What if we saw
every part of our lives as
Our mission is to empower women of all ages and ethnicities to recognize + reclaim their unique rites of passage throughout life -- whether it be menstruation, pregnancy or abortion, divorce, menopause, healing trauma, immigration, claiming queer identity,
or any other significant initiatory life experience.
Historically, many of these initiations have been either lost, forgotten or stigmatized
for the last several hundred years in the post-colonial world.
In the United States, as a fusion of variously uprooted peoples with fractured cultural identities,
the majority of us lack a language with which to recognize or honor initiation.
Therefore, the message that every experience and stage of our lives is valuable and sacred, is both deeply personal and profoundly political in a culture where aging, loss and death are shunned.
The Rites of Passage living museum installation-performances and other iterations in print + film, are intended to act as catalysts for introspection, transformation and connection
as well as to inspire us each in creating new ways to house the "Collective Female Soul",
and honor the myriad cycles and transitions in our lives.
Ultimately Rites of Passage hopes to expand our potential to embrace the full spectrum
of our lived experience.
Separated in our isolated modern world,
our trials mean little to nothing;
sewn together, they become the devastatingly eloquent initiations that shape us into whole, awake women;
into the initiates and the initiators of
the new world we wish to bring into form.
We recognize that the ongoing process of initiation throughout our lives has the
potential to mature us into ripe and complete human beings. And that unless our trials can be ritually heard, seen and honored, they will likely remain dimmed as traumas to cope with, instead of as powerful initiations.*
In addition to being a public offering, ROP as a live event also acts as a personal rite of passage for each woman who participates in its creation honoring the specific transition or reclamation
she is experiencing.
Ritual art + performance are sacred technologies once used by all of our ancestors as primary practices of remembrance. This is before they were eventually forgotten over decades or centuries of forced displacement, colonization, war or slavery. It was through the ritual arts that we remembered - both individually and collectively - who we were and why we were here. We could experience the inter-connection between us as human beings, our ancestors, the natural world at large, and the cycles of birth death and rebirth reflected in all living things.
So it is that we gather together now in this new time, with the tools of our art-making and healing, with the scattered pieces of wisdom long-ago lost or hidden. We breath new life into these and into our hands, our bodies, our voices, as they become transmitters of new and ancient craft.This is the way, we re-make the world in our True Likeness.
ROP holds space for the intersectional emergence of the sacred along with art and community activism in order to dream into being a new world that embraces the Both/And
- a non-dual perspective on Life and politics,
and the radically fertile potentiality of our times. Any act of true ritual is an act of transformation and deep healing that widens the potential for our shared liberation. Not one of us is free until we are all truly free. Therefore, the work of ROP is inherently that of dismantling overlapping paradigms of patriarchy, white supremacy and industrial capitalism, while simultaneously envisioning a truly equitable, just and thriving world for all peoples and the Earth. This work is done with critical inquiry and compassion, with a profound honoring of our personal and shared grief: from the inside out.
Beyond familiar and entrenched divisions, ROP calls for radical healing justice, wherein forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door to our new future. We ask:
“Who are we beyond our oppression?
And how do we live and embody that NOW?”
We are the living, breathing prayer of our ancestors: a prayer for remembrance, freedom and peace. And, because our individual and collective liberation is inter-dependent with each other, we honor both the uniqueness and the interconnection of all our lineages - all colors and places.
ROP tells the stories our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers couldn’t tell. In telling them, we release the bondage in our voices, our bodies, our hearts, our minds. We choose not to pass down the wounds of our lineages. We choose to end the endless wars. We grieve the grief that was never grieved, so that it will not continue to be passed down as debt: as fear, repression, or rage.**
We forgive what our ancestors did, as well as what was done to them, and to us, so that we can realize the world we most deeply long for: one in which all beings are free, know love + dignity, and are at home.
"The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. . . Of course, women so empowered are dangerous. So we are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex. . . ." - Audre Lorde
There is no one room for the erotic in ROP, because every room houses the erotic. This is the essential nature of the Feminine: innately sensuous, untame-ably wild, and intuitive. It is both pro-creative and destructive, in service to sustaining Beauty on planet Earth. The Feminine principle is that which make animates all of Life. Yet its also that which has been repressed, scorned, abused, hidden and shamed for centuries through recent history - not only within women but within our collective humanity. ROP seeks to make visible that which has for so long been invisible - namely, the work, the stories, the art and the Soul of the Feminine - as embodied and expressed through women.
What modern life lacks most is intimate connection in community.
We’ve lost the cultural ways that once made a village. And yet belonging is what all human beings yearn for, and can’t be substituted by virtual reality.
ROP as a live performance installation is a multi-colored tapestry of remembrance:
a living village of co-creation and inter-relationship that echoes the collective
lifeways of our ancestors.
In 2020, 75 women from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, classes and ages, will come together as a community - weaving together the stories, traditions, grief and dreams of our lineages and our lives, creating a temporary village and culture of mutual respect, compassion, care and belonging.
We are working to tell
A Whole Story.
This includes what’s been consciously or unconsciously hidden, forgotten or suppressed,
as well as fresh visionary perspectives that can create a fertile future for the generations to come. Stories and seeds that enable the re-flowering of the Earth and Feminine Consciousness.
In so doing, we lay claim
to all of who We are, and
all of who We might yet become.
*As written by West African Dagara shaman and scholar Malidome Patrice Somé, in his book Of Water and the Spirit
** As written by shaman, poet + artist Martín Pretchel in his books including The Smell of Rain on Dust
The Rites of Passage Project and Pooja Prema are profoundly grateful to the work of these two men and Clarissa Pinkola Estés in our mission of re-claiming and creating true initiations for modern women.
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