Rite of Passage : Ice Age

Boys in the West need initiation rites into adulthood.

The unfortunate story yesterday in the Telegraph, of a twelve-year-old boy who watched internet porn, then raped a girl, when asked why he did it said: “to feel grown up.”

Often I see kids drinking, smoking and emulating other adult activities.  The response by society is always the same: more controls, punish the kids (and their parents harder).  The children want to grow up quickly and society fights to keep them in an infantile state. When does a boy know he is a man?  At the moment the passage between boy to adulthood is confusing, conflicted and undermining to personal development in the young.

What the West lacks is a rite of passage for boys.  In tribal societies the rite of passage is regarded as important, and this was so in ancient times.

Some Ice Age caves were for rites of passage

Three sites of spectacular cave paintings are examples of places to initiate boys into manhood in the Ice Age: Chauvet, Lascaux and Pech Merle.  There is no evidence that these caves were used for habitation, but plenty of evidence of footprints of Ice Age boys.

What went on in these caves can only be conjecture, but some reasonable guesses can be made; ones that would have social workers hyperventilating.  At Chauvet initiates as young as eight were sent in alone, carrying a torch, in barefoot, and in one case apparently with a wolf in tow.  The boy at Chauvet was perhaps the last boy to visit the cave before the entrance was blocked in a rock fall.

All the cave footprints of boys are barefoot.  The Lascoux “wounded man” painting which marks the end stage of the cave ritual has a naked warrior, thus does this mean the initiate enters what must be cold caves in an Ice Age naked?

The cave paintings, especially at Lascoux, are telling a story, and it may mean the initiate goes through an elaborate system of rituals retelling the stories on their way to being a man.  All the cave paintings are expressing movement, and Chauvet is spectacular in this regard; combined with a flickering torch, the way the paintings are done will make the animals seem alive.

It is likely that the initiate was given hallucinogenic drugs, as the cave paintings are part of a shamanic belief system where all animals have spirits, and the initiate will undergo “shape changing” into animals.  Even without influence of drugs and flickering torches the cave paintings at Chauvet managed to get into the heads of the researchers there.

The initiation is likely to be several days long, and will be harsh.  I am unable to guess the nature of the tests, but one appears to be that the initiate must pick out hidden images in places of random scratches, especially in the area of the Panel of Felines at Lascoux.

Death of boy, rebirth as man.

The last stage of the rites is the “death” of the boy and the emergence of the man. At Lascoux the initiate has to descend into a lower part of the cave system, where there is the wounded man image.  The boy faces the Bison; he wounds the Bison with his spear, the Bison charges “killing” the boy, who is carried by a totem bird to be reborn as a warrior man, as symbolised by a rhino.  The six dots at the rear end of the excited rhino (tail is up), signifies completion.

What the society in the West needs is initiation rites so that boys know when they will become men, thus they no longer need to rely on placebo’s of rebellion and mimicry of adults “to feel grown up”.  It is also not enough to put young males through a rite of passage, they must have full legal rights of adulthood, and be treated as an adult at the end of the rite.

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8 responses to “Rite of Passage : Ice Age

  1. Not just boys either, girls too. They used to have initiation rites also. Brigantia was their time, the Festival of the Maiden, and unlike what I see on line, no men were present at this festival. Women only stuff. After all the ceremony, one of their jobs was to help the women giving birth. Bit of a wake up call before May 1st came along. Might make you think twice before you went running off with some boy.

    • Hi J Rankin, frustratingly I have come across nothing in myth or archaeology about how girls move to womanhood. Thanks for making me aware there are such things as initiation rites for girls. Can you point me to sources to get up to speed on initiation rites for girls?

      • I don’t suppose you have. Like I said, women only. Sources? no………….sorry. It’s a rite of passage, and has to do with things to do with women.

      • The best so far I have come up with is from Africa, though these all seem to move around marriage.

  2. I like the point you made sir!

  3. Initiation rites are fine, and passage, as well, but lifelong guidance by responsible and genuine adults would work like magic, along with shutting off the TV, movies and all the other garbage that goes into kids’ heads…

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