Initiation is the universal
process of helping youth become adults. They are most often strict
in ceremony and ritual, and each generation goes through them. This
creates a continuity within the community and helps prevent any misunderstandings
about who "has made it and who has not." Just as ceremonies
are the actual activities to help complete and honor rituals, Rites
of Passage are the actual approaches within an overall initiation,
which counts on the Hero's
Journey model to actually complete the activity.
Initiations are universal throughout time and geography. Basically every culture that existed or still exists used them to create personal growth and continuity within the community. Removing these practices from our modern culture has had an enormous, negative impact on our adolescents, who no longer have any structured or acknowledged path to adulthood, manhood and womanhood. Quite simply, older cultures would never have let their youth stumble around hoping to find these dynamics, and never treated the complexity of adolescence as "a phase they are going through." The need to guide youth through this transition was discovered and implemented by all native cultures.
The argument I hear most often against this information is our Western propensity to dismiss native cultures as having any value in a modern world. If we really do believe each day was a struggle to provide a meager existence (which I do not believe), then the point for me is why would so many cultures use the same process if it gave no direct results? If they really had no resources or time to spare, then they would not have donated so much time or energy to these practices. It is just this situation that convinces me of the value of these practices. Indeed, trial and error throughout millennia seemed to lead all our native cultures to the same conclusion, and therefore the same deliveries.
All material Copyright
by Bret Stephenson 1997-2012
Last Updated Feb. 19, 2012