In a coven setting there are generally prescribed formats for these rites, but in a solitary tradition the observants are much more subject to individuality.
Naming Day - Coming of Age
The Naming Day or Coming of Age ceremony can be simplicity and need not take place during a Sabbat ritual. The young adult heads out on a quest to communicate with nature and their guide for guidance. In natural surroundings the young adult chooses a craft name. Some witches have several Craft names for different circumstances and perhaps a coven name, but it is the working name that is never revealed as it defines the Witch and it is a trust from the Divine.
Waxing to the full moon is usually the best time for this ceremony. Naming Day Rite is traditionally held on January 6th today called Epiphany or Twelfth Night no matter the moon. The Rite of Passage for coming of age can also take place around the child's thirteen birthday.
BIRTHDAYS hold special significance in our lives. Where ever a birthday falls on the calender, the date marks the start of each individuals "New Year." The new day itself is a beginning mixed with magical energy to start new projects, make big moves and receive support and recognition because everyone is naturally attune to your Sun sign.
Ally, was dressed in her black, winter, wool cape, mitts, and hat, plodded through the deep snow on the frozen ground. The air crisp, frost glistened like diamonds upon the window panes of the neighbouring homes. Excited, she hurried to meet with her grandmother. Today would be no ordinary visit. Ally's grandmother, a wise woman, would prepare her granddaughter for the rite of passage, Coming of Age.
Ally arrived at her grandmother's small cottage by the edge of the woods. Inside, her grandmother greeted her with a hug and a kiss.
"Tell me," the aged woman asked, "do you come of your own free will?"
"Yes Grandma Elmdale, I do," the young girl said, beaming.
The floor boards creaked as Ally slowly followed behind the aged woman to the back of the small building. The room had a cozy feel.
Ally's grandmother sat her plump body in a wrought iron chair at a smoky glass table. She extended her wrinkled hand to offer Ally a seat across from her.
Ally crossed the tiny room and sat. Moments later her Grandma Elmdale spoke. Her words came from the heart and not mere memorization. "Ally, since birth your outlook on life was born from your family's belief. Born to wise women, descended from Europe, witchcraft-Paganism is your heritage. To direct your course, our wisdom has been passed down to you. On the Esbats, the full moon rites and the Sabbats, the change in seasons, you met within sacred space with ancestors, relatives by blood or by marriage, who have passed over to come hither to protect and guide. You were given knowledge, no one is ever alone, and that assistance would always be there.
This birthday you will be thirteen, a magical number for any wise woman. The transition from child to adolescence. This period will be a major turning point. There will be new emotions, big thoughts, and your appearance changes. The rite of passage, Coming of Age, is important to a wise woman. As a child you accepted the ways of the craft because of your family's faith. Now, if you wish to continue with the faith, you must decide for yourself."
Wide eyed, Ally slightly leaned over the smoky glass table, "I do, I do want to continue on the path of the craft," she answered, curiously excited.
"Then you will have to embrace the faith with dedication and personal effort."
Grandma Elmdale rubbed her arthritic knee. She cleared her throat. "The night before your thirteenth birthday, in the midnight hour when the moon is full, you will go on a quest alone into the woods to commune with Spirit. Your decision will be recognized and guidance given," she said.
Ally appeared uncertain. She had accompanied the older women in her family when spirits had been conjured, but she had never attempted the feat on her own. "How am I to do that?" she asked with a lack of assurance.
"With an open heart and mind," her grandmother smiled.
Ally leaned back into her chair, defeated. She hardly knew what to do next. What was asked of her was a completely new experience. Her grandmother sensed she was over come with doubt.
"Don't become distracted by frustration. I know what I ask sounds difficult, but it's not. Believe. Breathe comfortably, relax, and try not to think about anything after you request Spirit to appear. I will assist only if needed," she said with respect.
Ally attempted to do as she was told. She focused on the tall dancing flame. She drew deep breaths of air. After a few moments of quiet thought, Ally spoke. "Here my call, this I pray. Ancestor who resides in the Other World, the Spirit who is close, I request you come hither, please share your knowledge. You who knows all, open my mind, remove the veil of illusion, and appear before me with words of wisdom."
Ally concentrated on the bright blue flame. She became lost in a trance. Slowly, her great, great, great grandmother, who she knew from photos, materialized. The aged woman appeared prudish dressed in her Victorian wear. Ally heard the aged woman say, "You, my dear, never walk alone. Your future is set. Combine intellect with feeling. Life is full of ups and downs. Concentrate on your desired outcome. No challenge will be too great."
In an instant the wick returned to a tall yellowy flame.
Ally's grandmother sat across the table from her with a broad smile on her wrinkled face. She couldn't have been more pleased that her granddaughter’s first attempt to contact Spirit by herself was success.
When Ally left the small cottage at the edge of the woods her grandmother told her not to forget the knowledge given.
Ally shivered from the cold winter wind. She rubbed her wool mittens quickly together. She tapped the toes of her black boots in the snow on the front stoop. She perked up when the sound of hooves came up the drive. Once the enclosed buggies were parked, she jumped from her seat to greet her visitors. Her three cousins, the same age as she, Tory, Arlene, and Kaley, helped their mothers, Annabel, Gabriella and Lena, from their ride.
