Coming of Age: The Importance of Male Rites of Passage

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 9, 2008 · 73 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood

The elders of the tribe stood in front of the hut and beckoned for the young man to come out and begin the festivities of the special day. The young man had barely slept the night before, anxiously anticipating the tests he would soon be called to endure. As he rose to meet the elder, he was aware of a great gnawing in his stomach; he had had nothing to eat for the last three days as he purged his body of impurities.

The ceremony soon began. The elders of tribe pierced his chest, shoulder, and back muscles with large wooden splints. Ropes, which extended from the roof of the hut, were then attached to the splints, and the young man was winched up into the air, his whole body weight suspended from the ropes. Agonizing pain coursed through the young man’s body, but he gritted his teeth and tried not to cry out. While hanging in the air, more splints were hammered through his arms and legs. Skulls of his dead grandfather and other ancestors were placed on the ends of the splints. All the while, the young man cried aloud to the Great Spirit for courage to endure. Eventually, the young man fainted from the loss of blood and the sheer pain of the torture. When the elders were sure he was unconscious, he was lowered down and the ropes were removed. Yet the splints were left in place. When the young man recovered consciousness, he offered his left pinky to the tribal elders to be sacrificed. He placed his finger on a block and had it swiftly chopped off. This was a gift to the gods and would enable the young man to become a powerful hunter. Finally, the young man ran inside a ring where his fellow villagers had gathered. As he ran, the villagers reached out and grabbed the still embedded splints, ripping them free. The splints weren’t allowed to be pulled out way they had been hammered in, but had to be torn out in the opposite direction, causing the young man even greater pain and worse wounds. This concluded the day’s ceremony.

The young man was exhausted and bloodied, but euphoric. He had been beyond glad to participate in the ritual. This was the greatest day of his life; today he was a man.

While the coming of age ceremony of the Mandan tribe is a particularly gruesome example, peoples and cultures from prehistoric times onward created rites of passage to initiate boys into manhood. Today, such rites of passage are almost extinct. Boys lack clear markers on their journey to becoming a man. If you ask them when the transition occurs, you will get a variety of answers: “”When you get a car,” “When you graduate from college,” “When you get a real job,” “When you lose your virginity,” “When you get married, “When you have a kid,” and so on. The problem with many of these traditional rites of passage is that they have been put off further and further in a young man’s life. 50 years ago the average age an American man started a family was 22. Today, men (for ill or good) are getting married and having kids later in life. With these traditional rites of passage increasingly being delayed, many men are left feeling stuck between boyhood and manhood. College? Fewer men are graduating. And many that do “boomerang” back home again, spending another few years figuring out what the next step in their life should be. As traditional rites of passage have become fuzzier, young men are plagued with a sense of being adrift.

Of course the process of becoming a man, ceremony or not, does not happen in a single moment. But rites of passage are important in delineating when a boy should start thinking of himself as a man, when he should start carrying himself as a man, when the community should start respecting him as a man, and when he should start shouldering the responsibilities of a man. Lacking these important markers, many young men today belabor their childhood, never sure of when they’ve really “manned up.”

What Is a Rite of Passage

Sociologists have identified three phases that constitute a proper rite of passage: separation, transition, and re-incorporation.

Separation: During this phase an initiate is separated in some way from his former life. In the case of the Mandan tribe, the young man was isolated from the village in a hut for three days. In other tribes, boys’ heads were shaved and they were ritually bathed and/or tattooed. In a more modern example, when a man has just enlisted in the military, he is sent away to boot camp. His former possessions are put aside, his head is shaved, and he is given a uniform to wear. During the separation phase, part of the old self is extinguished as the initiate prepares to create a new identity.

Transition: During this phase, the initiate is between worlds-no longer part of his old life but not yet fully inducted into his new one. He is taught the knowledge needed to become a full-fledged member of that group. And he is called upon to pass tests that show he is ready for the leap. In tribal societies, the elders would impart to the initiate what it meant to be a man and how the boy was to conduct himself once he had become one. The initiate would then participate in ritual ceremonies which often involved pain and endurance. In the case of the new soldier, he is yelled at, prodded, exercised, and disciplined to prepare him to receive a rank and title.

Re-incorporation. In this phase, the initiate, having passed the tests necessary and proving himself worthy, is re-introduced into his community, which recognizes and honors his new status within the group. For tribal societies, this meant a village-wide feast and celebration. The boy would now be recognized by all tribe members as a man and allowed to participate in the activities and responsibilities that status conferred. For the soldier, his boot camp experience would come to an end and both his superiors and his family would join in a ceremony to recognize his new status as a full-fledged member of the military.

During the all phases of the process, the men who have gone through the ritual themselves guide the young initiate on his journey. By controlling the rite of passage, the men decide when a boy becomes a man.

Creating Modern Rites of Passage for Boys

There have been several movements to try to resurrect rites of passage for men. The most recent attempt occurred in the early 1990s with the mythopoetic men’s movement. Books like Iron John and King, Warrior, Magician Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine encouraged men to find meaningful male rites of passage. The mythopoetic men’s movement petered out, and along with it the movement to restore male rites of passage.

The greatest difficulty in establishing rites of passage today is recreating the “re-incorporation” phase of the process. Today boys are rarely an integral part of any larger community, much less one that recognizes and agrees on certain rites of passage. But they can be reconfigured for the modern age and still act as meaningful transition points in a boy’s life. Rites of passage should serve as a catalyst that propels a boy’s passage into manhood.

When Should The Rite of Passage Occur?

Before deciding what the rite of passage will be, you’ll first need to decide at which age your son should take part it in it. In some tribal cultures, boys as young as eight go through rites of passage and come out as men in their community. Burdening an eight year old with the full responsibilities of manhood probably won’t work in most Western societies. A good time to take your son through a rite of passage into manhood is after they graduate high school. By then, they’re about 18 years old, the age at which society legally deems them an adult. And they are about to begin a new chapter in their lives. A rite of passage should help them navigate the path they’ll be heading down.

Creating Rites of Passage in Your Religious Community

Some of the few rites of passage that are still widely recognized occur within religious organizations. Whether a young man is confirmed into the Catholic Church, baptized into his evangelical congregation, or celebrates his bar mitzvah, churches still provide the kind of community recognition that makes a rite of passage possible.

