horned wears when he comes among us in ritual. The Spear does not belong to you in the sense of owning it, just as the Mask doesn't belong to me; they belong to the tribe as a whole. We're just the lucky ones to be privileged with their keeping.

Care for that spear. It's your responsibility now.

Keep it in a clean and sacred place. Feed it from time to time. Be sure to keep the shaft well-oiled, and the head well-polished.

(Get that look off your face, N, I'm talking about a spear.)

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 How to Build 5 Different Types of Campfire

The thing that I remember most was the look of sheer, excruciating boredom on the young woman's face.

 

The secret rites by which the tribe's girls become the tribe's women duly enacted, I was the first man to arrive for the after-party, red-wrapped gift in hand.

When I got there, the women were still sitting in a circle on the floor, talking at—not with—the newest of their number. They thought, I suppose, that they were imparting valuable life-lessons.

Instead—their actions contradicting the supposed effect of the ritual they had just performed—they were treating her like a little kid who has to be told what to do.

 

I don't know how people came to think of a Coming-of-Age ritual as the appropriate time and place to lecture the young on the Weird Ways of Adults.

My guess would be that, somewhere back in the Pagan Dark Ages, when the Old Lore had been lost and well lost, we knew that we had to do something for the occasion, but—lacking real Mysteries—we didn't know what it was.

So we settled for a lecture instead.

Well, the Old Mysteries are back, and then some.

Screw being talked at.

 

First, you undergo the Rite of Passage.

Then you experience at first hand the change of status that the rite accomplished.

What's a sermon got to do with that?

 

When, at this Summer's upcoming ingathering of the Midwest Tribe of Witches, the Rites of Man-Making have been duly enacted for young N, he will sit, for the first time, in the Circle of Men around the fire and, for the first time, speak as a man among men. He will listen, and be heard.

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 How to Plan Manhood Ceremonies - RTC 31 - Laurie Christine

Of Full Disclosure, and the Wisdom of the Ancestors

 

“Seriously? People have been asking you that?”

I'm talking with the mother of a boy that we'll soon be initiating into manhood. Incredibly, people have been asking her, “What will be happening at the Man-Making?”

Otherwise known as the Men's Mysteries, these are the ancient oath-bound rites by which the tribe's boys become the tribe's men. The traditional answer to this question—just possibly (so old are these things) one of humanity's oldest sayings—would be: What no man may tell, nor woman know.

“What have you been telling them?” I ask her, a little taken aback.

I've been telling them, How the heck would I know?” she says.

There are no women at the Men's Mysteries, nor men at the Women's. Any pagan should already know this. If it's non-pagans that are doing the asking—there will be a few at the after-party, friends of the boy, and their families—they'll be getting a crash course in pagan culture.

I note that no one has been asking this question of me, the actual keeper of this Mystery for the tribe. A sudden mischief seizes me.

“You have my permission to tell them that we'll be plotting to disempower women and subvert the matriarchy,” I say, grinning.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Pin su Bull-roarers

“Hey, it's N, the soon-to-be-man of the hour,” I say. “You all ready for your circumcision tonight?”

It wouldn't be a rite of passage without a little gallows humor beforehand.

“Ha, ha,” he says. “Pagans don't practice circumcision.”

I check my trousers.

“You sure about that?” I ask.

He snorts and shakes his head. What do you do with an elder who thinks he's a comedian? The expression on his face says: You're incorrigible.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Hey, you wouldn't happen to have a three-legged stool we could use, would you?

Great. We need one for the ritual.

Ha! No, not the men's part of the Men's Mysteries. (Yeah, right! As if I'd give it away those secrets that easily!) No, the public part, beforehand. The part you're in.

Well, for sitting on, of course. It's the birthing-stool. Three legs? You know.

(I suppose in the old days it would have been the real thing, the one you'd actually sat on while birthing him. Gods. I'll tell you, in those days, witches were witches.)

The men come to get him. You sit on the birthing-stool; he kneels between your knees.

You give him your blessing. You give him the bowl of milk; he drinks it.

Then you both get up, you turn him around, give him a push between the shoulder blades, and say: Go forth a boy, come back a man, and we take him off to the woods.

I mean, the symbolism couldn't get much more obvious, could it?

I know, I know: your firstborn son, so cute and little and pink, and now he's all grown up and ready for his Man-Making.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

To a Boy on His Way

 

Here's a true word: It's hard to be a man.

Oh, you'll hear the voices, saying: This is what it means to be a man. That is what men are.

Don't believe any of them. They're all wrong.

Here's another true word: There's not just one way to be a man.

When I was your age, I heard those voices, too. Much of what they said wasn't me, and so I thought: Well, then, maybe I'm not a man.

But the voices were wrong, and so was I.

Here's what I had to work so hard, and for so long, to discover: There's not just one way to be a man. In fact, there are lots of different ways. Which way is yours?

You're now on a quest for your own manhood. Always remember, your work is not to be this or to be that, but to discover just what kind of a man you are. What does manhood look like on you?

Keep your eyes open. Who are the men around you that you admire, and want to be like?

They're the ones who can teach you. They're the ones to learn from.

What kind of man will you be? That's what it's up to you to figure out for yourself. You're the only one who can.

As you embark on your quest, let me just pass along a sage bit of drollery that I once heard from a wise elder.

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