This post continues the slightly amplified transcription of my presentation at the 2015 IANDS conference in San Antonio. If you missed the previous post, you might want to read that first and then come pick up here with Part #2.

Comparative valuations

The purpose of traditional initiation rituals was understood not only as being the source of  a “basic change in existential condition,” as Mircea Eliade claimed, but as an entry point to maturity and competence. The rite of passage would be a formal challenge, a test of the newcomer’s fitness for an advanced social role. In spiritual terms, it was expected that the ordeal might give access to altered states of consciousness that could provide a glimpse of other realms, a bit of secret wisdom. In some cultures, obtaining such a vision was (and sometimes is) an essential aspect of the trial. Continue reading »