and Rites of Passage Gone Wrong
by and including the writings of
David Tacey, a doctor of Philosophy at Latrobe University.
‘Earth People’ Volume 2 Number 6 )
Playing: 'I Don't Know'
By: The Dreamcatchers
Sitting Owl for a copy
This subject can also be called “The Hero Adventure”, and is related
to another article I have written called ‘Suffering and Compassion'
or 'Sacrifice and Bliss’. In
Volume 1 Number 2 of ‘Earth People’, I wrote a brief introduction on
this VERY IMPORTANT aspect of life in my article ‘Initiations and
Vision Quests’. It is so important that Joseph Campbell’s first book
that he wrote, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, was solely on this
subject. And it is, in fact, the beginning of all life, as we are all
heroes in our birth; and the seeking of a spiritual understanding of
life that often comes around middle age is another of the major hero
adventures that we experience during the passage through a lifetime.
I recently read two articles on this subject that appeared in respected
journals written by David Tacey, a doctor of Philosophy at Latrobe
University. I was amazed to see that these articles appeared in 1995 and
1997/8, and if read and understood by society, it could solve possibly
all of our problems, yet today the problems still persist. All I can say
is; is anybody listening out there?
To refresh your memory of my previous article or to give a brief
overview to those who have not read it, the main points are as follows.
Joseph Campbell calls this psychological transformation, which everyone
must undergo, the "Hero Adventure." This is where a hero or
heroine finds or does something beyond the normal range of experience.
There are three stages to this adventure, and they are:
1. Leaving home or separation from all that is familiar.
2. The frightening and difficult, but also exhilarating journey,
often helped by unexpected and mystical allies. Facing fears and a new
way of consciousness, as the known boundaries of the old consciousness
fades and merges with new revelations.
3. Returning as apparently the same person, but forever changed.
Where a deed has been achieved.
The deed comes in two forms. It is either a courageous act of saving a
life or lives, going through a physical or psychological ordeal, or it
is a spiritual deed of coming back from spirit realms with a message
that can help humanity or society in some profound way.
The rites of passage then, are the celebrations that Lynn Andrews speaks
about in her article, ‘Rebirth of the Self Lodge’. They are the
celebrations within the whole community of these returns from the hero
adventures, and the recognition of the shared importance of the
revelations with which each individual hero has returned.
It is this return that David Tacey points out in his two articles,
‘Rites and Wrongs of Passage’ and ‘Youth Spirituality and
Authenticity’, saying that the return often doesn’t happen; and he
connects this phenomena to society’s drug problems. And the following
is a summery of ‘Rites and Wrongs of Passage’, which describe the
main points in that article:
and Wrongs of Passage’
Rites of passage, which are the soul’s evolution by incremental
changes in consciousness, involve:
1. Separation from the existing, limited awareness (Childish).
2. Transition into a hazing period.
3. Return of the self into a big picture awareness (Maturity).
(See also Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero Adventure’.)
1. If culture does not help young people come to terms with age
related changes in personal orientation, then the soul itself is forced
to carry the burden of transformation.
2. If culture and society do not actually respect or conduct life
cycle rituals, then the initiatory process will take place anyway,
despite the absence of formal recognition.
3. Today’s undirected self-initiations remain problematical
precisely because they lack the guiding hand of cultural wisdom and
4. When the soul gives the urge for change it does not provide
the rational understanding, the culture is supposed to do that.
5. Young people are thrown back on themselves, and they cannot
always be expected to respond positively to the archetypal dictates and
urges of the soul, especially when these urges remain unconscious and
are presented to the ego or conscious mind in symbolic and non rational
6. Ad hoc attempts at initiation can get stuck in not being fully
realised and experienced, because the urges of the soul are
misunderstood and even condemned and opposed by society at large. So
young people, charged by youthful idealism, rebellion and the natural
deep urge of the soul can be caught in being forced to frequently act it
out in negative re-occurring cycles such as risk taking behaviour and
Given some of these insights by David Tacey, the real reasons for drug
addiction can be more easily understood, by exploring the effects of the
rites of passage denied in the next section.
