Rites of Passage

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sB, March 1997

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Rites of Passage

When an individual experiences movement, or a change from an affixed position in society to another position, that individual can easily describe their change as a passage into a new realm of living. A new realm of living is the way in which the individual and society views, acknowledges, and proceeds with their life. Their changes are monumental not only for the individual, but for his/her society as well. Many changes take place during the span of a persons life. They become rites of passage and rituals of initiation-which are more than just simple changes. A plethora of come with these rites and are found in all corners of the globe. Going on vision quests, by the plains Indians of North America, to circumcision by certain Australian cultures, rites of passage present a vast table of religious comparisons(Eliade, p. 287-88).

This essay will examine two rites of initiation, by comparing and contrasting their importance to each culture, and discussing how that importance affects that particular individual as well as their society.

Finally, the essay will explore possible reasons as to why these initiation rites hold a deep meaning in their respective societies.

The Kurnai of Australia have an initiation rite for the sons of married men in their perspective villages. Within a section by A. W. Howitt, in Eliade's book, From Primitives to Zen: A thematic Sourcebook of the History of Religions , a ceremony known as the "Showing the Grandfather" is described(Eliade, p. 288) In this initiation the Kurnai have a formal way of bringing a man's son into the highest, and most secret realm of their religion. By incorporating the use of the father and son relationship, this particular ritual involves the revelation of the central meaning, or "mystery" of their religion. The men and...