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rite of passage

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 21 Sep 2001, and now archived in the Forum Library.

nexyjo  21 Sep 2001 
as i pass through various stages of my transition, i've been feeling the need of late to do some type of rite of passage. i discussed it with the high priestess of my coven and she agreed that if i was feeling compelled to do one, it was most probibly called for. i asked her if she felt it would be more appropriate to do it as a solitary or with the coven, and she suggested that since the changes i am going through are as much social as they are any other aspect, a ritual with the coven would seem appropriate, assuming i felt comfortable with it. i do.

of course, there are no readily available rites of passage that i can find in the pagan community resources, or even anything close, that begins to address the passing of someone who was once seen as male, to living as a female. the closest i was able to find, in concept at least, would be a coming of age ritual, where a young woman is passing into womanhood. of course, those rituals speak of fertility, and monthly cycles, and conception, and other such reproductive physical aspects of womanhood. i will never experience any of that. so again, that left me with pretty much nothing as far as a template is concerned. we are on our own in coming up with something, which actually, we both saw as a challenge.

we spoke for a while on the issues, and decided a few things. i'll have to write something - i ended up writng a poem to say during the ritual. and of course the hp will say a few words as well. she suggested that perhaps we should incorporate a butterfly motif into the ritual, as that is my totem animal. we thought that the women in the coven would wrap me up in tissue paper, like a cocoon, and i'd break out of it at the appropriate time. i thought that was a wonderful idea.

it's still a work in progress, but we have much of it ironed out. this whole process got me to thinking, and i'm wondering if anyone here can provide any insight. can anyone define, without reference to the physical, what a woman is, or for that matter, what a man is? certainly, i think most would agree that men and women differ in many areas, and they go way beyond physical differences, though for every feminine "attribute" i can think of, i can also think of men who exhibit that attribute. for example, i could say that women, as a general observation, exhibit more nurturing behaviors than men, but i do know a few men who exhibit this personality trait as well. the same goes for emotional expression (female) as opposed to logical expression (male). either gender can exhibit both, or the opposite, though as a general rule, women are more emotionally expressive, and men are more logically expressive. i've decided that perhaps it's a combination of attributes and tendencies, and probibly there is quite a bit of overlap between the genders. yet i still believe there are some defining differences between men and women, though i can't seem to put my finger on it. clearly, i know how uncomfortable i felt trying to live as a man in our society, and how much more comfortable i feel living as a woman. clearly, men and women are treated differently, by both other men and other women. so perhaps that also helps define, outside the realm of the physical, what a woman or man is, and why i feel more comfortable living as a woman compared to living as a man.

i know it's not something many of us think about. but while trying to describe "where i was", and "where i was going", words failed me - i found it quite difficult to put into words, without speaking to the physical nature of the genders, especially as it relates to reproduction. yet i also know women who through either defects of birth, or unfortunate sickness, cannot reproduce, and are not subject to monthly cycles, just like me. yet certainly, they are women, as much a woman as any other.

anyway, sorry for the long winded post. i guess i should have just asked, can anyone define for me, without referring to the physical aspects, what exactly is a woman?

luv and light,

Marion  21 Sep 2001 
nexyjo (22 Sep, 2001 05:23):
i guess i should have just asked, can anyone define for me, without referring to the physical aspects, what exactly is a woman?

luv and light,

Hi Nexy.... I am amazed beyond words at your post. You expressed yourself so wonderfully.
I agree that for every feminine trait you can define, you will find a man who seems to embody that trait. Maybe it is the person, sort of with the whole gender underneath and shining through. Each individual man or woman is both themselves and an aspect of the eternal man or woman (and an aspect of God, I think too). 

Elphaba  21 Sep 2001 
I think identity is just one of those things you know. You just are what you are. I 'know' I am a woman. Even when I'm far away from my physical body I still know that I am. How do I know that I exist? I just do. If I somehow woke up with a penis tomorrow morning, I would still have this 'knowing feeling' that I was a woman. Mind you, that raises the questions: Is this because I was treated as a female from the moment I was born, therefore causing me to define myself as such? Is there a difference between being 'female' and being a 'woman'? Is 'Woman' just an archetype?? Who knows...damn...I really haven't helped have I. We can't even properly define ourselves as a species yet so maybe these questions about gender won't be answered for a long time. I just think that if we 'know' something about ourselves with every fiber of our being than how can it not be true?
I really love the tissue paper idea as a rite of passage and transformation. Good luck with it! And if you happen to find any answers please share...we're all wandering this earth searching for who we are. 

