A rite of passage is a ceremony of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another. It involves a significant change of status in society. In cultural anthropology the term is the Anglicisation of rite de passage, a French term innovated by the ethnographer Arnold van The rest of Van Gennep’s book presents a description of rites of passage and. : The Rites of Passage (): Arnold van Gennep, Monika B. Vizedon, Gabrielle L. Caffee: Books. Turner, after fieldwork in Africa, read Arnold van Gennep’s Rites of. Passage (/) and realised that it made sense of his own findings. Van Gennep.
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Documents Flashcards Grammar checker. As we move from higher to lower levels of civilization, the differences among these groups become accentuated and their autonomy increases. In contrast, the only clearly marked social division remaining in modern’ society is that which rited between the secular and the religious worlds-between the profane and the sacred.
Lfs the time of the Renaissance the relations between these two realms have undergone all kinds of changes within nations and states. But it is a significant fact that, because of fundamental differences between them, secular and religious groups as a whole have remained separate throughout the countries of Europe.
The nobility, the world of finance, the working classes, retain their identities without regard–in theory at least–for national boundaries.
The Rites of Passage – Arnold van Gennep, Solon Toothaker Kimball – Google Books
In addition, all these groups break down into still smaller societies or subgroups. We find distinctions between the higher nobility and the landed gentry, between high finance and small moneylending, as well as among the various professions and trades. For a man to pass from group to group–for example, for a peasant to become an urban worker, or even for a mason’s helper to rise to mason–he must fulfill certain conditions, all of which have one thing in common: On the other hand, for a layman to enter the priesthood or for a priest to be unfrocked calls for ceremonies, acts of a special kind, derived from a particular feeling and a particular frame of mind.
So great is the incompatibility between the profane and the sacred worlds that a man cannot pass from one to the other without going through an intermediate stage. We see that in the least advanced cultures the holy enters nearly every phase of a man’s life. Being born, giving birth, and hunting, to cite but a few examples, are all acts whose major aspects fall within the sacred sphere.
Social groups in such societies likewise have magico-religious foundations, and a passage from group to group takes on that special quality found in our rites of baptism and ordination. At the simplest level of development, too, there are social groups that reach across boundaries. For example, a totem clan is recognized as a single intertribal unit among all the tribes of Australia, and its members look upon one another as brothers for the same reason as do Roman Catholic priests, no matter what country they live in.
Bonds of caste, on the other hand, present a more complicated problem, for here differences based on occupational specialization are added to those founded on kinship. While modern societies reduce to a theoretical minimum the distinction between male and female, it plays a role of considerable importance among semicivilized peoples, who rigidly segregate the sexes in the economic, the political, and, above all, the magicoreligious sphere.
The family, whether conceived on a broader or narrower basis than in our own culture, is likewise sharply defined among semicivilized peoples. Furthermore, while a tribe may or may not form part of a larger political unit, it is in all cases endowed with an individuality comparable in rigidity to the narrow parochialism of the ancient Greek city-states.
To all the above-mentioned group distinctions, the semicivilized add still another—one for which our society has no real counterpart—a division into generation or age groups.
The life of an individual in any society is a series of passages  from one age to another and from one occupation to another.
Wherever there are fine distinctions among age or occupational groups, progression from one group to the next is accompanied by pasxage acts, like those which make up apprenticeship in our trades.
Among semicivilized peoples such acts are enveloped in ceremonies, since to the semicivilized mind no act is entirely free of the sacred.
In such societies every change in a person’s life involves actions and reactions between sacred and profane-actions and reactions to be regulated and guarded so that society as a whole will suffer no discomfort or injury.
Transitions from group to group and from one social situation to the next are looked on as implicit in the very fact of existence, so that a man’s life comes to be made up of a succession of stages with similar ends and beginnings: For every one of these events there are ceremonies whose essential purpose is to enable the individual to pass from one defined position to another which is equally well defined.
Since the goal is the same, it follows of necessity that the ways of attaining it should be at least analogous, if not identical in detail since in any case the individual involved has been modified by passing through several stages and traversing several boundaries.
Thus we encounter a wide degree of general similarity among ceremonies of birth, childhood, social puberty, betrothal, marriage, pregnancy, fatherhood, initiation into religious societies, and funerals. In this respect, man’s life resembles nature, from which neither the individual nor the society stands independent. The universe itself is governed by a periodicity which has repercussions on human life, with stages and transitions, movements forward, and periods of relative inactivity.
