Rites of Passage (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Rite of passage ceremonies mark status-changing events in the life cycle, such as birth, naming, puberty, initiation, marriage, and death
Rites of passage are ceremonies associated with the transformation from one stage of life to another. The four primary events of birth, naming, puberty, and death are celebrated as spiritual occasions. The secondary events of marriage and initiation into societies are considered social by some tribes and spiritual by others.
Three stages can be identified in any rite of passage. In the separation phase one loses the old status; in the marginal phase one has essentially no identity; and in the re-entry phase one takes on a new identity within the community, gaining new rights and obligations. An element of danger exists in the transition. The time between two states has a mysterious quality, during which the individual requires protection from potential harm. This marginal phase is a symbolic death of the old status.
Among traditional people, childbirth was a time of crisis for mother and child, since the mortality rate for both was highest then. Childbirth was also regarded as a time of danger for males in the community. The miraculous new life within the mother’s body held the sacred power of the Creator. It could endanger those not as powerful. This belief, along with the practical concerns of comfort and privacy, plus the need...
(The entire section is 1193 words.)
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