Sacred initiation is a doorway for a young person to become an adult, plain and simple. If done in a good way, a person participating in this ritual will be truly transformed; they will never go back to being the same person they were before. What is it like for an initiate, moving forward into the world as an adult? In 2017, Cassandra Starks of Grand Junction, Colorado, USA stepped through the doorway of Sacred Fire Community’s young women’s initiation, called Sacred Emergence. She is now entering yet another phase of life: she is recently married and is becoming a mother! We caught up with her to ask a few questions.
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Sacred Fire: Cassandra, who were you before initiation and what have you become because of it?
Cassandra: I don’t think much changed visibly on the outside after Sacred Emergence. I wore the same clothes, my hair, eyes and skin color were still the same. I didn’t lose or gain any weight. I looked the same. And yet I felt completely different. Something drastic within myself had shifted. I finally felt connected to myself in a way that I never was before. I had gained greater understanding of my values, gifts and passions, an incredible appreciation of what it truly means to be a woman, and was empowered by my emotions and feelings, rather than simply trying to avoid them. Showered with the love, support, wisdom and guidance of women, I began to grow a new understanding of myself and how to be in relationship with others and with the world as a human being.
Sacred Fire: How do you feel about becoming a mother? Are there any parallels between the experiences?
Cassandra: Before initiation, I was very focused on the external world around me. As a former collegiate athlete, I used sports, exercise and perfectionism as a way to distract myself from my true feelings. I grew up with four older brothers, surrounded by our cultural view that the value of womanhood lies within looks and outer beauty. I didn’t really have a strong desire to have kids or a family and was more career-driven, focused on what I would be doing the rest of my life, how I would make a living and constantly comparing myself to my brothers. The day after I began initiation, one of my brothers died in a car accident. It was absolutely devastating. The initiation allowed me to simply be in the mystery of these strong emotions. It helped me to learn how to listen to them and what they had to teach me. While grieving the loss of my brother during and after initiation I was struck with how much I valued family and community and through this realized how strongly I wanted to have children of my own. Now that I am becoming a mother, I feel as though as deeper part of me, one that was hibernating for a long time, is being nourished and fulfilled. Overflowing with gratitude, I feel so much joy and excitement to know that I will soon have a family of my own. I feel as though I am stepping into a new corner of womanhood and exploring a part of myself that I wouldn’t have had the courage to explore before the initiation. I feel excited, renewed, strengthened and powerful as a woman, bringing forth new life into this world, and standing in the mystery of it all.
Sacred Fire: How has the community played a part in initiation or in your path to your upcoming birth?
Cassandra: The community watered my growth into womanhood just as the rain brings life to the land. I felt so loved and supported that it was easy for my authentic self to blossom. Throughout the process of the initiation, afterward and until now I have never felt more supported by so many people. The community as a whole helped to support my journey financially, emotionally and spiritually. A diversity of individuals helped me go through the loss of my brother, donated towards the initiation, and helped provide me with the wisdom, guidance and perspective that kept me moving forward. It has been the same way as I prepare to be a mother. Several local woman here from the fire circle put on a Blessingway to welcome me into motherhood. I am so touched by the generosity and heart of so many people. It gives me the strength and courage to move forward even as our society enters such difficult times.
Are you a young person between the ages of 16-24? Or do you know of someone that age? Perhaps you might want to assist young people being initiated on the support team? Learn more about Sacred Fire Community young women’s and young men’s initiations.