Originally Posted by FusionKnight
Masculinity and Femininity are inherited by those we're around. The sad part is so many of us don't get the initiation we need, and so we can't give it to our children (or other younger men), and the cycle continues.
This is an aspect of life which is absent in our modern industrialized lifestyles: initiation. Boys are not initiated into manhood and girls natural initiation into womanhood, menstruation, was seen, up until the last 30 or 40 years, as something to hide or be ashamed of.
If I may quote from The Power of Myth
by Joseph Campbell
"...but we know what the aborigines do in Australia. Now, when a boy gets to be a little bit ungovernable, one fine day the men come in, and they are naked except for stripes of white bird down that they've stuck on their bodies using their own blood for glue. They are swinging the bull-roarers, which are the voices of the spirits, and the men arrive as spirits.
The boy will try to take refuge with his mother, and she will pretend to try to protect him. But the men just take him away. A mother is no good from then on, you see. You can't go back to Mother, you're in another field.
Then the boys are taken out to the men's sacred ground, and they're really put through an ordeal - circumcision, subincision, the drinking of men's blood, and so forth. Just as they had drunk the mother's milk as children, so now they drink men's blood. They're being turned into men. While this is going on, they are being shown enactments of mythological episodes from the great myths. They are instructed in the mythology of the tribe. Then, at the end of this, they are brought back to the village, and the girl whom each is to marry has already been selected. The boy has now come back as a man.
He has been removed from his childhood, and his body has been scarified, and circumcision and subincision have been enacted. Now he has a man's body. There's no chance of relapsing back to boyhood after a show like that.
" - (The Power of Myth, pp. 81-82)
Initiation rituals, male and female, have disappeared from our modern societies. There are no celebrations or rights of passage that I know of except perhaps in the Jewish faith; but not to the extent of altering the psychological patterning from child into adult.
These rituals took place on grounds sacred to male and female seperately. Men were forbidden to enter Female sacred places and vice-versa. A woman's initiation is given by Nature, but this bodily change was honoured and held sacred by the women she knew in her tribal society. It was celebrated by women and a girl entering this phase of her life was brought into the mysteries of womanhood and childbirth by other older wiser women whom she knew and respected, and of which men never knew of nor took part in.
Male circumcision was an act which designated a boy's entry into adulthood, a scarring which one could not deny and which would remind one of one's initiation, not the act of an impersonal doctor in a sterile hospital with no reason other than convention to justify it.
This is what we are missing now-days, rituals of passage and sacred spaces, not religious spaces, but places set aside to honour and respect one's own individual humanity and the acceptance as an equal member of the tribal whole.
Modern societies have lost ritual, sacred space and mythology. We base our lives on accumulation and distance. Perhaps the Internet will spawn some different form of sacred space, but I am doubtful.
And I mean sacred space as spoken of in the above paragraphs, not some place where boys or men can get together and talk dirty and burp and scratch themselves.
We must either regain our myths, male, female and tribal, or write mythologies anew which reflect the world we have created.