Logiatrix  21 Sep 2001 
i am hesitant to approach just this one aspect of who you are, when you have been so much more, as soon as i came to know your name.
what i mean is, people are "whos" an not "whats" as soon as we know that they have a name, that they love, that they fear, that they have a favorite color, or childhood memories or perhaps no memories at all.
i can more easily and readily tell you WHO nexyjo is, from my perspective. your question, however, is clearly very vital to your current journey, so i will attempt. it is quite a special privilege to somehow contribute to your passage. you have helped me a lot on this forum, and through your website, so i want to help you.
"woman" is only one aspect of nexyjo, to me. i also think "wisdom" when i think of you, for you have shared much of it on this forum. you are also "nurturing", definitely--your words are very nurturing. "feeling", as you have mentioned as a distinctly female trait, is also an aspect of your own personality. you are also "fertile", keeping in mind that fertility manifests itself in many ways, and you are the creatrix of beautiful artwork. this, to me, is a form of fertility. "beauty", too, is another aspect of the woman who is nexyjo (check out those legs! :D ) you have spiritual beauty, as well as physical beauty.
i know you are humble, nexy, but i speak from the heart here. hopefully, i didn't make you blush, and many apologies for not actually answering your question.
to echo others posted here, it is the whole person, the individual. i could give you a dictionary definition of "woman", but the woman who is nexyjo is so very much more.
infinite blessings in your rite of passage, 

Rhiannon  21 Sep 2001 
nexy: this may sound like I'm trying to be funny, and it is funny, but I'm serious. The biggest difference I see between men and women is that women *think about what it is to be a woman!* Men don't think about stuff like that.

Ex: When you ask a man: "Honey, what're you thinkin' 'bout?" and they say "Nothing". They pretty much mean that. They aren't thinking of anything in particular.

Ex: When you ask a woman: "What are you thinking about?" She'll give you dozens of answers! She's thinking of at least 10 different things all at once! (BTW: most men won't EVER ask a woman what she's thinking, because they know this! :D )

I'm not sure if that will help you with your ritual. But that's all I got for now. Good luck, it sounds like it will be very moving and very beautiful. ((( hugs )))

Rhiannon :) 

tarotbear  22 Sep 2001 
I like the tissue paper cocoon idea very much. Maybe you could also incorporate into the 'winding' aspects some of the male attributes you feel you are leaving behind - that way when you 'shed' the cocoon you will be sloughing them off. Perhaps if you underdress in something that makes you feel an your expression of your change, cover yourself in something plain, then have them wrap you in the tissue paper winding cloths. Then you break free of the paper, shed the 'old ' garment, and appear in your new guise. You could also burn the tissue paper in a cauldron afterwards and scatter the ashes , if any.

Best of luck and congrats, kiddo. Then tell us all about it! 

nexyjo  22 Sep 2001 
thanks for all your replies. i'll definately agree that women often have many things going on in their heads, where men tend to stay focused on one thing at a time. it's attributes like this, that offer some confirmation of my own identity - i am a classic case of a multi-tasking personality. at work, i always do better working on several projects at once, as i can jump from one to the other, when the spirit moves me. and that is often.

and special thanks to metaz - you've made my day :)
i agree that fertility can also mean creation of art, or other things. and yeah, i suppose i do get a complement or two about my legs...

for the tissue paper, i thought that we'd use two colors - the outside blue, and the inside pink. and i suppose i'll have to not wear my usual jeans, and actually put on a skirt for the ritual - it will probibly offer even more symbolism. actually, i also have a pair of faerie wings i wore as part of my butterfly costume for halloween last year. i'll probibly put those on after i break out of the tissue paper.

i think we have about a month before the ritual is scheduled - we decided the new moon before samhain offered suitable timing, assuming the other members can make it here during the week. so we're still working out the details.

regarding defining the genders, i know, it's tough. we all have a sense of who we are regarding our gender, but putting that into words is hard. on a transgendered forum i post on, we have as much trouble trying to define what exactly we are also. in light of the responses here, i suppose it's our sense of gender that we depend on for our identity in that area, and not any preconceived definition. a feeling that helps us know who we are.

again, thanks for your insights.

luv and light,

blue  22 Sep 2001 
Rhiannon (22 Sep, 2001 12:13):
nexy: this may sound like I'm trying to be funny, and it is funny, but I'm serious. The biggest difference I see between men and women is that women *think about what it is to be a woman!* Men don't think about stuff like that. Rhiannon :)

Oh contrar dearest post pal! I appears you've been hanging with the wrong men.



