“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, transition, and incorporation.

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 extent.”
- Bridges, B. (?) pp.86-7