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The Fallible Man

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A Different Kind of Man a different kind of Lifestyle

  • Writer's pictureThe Fallible Man

Rites of Passage; are they Relevant Today!

Saint Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, and I love Saint Patrick’s! Some people see drinking as a rite of passage or coming of age. I don’t agree particularly but I do think we should have some rites of passage for men. Today I am going to talk about manly rites of passage and how moving away from them have affected men. Do we need specific rites of passage into manhood? Did it actually make better men?

I don’t get hammered on St Patties, I think that is pretty dumb and I lived through my stupid years by the sheer grace of God. I love the overall cheery attitude of just fun pub like camaraderie. I enjoy a fine Irish meal, usually corns beef and cabbage with some soda bread, potatoes, and this and that. Sometimes we have Shepherd’s pie instead, but we have made it a tradition. Around my house it is a day of being together with friends and family much a kin to Thanksgiving day traditions. Traditions can be fun and some can be educational.

For many centuries various groups have had traditional rites of passage to mark the movement into manhood. The Jews celebrate a bar mitzvah to mark this coming of age if I understand the tradition correctly. Some early men marked it as when the boys were of age to join the hunting parties instead of staying behind with the women, children and elderly.

Many modern societies have moved away from many of these as they consider it an old-fashioned idea or even barbaric. With some traditional rites of passage for various peoples around the world I can understand. Don’t research the topic if you don’t have a strong stomach.

The question is how has this change affected us as men in the modern era?

A couple of examples from the past.

1. Join the hunt!

Not everyone is a hunter, but in tribes that had to hunt for food this proved that you could be a valuable part of the society. Tribal hunters counted on meat for food, fat for various uses, pelts for warmth and bones for tools and various other uses. Once you were a “man” you could help provide for the tribe and a possible mate.

I was trying to think of an equivalent in modern society, but we have moved far from it.

2. Into the Wilderness

Some groups would send you into the wilderness for a period of time. Maybe a week, maybe a year. Only when you returned from this trial were you believed to be proven enough to be valuable to the tribe. You had survived which meant you could care and provide for yourself and others. You were now educated and smarter. Then you could be a useful member of society and were allowed to take a mate.

I wanted to compare this to college, but in today’s society many come home to live in the family dwelling, and this was not possible when you returned from the wilderness.

3. Heavy Things!

In Iceland there is something called the Husafell Stone. It is popular in Modern Strongman, but this stone is over 200 years old. It is a 409lb door for a stone goat pen. The owner had to move it to let the goats out and replace it to pen them in at night. It is a large awkward stone. If you can break it off the ground it is a start, to your knee is half strong. To achieve fullsterkur or Full Strong you must pick it up and carry it 50 meters around the goat pen. It became a test of strength and manhood.

My heaviest sandbag is 200lbs so I attempted to carry it twice around the distance as it is half weight and a sandbag is easier to carry. I have a long way to go. I will link the video here.

What did these things achieve, and do they bring value now? I tried and could not really find modern equivalents to these things and like I said, going down the rabbit hole of traditional rites of passage these are mild. In one tribe in the pan Asian islands you had to run across the backs of 7 bulls 4 times while naked and bleeding after they beat your female relatives with canes to lesson your pain and there was another piece of that if I remember right. I truly could not find a modern equivalent unless you happen to live in some remote tribes. So we have to determine what this provided.

What was accomplished with these rites of passage. Keep reading because I think it actually had some very important implications.

Here are a few things I thing it achieved.

- It created an expectation that you would rise to a certain level

- It set a goal for you to work towards giving you clear purpose

- It created a clear delineator in life from child to adult (which is confusing these days, 18 to smoke and join the military, 16 to drive, 21 to drink, 5 to choose your sex, 26 to no longer be a possible dependent)

- It set expectations as to what a valuable member of society looks like

- It created a sense of achievement

- It declared your role in society

Should we reinstate some rites of passage for men at a societal level?

I think this would be beneficial. Much like every person in Israel or Sweden used to be required to perform mandatory military service. I think having a certain set of expectations is incredibly important and valuable. I think this is beneficial to society for all the same reason that it was beneficial before. I recently had a post on social media based on my “10 Things Every Man Should be able to DO” podcast. Some one railed against the idea that men should be expected to do anything, “men should do whatever they want, and society has no right to expect anything out of anyone”. To me this is a tragic outlook, we as society have to have set expectations on many things or the world would fly apart. Can you imagine not being able to expect that your doctor graduated medical school? Or if we had no expectations that the fire department could combat fires? How about trusting your accountant to handle your business taxes, you didn’t check their credentials right? It is absolutely bonkers to think that it is wrong to have expectations of men, women or anyone else. I feel bad for the person who commented and politely wished them well, I can’t imagine my spouse or kids having no expectations of me. That is a horrible outlook.

I think it would benefit us as a society to have clear delineations, that was the idea of all those age restrictions they put on things. However, they just muddy the waters as they each say you are adult enough at a certain age but they are all different.

Some parents have similar rites of passage, some still go on a hunt the first time. My children have limitations based on age and ability. Maybe we should find mandatory rites of passage into Manhood. As a parent I think you should at least consider the idea. It seems to be more a personal level instead of a societal level. Do you think we should get back to rites of passage it at a larger level?


The Fallible Man

Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!


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