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Warriors, Jaguars and Eagles - Transitioning from boy to young man

Posted Dec 18 2008 7:48pm

I am always fascinated by peoples' traditions for celebrating different events. I've noticed that there are many coming-of-age traditions for girls. Quinceañeras, Sweet Sixteens, Debutantes. It seems that many of the emphasis on aiding with the transition from childhood to adulthood are centered on females. Events like proms, weddings, baby showers are also focused on females.

What about our boys? At the bookstore recently I've seen books geared for young girls to deal with being in middle school, dealing with friendships, etc. I understand that it is a difficult time for females, especially adding in the issues with body image and self-esteem. I also think that it is a very difficult time for males.

Our family participates in traditional Aztec Dance, it is part of our spiritual practice, we pray through dance and movement. In our tradition, there is a coming of age ceremony for the young men just as there is one for the young women. We have had the privilege and honor for Mr. Skinny to have participated in this ceremony this past weekend. The ceremony of the Warrios, Jaguars and Eagles.

It was a challenging ceremony, starting with a sunrise ceremony after a long drive to get there with little sleep. Oh, but it was SO worth it. The energy and prayers being offered for four young men was palpable. Prayers were offered through songs and words that were said during sunrise ceremony. The dance ceremony was intense and full of energy. Over 100 people gathered in one place to move in unison and prayer with the intention of creating a bridge for boys to transition towards manhood with the support of a community.

I have great faith that my son greatly benefited from participating in the ceremony and the year-long preparation beforehand. I have already seen some changes. I know there will always be challenges but I know that this ceremony helped to cement maturity and to strengthen our spiritual connection to each other as well as helping him in his own spiritual formation.

He made many wonderful and wise decisions leading up to ceremony beginning last year when he expressed his interest in participating. He then selected 5 godparents to help in preparations and also to have a life-long connection with. We had several meeting over the last year in preparing for ceremony and at one point we discussed waiting one more year before going through ceremony. He took the time and made the decision himself to go ahead and participate in ceremony this year.

I'm very grateful to participate in traditions that support boys as they transition into young adulthood. We will follow up with a ceremony following the Mayan tradition and in one year we will once again participate in the Warrior, Jaguar and Eagle ceremony in appreciation.

Do you have traditions for this critical stage in development? Are they geared towards both boys and girls? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to learn more.
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