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Adolescent Rites of Passage: Context and Form

For millennia, cultures have identified adolescent rites of passage as critical to success. They understand this life stage to be pivotal  and accord it considerable resources. Explore the purpose of adolescence, how it is attuned to cultural renewal, and how to create a culture of rites of passage to support the youth journey into adulthood. This class is for parents, those passionate about culture, and anyone working with youth.

Adolescent Rites of Passage
Context + Form

Taught by Charles Purvis


Are you a parent of a pre-adolescent child, wondering what's coming next in their journey to adulthood? Rites of passage are a vital part of supporting our sons and daughters to become, whole, capable, and free to live the lives they are born to live. For millennia, many cultures have identified adolescent rites of passage as critical to success and sustainability. They understand this life stage to be pivotal in the development of the individual and the culture, and accord it considerable resources.

In this class, we will explore the deeper purpose of adolescence, how it is perfectly attuned to the cycle of cultural renewal, and how to create a community culture of rites of passage to witness and support youth as they journey into adulthood. This class is designed for parents, for those who are passionate about evolving culture, and for anyone working with youth and teenagers.


Week 1: Introduce and Define Adolescent Male Rite of Passage. We'll define what we mean by culturenaturerites of passage, and adolescent, and we'll make distinctions between rites of passage and initiation, ceremony and ritual. We'll also define the archetypal life stages, their characteristics, and the tasks associated with them. 

Week 2: Purpose and Function of Rites of Passage & the Role of Culture in Providing Them. Why are adolescent rites of passage important? What purpose do they serve, and what can they provide? We'll go over the consequences of not having adolescent rites of passage, and the role culture plays in providing them.

Week 3: Adolescent Male Rites of Passage in Traditional Cultures and the Dilemma of Cultural Appropriation. We'll look at Native American, African, and Aboriginal rites of passage, along with which of these we've seen adopted into mainstream culture. We'll also discuss why cultural appropriation does not serve us.

Week 4: Designing a Contemporary Rite of Passage for Adolescent Males. What might an adolescent rite of passage look like for young males living in this particular time, in this particular culture? We'll address universal and culture-specific needs and intentions along with potential for individual and community development.


Charles Purvis creates and facilitates community- and nature-based rites of passage for adolescent boys, including a three-year preparation process for youth and a nine-month preparation process for their fathers.