Rite Of Passage

Quick Definition: An event or “ritual” that is planned and initiated by the social group to mark a person’s progress from one status to another within that tribal group.

Full Definition:

Anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have studied cultures and tribes across continents and time. With no apparent relation to one another, human beings within tribes have always had rites of passage. Its purpose is important within the tribal organization.

rite of passage

According to anthropologists, rites of passage have three phases: separation, transition, and reincorporation. Separation refers to an initial cut away from the previous group. Transition refers to the time that the person is “in limbo” from the previous group and the future group. Reincorporation involves that person coming back into the tribe with the new identity.

Rites of passage serve as a test for the new member. He or she must pass a certain test to be deemed worthy by the tribe. It also gives the passage participant a sense of purpose. Men as a sense of strength, and women as a sense of belonging. It instills the values of the social tribe into that person. An example of this behavior is found in fraternities, where the pledges must undergo certain ceremonies and trials before being initiated into the group. Many movies also depict the rite of passage, such as 300, where young men must develop strength and survival skills, and Avatar, where young men must prove they are strong warriors.

Many of the tribal rites of passage have been lost in modern society, and this is part of the reason why men, in general, lack the direction and strength of our tribal ancestors.

Zan Perrion on the importance of the rite of passage

An example of today’s weak rite of passage ceremony in fraternities

Further Reading:


Before modern society, every tribe had a rite of passage that marks the time a boy becomes a man.

Related Terms: CongruenceLifestyleInner GameOuter GameCore ConfidenceSituational Confidence, Conditioning, Social Conditioning, Adaptation, Evolutionary Biology, Lifestyle

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