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Reply To: Episode 3: The Functions of Ritual (recorded 1964)


I could not agree more, telsa, about the absence of coming-of-age rituals in our society. I taught junior high, where students are right on that cusp between child and adult, with nothing to demarcate that death of childhood and the beginning of something new.

As Campbell pointed out, in the absence of such rituals, along with elders to provide guidance, these initiations emerge on their own, albeit unbridled and dangerous, as teens engage in increasingly risky behavior, essentially flirting with death (an unconscious symbol of the death-and-rebirth initiation they are lacking). Elaborate, violent, often deadly gang initiations often fill that hole.

I am curious – are there any rituals you practice in your own life? (As an example, I hold a little private ceremony, with incense, candles, sage, drums and rattles, and tarot cards, on the cardinal points of the year – the Solstices and Equinoxes – along with the cross-quarter days that fall halfway between – Imbolc, on February 1, Beltane on May 1, Lughnasad on August 1, and Samhain on October 31/November 1; of course, personal rituals don’t necessarily need to be so formal, as long as they are meaningful for those participating.)