Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Menarche Liturgy

This Menarche Liturgy may be freely shared and used, though not republished without permission.  It is Sapienist ceremony (What on earth is "Sapienism"?), but like most Sapienist ceremonies, it is inclusive and could be used in any sort of inclusive non-denominational setting.  I am presenting this ceremony first as it will be the first public Sapienist ceremony performed outside of my immediate family.  We will be performing it for my daughter's 13th birthday at the end of April.  I am publishing it here so that attendees can read it before coming so they know what to expect.

Sapienist Menarche Liturgy

(Note: for families where certain members are no longer living or cannot or do not wish to participate, substitute a close friend or other relative.) 

Welcome, everyone!
We are gathered today to celebrate the menarche of (name), to welcome her into womanhood and use this occasion to celebrate womanhood and the women in our lives: mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, wives and lovers.

At this time I would like us to take a few moments, in comfortable silence, to reflect on the women in our lives, to acknowledge and appreciate their presence, their love, and the impact they have on us, our families, and our communities.  Feel free to reach out and embrace or squeeze the hand of any of the wonderful women here you are thankful for.

(About a minute or so of silence.)

Now, we begin with a selection of readings about this important transition in a girl’s life, read by the women in her life.

(Introduce each woman)

(1st reading – maternal grandmother)
(2nd reading – paternal grandmother)
(3rd reading – mother)

This doorway represents the passage from one part of life to another.  We use it to celebrate important transitions, such as this. 
(Name) will now join a circle of women behind the doorway who will each present her with a small gift and share with her some words about their own experience of womanhood. 
Young girls who have not yet started their menarche are invited to sit outside the circle and observe.
While this happens, please mingle among yourselves.  When this portion of the ceremony is finished, a bell will ring signalling us to return for the presentation of new woman.

-The designated women proceed around – not through – the ceremonial doorway (see below for details).  If they are entering a separate room, the doorway should be placed far enough away from the entrance so people can go around it. 
-The women have been invited by the family beforehand and will have prepared.  In addition to important family members: mother, grandmothers, close aunts, sisters who have already passed menarche, there should be a mix of ages - some post menopausal women, some with young children, some who couldn't have children, etc. 
-Younger girls may observe quietly from outside the circle.  The girl’s father or father figure may be present in the circle, or listening from outside the circle, or outside the doorway, depending on the wishes of the family. 
- Each woman says something (briefly 1 or 2 minutes) about what womanhood means to them, and presents her with some small symbolic gift.  Ideas for gifts include: books, jewelry, pieces of art, framed photos.  Hugs and kisses are appropriate with each presentation.  The father should present his gift second last and the mother last.
-Once finished, the mother rings a bell.  First the observers (the younger girls who were sitting outside the circle) leave the circle going around the ceremonial doorway and return to their seats.
-The new woman’s father gives his daughter a hug and kiss on the cheek, the goes around the ceremonial door to stand on the other side, waiting for her.
-The new woman’s mother opens the door or the curtain on the doorway.
-The designated women, led by the mother, walk through the ceremonial door.  The mother stands opposite the father.  The other women form a corridor.
-The new woman waits on the other side, while the mother speaks.

Please stand and let us welcome my daughter (name) as she passes over the threshold, just as she is passing from girlhood to womanhood.  (Name) please cross the threshold. 

-(Name) then crosses the threshold and all applaud.  As she walks through the corridor of women and her father, the each place a hand on her shoulder to bestow a blessing.  When she reaches the end of the corridor she turns and faces the doorway.  Her mother and father then retrieve the threshold box and bring it to her.  If the box includes candle holders, the candles should be lit, and the new woman may blow out the candles after accepting the box.

Parents (together):

The ceremony has ended. Let the celebration begin.  Go in peace with love and joy.


Party.  Other gifts can be given, serve food, etc.

-Doorway used for ceremonies.  It would be decorated differently depending on the occasion.  Perhaps the outside edge would have sconces for flowers and candles, etc. A curtain or beads or strips of cloth hang from a rod inside the frame. 
The threshold would be different for every person.  The threshold will fit in the frame.   It should be a wooden, stone or metal box (Other natural materials would be acceptable, but no plastic or other unnatural materials).  It should be decorated, signed, etc.  Some suggestions:  Holes for holding candles in the top, carved feminine symbols, embedded stones (glass jewels are OK, but not plastic). Then, after the ceremony, it becomes their souvenir, like a baptismal candle.  The box is used to save the cards and notes of welcome to womanhood and any small gifts and tokens from the occasion.

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