Yet, while these rites of passage are often already in place, they can be helped along by families and fathers. These ceremonies can either be a big deal, a ceremony in which a boy truly feels like he is transitioning into manhood, or they can be just another ho-hum affair-another thing he is “supposed” to do and takes part in simply because his family expects him to. A dad can make sure it’s the former by preparing his son for quite awhile before the actual ceremony occurs. Ideally, you should be talking with your son from the time he is a little tyke about what it means to become a man in your faith tradition and how to prepare himself for his future rite of passage. As the time draws closer, schedule weekly events in which you discuss the principles of your faith, your personal views on weighty matters, and your advice on being a man of faith. Let you son know how important you view the rite of passage and impress upon him the solemnity of the occasion. Set a weekly tradition such as a father/son scripture study that will countdown the time until his rite of passage is to occur.

Creating a Rite of Passage in Your Family

One needs not be a member of a religious community to undergo a rite of passage into manhood. A family is a very small community unto itself, and parents may create unique familial ceremonies in which sons are inducted into manhood. The options for such a ceremony are limited only by your creativity. Consider drawing up a list of tasks your son must learn to perform himself. When he has mastered all of these skills, throw him a celebration in which you present him with a medallion of some sort to commemorate the occasion. Or take him on a long backpacking trip in which he is responsible for making the fire, setting up camp, navigating, cooking food, ect. Along the way impart all the manly wisdom you have gleaned from life experience. Or you might want to take an extended father/son road trip. To increase the “separation” required of a rite of passage, consider sending your son on a service trip to a foreign country or on a trip guided by an organization like Outward Bound. Enrolling your son in Boy Scouts is another great option. The Scouts have built in “rites of passage” that increase boys’ skills, ,responsibilities, and feelings of competence. Whichever avenue you choose, the important thing is to imbue the process with great significance. Don’t be cheesy about it, be sincere. And treat your son differently when the process is complete, giving him both greater respect and greater responsibility.

Creating a Personal Rite of Passage

Some of you may have missed out on the opportunity to take part in some sort of rite of passage and may feel a bit adrift, in limbo between boyhood and manhood. Do not despair. You can create a personal rite of passage for yourself. While the “re-introduction” phase may not be as significant in this case, you can reenter your community knowing inside yourself that you are a changed man. Draw up a list of goals, head out into the wilderness, take a mission trip, join Americorps or Peace Corps, join the military, pledge a worthy college fraternity or a fraternal lodge….it doesn’t matter as long as you commit to it with the idea that you’re going to give the experience everything you have and allow it to help you transition into manhood.

Now it’s your turn. Please share with us the rites of passage you went through that marked your passage from boyhood to manhood. Do you have any other ideas for rites of passages for boys today? Drop a line in the comment box and share your thoughts.

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dennis November 9, 2008 at 11:25 pm

This article makes me think of my sociology class that I took this summer. While we were going over the first topic we talked a bit about “Re-socialization.” From Wikipedia:

Resocialization is a sociological concept dealing with the process of mentally and emotionally “re-training” a person so that he or she can operate in an environment other than that which he or she is accustomed to. Key examples include the process of resocializing new recruits into the military so that they can operate as soldiers (or, in other words, as members of a cohesive unit) and the reverse process, in which those who have become accustomed to such roles return to society after military discharge.

Male rights of passage essentially transform someone and prepare them for the environment of manhood vs. boyhood. For more information of an academic nature, check out the work of Erving Goffman or Robert Jay Lifton. I find it very satisfying to think of AoM from a sociological perspective from time to time.

2 thestick November 9, 2008 at 11:27 pm

i have left my hair to grow for the last year, and i feel like i am a different and better person when i look into the mirror. I will soon cut it to mark a different change. It’s a small thing but it works.

3 Tom Kregenbild November 9, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Your words are very true

I grew up in Israel an now i serve in the army. I am not much of a warrior (I’m a computer technician) but the experience of boot camp and the professional course I did really made me into a grown man. It’s not something that comes in a day or two, but one day you realize what a little child you were and how much responsibility you have now.

Thank you for yet another great article.

4 tekym November 9, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Great article. I agree that significant rites of passage are something Western society is lacking in. My family is only nominally Catholic (Christmas and Easter), and I never got confirmed, so missed out on that rite of passage. Not that I feel the loss; I no longer consider myself Catholic, and even if I had been confirmed I’m sure that for me it would have been just another thing to do, like you said, not anything special.

“As traditional rites of passage have become fuzzier, young men are plagued with a sense of being adrift.” – I certainly feel that. I’m about to graduate college in May, but I currently have no sense of what’s next, or how to get there.

I particularly like the idea of a wilderness expedition as a rite of passage. Go out into the woods somewhere deep in a national park or something for a week and learn skills applicable to such a situation. That really appeals to me.

5 Josh November 10, 2008 at 12:46 am

Infantry School, huah.

6 Valeria | TimelessLessons November 10, 2008 at 1:42 am

I think it’s fairly clear that in most occidental countries, and outside of certain religious communities who formalize this passage, rites of passage today have been reduced to things like getting one’s driver’s license, having sex for the first time, getting a first job.

7 Darren Alff - Bicycle Touring Pro November 10, 2008 at 3:08 am

After graduating from high school (I had just turned 17) I departed on a one month journey in which I pedaled a fully loaded bicycle from Oregon to Mexico down the California coastline.

Prior to that trip, I had never been away from my parents for more than 5 days and I had never been forced to make so many decisions on my own. The trip not only opened up a whole new world to me, but changed me from the shy and scared individual I was while in high school to a much more confident and courageous person.

Now I run a website about bicycle travel and I help other young people make similar changes in their own lives. Since that time, I’ve traveled through 29 states and 7 different countries on my bike… and plan to keep going for a very long time. Which makes me think, “When does the right of passage end?” It seems to me like it could keep going for a very long time if you let it. Does it ever end?

8 Duarte November 10, 2008 at 3:50 am

When our much younger friend was turning 18 we thought it was up to us to guide him into the adult world. So we all went on a camping trip to the beach. We talked to him about love, lust, and the subtleties that can make and break a relationship, in short we traded war stories and shared the knowledge we had gained from them. We also thought it was necessary that he come face to face with his mortality. One of the men being a EMT applied an IV line into his vein and let the blood flow over the boys body. Finally we asked him to prove himself to us by catching dinner and cooking us a meal. By the end of the trip he was a man in our eyes but the clincher was taking him to our favorite sports bar and telling our waitresses that he was now legal and a MAN.

9 Jacob November 10, 2008 at 5:04 am

I think Dr. Moore’s work would be invaluable here, if only to see what happens when we do not properly initiate boys into manhood.

http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.1192/article_detail.asp

10 Daniel November 10, 2008 at 5:09 am

I could use a rite of passage, I know that much. Funnily enough I remember reading an article by a well known feminist who shall remain nameless, saying that the end of Western rites of passage or their reduction to insignificance was a victory for women.

