Do you recall the opening scene from Sleeping Beauty? A grand hall, with the King and Queen on their thrones, presenting their newborn daughter to their guests, all of whom bestow gifts to the newborn. Along flutter in the Fairy Godmothers Flora, Fauna and Merryweather who too bestow their gifts upon the child. Cue evil Witch throws a tantrum for not being invited and curses Princess Aurora, and the story takes off from there.
The idea of having that sort of introduction has always appealed to me. Yes, Baptism is something that kinda has the same purpose - but that is solely religious followed by a reception, so to me, people just attend for the sake of it without giving it too much thought. For the most part,they are spectators. As previously mentioned, I have yet to decide whether this is something I will go for.
One ceremony I know I do wish to hold is a Saining Ritual. I can see your blank faces staring perplexed at me in my mind's eye. Worry not, I'll explain what I mean.
Different religions have different Rites of Passage. As Pagans, we too have our own versions of such rites that mark the milestones of a person's life. In Wicca, the Baptism equivalent is known as Wiccaning. I don't consider myself Wiccan though as it is too restrictive a term for my liking. Which is why I opt to call myself Pagan. Anyway, semantics.
"What does it involve though??" you might be wondering.
Well, it is a ritual that involves presenting the newborn child to society, and to the Divine, without committing them to a particular religion. And it tends to also involved a naming ceremony. It is not a legally recognised ceremony in Malta [for now, anyway. Who knows, things may change.] however I find it suits my idea of what it all should be like.
The basics of the rite itself are pretty standard - but like other ceremonies [think of Weddings, for example] it can be personalised. I have been discussing it with a good friend of mine and doing some research as to who has to be involved and to get ideas to design the ceremony myself. I have come across quite a few interesting ideas, however it is still in the works. You do need to have Baby present, of course. Sometimes a celebrant leads the ceremony - in this case, s/he would be referred to as the High Priest/ess or alternatively, the parent of opposite sex to Baby can act out the role. It is also standard practice to have Godparents present who pledge themselves to being present throughout the child's life to provide support and guidance. By no means is this a legally-binding position - however to me, a person's word is much more binding than any legal contracts. In certain versions of the ceremony, you get to have 4 people representing the elements who are also actively involved in the rite itself. In other versions, they are not required and the High Prriest/ess calls the elements.
Ok, looks like I may have lost you there.
Whenever a ritual is being played out in Paganism, it is customary to invoke the elements. Since Paganism is an earth-based belief, and has no need for stone/wooden buildings to act as places of worship, it is ideal to create a 'Sacred Space'. It becomes a place which is no place, and a time which is no time. All the invocation entails is pretty much to ask the Four Elements of Air, Earth, Fire and Water to be present in order to provide protection and guidance. The circle itself does not need to physically exist - it can merely be visualised. It allows you to separate yourself from Daily Life and leave all negativity outside of that serene place you will have created for yourself and any others joining you.
There is also an invitation sent out to the God and Goddess to be witnesses of it all, and to provide protection and guidance to all people within the sacred space. Lost you again, have I?
Ok, picture this. The Yin-yang. Th God and The Goddess are neither 100% good nor 100% evil - for in nature there is no such absolute. Therefore you get the white bit of the Yin-Yang sporting a black dot, and the black bit sporting a white dot. Together, these two halves make up one symbol . In the same fashion, the God and the Goddess make up The One.. The All.. The Source of all that ever was, is and will be, Now, you might still be confused as to which God and Goddess I'm referring to. Picture a disco ball. All the tiny mirrors that make up the ball are all the different Goddesses ever mentioned and/or worshipped throughout history of mankind. They all represent different aspects of the same entity. The same symbolism can be applied to the God.
As you may have deducted from the chants I have posted - unlike its Catholic equivalent, Saining would involve singing - and yes, sometimes dancing and drumming and all sorts of merrymaking. Prayer does not have to be serious business - after all, if the Divine didn't have a sense of humour they would not have made sex such a hilarious process to have to go through.
Last but not least, the people you need to have around are the Guests - to which after both the parent[s] and the Godparents commit themselves to protecting and assisting the newborn child throughout life, the child him/herself is presented. All people involve get to wish something on behalf of the child, or make a promise to the child that they must stick to.
As with all rituals, Saining would then be followed by lots of delicious food and drinks and socialising. This is where the 'reception' bit would kick in, basically.
It will happen - it is purely a matter of deciding when,and who to involve. I understand some people might not feel comfortable attending a rite which doesn't belong to their faith. I only hope that whoever does show up, will take the same attitude I adopt whenever attending a Wedding or a Funeral myself. Although I am not of the Catholic Faith, I still show up out of respect for the person involved.