We should therefore include among ceremonies of human passage those rites occasioned by  celestial changes, such as the changeover from month to month ceremonies of the full moonfrom season to season festivals related to solstices and equinoxesand from year to year New Year’s Day.
All these rites should, it seems to me, be grouped together, though all the details of the proposed scheme cannot be worked out as yet. The study of ritual has made great progress in recent years, but we are still far from knowing either the function or the manner of operation of every single rite, and we lack the knowledge necessary to construct a definitive classification of rites.
The first step toward the development of such a classification was a separation of rites into two kinds, sympathetic and contagious. Svmpathetic rites—those based on belief in the reciprocal action of like on like, of opposite on opposite, of the container and the contained, of the part and the whole of image and real object or real being, or word and deed.
I have tried to assemble here all the ceremonial patterns which accompany a passage from one situation to another or from one cosmic or social world to another.
Because of the importance of these transitions, I think it legitimate to single out rites of passage as a special category, which under further  analysis may be subdivided into rites of separation, transition rites, and rites of incorporation.
These three sub-categories are not developed to the same extent by all peoples or in every ceremonial pattern. Rites of separation are prominent in funeral ceremonies, rites of incorporation at marriages. Transition rites may play an important part, for instance, in pregnancy, betrothal, and initiation; or they may be reduced to a minimum in adoption, in the delivery of a second child, in remarriage, or in the passage from the second to the third age group.
Thus, although a complete scheme of rites of passage theoretically includes preliminal rites rites of separationliminal rites rites of transitionand postliminal rites rites of incorporationin specific instances these three types are not always equally important or equally elaborated. Furthermore, in certain ceremonial patterns where the transitional period is sufficiently elaborated to constitute an independent state, the arrangement is reduplicated.
A betrothal forms a liminal period between adolescence and marriage, but the passage from adolescence to betrothal itself involves a special series of rites of separation, a transition, and an incorporation into the betrothed condition; and the passage from the transitional period, which is betrothal, to marriage itself, is made through a series of rites of separation from the former, followed by rites consisting of transition, and rites of incorporation into marriage.
The pattern of ceremonies comprising rites of pregnancy, delivery, and birth is equally involved. I am trying to group all these rites as clearly as possible, but since I am dealing with activities I do not expect to achieve as rigid a classification as the botanists have, for example. It is by no means my contention that all rites of birth, initiation, marriage, and the like, are only rites of passage.
For, in addition to their over-all goal to insure a change of condition or a passage from one magico-religious or secular group to another—all these ceremonies have their individual purposes.
Marriage ceremonies include fertility rites; ritee birth ceremonies include protection and divination rites; funerals, defensive rites; initiations, propitiatory rites; ordinations, rites of attachment to the deity.
All these rites, which have specific effective aims, occur in juxtaposition and combination with rites of passage-and are sometimes so intimately intertwined with them that it is impossible to distinguish whether a particular ritual is, for example, one of protection or of separation. This problem arises in relation to various forms of so-called purification ceremonies, which may simply lift a taboo and therefore remove the contaminating quality, or which may be clearly active rites, imparting the quality of purity.
Except in the few countries where a passport is still in use, a person in three days may pass freely from one civilized region to another. The frontier, an imaginary line connecting milestones or stakes, is visible—in an exaggerated fashion on—on maps. But not so long ago the passage from one country to another, from one province to another within each country, and, still earlier, even from one manorial domain to another was accompanied by various formalities.
These were largely political, legal, and economic, but some were of a magico-religious nature. For instance, Christians, Moslems, and Buddhists were forbidden to enter and stay in portions of the globe which did not adhere to their respective faiths.
It is this magico-religious aspect of crossing frontiers that interests us. To see it operating fully, we must seek out types of civilization in which the magico-religious encompassed what today is within the secular domain.
The territory occupied by a semi-civilized tribe is usually defined only by natural features, but its inhabitants and their neighbors know quite well within what territorial limits their rights and prerogatives extend.
THE RITES OF PASSAGE by Arnold van Gennep Translated by
The natural boundary might be a sacred rock, tree, river, or lake which cannot be crossed or passed without the risk of supernatural sanctions. Such natural boundaries are relatively rare, however.
More often the boundary is marked by an object—a stake, portal, or upright rock milestone or landmark whose installation at that particular spot has been accompanied by rites of consecration. Enforcement of the interdiction may be immediate, or it may be mediated by frontier  divinities such as Hermes, Priapus, or the deities represented on the Babylonian kudurru.