11 William Bargo November 10, 2008 at 7:01 am

It was joining the army and finishing Military Police school.

12 Barry November 10, 2008 at 7:44 am

Since I am not a Mandin and couldn’t benefit from their charming ceremony, I was left with my Boy Scout experience as a sort of passage. The wilderness camping certainly separated me from my family and taught self-reliance. It gave me confidence and cultivated friendships with other young men and grown men.

13 Kathryn November 10, 2008 at 7:52 am

The mythopoetic men’s movement is not as prominent these days, but it definitely still exists. I heard Dr. Moore speak last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a new edition of his book either out now or on its way out. Michael Meade also writes on this topic. Some resources for anyone interested: http://www.questforvision.com/warrior.html, http://www.rowecenter.org/schedule/camps/MensWisdom.html, http://www.malespirituality.org/rites_of_passage.htm, http://www.sacredartofliving.org/ritesofpassage.htm, http://www.illinoismalespirituality.org/index.html

14 Mark November 10, 2008 at 8:32 am

This reminds me of a book I read earlier this year. It talks about rites of passage for boys. It is called ‘The Modern Day Knight’. I highly recommend it for anyone with sons.

15 Jeff November 10, 2008 at 8:43 am

The ritual of hanging your body from hooks still exists out there among white punk hippie kids. Search for “body suspension” on youtube. People are insane.

16 Bart November 10, 2008 at 10:56 am

I’m a member of the LDS Church (Mormon), and in it young men are encouraged to prepare (financially and spiritually) and go on a two year church service mission. These missions have the 3 essentials of a rite of passage mentioned above.

Although these missions are about serving the church and public – not personal improvement – they have the effect of transforming young men into Men with a capital M.

These missions involve the young man getting shipped off from home – often out of the country and he learns a new language – and serving the church with limited contact to the family. Mormon missionary all conform to a simple, clean cut appearance – white shirts, conservative tie, dark dress suit. Missionaries are instructed to not watch television, listen to the radio, surf the internet, date, pursue personal interests, and read books other than essential spiritual texts like scriptures, etc. (Separation)

Missionaries are often taught to speak a new language and given strict guidelines to govern their time and behavior. Basically, every day starts early (6:30). The regiment includes study of church doctrine, study of the foreign language, and exercise. After breakfast, missionary work commences till nightfall with brief breaks for meals. The evening closes with a planning session that maps out the next days specific activities and prayer. Rinse, wash, repeat. (Transition)

After the two year mission is over, the young man “returns with honor” and is greeted by family and friends. There usually is a party/feast and the missionary is asked to speak to local congregations about his experience. Church leaders encourage and guide the young man to start/continue college, date for the purpose of marriage, and start his path as a man. (Re-incorporation)

17 NTO November 10, 2008 at 11:00 am

I had my own trip into the wilderness in this year. I decided to do it without having clear goals, but the experience in the mountains changed me.

The only ATM in town was broken, and my cell phone died. I was 16 hours away from home, and I panicked. But loneliness and nature gave me back a lot of self-confidence and peace; finally it became an awesome adventure with great lessons in manhood and character. It lasted four days…

A very good book is The Way of the Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge. It talks about certain archetypes (beloved son, cowboy, warrior, etc.) and the chance to restore them even when we are living in adulthood.

@Darren, I believe rites of passage never end, since we are moving from phase to phase in manhood, and each one deserves it’s own coming of age.

18 Peter November 10, 2008 at 11:01 am

Great Article. I read ‘Iron John’ when I was a teen. I didn’t understand it at the time, but this article does an excellent job of articulating the importance of the rite of passage for men. Being a thirty year old boy is a prison, but I there are a lot of options to have this experience.

I think a rite of passage ultimately boils down to creating a sense of self confidence and personal responsibility. I did not have a clearly defined passage, but these experiences helped me a lot:

a) Get involved in a sport or activity that you are scared of. I got involved in Rock Climbing, then sky diving. Facing your fears and performing gives you self confidence, not to mention male bonding. Don’t worry, you won’t die.

b) Go on a service trip or (if you are in college) study abroad. I studied in England for a semester. Total Isolation from my family and peer group for 6 months. I had to work 2 jobs (one under my work permit and one under the table) and go to school to have money to live and eat. My motivation at the time was that I wanted to know what it felt like not to be an American, but, without my intention, having to be totally responsible for myself in a foreign land helped make me self-reliant.

On a total side note, one of the commenters above mentioned that an un-named feminist had written that the death of the male rite of passage ritual was a victory for feminism.

I strongly believe that the qualities of self-confiedence and personal responsibility are beneficial to men and women. In today’s world, our daughters can run for and be elected to the highest office in the land. Given that, doesn’t it make sense that a manly father is focusing on rites of passage to adult hood for ALL of this children?

19 NTO November 10, 2008 at 11:02 am

P.S. If you click on my nickname, you’ll find my blog on the continous rites of passage I have been living in the last year. It’s in spanish tough.

20 Art Gonzalez November 10, 2008 at 2:04 pm

My older boy is turning 13 this Sunday. We are Christians but according to the Jewish tradition this is when the boy goes into adulthood (Bar Mitzvah). Jesus came to the synagogue when he was 13 and conversed with the rest of the adults. I am really proud of my kid. He is a wonderful student, great martial artist and very sweet with his mother and little sister.

I have been blessed by the Lord.

Many blessings to all,

Art Gonzalez
Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

21 Rob Young November 10, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I am currntly a rat at the virginia military Institute. Our right of passage to become a member of the corps of cadets is the ratline. We first under go a hellish week after signing the matriculation roster, during the week we are forced to learn the basic skills of a cadet, marching, rifle drill, how to wear your uniform, how to organize your room, ect. THe week is ended by a crucible where, 2 days later we start classes, we have no priviledges and are forced to walk on the “ratline” which is a line runnign through barracks at the “strain”. The strain is a modified form of attention that is as much painful as it is demeaning. Our heads were shaved the first day, even the female rats have short hair and are not allowed to wear make-up. We eat at the position of attention, luckily not square meals but we still cannot look our heads down but instead only cut our eyes. There are many mroe rules but this is a generalization of what we undergo. Many people here are prior service and wilfully say it is harder than marine corps basic and one guy even says it puts ranger school to shame. I dunno if thats true but I just know I’m doign my best to keep up with it and my classes.

