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Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth Paperback – 15 Dec 1994

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Spring Publications,U.S.; New edition edition (15 Dec. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0882143581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882143583
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.4 x 22.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

Organizing data from cultures the world over, Eliade lays out the basic patterns of initiation: group puberty rites, entrance into secret cults, shamanic instruction, individual visions, and heroic rites of passage. The vast information, assembled so beautifully, transcends usual scholarship. Eliade always affirms the greater experience in all initiations - the indissoluble tie between humans and the cosmos of Gods, spirits, animals ancestors, and nature. The absence of initiation in our culture has left modern men and women often isolated from each other, from the invisible powers beyond, and from the myths that sustain daily life. The primal soul desire for symbolic rituals pushes youth into substitutes for initiatory experience: gangs, suicide, car crashes, teenage pregnancy, street drugs. These "symptoms" show the unquenchable urge for existential transformation and the need for elders, mentors, and rituals. This book is about crossing - from confusion to knowledge, from innocence to experienced elder.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ritual "death and rebirth" ceremonies in primitive cultures produces a vital, psychological shift which not only prepares the youth for tribal duty but also initiates him into the deeper realms of his own psyche. Such rites were, and remain, spiritual in their processes and results. The initiated youths are brought into contact with their subconscious, wrathful "shadow side" no less, where they must overcome its terror and volatility and integrate its vital power. The Western world never had these ritual structures and we are spiritually poorer for it. In our society, the shadow side of the psyche is not confronted or integrated. Preserving the knowledge and practices of tribes and rites that knew how to face and overcome the psyche's shadow becomes all the more important, and Eliade does a very good job indeed. He does repeat himself and say the same thing twice in virtually every chapter, but that's a trivial complaint. This sort of scholarship is like an endangered species. This book is to be treasured.

Ex-Seeker
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Format: Paperback
A must have if you are studying anthropology or shamanism. originally written in 1958, but the academic research still stands. A difficult read, worth going over complex passages for a second pass, but at least it is one of the author's shorter books! Packed with examples and information. Content is about one of the common and central themes to shamanism practised throughout the world. See also "the Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and history" and "Shamanism: Archaic techniques of Ectasy" by the same author.
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This is one of the major ethnographic and sociological texts, indeed a landmark in the philosophy and science of consciousness transformation - what it is and how it has been practiced around the world, from coming of age to shamanic development. Casts light on the various arcana of human history including the unwritten lore that has so influenced the world's cultures. Consider for example that Mandela was initiated to be a man in the traditional ways of his native tribe. It also therefore reveals some of the undrlying patterns that go into the shaping of culture - there are many rites and symbols for the passage through life, marriage, barmitzvah, first football game with dad, hunting lions. It is a brilliant scholarly work
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This was an xmas present. Apparently it was very informative & interesting to read, so overall all a good present..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic and important text - dense but fascinating 27 July 2014
By Angus Jenkinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the major ethnographic and sociological texts, indeed a landmark in the philosophy and science of consciousness transformation - what it is and how it has been practiced around the world, from coming of age to shamanic development. Casts light on the various arcana of human history including the unwritten lore that has so influenced the world. Consider for example that Mandela was initiated to be a man in the traditional ways of his native tribe
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important classic, worth reading 13 Nov. 2008
By Christopher R. Travers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this work, Eliade explores the general approaches to initiation found among archaic cultures and how these have survived or not in historical traditions. While the work can in no way claim to be complete, it is a classic in its field, like so much of Eliade's work.

Eliade utilizes a comparative methodology in looking for universal or nearly universal patterns in comparative religion. Here he looks at archaic initiation ceremonies in the Americas, Australia, and Africa, and compares these with India, Christianity, and historical Greece. The general parallels in symbolism and patter that he shows are quite meaningful and can help people understand related topics.

Highly recommended for anyone studying this topic.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Mercea Eliade! 16 Nov. 2010
By B. Buhler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Practically anything, including this book, written by Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) is a phenomenal read! He is a MAJOR figure in the study of the history of religious ideas. Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor. He was a leading interpreter of religious experience, his paradigms in religious studies persist to this day. His theory that ideal models of divinity form the basis of religion, splitting the human experience of reality into sacred and profane space and time, has proved influential.

Fluent in speaking and writing Romanian, French, German, Italian, and English, with a reading knowledge of three others, Hebrew, Persian, and Sanskrit.

Between 1925 and 1928, he attended the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Philosophy and Letters in 1928, earning his diploma with a study on Early Modern Italian philosopher Tommaso Campanella. In 1927, Eliade studied in Italy, where studied philosophy, religion and logic. After receiving a four year scholarship to study at the University of Calcutta Eliade also made a large tour of Egypt and stayed at a Himalayan ashram for a short time. In Calcutta he studied Indian philosophy, Sanskrit, Pali and Bengali. During this time, he studied and met Mahatma Gandhi, and adopted Ghandist ideas. Eliade received his PhD in 1933, with a dissertation on Yoga practices. During the same period, Eliade began a correspondence with the Ceylonese-born philosopher Ananda Coomaraswamy. In 1936, he made trips to London, Oxford and Berlin.

During WWII, Eliade supported Facist, far right ideas such as those put forth by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and opposed democracy (as managing to crush all attempts at national renaissance.)I'm not sure I support him here, but that was certainly a different time and place.

By 1945, Eliade lived and worked in France. In 1957, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, and is generally admitted to be, along with Joachim Wach, the founder of the "Chicago School" that basically defined the study of world religions for the second half of the 20th century. Upon Wach's death, Eliade was appointed as his replacement in 1964,to the Sewell Avery Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions.

In 1966, Mircea Eliade became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also worked as editor-in-chief of Macmillan Publishers' Encyclopedia of Religion, and, in 1968, lectured in religious history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It was also during that period that Mircea Eliade completed his voluminous and influential History of Religious Ideas, which grouped together the overviews of his main original interpretations of religious history. In his later years his writing was severely hampered by arthritis. The last academic honors bestowed upon him were the French Academy's Bordin Prize, in 1977 and the title of Doctor Honoris Causa, granted by the University of Washington in 1985.

Truly a remarkable man! If you have not read any of his books look at his page on Amazon and pick on, buy it and READ it!
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 22 May 2013
By T. Babcock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a brilliant insight and model of human behavior and initiation rites. Working from pre-historic initiation rites through the post modern period it opens up and identifies what we may have lost as a civilization.
5.0 out of 5 stars Awakening 11 Nov. 2012
By Scott M B Gustafson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though I have not yet finished reading this book, Eliade's descriptions of initiatory rituals that bind and preserve communities is fascinating. I look forward to completing this book soon.
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