The wild man turned back, took him up, set him on his shoulder, and went with hasty steps into the forest.

from The Brothers Grimm – Iron John on Rap Genius


At this point, the boy is taken away from his parents by Iron John. I have to point out the similarities between this and the common initiation practices of past cultures.

Initiation once stood as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, a formal admission. Although there are still small societies that partake in adult initiation rites, this is extremely uncommon in western cultures.

During initiation, Arnold van Gennep recognized an extremely common 3-phase model:

Initiation practices differ among populations, like that of the Kikuyu in Africa, priest of Dionysus in ancient Greece, or the Eskimo shaman; however, all initiations follow the same pattern…clean break from former self, passing on of male artifacts, welcoming into group.

It is very important to note that initiation among boys can not be done by women and vice versa for young girls.

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