Iím am expressing an individual opinion here but as Iíve grown older Iíve wrestled with the concept of reincarnation quite a bit. I believe that if we do in fact reenter this life as individual entities, we must experience both male and female lives form time to time.

Yes, there are the seeds of both in each of us. In your case the gender issue is very obvious but perhaps if you thought of the transition as the journey of one soul apart from sexuality it might help your plan your rite. If we exist to learn life lessons then I guess your soul has chosen to do a double assignment. If our essential beings are asexual, what an amazing journey yours has chosen to take. 

Kiama  22 Sep 2001 
Nexy: When I first read oneof your posts, all that time ago, when I was just a newbie, I thought you were female. You just seemed female. That was it. I think that whether you are male or female greatly depends on what you feel you are. And I agree with you on the point that there are many women who cannot reproduce and have monthly cycles who are still classed as women. As the woman from Erin Brockovitch said, when she was sick with cancer which had affected her breasts and womb:

"Do you think that, if a woman's got no womb and no breasts, she's still technically a woman?" This made me think.

But I think, in the end, your rite of passage is wonderful, and may represent more your 'becoming your true self' than simply 'becoming a woman'. And I think the butterfly is a gorgeous idea, representing change and transition, aswell as being your totem animal.

I hope you enjoy your rite, and have a great time! My love will be with you during the event....


MeeWah  22 Sep 2001 
NexyJo: Aside from the obvious physical differences between men & women which can be seen as symbolic & representative of their respective functions & roles (am not speaking strictly of traditional references here) there are differences in the expressions of energy from each gender. Both men & women can share some of the same attributes or "overlap"; however, those particular qualities associated with the male principle & those associated with the female principle do have significance in & of themelves. They each represent one half of the whole. The concept of marriage is representative of that spiritual quest for wholeness.
As far as reincarnation is concerned, one has lives as a man & as a woman though there may be a majority of lives in one gender. It may be that gender that influences the psyche; or for some other reason--such as refining the understanding towards wholeness--which does not necessarily pertain to gender as the soul is without gender.
That you have chosen to work with both genders in this lifetime is a unique "task"--a "double assignment" as Blue has said.
I see you in much the same way as Metaz does--as a beautiful soul gifted with wisdom, compassion, talent & a great capacity for nurturing & for love. You teach others those qualities just by being you--& as Metaz said, you are much more than a gender!
By whatever quirk of Karma or Universe, despite your entrance to this life as a man, it's as if your "coming of age" or recognition of "self" is connected to womanhood. You've always struck me as a woman anyway. The butterfly motif is a perfect vehicle for your rite of passage.
You need to let us know when so we can join you in spirit! 

New River  22 Sep 2001 
nexyjo, i agreed with the sincere thoughts of everyone who posted before me.

i love the two different colors of tissue idea! and the wings! brilliant!

i think the more symbolism you can build creatively into your rite of passage, the more special it will be for you and all of us!

aren't you just terribly excited? it's like being able to live 2 lives in one lifetime. what courage it took to choose this path.

i wish you so much light and love in your transformational passage. and please do share with us your experiences!

love, light and magic, New River 

purplelady  24 Sep 2001 
nexyjo, I think that a formal initiation into womanhood is a wonderful idea , with the cocoon etc. I did an initiation into wicca that had an imaginary cocoon. So you reminded me of that ,and it meant something to me.Words kind-of fail me here , as I don't think I'm as eloquent as everyone else. And I'm not sure how to define womanhood. I sometimes think that if I woke up a man one day I'd be perfectly happy with it! (But then , maybe I could look back and have a better idea of a definition of womanhood?!) I think that you are a wonderful ,very intelligent ,creative and expressive person. Blessed be in your initiation and transition and everything else.

nexyjo  25 Sep 2001 
i am truely overwhelmed by the responses here. all of you have been really kind and supportive. thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

i would like to point out one common misconception. new river says:
what courage it took to choose this path.

many people call me couragous, and wonder at my choice. i really don't see myself as brave, and i really don't see the path i'm on as a choice. though i can imagine why many people think that it does take courage, and that it is a choice.

for me, i fought myself for 45 years. i knew i was a certain way, yet i held that inside. as time wore on, i found it more and more difficult to live that way. at one point, about 3 years ago, it became so difficult to live as i had been living, that i began to have horrible feelings and thoughts. i felt that no longer living was a possible alternative to living as i had been. i got myself into therapy at that point, because i knew i had become overwhelmed, and could no longer deal with my gender issues by myself. i needed help.

