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The Rites of Passage

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Rites of Passage
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In times we see many different cultures that evolved around the earth and throughout time as well. This paper will examine Native Americans, Greek and the Japanese rites of passage.
Ceremonies that mark important transitional periods in a person's life, such as birth, puberty, marriage, having children, and death. Rites of passage usually involve ritual activities and teachings designed to strip individuals of their original roles and prepare them for new roles. The traditional American wedding ceremony is such a rite of passage. In many so-called primitive societies, some of the most complex rites of passage occur at puberty, when boys and girls are initiated into the adult world. In some ceremonies, the initiates are removed from their village and may undergo physical mutilation before returning as adults (Rites of passage,(n.d.).
Rites of Passage have been a path of life throughout time and space. Anthropologists have found many differences between cultures but also many similatries. Rites of passage from boy to man or girl to woman are different in some and strange in others. The Native Americans and the Greeks were not the same as the Japanese, but yet believed in some of the same old blood ways. Rites are not taught but learned throughout one’s lifetime.
Native Americans had a volatile version of passage. In the earlier years, the Native American boys would play as boys. They would follow fathers and love mothers. They would show you what life had to offer and defend what was theirs. In ancient times, to become a man you must show skills in fighting, survival, forging and pride. Fight would be known as how to protect them from danger and protect the tribe. Basically, what we call being a warrior or soldier in modern time. A young boy must face a battle with someone older to show the father and the chiefs that he was ready to be a leader (Longfeather, 2013). Although this is not what modern boys do, unless they choose gang life, but it was an honor to show the skills they had learned. These are what the men would show, but the women were different. With the women you would show loyalty and good faith of which man would be your husband in the rites of life. A woman had to show great knowledge of the healing of complaints to where as a man had to show he could defend himself against all odds. Fighting would be known as how to protect oneself and others from danger. To protect one meant to withhold on skills and reliability of how to wield a sword or to prey on the scavengers. Basically what we call being a warrior or a soldier in modern times. A young boy must face a battle with someone older to show the father and the chiefs that he is ready to be a leader. Although this is not what modern boys do, unless they choose gang life, but it was an honor to show their skills. For example, John Twofeather and Daniel Sacredfox were to battle one another in a mind game, now remember John is the youngest one of the boys. John must show his chief that he has what it takes for him to take the next step and become a man. First the boys must be able to use maneuvering skills to attack a predator and do this without harming themselves. In the end, whoever has the most kills and less cuts and scars would be able to show honor.
Survival among tribes in the Americas in lost time was a must. Boys were sent away for long periods of time to manage life on their own. They were shown how to forge for food, make weapons and build shelters. Once out in the wilderness, survival was hard for most. Most had never been away from home for an extended amount of time and some would fail. Some were too scared to be alone for they did not have what it took at the time, but yet felt ashamed to give up so easily. A young boy when he returned home would have successfully completed a phase in his life passage from child to man. Those who did not succeed had a rough time within the clan; the tribe did not forgive easily.
Pride was a hard thing to achieve. Pride came from completing a passage into manhood as an honor and a passion. When a boy went to man, the tribe was stronger and well protected against the evil that was in the world at the time. This also showed the others in the tribes across the land that he was ready to be married or to be betrothed. When one man completes his passage rites he is not only ready to take on the world but to protect his family and his tribe with his life. To be married is to have children who can continue his line of honor and valor to accomplish great things in life (Longfeather, 2013).
Another example of pride would more than likely be to us a right of manhood, but it would be the child’s first kill. When a native American sets out to hunt for, he thinks to himself that there is no way I am going to find something big enough to prove my loyalty and pride to my family let alone my tribe. According to Native American history, the kill was the thrill of the hunt. When one found and killed a giant buffalo and obtained its meat and fur, it was known as one of the best hunters in the tribe. Think what and how this would make you feel in retrospect? Would you be happy that you could hunt or would you be too scared to give it a try?
Other than a warrior attribute to rites of passage is to have a shaman or chief dictate the next follower and how he must use his knowledge and grow to prove to others in the tribal power how he can and will be trusted with the lives in the clan. The Shaman will perform his medical or magical incense over the chose one in order to see wither his past or his present and sometimes his future. This is done to decide if the choice is the correct one for a leader of the tribe.
The Cherokee chief dictates who goes through life alternating and changes. Once a patron is chosen, then the real test of life begins. A tribal ceremony will be held to show the tribes support and dedication to those who are chosen. The tribal ceremonies are full of drums being played and tribal member dancing around a campfire chanting praises and prayers to help those who have been chosen to venture into the life of man (Longfeather, 2013).
Secondly, the Greeks were odd. The younger ones were only thought of passage from child to manhood when a god conducted a battle of strength and knowledge. The Greeks were one for being the best at one thing or many and to show no weakness when it came to war. Gods of the era, such as Hermes, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. These famous names are all general knowledge to those of society who has an education. They were known as ruthless men and women who were of pure blood and only those of pure blood were honored as one of them. There is a movie that has put some light onto the Greek mythology, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief ( Rick Riordan, 2005) . They test the knowledge of war and strategic tactics along with own to protect you in order of a retreat. Greek gods were proud and upheld in modern mythology. Most people know that Greeks gods did exist while others only exercise it as a myth. But as they say who are we to judge.
When you look at the four head gods, Zeus, Hermes, Poseidon, and Hades what do you think of? Do you look at their childhood? Or do you recognize their names from history? If we take into account their childhood, these four are like brothers. They learned hardships and love together. If you take them for the history context you will find the god of war, one who control all of the skies, one who controls the oceans and its healing affects. Then you see the underworld leader who was brought to shame for his wrongdoings. And then the messenger between the worlds, who takes things to and from al gods but yet, is a god himself.
As a Greek god or follower down below Olympus, you are required to be knowledgeable and go into school. If you are not a child of knowledge the to the gods you were useless better known as live bait. Ancient times considered education a very desirable aspect and the gods’ supplies the most sought out educators to teach yeanlings about how to go from squid to shark. The rites of passage went through many debates and trials with perils throughout time.
As in the book by Rick Riodan, the Greek gods were outlawed against mixing love with a mortal. In the book, it shows how Greek mythology is compared to modern day myths. According to our knowledge of educational factoids, Greeks were ruthless when it came to mixing pleasure and work. They were not to mix when it came to mortals; mortals were outlawed to all creatures being deemed untrusting. They showed no passion and some were just downright devious. When you read about the Greek gods, you see what each one stood for; think how long it took for them to get to that spot in life, what changes did they have to endure? Pain, suffering and schooling to achieve what was necessary for their pride in life.
Last but not least, Japan. In early Japan we had samurai solders. They were the most trusted and the hardest of them all. Japanese women were not allowed to have right of mid or a rite of passage except for the showing pride and loyalties to their family. Men who were chosen by the emperors’ army captains were to set out into a camp and be trained to defend Japan. In the ancient times China was merged with Japan as to be one within until they both wanted the power to obtain each other so they were to split and go to war. Women in that time were to undergo many changes in life that would make them worthy of a man. And not just any man but one with honor and strong family ties. Women were to bind their feet for no man wanted to marry a woman who had bigger feet than him, for it was ugly and showed shame. Women endured many hardships to maintain their beauty even though it was never appreciated.
Men in Japan were given basically freedom and not as many consequences to face unless they were a thief. Those of noble blood were given everything, but honor was earned. I will show that mythological creatures protected those in the family lines and those who were treated like honors and majority within the Japanese army.
One of the horrendous feats a woman had to overcome was foot binding. A woman or child was to bind their feet at a young age to keep their feet little so that they may achieve a status of being wanted. This was not the only way to pass from childhood to adulthood, being high in the anarchy means you were noted with higher respect, which always meant more pressure. Japanese children were required to know more than one language to advance to the next level in life. (Bowen, 2013)
In doing more research I also learned that not only did the Native American, Greek and Japanese cultures have unbelievable rites of passages but there are several others that I found it difficult to leave out of this paper because they were horrific, but unfortunately in some cultures they are still performed today.
In the Maasai Culture there is a terrible culture that is difficult to think about. They require the young girls to go through circumcision. Circumcision is having the clitoris removed. Once the clitoris is removed they no longer have pleasure in sex and it is only for reproduction. This is also performed in many of the African groups. As the article stated “Kenya 50% of the women have undergone circumcision. In some areas this percentage is as high as 95%.” (Jing J, 2011).

