Ceremony and the Search for Identity

Jordan Pond, Acadia National ParkHealers are often asked to help persons who are struggling with identity issues. This makes sense as questions of identity are central to our human understanding of Self.

Perhaps you have heard “Who Am I” by Country Joe and the Fish. The song, an anthem to the search for identity among young adults in the late 60’s, grappled with profound questions of belonging. Its most famous line is, “Who am I To stand and wonder, to wait while the wheels of fate Slowly grind my life away.”

The reality that large forces may have a crushing impact on Self is a central concern for many healing traditions in the colonized world. The perception that such forces, including the dominant culture, are determining, or undermining, one’s identity can be profoundly disturbing. This may be particularly true for persons of mixed race or cultural heritage. All too often lineages are mutually rejecting. How is one to embrace a complex heritage when the branches of that heritage deny the identity claims of the others?

Ceremony can aid individuals, families, and communities bridge conflicting cultural and racial identities, and support the incorporation of disparate aspects of self. Crucially, ceremony can also provide a supportive audience for evolving understandings of identity. Has ceremony aided your quest for identity?

6 thoughts on “Ceremony and the Search for Identity

  1. Michael: I am so grateful for your perspective here!. In these time when we all in our various ways– growing old, finding ways to “re’invent” outselves, contfronting the fact that we are harming our bodies, and harming the very planet that sustains out lives!– we must embrace/confront the way our “identies” are linked with each other and our home, the earth!

  2. Michael: I am sorry for all the typographical “errors” above in my post. A symptom of the way I am–and I imagine most of us in our own ways— are moving too fast, and not as “present” in our lives as we need to be!

    1. Thank you, Rob. I must say I did not even notice the errors! LOL! It is the Internet after all!

      Yes, we are aging in an unusual time. So many challenges and so much heart ache. Of course, Life will continue, as it has for an unimaginable length of time. There is no way to know what things will look/be like in a million years from now. Probably a multitude of new life forms. Yet, in our short frame of reference, things are beak, indeed. We are a strange species.

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