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Rites of Passage #1: Naming Ceremonies

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Some time ago, I wrote a piece about Atheopagan Rites of Passage. In it, I described life milestones that might be celebrated by an Atheopagan, and which we as Atheopagan “clergy” (we’re all clergy, since we have none—below, the ritual leader’s role is noted as “celebrant”) might be asked to officiate over.

On reflection, it occured to me that just talking about these rites of passage probably isn’t helpful enough: that having some guidelines for each such rite would be helpful to the community. So here goes the first installment in a new series: Rites of Passage.

Naming ceremony is a welcoming ritual for a newly born person. In this ritual the baby is welcomed into the community, assigned the name their parent(s) chose for them, and blessed with symbols of the mighty Cosmos and the Life-giving Earth.

To give you a starting point for creating a naming ceremony, here is an outline of an Atheopagan naming ceremony you can use or adapt as you see fit:

  • Arrival: Celebrant welcomes guests, grounding, statement of purpose of the ritual, establishment of ritual container.

  • Qualities: Celebrant invites all guests to call out their wishes for the child. Celebrant follows with: “So be it!”
  • Celebrant issues a Charge to the parent(s) to hold the child as precious, beloved, worthy.

  • Parents’ state their pledge to love and care for this child to the best of their ability.

  • Celebrant issues a Charge to the guests: will they support the healthy development of this child as a community, and support both the parent(s) and child with love, wisdom and kindness? (Guests respond “YES!”)

  • Blessing of baby:

Have parent(s) touch baby’s palms with 1) a clod of Earth and 2) a meteorite, so that they will always know they are a part of the Earth and the Cosmos (these may be gifted to the parents, to keep on the family Focus)

Whisper baby’s name into baby’s ear

Celebrant speaks blessing of the child with health, love, wisdom, and good fortune for all of their days.

  • Presentation of child by name to the community (applause!)

  • Benediction: Celebrant sends off the guests with good wishes in the name of Life, Beauty, Truth and Love–the four Sacred pillars of Atheopaganism. Invites guests to reception afterwards, where food and drink are served.

At the reception, the guests may, if desired, give gifts to the newly named child; these gifts should be things that can be held by the parents until near or after the child’s rite of passage into adulthood. Ritual tools, Tarot decks, etc. make good gifts at this time.

For the rest of the series on Rites of Passage (including passages into adulthood, handfastings and dissolutions, passages into elderhood, and memorials), visit atheopaganism. org

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Mark Green is an activist, writer and nonprofit professional with a background in environmental public policy and electoral campaigns. A Pagan since 1987, he presents at Pantheacon and has been published in Green Egg and the anthology "Godless Paganism" (for which he wrote the foreword). His Pagan writing appears here, at the Humanistic Paganism website (humanisticpaganism.com), at the Naturalist Pagan site (naturalpagans.com) and at the Atheopaganism blog.  

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