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Requiem of the Human Soul, by Jeremy Lent
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When you're born into a Humanist community, you grow up very differently from the rest of the world.

Your life is defined by milestones and roles that are unheard of in the rest of the world: Initiation Day, Spirit Guides and Vision Day.

Read more to find out what you've missed out on by not growing up a Humanist...

initiation day

Initiation Day takes place for a boy after he celebrates his thirteenth birthday, and for a girl once she has reached twelve years.  It's the first time that a child takes an active and public role in one of the Ancestor Days.  

The specific holiday that becomes a child's Initiation Day is decided by the ancient language that he or she has learned to speak.  For example, if a boy has learned the ancient Aboriginal language, Warlpiri , then his Initiation Day takes place on the March 1 following his thirteenth birthday, the day commemorating the discovery of Australia by the white man and the beginning of the end of the Aboriginal culture.  

On his Initiation Day, during the morning prayers to the ancestors, the boy stands in front of the whole Tuckers Corner community and prays to the Aboriginal ancestors in their own language.   Part of this prayer would be traditional verses remaining the same from year to year.   Another part of the prayer would be written by the boy himself.  

This would be the boy's own individual gift to the body of literature that exists in the Warlpiri language.   It might be simple and modest in scope, but it would be a creation from the boy's own mind.

spirit guide

Beyond the symbolic and public initiation into the Humanist community, there is an even more important element to Initiation Day .   This is the day when the child is assigned his or her Spirit Guide.  

A Spirit Guide is an adult in the Humanist community whom the child's parents entrust with the responsibility of acting as a spiritual mentor to their child during his or her adolescent years.   The Spirit Guide is always the same sex as the child, to avoid the risk of an inappropriate sexual relationship developing.  

The role of Spirit Guide is viewed as the most sacred role in the community, and comes with significant responsibilities.   The Spirit Guide is expected to build a relationship of trust with the child, and to steer a course of helping the child to build his or her unique identity through the challenges of growing up, without undermining the authority of the parents.  

Through the turbulent years of puberty and adolescent, the Spirit Guide is the person that the teenager can go to when they feel misunderstood, alienated and confused by their family or by the world around them.

Your Spirit Guide remains the same person until the day after your eighteenth birthday.   This is called Vision Day, which marks the beginning of adulthood, and is the most important day in the life of a Humanist.   As she gets closer to Vision Day , a Humanist teenager chooses whom she wants as Spirit Guide on Vision Day and beyond.   Sometimes, you want to continue with the same person who's been your Spirit Guide through your teenage years.

Frequently, however, people have developed in a different direction and there is someone else in the community whom they want as their spiritual mentor.  

There are three rules regarding their choice of Spirit Guide:

 - It can't be their parents;

 - It must be someone at least ten years older; and

 - It must be someone of the same sex 

As long as the person meets these three criteria, the teenager can ask anyone in the community to be their Spirit Guide following their eighteenth birthday.   It's considered to be the most special privilege and responsibility in the Humanist community to be asked by someone to be a Spirit Guide.  

vision day

It's important to have the right Spirit Guide on your Vision Day, because there may be no other day in your life that affects you as much. It's a day that takes apart all the building blocks and defenses that you've built up through your teenage years as you've tried to make sense of life, and permits you to put them back together again in the way that means the most to you.   All this is accomplished through the use of another invention of Dr. Julius Schumacher – a drug called Perception .

Perception is a drug that temporarily alters the working of the mind.   Only this drug works very differently from Spirit Broth.   Perception works by temporarily blocking the neural pathways in the brain that assign every-day meaning to things.  

For example, imagine you're an infant and you experience a rose for the first time in your life in a neighbor's front yard.   At that moment, you might be overcome by the beauty and uniqueness of the rose: the softness of the petals, the scent, the beauty of the shape of the flower, how it seems to open up to invite you in, the sharpness of the thorns.   All this might have been an overwhelming experience for a few moments.   But then, as the years go on, your brain learns to suppress the intensity of those experiences and starts attaching a more mundane meaning to the rose.   It simply becomes a nice ornament in your neighbor's front yard, and has no other significance.  

The human mind couldn't function normally if the intensity of that first experience remained uppermost in your consciousness.  When you take Perception, the mundane, everyday meanings and associations of your neural pathways are temporarily blocked, and for a few hours you're experiencing the rose again for what it really is, as if for the first time.

The first experience of taking Perception is awesome and terrifying.   That's why it's a golden rule in Humanist society that you never take Perception without the presence of your Spirit Guide.   Otherwise, it could cause permanent harm to your psyche.

[Read about Eusebio's first experience on Perception: PDF or HTML]

In Humanist society, the use of Perception is strictly regulated.   You are never allowed to use it before your Vision Day.   You must only use it in the presence of your Spirit Guide .   After your Vision Day, you can choose to use it once a year, if you feel the need, but no more frequently than that.  

However, on every fifth anniversary of your Vision Day, you are supposed to use it again, to do a "tune up" with yourself, to remember the elements of meaning in your life and to see how those elements have changed as your own life has changed.


[Read about how the Humanists deal with the outside world]

© 2010 Jeremy Lent. All Rights Reserved.

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