There is something that impressed me in the trip to the United Kingdom to complete a rites of passage project. The place itself is near Wales, between Stroud and Gloucester (pronounced as Glouster), called ‘Asha Center’.
At the beginning of everything, long before I set foot in Asha, there was an opportunity to volunteer in Europe and when I saw the different options … I found you. The connection of time and space in this life made it possible for me to experience the experience of a project so great that I still cannot find a way to describe it. It goes beyond words.
It is said, and I share, that the religions created by the human being come to calm the fundamental and existential questions of life and death. That is no less true, but it is even truer when one can verify it in its own skin and bone sac.
I am questioning myself and feeling what this is about life and I always end up in the great field of religions. Above all, in recent years, between my thirties and seeing a little of what this is about becoming an adult, life shakes me down one street and another. If I also add a few laps of capitalism reaching its collapse of the system, I find myself looking for a nook and cranny in philosophy and religion to ask myself. What the hell is this about living? I was born a few years ago, I am growing, I am going through stages … I hear that, I am going through stages, we are going through stages … I do not know when a thing begins and when the happy thing ends.
That point is what gave me a connection to the ritual and rites of passage workshop. My conscience filled out the form and within a few weeks I was already buying tickets to the UK.
In that period, I saw that, it was a ritual that I was performing. I thanked life for an opportunity, I began an internal emotional journey where I fought my ego and my body to unravel what exactly that course would be about. I knew little, but it was enough for me to know that I wanted to go through that rite of passage.
The arrival at Glouster was calm and welcomed by the Asha staff, two people who work and volunteer there. That little welcome with the centre sign in her hands would be the prelude to an evening at the big house.
In addition, the moment to find more volunteers in Glouster, a purifying fire flame was shot for those consciences that doubted the power of this workshop. All the bad karma was dissolving to the rhythm of the rain of the Gloucestershire region.
“I don’t know you, but we have more things in common than differences.” That same feeling, I had when I arrived at the Asha home. There is no other name, it is a home, regardless of where it is, the sensation is to feel the arms of my mother at birth giving me an unconditional love to celebrate life as an opportunity and the freedom to grow as a human being in unison with the rest of sentient beings of this universe.
The welcome in a kind of grand Victorian mansion house was mind boggling. That was just a sample from the site. Also, little habitats straight out of a fairy tale with Victorian and medieval touches was worth seeing. Sleeping in delicate and exquisite beds with ornaments of centennial furniture, it could not be other than a range of dreams blessing life during those days. At night, on arrival there was little light, but enough to see that he was not dreaming, and that part of the stage had yet to be glimpsed. There was still part of the curtain to see …
During the day, when going outside, the eyes did not give up anymore, the smell was totally collapsed, the body rooting was like that of the trees planted by Glouster’s druids. All my senses were in Eden, in the promised land, where Tolkien spent his summers to write the Lord of the rings.
Besides, I understood what a therapeutic garden was, what they had so well cared for in front of me was neither words nor words. The beauty even burned and made me feel hot because I could not contain it in my presence. I had to close my eyes and breathe “here” and “now” to feel the beautiful reality that surrounded me. In moments of rest during the workshop I would sit on a little bench, next to some flowers that were growing to simply let the afternoon pass. I felt, then came a communion with the garden, the garden with me and with the whole universe. It was a feeling that goes beyond the ego. As they say, sit down and sit down.
Between zone and zone of gardens, there is a house of the hobbit, streams, wooden bridges, spiral maze, phrases written in wood to reflect from great writers, passing by spiritual guides. In itself, it is a macro and I look at the ecosystem since, on a small piece of land, if one sets its eyes; he/she will realize that ants, worms, plants live and organize to feel and give action to life.
During the workshops I was seeing the dynamics that were being created as a group and the interdependence of anything. The simile that we are as a multi-organism, where each of us forms a small essence of being. An emotion that was felt, the partner receives it and transmits it to others. The space created was conducive and welcomed to be felt and expressed.
The part of emotional openness and feeling is fundamental for this workshop, since everything we express either through gadgets, through body expression and words goes beyond the language we have, which ultimately limits the continuous space time that we perceive and therefore we live. We can rationalize behaviour, but emotional sensation is born much earlier.
Workshops were organized to create rituals to take them outside, that is, to our day to day. For example, ritual to thank the food at every meal, rituals to start and end the day, either with any community to which we belong (friends, family, fellow hobbies). I want to add that once you put it into practice, you can see the presence in the group’s atmosphere since it is created as a space of respect (sacred space) where it is given a meaning, let’s say symbolic, of the event that is beginning. Then, when finished, it ends. I see the word consciousness as important; we are aware that something begins and ends. It is something very natural and it is written by fire in the rhythm of life. Every phenomenon begins and ends.
In addition, emphasis was placed on sacred spaces. How to build a space for yourself or a group and give it importance. This was taught by Marc, a great connoisseur of religion and ritual. The point is to have a physical area where whatever happens, to know that in that place I feel protected and I can let myself feel.
In general, most of the workshops were given by Eli, connoisseur of many fields of arts, expression, dance, storytelling, theatre, ritual, ritual. She managed very well the times of making the group feel, breaks, classes taught through unconventional education, using theatre techniques.
We explore and study the importance of the rite from one stage to another, for example, when finishing high school, the beginning of university, the woman’s menstrual period. These examples in today’s world are hardly valued and we may feel little connected to life. The fact of giving meaning to these events means that we can give value to our day to day.
The basis of knowing a little how our ancestors did makes us see where rites and rituals fit into modern life. Precisely, through the workshops I have been able to see some light in the opacity of my life before the global and capitalist collapse that highlights individualism about the group and lack of connection and fraternity between the beings of the world.
I feel that something that is being lost makes a lot of sense and that this course gives me tools to feel united with life, a little more. Experiential rather than theoretical course. I can define which communities I belong to, what methodology to follow to create together the other rites of passage or ritual and to unite with them.
Life is a set of rites of passage and within them there are rituals. The valuation ritual ends here.