22 Tracy November 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Masonic Lodges!! For many young men in today’s world , the Freemasons offer somewhat tame, but very meaningful, rites of passage. If you are searching, consider dropping by a local lodge and asking some questions. I promise they wont bite!

23 Rodney Hampton November 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

@Jacob
That was a GREAT article.

24 busby seo test November 10, 2008 at 7:24 pm

ty for the knowledge u share about “Coming of Age: The Importance of Male Rites of Passage”

25 Evan November 10, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Great article.
A few experiences come to mind for me:

My first high school love, and losing that at age 20. You live and learn. You get a little hardened, and you see everything you need to improve on. (separation?)

2 months traveling via public transportation from South Africa thru 7 other countries to Nairobi, Kenya at age 22 with 3 other male friends from my rugby club team. When everyone thinks you are going to die, and you have a great and fairly safe time despite daily challenges, you gain confidence and a certain ease. (transition?)

Getting my first job and moving 7000 miles from home at age 23 (now 24). I still talk to my family very often, and they still take care of some things for me because I’m so far away, but having a real job and making real money are huge responsibilities. You suddenly have a responsibility to society and others that you didn’t have in college. (reincorporation?)

I guess I was a little slow, and a little late. And I don’t think I’m done quite yet. I still have to become a wise old man someday.

26 Evan November 10, 2008 at 8:19 pm

I should add one more thing to my post above:
Finally becoming serious about my Faith. (transition)

27 rengal November 11, 2008 at 2:00 am

My husband said to add that for him, assisting in the birth of his children, and catching them as they were born was a major rite of passage for him.

28 Dave November 11, 2008 at 5:28 am

There are still modern rites of passage in Western Society. They have simply become voluntary.

Ten days ago, at 7am, a cannon rang out across the ocean from the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida. Over 2000 people marched into the ocean to begin a 140.6 mile journey. They swam half a mile out into the Gulf of Mexico, turned around, and upon returning to the beach, went back out and did it again. Then they all straddled bikes and rode for 112 miles. Finally, they got off those bright metal steeds and ran a full, 26.2-mile marathon.

When you’re in the middle of an Ironman, you’re surrounded by thousands of other people, but you’re entirely alone. By the time the bike segment was over, my feet were swollen and cramped and barely fit into my running shoes. I pulled them on and headed out. By mile three, my feet were covered in blisters and blood blisters, so I began to walk. At mile 14, the pain disappeared and I jogged again. Then, it returned at mile 15, worse than before. I limped the last 11.2 miles.

When you approach the finish line, even at 10pm like I did, there are still hundreds of people waiting to greet you. They cheer you on, carrying you the final hundred feet with their voices. The announcer tells them all your name. As you finally cross the line, he switches his focus, no longer speaking to the crowd. He tells you: “You are an Ironman.” And all the preparation, all the pain, everything….it’s all worth it.

29 a November 11, 2008 at 5:55 am

Great article!

The link to the Claremont Institute resonated very strongly with me. As a young woman I can’t tell you how true it is of the men (..or should I say boys) in my age group. They’re all barbarians or wimps …and the few inbetween are soooo hard to come by.

30 Jeff Stormer November 11, 2008 at 6:54 am

Yea and verily!
My own rite was basic training. Service is one of *the* defining characteristics of manhood. Whether military, Peace Corps, Americorps–whatever–getting beyond self is critical.

For men like Daniel looking for a rite for themselves, I highly recommend “Men’s Fraternity”, a series written by Robert Lewis, author of “Raising a Modern Day Knight”, also referenced above. There are a total of three “year” sessions and covers a great deal of material.

The following may be of interest as well:

Rites of Passage

In the days of our grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather, boys were trained by the men in the arts of war and the ways of manhood. Women trained the children, and taught girls the ways of women. Boys stayed with their mothers, safe, at home, until the elders of the village determined that the boys had come of age. Then one evening, the elders donned their ceremonial garb of fur and feathers, painted their scars and tattoos, and gathered outside the boys’ homes. They entered and took the boys off into the darkness. The boys’ mothers wept and wailed over the loss of their children, but stood resolutely in the doorway, knowing that their sons must needs leave to become men. On foot and on horse, the men and boys traveled long into the night to a far off place, where boys were trained and men were born. Snatched from their mothers and the comforts of childhood, the boys were dazed and disorientated from the suddenness of the transition upon them and drained from the long, arduous journey. At dawn’s light, they entered a secret place, a man’s place, where they began the grueling process of learning the arts of war and the ways of manhood. They were given knives and spears, bows and shields. Under the watchful and wise eyes of the elders, warriors taught the boys to hunt and to fight, to provision and to protect their families and their villages. To become men. And at the end of this arduous training, they were tested, a trial in the wilderness afar off, in which they might die. Then if they survived the test, they were given the markings of manhood on their bodies: tattoos proclaiming them men of the tribe, scars proclaiming them members of the warrior elite–marks of their status and rank within society. Home they then came, boys no longer but men. And their mothers and their villages feasted them, celebrating their ascension into manhood and mourning the loss of those boys and the boyhood that died in the process of becoming men.
In the days of our father’s father, boys were trained by the men in the arts of war and the ways of manhood. Women trained the children, and taught girls the ways of women. Boys stayed with their mothers, safe, at home, until the elders of the village determined that the boys had come of age. Then one evening, the elders donned their ceremonial garb of jackets and ties, with their patches and ribbons, and sent notice to the boys’ homes. They entered by proxy and took the boys off into the darkness. The boys’ mothers wept and wailed over the loss of their children, but stood resolutely in the doorway, knowing that their sons must needs leave to become men. By bus and by train, the men and boys traveled long into the night to a far off place, where boys were trained and men were born. Snatched from their mothers and the comforts of childhood, the boys were dazed and disorientated from the suddenness of the transition upon them and drained from the long, arduous journey. At dawn’s light, they entered a secret place, a man’s place, where they began the grueling process of learning the arts of war and the ways of manhood. They were given knives and guns, helmets and hand grenades. Under the watchful and wise eyes of the elders, warriors taught the boys to fight and to serve, to protect and to provide for their families and their villages. To become men. And at the end of this arduous training, they were tested, a trial in a country afar off, in which they might die. Then if they survived the test, they were given the markings of manhood on their uniforms: patches proclaiming them men of the tribe, ribbons proclaiming them members of the warrior elite-marks of their status and rank within society. Home they then came, boys no longer but men. And their mothers and their villages feasted them, celebrating their ascension into manhood and mourning the loss of those boys and the boyhood that died in the process of becoming men.
Today, boys train each other how to fight and how to claim their manhood. No one any longer trains the children, and girls know little more of womanhood than the boys do of manhood. Boys stay at the mall, until the ersatz elders of this new market place determined that their time had come. These so-called elders, scarcely older than the boys themselves, don their ceremonial garb of torn jackets and baggy pants, with their colors, piercings, and tattoos, and meet the boys at the mall. The boys left home of their own accord to wander in the darkness. The boys’ mothers, if they noticed at all, curse them and are thankful they leave, perhaps wishing someone else would be the man of the family. By car and by bike, these “men” and boys travel long into the night, making fun of their mothers and the comforts of childhood. At dawn’s light, they enter a secret place, a warehouse or parking garage, where they began the grueling process of learning how to fight the ways of adulthood. They take knives and guns, chains and pipe bombs. Nowhere are there watchful and wise elders; just these self taught “warriors” terrorizing the boys into fighting, stealing, and prostituting. Boys become street hardened to provide for their pimps and their gang leaders. And the end of this arduous life, by which they are tested, they stay in the ‘hood, where they might die young and embittered. If they survive, they get the markings of their so-called manhood: bandanas proclaiming them men of the tribe, piercings and tattoos proclaiming them members of the warrior elite–marks of their status and rank within the gang. They cannot come home. They are boys no longer but victims. And their mothers and their villages wait for them, not to celebrate their ascension into manhood, but to arrest and bury and mourn the loss of those boys and the boyhood that died because they did not become men.