the only treatment that was suitable for my situation, was to transition. i felt it was the only way that i could continue to keep on living. it became a matter of survival. so really, it's not a choice, unless one considers no longer surviving a viable option. i did not. so i did the only thing i could to survive. i began transition.

regarding courage, i will admit that my path requires some strength, as do many paths. but i don't think i'm couragous at all. i'm just doing what i have to in order to survive. if i don't go through these changes, if i don't walk proudly as who and what i am, if i don't express myself, if i kept holding everything inside, i wouldn't be able to survive. so when i encounter situations that some would consider require bravery, i keep going not because i have courage, but because i have to. because i really have no other choice.

when i was younger, i saw people who transitioned as brave, just like you do. and i wished that i could make the same choice that they did. back then, to me it was a choice. because there i was, living as a man, and surviving. i was miserable, and i hated myself, and i really could never be me, but i was still able to survive. had i made the choice back then to transition, that would have taken courage. especially back then, 20 years ago, or more, when this type of thing was not really understood, even by the medical community.

but i didn't make that choice, because i am not brave - not any more than the average person, anyway. and it seemed easier to me by far, to keep living a lie, than to transition.

i will say that i've never been happier in my life, than i am now. i've never been more at ease with myself than i am now. i've never really been me, until now, at least to the world. and it is truely liberating. it's like getting out of jail, after serving a life sentance - or at least as i imagine that to be. yes, i am very excited. and i'll admit i do have a unique perspective on things, having seen them from two totally different places, and two totally different states of mind. i've learned some unique lessons, and hope to continue doing so.

and i will most certainly post all about the ritual. i am very much looking forward to it.

again, thank you all for your kindness, support, and love. you have truely made a difference in my life, and i think the world of you all.

luv and light,

blue  26 Sep 2001 

Metaphysics aside, Iím male, at least in this life. You could fill the Grand Canyon with what I donít know. I canít begin to understand your journey. I do know that reading this thread has moved me from smug disinterest to genuine admiration.

Change is always difficult, especially if ďtoughĒ is part of your persona.

Thanks for the wake up. 

fairyhedgehog  02 Oct 2001 
Hi nexyjo,

I read your post and was intrigued by the idea of telling you what it means to be a woman. But as I thought about it I realised that I don't know.

I have often hated the way that I have been treated as a woman - as someone inferior, with a supporting role. But I have never doubted that I am a woman, although I don't know why. So I am thinking that you have more chance to know the answer to the question than I do, because you have been living as a man but knowing you are a woman.

This probably isn't much help, but I wanted to respond anyway to your lovely post.

All the best, 

nexyjo  02 Oct 2001 
thank you blue, and fairy hedgehog, for your responses. i thought i'd mention, that the ritual is scheduled in two weeks, on the new moon, on the 16th.

i should add, that this is the second week i'm going to work as a woman - up until before last week, i was still presenting as a man, as much as i could pull that off, which was not very well. i've started a phase called "full time", or "rlt" - real life test. so basically, i live as a woman all the time now. actually, it's a prerequisite for surgery - rlt for a year.

so far, i've found it to be liberating, like getting out of jail. finally, after all these years, being able to be me.

fairy hedgehog mentions that she has experienced some gender discrimination - "I have often hated the way that I have been treated as a woman - as someone inferior, with a supporting role." it's funny, i always felt that people expected too much of me, like they expected from me more than who i am, especially in the corporate world. as a woman, over the past months since i've come out to my management, it's been interesting to see how they reduced my work load, and it's only recently, that they've been giving me a little more. it's not like it was, but still less than i've had in past years. i wonder why managers don't assess each individual outside of their gender, or color, or any other physical attribute, and why they impose their stereotypes on everyone - doesn't that make for a less effective use of resources? well, hey, i'm "just a woman", what do i know?

luv and light,

MeeWah  02 Oct 2001 
Nexy: Am marking the date on my calendar. Will join you in spirit! 

tarotbear  03 Oct 2001 
October 16th - wishing you the best, Nexy! 

