Liliana's Rite of Competence, San Luis Obispo, California
I got to know Mark Morey during the conference and we discussed some international work that he is doing and some of my interest in bringing consciousness work to El Salvador. I signed up for his mailing list and was made aware of his Rite of Competence. This really resonated with me. I grew up in a small village in El Salvador and although there was no ceremony for this age this was the age were the young boys started being taken out to the fields to do work (gathering wood, fishing, planting, etc) or the young girls started to be sent to get springs to get water, help with cooking, etc.
We started thinking about our daughter who was about to turn 9 and decided to incorporate water into her ceremony. We’ve been following the watershed at home (we live below a beautiful mountain) and had found a spring. We decided to make her responsible for the spring maintenance and we did some work to clear it so that the local cows wouldn’t poop in it. It was very satisfying and very hard work. She had to carry 20 lbs of rocks on her back and had to dig out the eye of the spring but she took such pride that she was considered old enough to help in meaningful work.
We also decided that it was a good time to acknowledge her current mentors and asked 3 of them if they would be interested in participating in a ceremony with us. We asked that they each take our daughter on hiking trips. She found these so special. It’s so rare these days that an adult (besides the parent) takes a few hours to hang out with a young child. There were so many good things that came out of this mentoring time.
We began to build a story around the ceremony. There is an ancient Lenca creation story that we decide to use as a basis for the ceremony.
The ceremony turned out great and she really seemed to be ready and eager for it. You can see her leaving the family and community on her quest to get water, wood and food for the village. I’d highly recommend you create a Rite of Competence for your children.
It was a big step for us to be admitting that she needs mentors outside of our family enclave and admit she’s going through a passage from that young child to older child threshold. We’re very protective of her and it’s not easy working through this transition. This ceremony is not only for the child but also for the parents to help them through this process and to lay the groundwork for the most difficult transition into adolescence.
My wife walked her to a fence and stayed behind as our daughter went up the hill on her own. This was symbolic of allowing her more freedom. Up at the spring one of her mentors was waiting to help her fill the water jug. It was hard as a parent to have to wait for her to come down and not go up and help her. She was successful on her quest and carried the heavy water jug down the hill, she found some firewood and some edible plants. We sang when she returned and began a feast.
Thank you Mark for the guidance and inspiration!