By Jeffrey M D Stormer, M.A.R.
(Adapted from a tale told at the 6th Annual National Association of Therapeutic Wilderness Camps Conference, June 1998.)
©2000

Jeff Stormer has been a professional counselor and therapist in a wilderness camp as well as in the inner city. Story and ritual are an essential part of his repertoire. He has also taught high school and college courses in bible. He is an Eagle Scout and has Woodbadge Scoutmaster training. Most importantly, he has worked as a volunteer youth minister since 1985. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Youth Ministry, and Master of Arts in Religion from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.

31 Casey Capshaw November 11, 2008 at 9:09 am

Oh man this is a great article!

I have been thinking about this intently since we interviewed a local men’s work therapist Jayson Gaddis on my podcast a few months ago. (The New Man Podcast http://is.gd/72fN

I looked back over my life and realized I had spend my late teens and twenties giving myself mini rites of passage, always feeling a deep longing to know “when will I be a man.”

I now realize I went way further than most men ever do, in the extremes of Alaska and Colorado, yet I was never really recognized by society.

I am now facing yet another rite-of-passage in career and relationship at the age of 32! We can do better for future generations. I know I plan to with my boys, should I have them.

Thanks for laying out some initital steps towards creating this in the world. We are the ones that will bring this into being in a healthy way.

case

32 Christopher Canova November 11, 2008 at 12:50 pm

When I was a teenager, I was in the Boy Scouts of America. I was elected by my fellow scouters to be selected for the Order of the Arrow. I will not discuss the rites, but there were distinct and important lessons I learned. I was fortunate that my father went with me so I got to share the experience. Another time, I went on a long camping trip at the Philmont Scout Ranch – also with my father. My boots were branded with a bar PS upon completion. I will definitely encourage my boy to join Scouting. If I have a daughter, I will encourage her to join the Explorers as it’s similar and preferable over Girl Scouts in my opinion.

33 stephen November 11, 2008 at 5:41 pm

May I humbly recommend the attainmet of the Eagle Rank in Boy Scouting as a suitable right of passage, for a boy/man.

34 stephen November 11, 2008 at 5:49 pm

@Christopher Canova
Agreed scouting is a valuable resource for boy, family and community.
My oldest is in college and Eagle/Order of Arrow.
My middle is Life/Order of Arrow.
My youngest is Arrow of Light and crosses over in after the new year.

35 Chris K. November 11, 2008 at 11:26 pm

@Christopher Canova- I am also an Eagle and an Order of the Arrow Brotherhood member. The article mentions the Boy Scouts briefly, but I really think that it is a good way to teach your son things all the things you want him to learn. As a bonus, it offers a lot of useful things to know as well as a lot of opportunities to be involved in your son’s growth as a person. The OA is really great because you have to be chosen by your scout peers to join, and you have to complete the rites of membership on your own. It was a cool experience for me as well.

Though I believe that scouts has tremendous value, the seminal right of passage for me were the two summers I spent competing in drum and bugle corps. For the uninitiated, drum and bugle corps is an activity which involves a tremendous amount of musical and physical rigor. At the highest level, which I competed (with the Blue Knights from Denver, CO for those who are familiar), it involves a competitive audition process. Your “reward” for making the corps is a summer spent riding around the country on a bus, sleeping on gym floors, rehearsing 12 hours a day and competing at night. Your goal in this endeavor is to create a marching and musical production that is as close to perfect as possible. The demands on your mind and your body are phenomenal. After I came back from my first summer of competition, I felt like I could do anything. As far as “re-integration” is concerned, not everyone recognizes this as an objective accomplishment, but those who are familiar appreciate it. And I know how difficult it was, which is good enough for me.

36 James November 12, 2008 at 10:55 am

I love this article!

As a guy who grew up without a father it was very confusing as to what it meant to be a man and when a boy actually became a man. My friends also suffered from this and we started a small group dedicated to helping younger men through their passage into adulthood.

Two examples:

1. As high school seniors we “adopted” freshmen and helped them get used to the jump into high school from middle grades through study skills, social rules, grooming, dress, etc. This trend continued on as those we helped went on to help others as they became seniors.

2. My personal right of passage was my marriage. I had just graduated from college, had my first full-time job lined up, and was about to move out into the real world completely on my own. My older friends who had been married took me off to the beach and for a weekend we hung out, and they each took time to give me advice, answer questions, and teach me how to be a loving husband who would take care of his family and be a man of faith.

My point in those two examples (we still continue to work with young men who are about to get married-btw) is to say that in our society the rite of passage will not exist unless we make it. Society will not do it for us. We must rise up as men and help move upcomming young men into manhood.

37 Kirk November 14, 2008 at 10:17 am

I experienced my first rite of passage as a young boy going into the Boy Scouts. We endured a mild initiation that weeded out a few of our incoming class and that has been a moment in my life I’ll never forget.
A more intense and enlgihtening rite of passage that has not been lost and that is still to this day maintained as a strictly oral tradition is that of being initated into the Freemasons. The rules of membership are never changed, the degrees of Freemasonry have ancient origins and it is a fraternity unmarred by the trappings of modren society.
It is all male, no questions, no debate, and it is all gentlemen.
Many of our fathers and grandfathers gained their advantage in the world by being in its membership, and there is likely no other modern day society that can claim more leaders of society than the Freemasons.
As I read this blog I recognize so many of the values you hold dear as those reinforced within the walls of the lodge.

