“It was Arnold van Gennep, a Dutch
anthropologist, who first interpreted these rites for a modern, western
audience almost seventy-five years ago.
It was he who coined the term, rites of passage
, and it was he who
pointed out that such rites were the way in which traditional societies
structured life transitions...and he saw that all of these cermonial occasions
were made up of three phases that he called separation
In the first phase the person or the group was separated from the old and
familar social context and was put through a symbolic death experience.
Then came a time in isolation in what van
Gennup called the “neutral zone,” a no man’s land between the old way of being
and the new.
Finally, when the intended
inner changes had taken place, the person or group was brought back and
reintegrated into the social order on a new basis.
Although some rituals emphasized one phase
and minimized another, all passage rites revealed this three-phase form to a remarkable
- Bridges, B. (?) pp.86-7