21st June 2016

Prelude : Apprehension of a Rite of Passagesilhouette-of-signpost

The time of making the change in my work portfolio is getting very near, and I am aware of feeling distinctly unsettled.  I see this commitment to a year of intense meditation practise as an extended rite of passage. I have done a lot of work with ritual in my time, including the intensive Men’s Rites of Passage weeks that took place at my friend Eric Maddern’s eco-encampment, Cae Mabon, in Snowdonia. I had one of the most intense transpersonal experience of my life in my first Rites of Passage, in 1996.  I went into that week with a delightful naivety, and what emerged was a profound gift, a beacon that has illuminated my life ever since. Having done much more work with ritual since, I am now very aware how embarking on a conscious rite of passage such as that one involves a deliberate stepping into the unknown. It is an act of courage. If there is not some apprehension at the start, then it is likely little will result from it.

It is like doing a gig in that way (I am a professional musician – see, After having done hundreds of gigs over 35 years, I still get the butterflies, the mixture of nerves and excitement, in the lead up to the performance.  I am clear I would not be without it. A gig without that feeling would be one where I know the music so well, and it is so well within my technical comfort zone,  that there is absolutely no danger of going wrong. That is a kind of ‘dead’ zone. I have seen it when I used to dep in West End Musicals. It was scary to see musicians who had played the same music (not great music, either, it has to be said) week in, week out, for as much as 10 years.  I would rather stack shelves in a supermarket than do that.  For me, in making music there has to be that ‘edge’;  that sense of going into the unknown, even if one has practised the music over and over; I need to have the feeling that I need to be ‘on my metal’ in the gig.

ChrysalisSo it is with Rites of Passage. The image of the caterpillar deliberately weaving its chrysalis, wherein it will dissolve in order to reconstitute itself in new form is so often cited because it serves so well. (With meditation, the metaphor is particularly apt, because both involve stillness, and apparent inactivity; it is below the surface that transformation is taking place.)  I will be letting go of some things that are familiar; I will be going into what is, for me, uncharted territory.  Though I may have read many people’s descriptions of the meditative path, nonetheless my journey will be uniquely mine. And, whatever I may have read, I really do not know what I will encounter. I will be changing my sense of self, of who, and what, ’I’ am .

So a degree of apprehension is both inevitable and a good, healthy, sign.

The word ‘apprehend’ comes from the Latin, ‘apprehendere’: ‘ad’ – towards, and ‘prehendere’ – to take hold of. The verb has two meanings in English:  to seize or capture, as in to arrest someone; and also to understand, to recognise, to grasp. So the ‘apprehension’ that means uneasiness, or trepidation, has within it the sense that one’s psyche has ‘grasped’ what is coming; one understands or recognises the journey ahead on some level.

I have been through enough gigs, and enough deliberate Rites of Passage, to say ‘Welcome’ to this apprehension. And to see in it the excitement of a journey ahead, the desire for which I know comes from somewhere deep in my Soul.

I will say more about my specific expectations, hopes and fears in another blog.



© Steve Banks 2016