38 Claude November 19, 2008 at 2:28 am

I remember as a Boy Scout Patrol leader the many times I participated in the “coming up” ceremony of a 12 year old boy from Cubs to Scouts. The ritual was very symbolic of his journey as a boy growing up, and was a definite Rite of Passage. I remember many a nervous young face in anticipation of the ceremony, but Mom and Dad were there to support the boy, and there was a celebration to look forward to afterwards in acknowledgement of this Rite of Passage.

I agree that in this post-modern era the transition points are not as clear and that there are no definitive rituals to perform either. The other challenge is a lack of context and interpretation. By this I mean that many life events, such as a road trip, a white water experience, or even an emergency situation where the young man shows courage and bravery, could all serve as Rites of Passage. However, because they were not directly created to be such, or there is no mature man or men to interpret them as such on behalf of the young man, the benefit and significance of this experience as a Rite of Passage could be lost.

To fathers, be on the lookout for events in your son’s life, planned or unplanned (and definitely not forced), that can be interpreted as Rites of Passage. Where you see courage, bravery, honour, sacrifice or any other manly virtues being displayed, pick up on these. Explain to your son what you saw, how you interpreted it, and affirm him in it. End off with words like “I am very impressed with how you acted today. You really are becoming a man. I am proud to have you as my son.” How many of us adult men would have loved to have heard these words from our own fathers, but it is not too late for those who are fathers now to bless their sons in this way.

39 Jesse November 23, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Love the post. Two things come to mind.

A friend of mine had a coming of age ceremony when she turned 18. Her mother and three adult friends stood around her in a large room at the points of the compass. They then told her what womanhood meant to them. Such a simple ceremony, but quite meaningful to her. I was jealous of that for years.

After graduating from college I decided to travel to Ireland. I saved the money for the trip, made some minimal plans, and went. I didn’t bleed much or shave my head, but I did discover a sense of self-reliance when I ended up without food or places to stay. Having to take responsibility for myself so completely and so far from home was an amazing experience. I also learned that while I am definitely part of my community of family and friends, I also exist as a solitary individual, reliant on my own mind and body to live in this world. A valuable lesson to learn, for sure.

40 Ginger November 24, 2008 at 10:21 am

Read “The Way of the Wild Heart” by John Eldredge. He has much to say about taking his 3 sons through a similar Rite of Passage ceremony. It’s beautiful.

41 Ginger November 24, 2008 at 10:29 am

Originally Posted By DanielI could use a rite of passage, I know that much. Funnily enough I remember reading an article by a well known feminist who shall remain nameless, saying that the end of Western rites of passage or their reduction to insignificance was a victory for women.

Such a shame. How possibly could the reduction of manliness add to the human race at all, much less increase feminity? If one side of the equation is out of balance, the other side will be too. Men and women are equal, but seperate, so men being manly will only add to women’s value, not detract from it.

I apologize for the ignorance of some of my sex. We don’t all feel that way. Please, at the risk of appearing chauvanistic, please continue to open doors and offer your seats to us on trains. I promise, most of us want that, desire that, need that from you. We’re just the quieter ones, because our mommy’s taught us what it meant to be a lady.

Thank you for this blog. It gives us “old-fashioned” girls hope.

42 JHP2 November 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm

Basic training and infantry school (OSUT), Ft. Benning, GA. That was a rite of passage. Even more than Airborne School which followed.

43 Claude November 25, 2008 at 2:01 am

It looks like this post might still acquire a long tail.

Ginger wrote about The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldgredge. He outlines clearly the different life stages a boy goes through on his journey of becoming a man. The stage most often associated with a Rite of Passage happens around age 12 – 14, moving from Beloved Son (boy) to Cowboy/Ranger (young man). He writes most poignantly and practically about the Rites of Passage he took his own sons through. There is much material there for a father to plan this very necessary and empowering Rite of Passage for his own son/s.

But what about us men today that never had this. As Brett said “Some of you may have missed out on the opportunity to take part in some sort of rite of passage and may feel a bit adrift, in limbo between boyhood and manhood.” It is never too late.

Inspired by the Way of the Wild Heart I went on my own masculine quest (of re-contextualisation and re-interpretation), and wrote the poem below as a manifesto of this. My hope in sharing this is that it may inspire and encourage other adult men.

I am ……. an initiated man

My life has seemed
Like a pinball game
One day after the other
Never knowing what came

Drifting along
With no identity, no plan
Trapped as a boy
In the life of a man

Till the day I discovered
My identity and my name
God is my father!
For my heart he came!

To have a new heart
To know that I am wild
Made in the image of God
I am His beloved child

A fresh start
With my masculinity in place
To continue the journey
To stare life in the face

But looking back
I can now see
The hand of father God
Initiating me

All of my past
Seemingly random and without plan
Has all along been the process
Of initiating the man

What a relief
Oh what a joy
To now see the Father’s hand
At work since I was a boy

Chest out stand tall
I am the beloved son
A cowboy, a warrior, a King
A lover whose heart with beauty has been won

Now I can journey
An initiated man
I have what it takes
I know that I can

Come on men
Come gather around
Let us journey together
Let all our hearts be found

The Lord is a warrior
A warrior is he
We are made in His image
Of all men we are the free

44 Nelson Pecora December 6, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Good day,

I suppose my personal rite of passage is still in progress. I’m 18 years old, and I moved out from California (having lived with my dad for the four years of high school) to Rochester, NY. The shift from sunny California to the windswept, frozen lands of upstate NY is part of my transition, as is living in a house with strangers and working fulltime. In a year, I will move to Tokyo, and get my own apartment. I imagine that by that time I’ll have become a man, and will have the skills and temperament to live as a gentleman.

Thus, this year is one of growing. I’m learning how to truly cook, how to play various instruments, and how to speak various languages. I’m refining myself, my style, and my conversational skills. I’m rising in the company I work for (Kodak), and building up my resume. I imagine that the rest of my life will be lived to the fullest, once I have the basics down. The art of manliness, which I just found today, has given me quite a few pointers. Keep it up!

