Re: Rites of Passage

Len Piotrowski (
Thu, 22 Aug 1996 18:14:30 GMT

In article <> Shannon Adams <> writes:


>Robert Snower wrote:
>> The "adult role" consists in a million different activities, including
>> of course ones related to sex, of which their are an infinite number
>> of symbols. Circumcision? Why on earth that?

>I think it was van Gennep (not sure about this) that made reference to teeth
>filing (canines specifically) as a rite of passage in SE Asia (?)(maybe
>India, oh well, I can't remember). Who ever it was said that this rite was a
>symbol for controlling the "animal" and emphasing the human. Could
>circumcision be something akin to this? Redefining sexual behavior/maturity
>as wholely human by separating a human penis from an animal one? (That's
>probably way out there but oh well.)

The Australian aboriginal practice of subincision was said to have been done
to modify the penis of teenage boys to look like the penis of a kangaroo (with
all the attached meanings of the dream time ancestor)!


>Maybe the primary difference between rites of passage involving circumcision
>and the rites of the masons is that the masons are (traditionally at least, I
>have no idea about the present) a society of only males. Sexually maturity,
>and the privileges etc. that go along with that status (legitimate sexually
>activity, etc.) are not at issue in a masonic rite.

The rituals surrounding genital modification in many cultures are likewise
conducted by a single sex to the proscribed exclusion of the other.