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Initiation rituals for young men

In this research line we investigate rites and symbols of initiation for young men into adult masculinity. Traditionally, this  meant that a boy was taken away from his mother and had to undergo strenuous challenges in which he had to prove willingness to face his fears and give his life to protect the tribe. Times have changed. There is no longer a clear tribe to protect, the content of our fears has changed, and with feminist and queer theory playing in the background, it is not straightforward what it means to be a man.

In contemporary western society masculinity is unclear and under critique. A sizeable number of young men wander around without purpose, get caught up in consumerism, entertainment, aggression or vandalism, and/or numb themselves with porn, drugs, or social media. We hypothesise that a proper initiation into critical adult masculinity can give direction and strength to young men, help them touch a shadow, connect to a calling, and accelerate the development of adult masculinity.

Our research questions include:

  1. How can we reclaim the power of initiations for young men?
  2. What definition of masculinity does it require?
  3. What archetypal dynamics are involved? How can they be kindled?
  4. What are the necessary and effective components of such an initiation ritual?

Feel free to email if you’d like to join this quest.