This article also stated ““Female circumcision prepares girls for responsible married life,” was one of the arguments for the practice of female circumcision. Girls who are not circumcised, it is argued, are immoral, make rude wives and daughters-in-law. And in some communities it is drummed into the girls' heads, right from a tender age, that no man will marry an uncircumcised girl. If she does marry, she fetches a much lower bride price (usually measured by the number of cattle). (Jing J, 2011). “Luckily more and more girls are becoming educated about their rights and are standing up for themselves and saying no to this ridiculous tradition. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to see that only 62% of girls with secondary education in Kenya were circumcised, compared to 96% of those with no education (per womanaid.org).” (Jing J, 2011). In our culture we hide the fact that our menstrual cycle has began. But in the Navajo tribes they hold a four day celebration called the “Kinaalda” to celebrate the first menstrual cycle of a young woman. The Kinaalda is made up of symbolic dances, cleansing rituals, physical activities such as running and jumping. They also have a special cake which is called the “alkaan”
The Apaches also have a similar ceremony called the “Sunrise Ceremony”. In this ceremony the young women are showered with attention while other members of the tribe sing, pray and dance nearly nonstop. This is also a four day ceremony to show that the young girl is entering womanhood. Once all this is completed the young woman has entered a new role in life, such as wives and mothers to be. (Nicole G, 2011)
There are many other Native American tribes that have similar ceremonies to recognize a young girl moving to womanhood. But in our culture we believe that is a private passage and that we need to be very discreet about it. I cannot help but think that if we celebrated it as the Native Americans do, the young women in our culture would be as scared of it as they are.

References

Bowen, C. (2013, Sept). Interview by R G [].
J, Jing. (2011). Female circumcision, rites of passage in maasai culture . Retrieved from http://www.cycleharmony.com/menstrual-myths-and-rituals/female-circumcision-rites-of-passage-in-maasai-culture?view=article
G, Nicole. (2011). Rites of passage into womanhood in native american cultures . Retrieved from http://www.cycleharmony.com/menstrual-myths-and-rituals/rites-of-passage-into-womanhood-in-native-american-cultures?view=article
Longfeather, H. (2013, Sept). Interview by R G [].
Pugabret, Ralf (1980-1993). Mythological Creatures

Riodan, R. (2005). Percy Jackson and the lightning thief.

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