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When I was in my mid-20s I was involved in a pretty scary bike accident that resulted in a concussion.  (No I wasn't wearing a helmet...derp.) Stuck in bed and unable to work at my job as a baker, I plunged into a depression.

A few months later, my mother offered to host a coming of age ritual for me at her house. I didn't really know what that meant, but it had to be better than the foggy dystopian nightmare I found myself in. She asked me to identify 5-10 older women whom I respected and admired.


On the afternoon of the Winter Solstice, I went to her house for the ritual. An artist friend had made me a papier mache mask that I wore for the duration of the event, which was simple, but powerful. After lighting some candles and incense, my mom invited each elder woman to share poetry or prose that offered a reflection of me as I was, or the me that was yet to be, or insights into the dazzlingly ordered yet incomprehensible machinations of the universe I had yet to really explore. Through their reflections in this momentarily sacred container, I could take the bigger view of my injury, my life, and my purpose. I caught a glimpse of the complex interplay between shadow and light, death and life, fear and love. These elders invited me to hear, and heed, the call of my own (lower-case "s") soul, and offered specific tactics to do so, including art, dream work, mythology, storytelling, dance, automatic writing, and ritual — practices I continue to use today.

The next year, the fog lifted and I discovered I loved to write. In the decades that followed, I worked as a journalist, a web producer, an online community manager, an education editor, and director of innovation at the George Lucas Educational Foundation. I volunteered to co-produce TEDxSFED, and spoke at conferences on design thinking, maker-centered education, and student-designed rites of passage.

After the 2016 election, I was Inspired to see how I could bring the gifts of ritual that I had experienced to today's young people. I went back to graduate school at Teachers College, Columbia University where I dove into the research around ritual and rites of passage, discovering what I had suspected, that these practices deepen resilience and help us hone our sense of purpose.  In 2019, I got my master's degree in psychology in education, and was awarded a Mira Fellowship to turn this work into a program.

On the eve of the coronavirus pandemic, founded the Center for Ritual Design as a resource for individuals and organizations undergoing through major transitions to find tools and resources for designing meaningful rituals and rites of passage. We are truly amid a global rite of passage unlike any we've ever seen before. 

Keynotes and Presentations
Workshops and Coaching

“Who Cares?”  Empowering Students With Purpose

With all the disruptive chaos in today’s world, now is not the time to neglect our students’ sense of who they are or what matters to them. Indeed, to cultivate resilient, passionate, engaged adults, we must design educational experiences that strengthen students' inner awareness, so they can know their strengths more deeply and apply themselves to solving the world’s most vexing problems. This keynote provides inspirational stories and a framework to support educators looking to build purpose-based experiences in their schools.

Design a Meaningful Family Ritual Amid Global Pandemic

With our normal routines disrupted amid the backdrop of fear, it has become increasingly challenging to focus. In this hour-long workshop, in true spirit of "put on your own oxygen mask before helping others," participants will go through the process of designing a ritual for themselves.

Contemporary Rites of Passage for Tomorrow's Leaders

Since we first put pigment to cave walls, we humans have prepared our young people for adulthood via an organized, ritualized rite of passage.  I believe modern education ignores this more soulful process, and that our young people suffer a crisis of meaning and purpose as a result. In this presentation, I present a customizable model that can be used by parents, educators, and other community leaders to design a contemporary rite of passage experiences for young people that prepares them in mind, body, soul, and spirit for the complex future they will inherit.

1:1 Coaching Services

I work with young people 12-18 to help them design meaningful rites of passage as a way to mark their coming of age. Typically, engagement is for 9 months.  Please reach out to me directly and we can discuss your needs.

© 2020 by Betty Ray Consulting