How to Use Ritual and Ceremony to Become Who You Want to Become
A follow up from Death and Rebirth: The Art of Evolution
The Rite of Passage
We’re in the heart of the ancient Brazilian Amazon.
The Satere-Mawe tribe prepares to introduce their young boys to manhood.
During ancient times, a boy didn’t simply grow older and smoothly transition into manhood. He needed to be initiated. This provided a clear division between boyhood and manhood. Something we’re sorely lacking today.
The young boys, soon to be men, stick their hand inside a glove. The glove is made of leaves woven together, and filled with bullet ants. These ants are known to have the most painful sting of any ant.
The pain is described as “waves of throbbing, all consuming pain.”
The young boys receive so much venom that their entire arm goes numb and their body shakes.
The boys must not only wear this glove for 24 hrs. They must not show signs of pain.
This theme is consistent across the world.
In ancient African countries, the manhood ritual included circumcision. During this process the boy must not show any signs of pain. If he does, it brings shame to his family.
The ancients understood things that we currently do not, and the transition from one stage of life to the next is one of them.
While these rituals are barbaric by today’s standards, they served a crucial purpose.
They represented the death of the boy, and the birth of the man.
The boy was not left to figure out when he’s a man on his own. He had a clear and defining moment. This was how he formed his identity as a man.
Defining Our Identity
We still experience these stage-of-life transitions today. Although we’re a lot more confused about them due to our lack of recognition, we are always evolving and progressing.
Childhood to adulthood isn’t the only transition we get confused about.
Many people are trying to change their physical appearance and performance by training their body and improving the food they eat. The goal is to go from overweight, weak and out of shape to strong, lean and attractive.
Let me ask you a question.
Have you ever decided you wanted to lose some weight, build some muscle and get healthy? If so, when you began to train and eat for these goals, did you find that you couldn’t keep them up long enough to get where you were trying to go?
You may have found some excuse explaining why you didn’t keep up that practice. Deep down you know that you didn’t keep it up because for some reason, you kept sabotaging yourself.
The reason why you keep jumping in your own way is because the person you want to become doesn’t line up with your current identity.
If You Want Something Done Right, You Need to Do It Yourself
Because we don’t take a focused and methodical approach to our stage-of-life transitions, we never purposefully establish our identities as we move through life.
If we don’t establish our identities in a deliberate way, then our identity will be formed based on our failures and short comings.
Many of us identify ourselves as fat, lazy, or someone who never follows through on things.
Does a fat, lazy, flaky person train hard, eat right, and get lean?
Of course they don’t. In fact, training hard and eating right are a threat to your identity in this case.
As much as you think you want to look and feel awesome, your ego just won’t allow it. Exercise is a threat, and it will not successfully threaten your current identity.
You need to kill that son of a bitch.
Just like the Satere-Mawe tribe prepared a special ritual in which to kill the child and bring forth the man, you also need to kill your old identity in order to identify with the new and improved you.
Kill Yourself, and Rebuild
Luckily, you don’t need to get circumcised or stick your hand in a glove full of bullet ants in order to destroy your old identity and build a new one.
All it takes is some deliberate action.
Kill the aspect of yourself that you don’t want to live with anymore.
As we’ve learned from the ancients, ritual helps this process. You may want to write down your old identity traits and burn the paper. You may simply want to declare that aspect of yourself dead.
However you decide to proceed with this transition, it needs to be deliberate and decisive.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. -Socrates
When the young men in Africa returned to their tribe, they would throw away their old clothes and take on new names.
This was to further solidify the transition they have just experience, from boy to man.
The way they thought, spoke and behaved as a child is different from how they think, speak and behave as a man.
In the same way, the process of rebuilding your identity represents a fresh start.
Your new, more evolved identity may read different books, eat different food, and hang around different people.
(I went through this process myself several years ago. While I don’t want to give away too much, as it will be a crucial section in the Cowboy Adventures of a Jacked Canadian Hipster Series, I can tell you that the process is exhilarating and freeing. )
Your new identity isn’t threatened by the idea of strengthening and conditioning your body, eating high quality food and becoming a strong and attractive person.
Your new identity, which you will build, relishes in this pursuit, and will not slam on the brakes as you begin to move in that direction.
While we don’t take part in the stage-of-life rituals performed by the ancients, that doesn’t mean we need to let the world define who we are.
If there are parts of your identity that are threatened by your pursuit of health and fitness, then that aspect of your identity needs to die.
A new identity needs to be born, and the transition from one stage of life to the next is defined.
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