When milestones or boundary signs e. The idea of the sanctity of a territory so delimited has sometimes been confused with the belief in the sanctity of the entire earth as the Earth Mother! In China, according to the most ancient documents, the deity was not the earth as such, but each plot of ground was sacred for its inhabitants and owners.
It seems to me that the case of Loango, the territory of Greek cities, and that of Rome’ are all analogous. The prohibition against entering a given territory is therefore intrinsically magico-religious.
It has been expressed with the help of milestones, walls, passwge statues in arnod  classical world, and through more simple means among the semi-civilized.
Rite of passage – Wikipedia
Naturally, these signs are not placed along the entire boundary line. Like our boundary posts, they are set only at points of passage, on paths and at crossroads.
A bundle of herbs, a piece of wood, or a stake adorned with a sheaf of straw may be placed in the middle of the path or across it. The erection of a portal, sometimes together with natural objects or crudely made statues, is a more complicated means of indicating the boundary.
The details of these various procedures need not concern us here! Today, in our part of the world, one country touches another; but the situation was quite different in the times when Christian lands comprised only a part of Europe. Each country was surrounded by a strip of neutral ground which in practice was divided into sections or marches  These have gradually disappeared, although the term “letter of marque”‘ retains the meaning of a permit to pass from one territory to another through a neutral zone.
Zones of this kind were important in classical antiquity, especially in Greece, where they were used for market places or battlefields. The same system of zones is to be found among the semi-civilized, although here boundaries are less precise because the claimed territories are few in number and sparsely settled.
The neutral zones are ordinarily deserts, marshes, and most frequently virgin forests where everyone has full rights to travel and hunt. Because of the pivoting of sacredness, the territories on either side of the neutral zone are sacred in relation to whoever is in the zone, but the zone, in turn, is sacred for the inhabitants of the adjacent territories. Whoever passes from one to the other finds himself physically and magico-religiously in a special situation for a certain length of time: It is this situation which I have designated a transition, and one of the purposes of this book is to demonstrate that this symbolic and spatial area of transition may be found in more or less pronounced form in all the ceremonies which accompany the passage from one social and magico-religious position to another.
The more the society resembles ours in its form of civilization, the thinner are its internal partitions and the wider and more open are its doors of communication. In a semi-civilized society, on the other hand, sections are carefully isolated, and passage from one to another must be made through formalities and ceremonies which show extensive parallels to the rites of territorial passage discussed in the last chapter.
An individual or group that does not have an immediate right, by birth or through specially acquired attributes, to enter a particular house and to become established in one of its sections is in a state of isolation. This isolation has two aspects, which may be found separately or in combination: In consequence, some peoples kill, strip, and mistreat a stranger without ceremony, while others fear him, take great care of him, treat him as a powerful being, or take magico-religious protective measures against him.
For a great many peoples a stranger is sacred, endowed with magico-religious powers, and supernaturally benevolent or malevolent. This fact has been pointed out repeatedly, especially by Frazer and Crawley, who both attribute the rites to which a stranger is subjected to magico-religious terror in his presence. These rites, they maintain, are intended to make him neutral or benevolent, to remove  the special qualities attributed to him.
Grierson accepts the same point of view, but be is also interested in the economic and legal position of the stranger, and he cites many references. For him the purpose of the rites is to destroy both the evil eye possessed by all strangers a priori and the “conditional curse” placed upon the host by the stranger’s presence. Jevons, on the other hand limits, the significance of these rites to purification of the clothing and belongings of the stranger, excluding the stranger himself.
Each of these points of view is applicable to a series of particular facts, but none of them enables us to understand the dynamics of rites pertaining to the stranger, their patterns, and the parallels between these ceremonial patterns and the order of rites of childhood, adolescence, betrothal, and marriage. However, if we consult documents which describe in detail the ceremonies to which isolated strangers or groups such as caravans or scientific expeditions are subjected, we see, beneath a variety of forms, a surprisingly uniform pattern.
The actions which follow an arrival of strangers in large numbers tend to reinforce local social cohesion: Elsewhere, special intermediaries or elected delegates are sent.
In addition though there are exceptions of a political nature, for exampleforeigners cannot immediately enter the territory of the tribe or the village; they must prove their intentions from afar and undergo a stage best known in the form of the tedious African palaver. This preliminary stage; whose duration varies, is followed by a transitional period consisting of such events as an exchange of gifts, an offer of food by the inhabitants, or the provision of lodging.