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What are rites of passage?

The term rites of passage originates as a theory of socialization from Arnold van Gennep which looks at the structure of societies, social hierarchies, and changes in status. Joseph Campbell in his book Hero With a Thousand Faces used it to look at dimensions of myth that relate to the universal human experience when one undergoes a profound transformation in ones life which can translate into the lives of others. Rites of passage are often ceremonies surrounding events such as other milestones within puberty, coming of age, marriage, and death. There are many more however.  All around the world we find examples of these rites, often not recognized within those cultures themselves as such and often missing some of what have been identified as key components.  Arnold Van Gennep identified these 3 aspects of rites of passage with separation, transition and re-incorporation which Joseph Campbell described later as Departure, Initiation, and Return.

Speaking about Rites of Passage on TEDx Georgia Strait,Feb.20th,2011

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