Karen’s Ceremony Blog


Coming out of the closet may be easier now for some folks than it was “back in my day” but it’s still a big deal, especially for those in more conservative religious communities, like 12 year old Savannah.  That’s why some people have Coming Out Ceremonies that contain spiritual and sometimes religious aspects.  In my training I learned about Arnold Van Gennep’s theories about rites of passage.   The move from “assumed normative heterosexuality” to “wheeeee this is meeeee” (in whatever spot on the gender preference continuum a person places themselves) is certainly one of those!   Van Gennep was an ethnographer who believed that rites of passage had three phases:  separation, transition (liminality), and incorporation.  A Coming Out Rite would have references to the individual’s former way of being, symbols of the difficulties they might face as they move into their new role, and conclude with the person being welcomed by their friends, old and new, into their newly claimed identity. There are many options for how this rite could be performed. It could be a completely secular ceremony with no spiritual overtones whatsoever.  On the other hand, it might include religious professionals from welcoming congregations, just in case […]

Creating A Rite to Come Out


I started Spirited Transitions almost a year ago when I promoted my business from a booth at Central Oregon Pride.  In a year of learning, both in an online classroom and by doing the work, I’ve learned a very important aspect of my personality.  I’m not a business woman. Sigh. While I truly love writing and creating ceremonies, interviewing people while they are experiencing strong emotion, and performing beautiful rituals, I really hate self-promotion!  I haven’t joined the chamber of commerce.  I don’t put up posters.  I rarely carry around and hand out my cards.  And while I’ve promoted myself to the funeral agency here and met some wonderful folks who work in it, they didn’t hire me as a staff member and I’m not comfortable reminding them constantly that I’m available.  So here’s my thought:  I’m at your disposal if you want me but I’m not going looking for you.  I don’t pressure.  I don’t sell up. Here’s my new vision statement:  

Business Vision



In a recent On Being podcast, public philosopher Alain de Botton lamented the loss of ritual in secularized society.  He was explaining the work he did in his book, Religion for Atheists, in which he writes: “Secular society has been unfairly impoverished by the loss of an array of practices and themes which atheists typically find it impossible to live with because they seem too closely associated with, to quote Nietzsche’s useful phrase, ‘the bad odours of religion’. . . . In giving up on so much, we have allowed religion to claim as its exclusive dominion areas of experience which should rightly belong to all mankind — and which we should be unembarrassed about reappropriating for the secular realm. . . . The challenge facing atheists is how to reverse the process of religious colonization:  how to separate ideas and rituals from the religious institutions which have laid claim to them but don’t truly own them.” This is an important message for many of America’s younger folk as they leave organized religion in greater and greater numbers.  According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, over a third of millennials identify themselves as having no religion.  This […]

Atheists Need Ritual Too


This week I’ve marked my graduation from the Celebrant Institute and Foundation twice.  The first time was at a lovely local party attended by a group of old and new friends and the second time was at the Institute’s phone in graduation ceremony. I hosted my graduation party at Atelier 6000 because I’d bid “party at A6”  at one of the gallery’s fundraisers.  I like holding parties away from my own home because it means all I have to do is provide the drinks and food.  There’s no clean-up required! Without clean-up duties to keep me busy I was free to fret about the short speech in which I explained to my friends what exactly I am doing with this new business.  I was amused last night when one of the speakers at the Institute’s phone-in graduation began her address with the same joke I used on Sunday night about people hearing “Celibacy” or “Celibate” when one says “Celebrancy” or “Celebrant.”  Two friends took pictures of the event.  You’ll see A6’s current exhibition of wonderful “Floating World” prints in the background of this photo by Jed Holdorph, pastor at Trinity Episcopal, Bend. While I love any excuse for a party, […]

Celebrant Graduation!



I attended a lovely church wedding at Trinity Episcopal Church on Friday evening and it got me thinking.  As a wedding officiant currently in training to be a celebrant (through the Celebrant Foundation and Institute) I am not able to provide the beautiful setting of a church.  As minister who got her credentials by “mail order,” I also avoid claiming the authority of someone who went to a seminary. But much of the beauty in a traditional church service also makes it a problem for many people.  That’s because the pastor’s first commitment is to the God and tradition being served.  Therefore the focus is on the couple’s relationship to that Being.  In an evangelical Christian service this might include an altar call.  In the Episcopal church this included the language of the Book of Common Prayer.  This language includes reverent passages like: “The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee.” (BCP p. 423) Not everyone, not even every Christian, wants Jesus placed front and center at their Wedding service. Traditional Church services […]

Church Wedding Pros and Cons