Vision quest or whatever in primitive societies


Hi, someone may know an answer to this!

I’ve read a lot written by anthropologists and the like, and they are usually obsessed with what the men do. So we can find out what was missing to a certain extent in our growing up as boys in this society, but what did the girls do when they reached about 12?

I can see how the lack of anything real or meaningful to mark our passage into manhood can leave us screwed up, and knowing what was missing can be a help in overcoming the results. So for a son, you can do something useful, even if it only to explain what is missing, but what about a daughter?

I don’t mean all the new age crap, I just want to know what wild humans do. that’s why I am asking here. Hope you know what I mean.



Why does it have to be so different depending on gender? I understand that in most (practically all) indigenous cultures had significant differences between the rites of passages for girls and boys, but for crafting rituals for adolescents coming of age in modern society, I think we can get creative, and they don’t have to be too different. For girls it makes sense for the rite of passage into adulthood to be centered around their first moon time (menstrual cycle) - it is a transition dictated by our bodies, universal to female-bodied people around the world.

It also makes sense to me that women should be mentored in that transition by women elders, and boys mentored by male elders, although personally I think that it is essential that both also be guided, at some point in the process, by elders of the other gender as well. Also, in modern society the younger generations are rapidly moving away from gender distinctions altogether - making the binary gender classification obsolete - and I think that is a very very good thing, in the sense of everyone feeling free to determine their own identity and gender expression.

I also know that any society that I am a part of MUST respect each individual’s free choice as to how they want to contribute to the community, and I will passionately fight any attempts to impose gender roles, like women doing the gathering and cooking, and men doing the hunting and fighting in battle. I understand that most traditional cultures did have roles like that, and I respect those cultures, but I myself must have free choice to choose my own path, and I will fight for that same right for all children around me (that are not members of a traditional culture with its own traditions). Does that make sense?

The fundamentals of any rite of passage are universal: some kind of physical/mental/emotional/spiritual trial or hardship, where the individual faces death, and the choice of either facing their fear and accepting that death (of the old), so that they can be reborn in some way, or resisting that death and failing the test - either to try again later, or physically dying (the danger was real, in many culture’s traditions). Anyway, there are many sources who can explain this better. But the point I’m trying to make is that the essence of the rite of passage is the same no matter if you are a girl or boy, entering adulthood or becoming a shaman or warrior or whatever. They only differ in the particulars.

Personally I don’t know any specific examples of rites of passage into adulthood. Does anyone else know of any, or can recommend good sources of info about this?


I’ve been thinking about this as well. Obviously there are differences between men and women, but at the same time I think we overemphasize them. I find myself wondering if the strict separation of boys and girls in their rites of passage is a throwback to the beginnings of sexism in the human species? Would men and women have higher respect for one another if they were mentored coed through their rites of passage while in their teens?

I’m particularly interested in this now, as I’ll be doing an adult rite of passage in about a month to make up for the fact that I didn’t get one when younger (I’m 35 now, and will turn 36 soon). It will be coeducational, although I don’t know precisely how this will be dealt with.