Coming of Age: The Passage to Adulthood
Rituals around the world all teach valuable lessons that help initiates see the value and importance of life. Each culture has different rituals that provide experiences for their youth to learn these valuable lessons of life. Many coming of age rituals are intense procedures. The Amazon's Satere Mawé youth enter adulthood through the bullet-ant glove initiation, teaching courage and endurance, and the crocodile scaring ritual that the men from the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea participate in teaches them pain and accomplishment.
Bullet Ant Glove Initiation
The Amazon tribe, known as the, -Satere Mawé, practice the bullet-ant ritual that young men participate in enabling them to enter adulthood. Beginning around age 13, young men are expected to endure the bullet ant glove, in order to be considered a man of the tribe. Neil Griffin (2012) describes this ritual:
“Becoming a Satere-Mawe man involves getting up close and personal with the bulletant. At the time of initiation, the group will locate a bullet ant nest and waft smoke over it to knock out the ants. The unconscious ants are collected, and carefully – I’m guessing very carefully – woven into a glove made of the leaves. The end result is a leafy green iron maiden. Shaped like an oven-mitt on the outside, the ants are embedded within the leaves with their stingers facing inwards. The man-to-be then slips the glove on, and must keep it on for ten minutes. At the end of ten minutes the glove is removed, although generally not by the boy, who is usually busy being paralyzed and/or convulsing. The boy will generally recover within a week – but the ritual can be fatal. Unfortunately, even for the survivors, once is not enough to prove you are a man. The boys will have to repeat the process many times over months, or even years, before becoming accepted as a man in Satere-Mawe culture.” (Griffin, 2012, para. 6)
This ritual is one of many unique traditions that initiates who endure the procedure learn the valuable lesson of courage.
The bullet ant glove ritual teaches initiates courage, for they must complete this procedure to be considered an adult. This coming of age ritual is painful, and to have to go through with such a task will enable the young men to learn how to be brave. The bullet ant glove ritual is not a one-time occasion. According to Bre Cruickshank (2012) “If they complete the ritual without crying out or wincing they have become a man. The most respected men who want to obtain the status of being a strong warrior, repeat the ritual 20 times.” (Cruickshank, 2012, para. 8) Through experiencing the bullet ant glove that many times, it is evident that initiate’s learn courage. In the Webster dictionary, courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one” (Webster Dictionary). As a Satere-Mawe tribe member being able to endure these stinging gloves is considered horrific to many people, and being able to complete...