Addiction and the Rites of Passage Denied
The evolutionary, sacred urges of the soul are relegated to the profane
and sordid margins of social experience, because modern culture has
failed to address a basic primal urge, the need for ecstasy and
The rites of passage incorporate ecstasy as the new frequency of
enlarged awareness. This enlarged awareness is not wanted by the adult
world, which sets about to limit it, and in so doing creates sickness of
the soul in its young people. Rites of passage thwarted by society
create pathological behaviour in its young people. Society’s drug
prohibition efforts have failed because they do not address the deeper
issue, the urge of the soul, which is the propelling energy and why
young people take drugs.
1. Drugs serve to separate them from normal society, into the
sense of being an outsider, participating in an illegal activity. This
fulfils the soul’s need for separation, even if it is only
psychological, and not physical or spiritual.
2. Drugs create a transition away from normal conscious reality
into a hazing between what was the old awareness and what the new soul
perception experiences. This reinforces to the soul the fact that the
journey has begun with a real sense of transition because of departure
from the old existing awareness.
3. In the transition phase, young people find that drugs dissolve
the boundaries of the former self. And they encounter a hazing, which
releases them from the confined consciousness they were trying to
separate themselves from, and into an ecstasy and a wider ecstatic
experience which links them to the bigger picture of themselves and the
world. This “high” satisfies the urge of the soul for transition.
4. The return stage of the soul’s journey is marred by the
nightmare of a return into an imperfect world, which rejects their
soul’s experience of ecstasy. Rather than society understanding,
acknowledging and assisting them into the process to integrate this new
awareness, it exiles them further as criminal outsiders.
5. The return stage, in many instances never happens because of
cultural prejudice and hostility. Permanently and psychologically exiled
from society and the opportunity to develop a new mature self, these
young people seek that which satisfies them the most, the “high” of
ecstasy, the place where their soul felt good.
6. Young people return to the hazing stage and remain stuck in it by
habits of addiction to kill the emotional pain of depression resulting
in dissatisfaction with the world and their immediate relationship to
it. Adults, rather than treating them as people on a hero’s journey,
reinforce the return to the hazing by rejection. This rejection creates
7. The new awareness, still trapped in transition, has no
opportunity to return, and is not given the practical opportunities to
grow into a new self by lack of place, purpose, position and fulfilment
in society. Having departed, the soul cannot return and complete the
cycle, and so engages indefinitely in repeated attempts to dissolve the
self in drugs or suicide. The only remedy from this is cultural
awareness, understanding and assistance in the return phase of rites of
So maybe now you can see why I feel it is so important for society to
understand and implement any and all of the mythological messages, which
are actually all the same message. And all mythologies contain this
pedagogical function, which includes these rites of passage for youth,
as well as other rites of passage. As I have pointed out in the article
‘Dreams, Mythology and Symbolism’ of Volume 1 Number
3, myths serve
four functions, which are:
1/ The Mythical Function. Which
is realising the wonder of the universe, and the wonder of yourself as a
living symbol of the Creator, God, Great Spirit, or any name you wish to
use. Joseph Campbell says: “If mystery is manifest through all things,
the universe becomes, as it were, a holy picture. You are always
addressing the transcendent mystery through the conditions of your
2/ The Cosmological Dimension. This is
today the concern of science, to show the shape and nature of the
universe. But it must be shown in a way that still allows the mystery
and the experience of awe to come through.
3/ The Sociological Function. Which is
where the myth is supporting and validating a certain social order. This
is where myths vary from one place to another and from one culture to
another. According to Joseph Campbell, it is this function that has
taken over in our current world, and is out of date, in all the pages
and pages of rules on how to behave and what you should wear etc.
4/ The Pedagogical Function. This is
the function that everyone must try to relate to, and gain from the
wisdom of nature, realising the brotherhood we have with plants,
animals, minerals and all living beings of the universe. This function
of myths is the one that can teach us how to live a human lifetime under
any circumstances, as it teaches us the stages of life from birth
through maturity and death to rebirth.
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