Life Rites or Rites of Passage are a key part of every culture and religion and they evidently fulfil a psychological need within us. From rites at birth which make a child a member of the community to rites at death that allow people to say goodbye to loved ones, Naturalistic Pantheism needs to meet these needs to. There are three main Life Rites – Birth, Marriage and Death but others including the onset of puberty or adulthood and entry to old age could include Life Rite ceremonies too. These are some of my preliminary thoughts and suggestions for what could be involved….
Birth – From a Naturalistic Pantheist perspective, I would suggest the following Life Rite for a new child. On the first of the 8 festivals after their birth, the family and friends gather in a place in nature. There will be a ceremony in which the child and parents are blessed by the community and acknowledged as part of the community of both humanity and all life. At this ceremony the parents will announce the name of the child and dedicate them to the service of all life. Finally, a tree should be planted representing hope for a long life for the child. There should be celebrating, dancing and a big feast.
Marriage – I would suggest that the Marriage Life Rite include a hand-fasting ceremony out in nature, including the normal exchange of rings and vows written by the couple, lots of partying and a feast with friends and family. Like the new birth rite, it should be done on one of the eight festivals if possible. The marriage rite should be open to both opposite and same sex couples.
Death – The Naturalistic Pantheist supports a natural green burial, which does no damage to the environment. Perhaps the person could be buried under the tree which was planted at their birth or, if possible, on land they own e.g garden. It should involve a family gathering, feasting, poetry/ song and tributes to the person. It should be a time to give thanks for the persons life, be a memorial to them and to remember that every atom of their body will be reincarnated into other things by nature. Their picture should be installed on the ancestor altar in the home of those who knew the person and especially of the direct family.
What do you think? How do you think life rites should be celebrated? Are there others you’d include?