(c)1986, by Robin

        The Rocky Mountain Men's Group has put in a good deal of
time the past two or three months working on a Manhood Ritual for
initiating young males into adulthood. We still don't have a
complete ritual that we are all satisfied with, but a good start
has been made.  Some of the approaches taken in creating this
kind of ritual have drawn upon traditional tribal rites of
passage.  Some of these tribal manhood rituals include taking the
young candidate abruptly away from his family to an isolated
spot, where he must remain for a long period of time, usually
blindfolded and bound in the dark.  Part of the ritual may
involve physical pain such as tattooing, circumcision or
ceremonial infliction of cuts that leave characteristic scars.
Even leaving out the physical cutting, these rites deliberately
put the young candidate through frightening, isolating and
painful experiences.

        No one has seriously proposed any ritual that leaves
permanent scars on the candidate's body, but even so some feel
that putting an innocent youngster through a traumatic experience
is insensitive.  It seems to me that this attitude misses the
point.  It is not a lack of compassion that is being expressed.
There is no single word for it in English, it is a willingness to
inflict (or at least allow) pain in order to teach a necessary
lesson that cannot be conveyed in any other way.  As sensitivity
is usually considered a light feminine quality, so this
complement is a dark masculine quality.

        Is this dark masculine quality desirable - or even ethical?
I think it is.  There are elements of it in the Wiccan Initiation
Rituals and the symbolism of the Scourge.  It partially explains
some of the Legend of the Descent of the Goddess into the
Underworld - where the Goddess only learns to love the God after
being scourged by Him.  "Remember this - that you must suffer in
order to learn".  Although many people are put off by the dark
quality of this particular attribute of the Masculine, it is
important to remember that although not pretty, it is necessary.
Perhaps the following story will illustrate this point.

        A boy around eight or nine years old once found a very large
caterpillar.  It was dark green, as long and thick as a man's
finger, and decorated with curious stalky and warty protuberances
in blue, red, and bright yellow.  Since it was nearly the end of
summer, he took it home and put it in a large open jar, and kept
it supplied with leaves of the type he had seen it eating.  After
a couple of months it began to spin a cocoon about itself.   He
watched this with fascination, and when the cocoon was complete,
he put the jar on a shelf of his screened back porch, where it
remained through the winter.  When the days began to lengthen and
the weather grew warmer he checked the jar every morning and
afternoon, waiting for a little miracle of rebirth.  One Saturday
morning his patience was rewarded.  There was movement within the
cocoon and a small hole had appeared.  The boy watched in
fascination as the hole became larger and the reborn creature
inside struggled to emerge.  The struggle went on for what seemed
to the boy a long time and he began to feel sorry for the trapped
insect.  Out of compassion, he ran off and returned with a pair
of his mother's smallest, finest, scissors.  Carefully he
enlarged the hole, and then stood back to watch a beautifully
patterned moth emerge into the light of day.  The moth spread its
folded wings, moving them gently to dry in the air.  Their tan-
and-gray markings seemed to the boy to be one of the most
beautiful things he had ever seen.  When the moth's wings seemed
dry, he carefully held the jar to the outside of the porch screen
so that it could crawl out.  He planned to watch it until it flew
away to find a mate.  The moth crawled onto the screen and
perched there.  It flapped its wings from time to time but did
not fly.  When evening came, several male moths came and
fluttered about the female clinging to the screen, but although
she seemed to be trying to fly off and join them, she never moved
from where she was.  She stayed where she was for three or four
days, and finally died and fell to the ground.  The boy later
learned that the struggle to emerge from the cocoon is so
prolonged for moths and butterflies because the long effort
serves to pump necessary fluids into their wings and strengthen
them for flight.  By shortening this process, to spare the moth
pain, he had prevented her wings from fully developing and so she
could never fly and mate and lay the eggs of the next generation.
......from RMPJ Oct. '86

This article is excerpted from the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal.
Each issue of the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal is published by
High Plains Arts and Sciences; P.O. Box 620604, Littleton Co.,
80123, a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation, under a Public Domain
Copyright, which entitles any person or group of persons to
reproduce, in any form whatsoever, any material contained therein
without restriction, so long as articles are not condensed or
abbreviated in any fashion, and credit is given the original