"Where's your mother?" her Aunt Lena bellowed.
Ally's mother opened the front door, grinning from ear to ear.
When all were inside the kitchen became filled with chatter as they prepared a light meal.
"By the way," Tory said to Ally as she poured herself of cranberry tea, "How was your visit with Grandma?"
"Tell us!" Arlene begged, helping herself to a sandwich from a platter set center on the table.
Ally's mother looked over at her daughter and listened. Ally had a sparkle in her eye. "I was anxious to confront the task that Grandma asked of me. I sat completely still and lost all sense of where I was, when great, great, great grandmother Elmdale materialized. I listened. Her Spirit revealed that which I needed to know. I'm pretty sure I understand her message. I won't be alone a single day of my life. Spirit will always be close by to support."
Ally's mother gave her daughter an encouraging smile.
Kaley couldn't curb her enthusiasm, "During my exchange with Spirit at Grandma Elmdale's cottage I learned to look to nature's cycles, spring, summer, fall and winter, for insight and I too, have support from Spirit."
"My, my, you girls have grown. Your childhood has disappeared before my eyes. I still remember you young ladies as wide-eyed and innocent. When you were first introduced to the basic meaning of the elemental tools, water, fire, wind and earth; the cup, wand, sword and pentacle; the cosmic order and our history through myths to help shape the course of your development," said Gabriella.
Lena interrupted. "If you cease to practice the craft you could become oblivious to your heightened awareness. You may lose the connection with Spirit who acts directly as an advisor. As a teenager, your imagination and wonder could disappear. The outside environment may change the way you think, act, and communicate. You begin to spend most of your time trying to fit in with your peers and this is when a struggle to maintain self-identity, take roots."
Annabel’s voice was lively, "Spirits of our ancestors are our guides and supporters. When one chooses to commune with those who dwell in the Other World, information is given to help live life with an open heart, and mind."
"Tory, Arlene, Kaley, and Ally, this upcoming eve of the full moon will set the stage for your rite of passage," Lena announced. "Arlene, my daughter, you advance in on the north of the great forest; Ally, east, Kaley, the south, and Tory, west, with empowered charms and chants for a Coming of Age ritual, to meet with your personal Spirit guide."
"Wise women," Gabriella added, "gain wisdom through Spirit connection."
Ally looked at the older woman. "You want us to venture outdoors around midnight on the eve of the full moon...alone...to summon Spirit?" she whispered
"Yes," her mother answered. "You each must independently explore your faith to find confidence, conquer fear, to become more secure with self."
Gabriella filled the sink with hot soapy water and washed the dishes used.
"Mom," Kaley asked, "is great, great, great grandmother Elmdale the Spirit guide for all of us?"
"I really couldn't say," Gabriella answered her child. "You need to experience the rite for yourself to know who watches over you."
"More than a voice of reason will be revealed," Annabel smiled.
Ally's relatives stood outside in the icy wind. Her cousins helped their mother's board their ride ”You have little time left to prepare for your Coming of Age ritual; use the time wisely," Gabriella said, closing the door. Ally waved goodbye to them when the horses headed down the drive.
Ally's home, usually filled with chatter about their day's events, was silent. Lost to her thoughts, she looked out the kitchen window. The daylight faded to the dark night. Her father was in the barn finishing the last milking. Her mother rested quietly by the fire, rocking lightly back and forth and read from the family's Book of Shadows.
"Ally," she said over her shoulder, "it's time to prepare for your quest."
After Ally enjoyed a hot salt bath, she dressed, pulled her black woollen cape over her shoulders, and then rushed out the front door into the dark night. Even though a bright full moon shone, she held a lantern with a flame burning bright to assist her on her journey.
Ally followed the cow path in the pasture, over a hill, past the frozen pond. The trees were before her. She walked through the sleepy forest until she came upon her destination. In the distance she could see the faint glow of light from the lanterns used by Tory, Arlene and Kaley.
The faint murmur of chants from her cousins rode the wind through the wintry forest.
Ally continued to chant. She had faith an ancestor who passed over would arrive.
Ally was pleased and excited. By her own free will she accomplished her goal. She beheld her great, great, great grandmother Elmdale, floating toward her. With an aged voice, calm, and thought through, the Spirit spoke. "My great, great, great granddaughter, the answer to your quest is you are a wise woman. The energy of the Universe courses through your veins. Bend and shape that which you want to bring to reality. Don't be afraid of who you are or you will never live. Stay true to the ways of the craft. You hold your fate in the palm of your hand. Your destiny, you will arrive and find the truly unique individual you are."
Once Spirit provided reassurance and guidance she entirely disappeared.
Ally sat amazed. There was nothing unusual about a Spirit materializing. She'd seen the older wise women in her family conjure relatives who had died. She was amazed because she invoked her great, great, great grandmother Elmdale all on her own.
She stood in the snow, falling. A full moon lit the dark night. With a skip in her in her step she made her way home.