GeminiLady  03 Oct 2001 
Best wishes, Nexy

I'm sure it will be beautiful. :)

Love and Light,

Kiama  04 Oct 2001 
Woohoo, Nexy, looking forward to it! My thoughts will be with you.


nexyjo  17 Oct 2001 
last night, 3 women from my coven came over to my place to perform my rite of passage ritual. it was really wonderful. i was hoping more could make it, but i realized that since we chose the new moon before samhain, and it fell on a tuesday, that many woud not be able to attend. as it turned out, the four of us made for a really nice, intimate group. interestingly enough, the three women who did make it, were the youngest in the group (maiden), the high priestess (mother), and one of the more mature women (crone), so that actually was quite symbolic.

the ritual itself was a beautiful ceremony. we hailed the quarters, invoked the goddess and god, and the high priestess said some appropriate words as to the purpose of our meeting that night. i recited the poem i had prepared, which basically reviewed my past, and where i am going. at that point, each of the women recited a piece they had prepared in my honor. each chose a goddess to speak about, and offered prayers that i might be offered protection and strength from them during my passage. then they each gave me a gift. wow. one got this beautiful dream journal, with a book mark, both covered in butterflies, one gave me a cloth jewelry bag, with like a million compartments, and one prepared some wonderful incense, and put it in the cutest little bottle, with a little butterfly on top.

we lit some of the incense, and then i burned a piece of paper with my old name on it - symbolic of leaving my past behind me, right before they gave me the gifts, symbolic of welcoming me into the community of women. then they covered me with a cloth (we talked about using tissue paper to wrap me up as if i was in a cocoon, but decided that might get messy, as well as being a fire hazard since candles were lit all over my apartment), and they chanted a few verses. i rose, pushed back the cloth, and they put on the butterfly wings on me. it was really quite an experience. we passed around some juice (no wine for me - i get drunk to easily), and took down the circle.

interestingly enough, yesterday morning my card of the day was the ace of wands. when i pulled it, i didn't make the connection. last night, i realized exactly what it meant - new energy - female energy. this morning, my card of the day is the empress. wow!

talk about identifying trends...

luv and light,

raeanne  17 Oct 2001 
Thank you for sharing this ceremony with us! I would like to welcome the beautiful butterfly that has emerged! May your new wings take you as far as you want to go! 

blue  17 Oct 2001 

I was wondering last night how your rite would go and if you would share your experience with us?

I'm delighted that it went well for you. I think it's appropriate that only a few supporters participated. We all know lots of people but while we may be on good terms with most of them, only a few are really going to be there for you when you need to count on them. These few are the jewels in our lives. None of use can expect more then a few but it's good to have them and know who they are! 

truthsayer  18 Oct 2001 
nexy, in answer to your question, i accidentally found these quotes about what is a woman and decided to share. i thought some were funny. but i think the last one is particularly true for you. :)

"A woman uses intelligence to find reasons to support intuition."

"Intuition is the instinct that tells a woman she is right, whether she is or not."

"A woman is someone who, if there is anything she does not know, imagines it."

However, " To describe woman, the pen should be dipped in the humid colors of the rainbow, and the paper dried with the dust gathered from the wings of a butterfly."--Diderot 

tarotbear  18 Oct 2001 
*APPLAUSE! APPLAUSE!* A standing ovation in honor of Nexy! 

Kiama  18 Oct 2001 
Tarotbear, I shall join you in your standing ovation.

Nexy, you are a brave and wonderful woman. Thankyou for sharing that beautiful ritual with us... I'm all choked up. Good luck being your true self!

The brightest blessings EVER to you!

Kiama *Smiling so hard she's nearly bursting with joy* 

jade  18 Oct 2001 

may the Goddess bless you.
may your peers admire you for your many strengths,
may your friends assists you in overcoming your weakness'.
may all who meet you - cherish your light.

all of us, the members of aeclectic tarot, are in awe of your courage and beauty. thank you for sharing so much of 'you' with us.

many blessings,

nexyjo  20 Oct 2001 
i am, ummmmm, well, speechless.
of course, being a woman now, that condition should only last another second or two :D

truthsayer, i *love* the quotes you found, especially diderot's insight.
tarotbear and kiama, you guys are making me blush!
and jade, your words embody such love, i am truely moved. it is my honor to share with all of you, as much of me as i can.

through out my life, i always thought that if i could touch one life, bring just a bit of happiness to someone, pass on a bit of knowledge or experience that i've picked up along the way, i would be true to my purpose here. that so many here have expressed so much love, and encouragement - well, again, i'm speechless.

the brightest of blessings to you all.

luv and light,

The rite of passage thread was originally posted on 21 Sep 2001 in the Spirituality board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Spirituality, or read more archived threads.

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