The Importance of Male Rites of Passage

Some of us are successful in the child development area,some of us are not. We can’t afford 2 be out of sync in this particular game of make a baby/raise a baby. We have to do our very best,be humble seek help when we need it not when it’s too late or not at all. We need to seek advice,study,create focus groups on US! We need to be our best answer because WE know us better than anybody else.  Sungod64

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.

Black males have nothing like this although it is needed very badly we still have nothing that could even remotely resemble this.I have been thinking about this for a very long time but everybody seem to think it is not important for males to have things like this or they will say yeah yeah we should do that but when it comes time to actually do it they find an excuse to have no part of it or too bizy and the famous phrase:oh hey! Why don’t you do it and i or we will help when we or i get off work or get a chance!

I started a mentoring program 8 years ago and the biggest problem was the mothers who didn’t want their sons to go!?! seems crazy when you look at it.I am a well known person/man in good shape,attractive very intelligent and have all the credentials,so why not allow your kid to come and learn!?!I found out that if the mothers couldn’t get something out of it(a date)they didn’t have time or they had to SEE about it.I had to deal with a jealous dad/father, yeah he found out his sons where coming to listen to me and told his sons NOT to come back over here. Wow!?!

This is the problem,some black people hate when their own shortcomings are reveled,they tend to make excuses or deny they have them even when they are faced with them.Black males need a chance to grow,they need a

person in their life to mentor/guide them through the trappings of society. We are behind the 8ball before we are born and we still can’t see it! I wish we can stand together and create something like this to help our youth because most of the time once they get the type of guidance they need,it is often too late or never getting it at all seems to be the case most of the time.

The reason our society is the way it is(IS) because we have yet to realize we are not getting it done in the child rearing department and need to re-think our approach,get a better understanding of what’s it going to take 2 raise strong healthy intelligent males and females to turn this thing around.  Sungod64

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