Rites of Passage for modern society
For thousands of years, indigenous communities around the world have used rites of passage ceremonies as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the major transitions in people’s lives. Marking these transitions was seen as fundamental in the growth, connectedness and health of both the individuals and community as a whole. Sadly, these powerful and ancient traditions have mostly been lost as humanity has transitioned through to our modern culture.
The Rites of Passage Institute (ROPI) was launched in 2018 by Dr Arne Rubinstein with the clear aim to “Bring rites of passage back into the mainstream”. Arne and the ROPI team have spent over 25 years rediscovering the power of rites of passage and guiding thousands of participants through transformational spirit journeys.
As modern society grapples with the breakneck pace of change, the need for transitions that help equip people with the confidence and tools to tackle the adventure and challenges that lie ahead are more critical than ever.
A framework for transformation
Traditionally Rites of Passage ceremonies are deeply challenging, a way of testing a person not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Through years of research, ROPI identified a clear and distinct framework that all traditional Rites of Passage follow in order to create this transformational change.
At a fundamental level this framework consists of three distinct phases; Firstly the “Separation” where the participant(s) leave their everyday life and community setting, secondly the “Transition” where they undergo challenge, growth and transformation, and then finally the “Return” where they reintegration back into everyday community life.
During the rite process participants can experience a “small death”, letting go of the internal barriers and beliefs that no longer serve them on their journey through life. When the process is complete, they are “born anew” with a healthy vision for their future and fresh beliefs that will serve them through the next stage of life.
Spreading Rites of Passage
As well as guiding young people through their camp-based programs at their purpose-built facility in northern New South Wales, ROPI also trains people to be able to create their own programs, supporting them to bring rites of passage back to their own communities. For example, ROPI works with some of the top schools in Australia to create annual programs for their students.
93% of parents attending camps have said that it helped form a better relationship with their child.
Through online courses, ROPI is now spreading rites of passage knowledge to communities around the world. Dr Arne is recognised as one of the worlds most renowned experts and is a tireless advocate for rites of passage and our human capacity for transformation and connection.
Giving back to Indigenous Communities
Through its, work ROPI is helping to bring rites of passage full circle by working with Australia’s Aboriginal peoples to reintroduce rites of passage to their communities. For example, Arne and his team had the amazing opportunity to work with Butchulla Elder, Uncle Glen Miller to run the first Rite of Passage for Butchulla boys on Butchulla land in over 200 years.
The resurgence of this ancient process came about with Butchulla Men’s Business members sat around a fire discussing their concerns for male youth in Australia’s Fraser Coast region. They concluded that a mentored transition to manhood was missing from boy’s lives and that men needed to step up for this to happen in their community. Together with 7 local men, ROPI formed “Bubbinyuwi Wanda”, or “Father and Son Climbing” in Butchella language. Uncle Glen stated that “over the coming years, we will make this process ours by embedding more Butchulla perspectives and we hope that our neighbouring communities will do the same. Our idea is to recreate broken songlines”.
Dr Arne Rubinstein and the Rites of Passage Institute team deliver transformative Rites of Passage camps, leadership training and school programs. They have operated in more than 15 countries and have touched over 200,000 people.
In addition to their in-person programs, the Rites of Passage Institute offers several e-courses. Arne Rubenstein is the author of The Making of Men, a practical handbook for parents and teachers of boys.
Find out more ritesofpassageinstitute.org