Thanks,
Nelson Pecora

45 Chris Hodapp December 9, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Rites of passage are partially what fueled the explosive growth of Freemasonry and other fraternal orders in the 19th century, as society moved from the countryside and young men found themselves alone in unfamiliar cities, surrounded by a sea of strangers.

Freemasonry is making a comeback today as the children and grandchildren of the Baby Boomers are rediscovering it, for precisely the reasons cited in this article. They are seeking the very rituals and rites of passage the Boomers rejected.

46 Will December 9, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Yea, we are just lifeforms clawing for meaning in a meaningless world.

47 Dan the Man December 11, 2008 at 1:35 pm

I didn’t really understand what it really meant to be a man until I attended a New Warrior weekend, put on by the Mankind Project. MKP’s ideals spring directly from works like “Iron John” and “King Warrior Magician Lover”. It transformed me. I have been utterly amazed by the transformation I have seen in other men. It is hard to describe the power of looking another man straight in the eye and seeing who he truly is, without fear, without a “tough guy” veil, or wimpy avoidance of your gaze. Though he may be much different from you, you see a commonality and a shared respect for one another as men. It wasn’t until then I KNEW I was a man (I was 34!).
I have since drifted away from MKP, but I now go through life each day more fully becoming the confident, authentic, loving, purposeful, and honorable man I’d always dreamed I’d be.

Dan The Man

48 Erik December 15, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I received my Brotherhood membership in OA back in 1983.
I look back on that experience as a rate-of-passage. Pitch black
night with a low druming, Large bon-fire, awsome Indian
costumes with full length war-bonnets and animal fur head-gear.
Proper raging flame torches and large symbols of the lodge displayed
all around. A massive teepee. The ritual was serious with great drama. The
knife with the fake blood in the Brotherhood ritual scared the hell out of me.

I went back to my lodge during an ordeal weekend last year.
So, sad. The drama of the ceremony is dead, sacrificed on the altar of “Safety.”
The ceremony is now done in broad daylight. Everyone circles under a
picnic shelter. No more bon-fire. No more awesome Indian costumes, just
a whimpy imation of Shawnee tribesmen with frontier shirts. No drumming.
The actors read from a script. The proper torches were replaced by a lame
tiki torch. No more hazing with Arrow necklaces, and the task-master must
remain silent also with the canidates. WOMEN are in the OA now.
I tear up whenever I remember the way things were.
OA is now longer the rite-of-passage for boys in our society.
Women, over-concerned mothers, and “Political Correctness” destroyed it in
the early ’90s. Damn those pediphiles!

If you entered the OA in the early 80′s consider yourselves blessed to
have had a manly rite-of-passage.

49 Rites Inc. March 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Thanks for this great post. I’m currently taking my son through a Rites of Passage Ceremony of our own design. When he was in middle school I searched for programs to get him involved in but not a lot available locally. So I researched and put it together myself. The program culminates this summer.

Peace,
Thomas

50 Paul Reynolds May 4, 2009 at 6:57 pm

My “right of passage” was after all my fathers lessons of courage and standing up for what is right and what I believe in and about when was the time to defend your position physicaly…the time came when I believed that my father was wrong, and I chose to be disrespectful and I forgot all his lessons in that moment and I called him out…he calmly aske if this is what I wanted..and my affirmation was my right hook which I am sure hurt me more than his marble like unmovable chin..He looked at me with pride…which caught me off guard…and procedded to remind me that he was the man by giving me a good thrashing. Bloodied and bruised he asked if I had enough and extended a hand to help me off the ground and pulled me into a bear hug and simply said my son is now a man, he let me go and walked away. I am a strong confident leader of men, I stand up for right, myself and others. I know what it means to face challenge GOD/Father so now I fear no man and no situation. I look forward to the day my son feels he is ready for the challenge.

51 dannyb September 17, 2009 at 8:54 pm

i was lucky to grow up in a family chock full of rites of passage.

My first and most important ROP that i can remember was turning 12 and being able to go deer hunting with the men in my family. Instead of visting “the barn” with my mom in the evenings to see the kill and eat dinner, i got to stay with the men at the “The Shack” a 1970′s trailer parked on a small lake near our hunting grounds. 8 men from 4 differant generations would stay there for 4 days, hunting in the morning and telling stories in the evenings.

52 Norfolk Boy February 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I have a Fair Few.

When I became a Barmitzvah. I studied for a year, to read the scroll and blessings. It was stressful, nerve wracking, and afterwards, I felt very grown up

When I Lost my Virginity. I thought I was in love, that I’d found someone I’d love for ever, that I’d like a family with them. Eventually we grew up into different people, disabused me of that notion, so Falling out of love also counts I suppose. Realising how complex love was, and not as simple as I’d childishly thought.

When I told my Mother I no longer believed in her, or any other god or gods. Being Honest with her and myself about the dictates of my conscience.

When I went on my first Big Game Hunt, Hanging out with a bunch of men, in a foreign land and doing what I was evolved to do, Chase my dinner with stick and string.

When I got tattooed with my best friend, having picked a design, pondered it for months, and gone through with it, marking myself permenantly with a statement about myself. The shared aspect of it was important.

When I swore my Oath of Alligence, On Heart and Steel, meaning everyword, compared to the people either side of me mumbling it on a New testament they didn’t believe in. Passing MLDP1 was good too.

All of these have been rite’s of passage to me in a way.

I suppose the willingness to be true to mine own self, to misquote Shakespeare, would be what I’d call my real rite of passage, though at 20, I wouldn’t be called a man by many here (at least, many here’s legal jurisdictions).

Things I don’t Consider a rite of passage: First alcholic drink, First Fight.

53 Joe March 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I actually have had two personal rites of passage in my life, both of which were suggested in this article.

The first was when I was in college. I pledged a fraternity back in the days when actual pledging was legal in black fraternities (these days it’s some watered down trash that makes these groups little more than collegiate gangs, but I digress).

It was nine weeks of hell, I came out with a broken arm, and bruises, and not everyone on our “line” made it. In fact, only two of us did. Not that I’m advocating that at all, but when I “crossed”, I came out with a realization of what I could do and basically my childish, saccharine, teen years were over. I was ready for bigger things.

Years later, when I was about 35, I was going through a period of unemployment and the future seemed very uncertain. So rather than coiling up in a corner, I volunteered with an NGO and went to live in Africa for a few months.

That was one exhilirating experience, because I got a chance to reconnect with my roots, learn how to survive in a developing (I hate the term “Third World”) nation, face potentially lethal violence, learn what it is to learn a language from scratch and understand a culture foreign to my own.

