by Katharine Krueger
When my fifth grade daughter said YES to an invitation to a yearlong adolescent Rite of Passage, I didn’t realize that I too would be initiated.
I dove into community, circling with moms and mentors, in dialogue, ritual, fire-building, lodge-weaving. I dove into my girlhood – situations, emotions, needs met and unmet – to release reactivity stemming from the past. I re-membered, just a step ahead of the girls, the skills and knowledge women need to take responsibility for their physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. …Finally, as we ceremonially celebrated the girls’ achievement and palpable transformation, I saw my daughter with fresh eyes, and I saw a new path for myself as a parent, woman, and mentor.
Consolidating pages of eloquence to thank all Beings in the Ten Directions and Three Worlds who fed this initiation cycle: “Boundless gratitude.” Seven years later, my daughter and I see both this as a platform for our continued evolvement. Much of what I learned then, I apply daily on my journey toward wholeness.
It was as clear as a bell that a Coming of Age community must be established here in Minneapolis. I felt the spirits of the land and my ancestors urging me forward. The vision: Every girl in North America is within bus or biking distance of some form of feminine mentorship, such as a Red Tent, a Mother-Daughter Circle, or a mom-and-mentor-led Girls’ Circle. After much discernment and counsel-seeking – scrying how to offer Coming of Age Circles sustainably, authentically, safely and effectively – I launched Journey of Young Women (JOYW).
JOYW’s process: We gather bimonthly for talking circle, stories, visualization, skits, art, and traditional skills practice – all focused on learning essential skills/knowledge such as assertiveness, emotional intelligence, intuition-connection, and understanding human fertility cycles. A Coming of Age cycle is one year, a full Rite of Passage two. Younger girls meet in Girl Empowerment Circles. Mothers meet with me monthly and dads quarterly. Both parents and girls receive tasks, which we later reflect on.
The results: Confident girls who are attuned to themselves, others and the Earth; who respect and honor their bodies; who speak truth to power and to peers. Grounded parents, more able to stay “in the parent seat”- guiding while acknowledging their daughters’ sovereignty and growing autonomy.
May you be inspired to step into this, because it’s time for *many* Circles to form. Please know, moms and mentors, that each of you has priceless gifts to contribute. Call a Circle of Girls – or simply with a Mother-Daughter Book Club. Articulate what you want the girls to learn and experience, perhaps categorized under physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Brainstorm the rhythms of your activities. Draw from your passions, your expertise, and what you’re willing to study. Recruit advisors. Identify safe practices. Then call the girls to the Circle. They will be thrilled.
Please explore the Journey of Young Women website for ideas and support. Learn to mentor girls, lead Girls’ Circles and offer Coming of Age in our Mentoring Girls Training.
Other great resources: DeAnne L’Am’s “Becoming Peers,” Dr. Christiane Northup’s “Mother-Daughter Wisdom,” Linda Knodle’s “Coming of Age” curriculum, Suzanne Mathis McQueen’s “Four Seasons in Four Weeks,” Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ “Women Who Run with the Wolves,” and DeAnna L’Am’s downloadable Rites of Passage package which you can find at http://www.ritesofpassageevent.com/Kpackage.php. …Enjoy!
Katharine Krueger directs Journey of Young Women, offering Girl Empowerment and Coming of Age Circles and training/consulting to parents/mentors. She is a mechanical engineer, facilitator, Waldorf-inspired educator, former Zen Buddhist Sunday School Director, and parent of two amazing young adults.