Rites of Passage – How They Could Help Boys Become Good Men

By Nico Lagan
April 8, 2023
By Nico Lagan
April 8, 2023

Rites of Passage around the world

By nature, men are purpose-driven. They need a reason to live, something to do, to chase after, and to become. Boys are no different, but unlike their adult counterparts, they lack the life experience and wisdom to know what their purpose should be. Thus, the importance to have mature men to show them how to become a man through rites of passage ceremonies.
The Spartan Agoge aimed at teaching boys the art of war.
Ilmeluaya, @KTNKenya/Twitter To become an Ilmeluaya (fearless warrior), the boys from the Maasai tribe had to face a lion in the African savanna.
In Australian Aboriginal culture, boys between the ages of 10 and 16 had to live alone in the wilderness for up to 6 months.
Rites of passage ceremonies were designed with specific intentions. According to French ethnographer and folklorist Arnold van Gennep, they consist of 3 different stages: separation, transition, and reincorporation. In the separation stage, the initiate is taken away from normalcy. Transition is the transitional stage between separation and incorporation: where the initiate loses his sense of identity. The reincorporation stage is when the initiate can re-enter society as a changed person after successfully completing the ritual.
Movie 300 (2006)
All historical societies have rites of passage and ceremonial events that marked important transitions. With the goal of transforming someone into something better. Better is based on what that society deems to be better. In the case of the Spartans, they wanted to create a perfect warrior: tough, lethal, highly organized, and loyal to the state, and for almost 400 years, they did just that (743-379 BCE). They were the finest warriors in all of Greece, arguably the world. They took a boy and taught him what he needed to become a strong warrior. This is what it’s all about. Taking something weak and making it strong. We are all born weak, but staying weak is a choice.

Rites of Passage in modern times

We do have rites of passage! Although very different from the Agoge, the land of the West has its rites of passage. Examples include baptism, bar mitzvahs, confirmations, school graduation ceremonies, weddings, and fatherhood. Still, we have chosen to stop enforcing the most important one: the adulthood rite or the coming-of-age rite. A ceremony that starts in childhood and ends when the initiate becomes an adult. Only through hardships and adversity can a boy become a man. And throughout recorded history, boys had to prove themselves to be considered a man. They needed to show their family, loved ones, and community that they had what it took to take on the responsibilities of a man. Spartans had the Agoge, the Maasai Tribe hunted the lion, and Australian Aboriginals sent their boys into the wilderness. Tribes and cultures had specific moments where boys were given the opportunity to put their training to the test and prove their courage, knowledge, and valor. These defining moments were designed for boys to become men, marking the transition from boyhood to manhood. No matter the cultural methods, the goal was always the same: boys needed to prove their worth to become a man. Unfortunately, strong men and rites of adulthood have all but disappeared from our Western culture. Today, boys are not taught responsibilities, discipline, and how to be productive members of society. They are raised by parents who want to be their friends and not the figure of authority they need! Who tells their kids that they are special and unique. That participating is enough, and that results don’t count. Nobody cares about who wins the game. It’s all about fun, right? All these scoreless games have achieved if to remove the meaning of competitions and all the life lessons learned in the process. Learning to fail and getting back up being one of them. Our latest generation of boys is growing up in magical places where they are shielded from everything that might “hurt” their feelings, trigger, or challenge them. Where boys and girls are the same. A world where unicorns and fairies roam free. As a result, our young men are not equipped to deal with this simple reality: we live in a violent and ruthless world, and these safe spaces are not the answer. Quite the opposite! How about we give our boys purpose again by bringing back adulthood rites? Let’s make it a priority to prepare them for the rashness of this world. Teach them the skills they will need to become dependable and responsible members of our communities. Are rites to adulthood the answer?

Bringing back rites to adulthood

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not proposing to bring back the Agoge, but how about creating our own rites to adulthood? Something more fitted to our time. How about instating a mandatory public service measure? To be allowed to higher education, to start working, have a family, or vote, boys should first be required to serve their community. I propose a period of 2 years. The first 6 months would be army basic combat training where they would learn teamwork, discipline, dependability, how to take orders and follow instructions, coachability, survival skills, self-defense, and weapon handling. All life transferable skills. And after the initial 6 months, a choice would be offered: either continue in the military for the remaining 18 months or they could choose to serve their local community. Be part of the fabric of society. See how all the social services we take for granted work. Understanding what it takes to build, maintain and repair our communities would teach them the value of manual labor and, hopefully, bring a sense of belonging and a much-needed sense of purpose. We need to bring back rites of passage ceremonies and give purpose to our sons because, without purpose, a man’s life is meaningless! Until next time, stay manly, brother! Have you ever felt misunderstood, judged, or restricted in expressing your true masculinity? Tired of keeping taboo or delicate subjects to yourself? Are you wishing there was a place where manliness is not only embraced but required? Where political correctness and the woke agenda have no power? I have fantastic news for you: I’ve created an exclusive, private Facebook group just for men like you, eager to reclaim their freedom of expression and grow together. A place where every man can be his authentic self without fear of judgment or being labeled. Join our exclusive brotherhood now: The Legion of Men.  

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