Deeply into the Bone: Re-Inventing Rites of Passage

Deeply into the Bone: Re-Inventing Rites of Passage

Ronald L. Grimes

Language: English

Pages: 393

ISBN: 0520236750

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Over the past two decades, North Americans have become increasingly interested in understanding and reclaiming the rites that mark significant life passages. In the absence of meaningful rites of passage, we speed through the dangerous intersections of life and often come to regret missing an opportunity to contemplate a child's birth, mark the arrival of maturity, or meditate on the loss of a loved one. Providing a highly personal, thoroughly informed, and cross-cultural perspective on rites of passage for general readers, this book illustrates the power of rites to help us navigate life's troublesome transitions.

The work of a major scholar who has spent years writing and teaching about ritual, Deeply into the Bone instigates a conversation in which readers can fruitfully reflect on their own experiences of passage. Covering the significant life events of birth, initiation, marriage, and death, chapters include first-person stories told by individuals who have undergone rites of passage, accounts of practices from around the world, brief histories of selected ritual traditions, and critical reflections probing popular assumptions about ritual. The book also explores innovative rites for other important events such as beginning school, same-sex commitment ceremonies, abortion, serious illness, divorce, and retirement.

Taking us confidently into the abyss separating the spiritual from the social scientific, the personal from the scholarly, and the narrative from the analytical, Grimes synthesizes an impressive amount of information to help us find more insightful ways of comprehending life's great transitions. As we face our increasingly complex society, Deeply into the Bone will help us reclaim the power of rites and understand their effect on our lives.

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another gift, provide the required charm. . . . CELEBRATING NEW LIFE / 27 In the hierarchy of magical practitioners, and below the medicine men in prestige, are specialists whose designation is best translated “holy-mouthmen.” The Nacirema have an almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth, the condition of which is believed to have supernatural influence on all social relationships. Were it not for the rituals of the mouth, they believe that their teeth would fall out, their

relaxed, contained, and safe. Perched on the red horse blanket outside the bathroom sits Ron. Ready. I feel the shift suddenly. The contractions have changed. They’re not about opening any more. The urge to push begins. I tell Mary. She says, yes, that’s because your waters have broken. I head into the living room. The rest migrate there as well. I strip off my nightgown, but I don’t feel ready to push the baby out. I need to make a transition of some sort, yet I don’t know what that is. I feel

suspect. That we can question implies that we can choose, and that we can choose means we can also reject. Our problem COMING OF AGE / 91 is not that we are subjected to initiations we would rather flee, but that we know so few authentic and compelling rites. Initiation as a Global Problem The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential declares the current lack of rites of passage an urgent global problem: “The absence of rites of passage leads to a serious breakdown in the process of

girls is double the number of those that initiate only boys. Societies that initiate both sexes are statistically more frequent among societies in the middle range of economic and social complexity. Boys are most typically initiated in groups when they reach a certain COMING OF AGE / 109 age. Girls are more often initiated singly, when they begin to menstruate. Consequently, male initiations emphasize same-sex bonding to a greater degree than female initiations do. Because of the collective

Indian dancing and other stereotypes of native behavior, Tommy undergoes initiatory torture. Dying as a child, he is born a man. Awaiting him is a native girl with round, naked breasts. Blond, well tanned, and muscled, Tommy soars like an eagle. Assisted by hallucinogens, he envisions the sacred stones, source of the Invisible People’s life. He alone retrieves them. In the forest he encounters the dark-skinned Fierce People, who are COMING OF AGE / 114 bearing down on his father intending to

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