The wild man turned back, took him up, set him on his shoulder, and went with hasty steps into the forest.
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:
- Separation: The child is always forcefully taken away from the parents & society. Often times, a cutting-away, or separation, of the former self also takes place. I.E., the Army cutting your hair before basic training, circumcision, etc.
- Transition (liminal): This is the period of between states where the child is not yet an adult, but no longer a child. This usually includes some sort of passing on of artifacts that represent manhood. For example the Aboriginal tradition of ancestral & creation story telling. This is a representation of the males welcoming the young boys into their group.
- Reincorporation: After the initial rituals, the former children are welcomed back into society as men, usually through elaborate celebrations.
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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