When I got back to the states, I didn’t even look for a job, but found ways to support myself without the phony corporate umbrella that most of us rely on. I was confident in my abilities and my talent to seek out useful resources.

Both were very tough, and I can’t say I’d recommend it all for everyone. But the experiences showed me what I was made of. I think that’s what is missing for many men today. Instead of finding out what we’re made of, we wait for television to tell us what to do.

And that’s a bad fit all the way around, if you ask me.

54 L.T. May 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm

For me it was only this year when I went through pledging.
While the comment above suggests that all fraternity pledging is watered down and meaningless I can assure you there still exist organizations willing to have a difficult and meaningful program. Only half of my pledge class were able to man up enough to make it through the process but those of us who did can attest that it was worth way more than we ever could have thought going into it. My pledging experience lasted 6 grueling weeks and in that time I watched one of my (now) brothers over come the anxiety attacks that modern society had simply given him pills for and every single one of us unlock hidden potentials. We are men; chivalrous, intelligent, strong and above all determined.

55 Joe January 18, 2013 at 9:28 pm

I really had two major ones I think. The first was getting Eagle Scout. The second one was graduating seminary and moving from Texas to take my first pastorate in the Boston area.

56 patrick March 28, 2013 at 11:20 am

My Quest was a rite of passage.
Fantastic experiance!!

57 Tim Bateman April 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm

In Singapore, every boy, upon reaching the age of 18 are to be enlisted into either the Army, the Police force or the Civil Defence force(Firefighters/urban search and rescuers/hazmat/marine firefighting etc). In school, boys are subconsciously drilled into their minds that they will never be looked upon as a man until they have served their two years of duty in the abovementioned forces. Even among peers, for example in a tertiary education school, there are men who have finished their national service and have continued education, he is looked upon differently amongst the rest simply because he has gone through 2 years of strict regimentation and discipline. Even in a family environment, the elders will start to acknowledge the fact that this is not their babyboy anymore but their son.

58 Konrad May 13, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Oddly enough, the moment I remember most, and that I think of being my rite of passage, was the first time I was included with my father and older brother in a dirty joke.
My father had a house building hobby, We would build a house, move into it and sell the old one. Or sometimes buy an old house (100 years old) and renovate it. This happened about every four years.
I was about 14 and we were just finishing the last details on the house. We were all standing around in the garage with some cold drinks (soda for me) and my dad told a dirty joke. We all shared a laugh and at that point neither my old brother or my father treated me like a boy anymore. They could cuss and talk about women and such. I will never forget it.

59 David L May 14, 2013 at 10:56 am

I think it is important that people realize that being an adult male is not the same as being a man. Manhood means responsibility, character, leadership, and many other things. An adult male going to college or living at home at 25 is not a man. Based on my personal experience (Military – Career – College degree – Marriage) I believe I crossed the bridge to manhood when I met the following criteria:

1. Fully self-sustained financially.
2. Proficient in my profession – trade.
3. Embraced and practiced the importance of citizenship, personal responsibility, and character (respect for others, integrity, mercy).
4. Transitioned from apprentice, student, follower TO leader (not supervisor), mentor, teacher, counselor.

I appreciate everyone’s insight in this issue and in some respects I think everyone’s experience contributed to their current status as a man, but ultimately manhood is a deep transformation that is not easily obtained with one act.

60 Anand Venigalla July 26, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. McKay for some ideas on rites of passage. However, I might consider excluding the military from the list of rites of passage. The problem with the military nowadays is that they partake in offensive warfare that violates the principles of just war. A case in point was Chris Kyle. While some will go on and on celebrating how awesome he is, I find that he was a common murderer with a uniform. He killed people and enjoyed it while doing so.

The military (as of now) is not suitable for a rite of passage. Maybe there are other things that are suitable, but not this activity (at least as of this time).

61 Cara August 23, 2013 at 9:16 am

My husband holds a ceremony when our sons turn 13. He invites father-son teams we know to join us for a bbq on the patio, presents our son with tools – one by one talking about the symbolic meaning of each item (ear & eye protection, hammer, saw, toolbag, etc). Then they recite some scripture together and he literally “calls” him to grow up into a godly man. It’s a great, meaningful time. THen – at 18 – we ask men who have had great input into our sons lives to write a letter to them about being a man. We bind those and present them to him with a sword – literally, a sword (hubby makes a plaque to hand it on their wall). It’s a visual reminder that the most important thing in their lives is learning to wield the sword – the word of God.

62 josh October 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Eat 5 grams of dried magic mushrooms: separation, transition, and re-incoroporation all in one. Multiply that by a million. Anyone who has done it knows what I’m talking about.

63 peter November 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm

if everything goes well i will go on a solo trekking toys through iceland coming summer, which is going to take about a month.
one part of me just wants to see this incredible country…the other wants to leave behind everything that keeps me from being the man i am supposed to become.

64 Carlos December 12, 2013 at 8:33 am

I moved out home when I was 19. Ever since then I’ve been doing the longest Rite of Passage I’ve heard of. I’ve been learning to be an adult. And at 25 I’m still learning.

65 Chris December 16, 2013 at 11:52 pm

The past few months I have been letting my beard grow into a wild-mess of brown hair tipped with Irish red with a feel akin to a cheese grater. Although, not my personal right of passage. My face-wolverine has pivoted me towards a direction that I haven’t veered to yet. I’d like to think that direction is Manhood.

66 Carlos December 27, 2013 at 11:55 am

First of all awesome website. Our society needs this. One of my first rite of passage was when I was 15. My father was an Amateur Boxer in his days and one of the things I had to learn to be a man was to fight. So at age 15 I had to fight my old man in a good old fashion no time limit boxing match. Ill never forget that, I am 38 yrs old now. I say first rite of passage because I have had many based on what I learned from my father and I know there will be more ahead. I think there are different levels of being a man in a mans life and I think each level has its own rite of passage.

67 Gary January 8, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I never had a rite of passage. :(

68 Ariosto M. January 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm

As always this is an excellent post.
I had I sort of rite of passage when I was 17 and went abroad for a year. Changing culture, continent, climate, food, learning, accepting and doing all this away not only from my family, but everything that was familiar to me. I see my life as before and after that whole year. Incredibly, because something I had to experience alone and without a roadmap, I unlearned somethings I knew, learning many others at the same time. But learning to be alone, thinking and meditating about myself, change me from a boy to something new. Although not yet a man as I have learned now that I am 33.

After that year, I came back to live to my parents’ house for another 5 years. Until I left for good at 25. I feel like this was a fallback from where I was.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter