Initiation rituals for young men

In this research line we investigate initiation practices for young men (15-18) to welcome them into adult life. Traditionally initiation for men 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 our society masculinity is unclear, undervalued, and criticised. A number of young men wander around without purpose, get caught up in virtual games, consumerism, and entertainment, and are numbing themselves with drugs. We hypothesise that a proper initiation into masculinity can give direction and strength to young men, help them touch a shadow, connect to their calling, and accelerate the development of accountability and unwavering presence.

Our research questions include:

  1. How can we reactivate 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?

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