I am coming to have a stronger appreciation for why the potential for death is essential to the male initiatic process. It is, ultimately, the only sure way to get a young man’s full attention, in the right form. That is: full attention and humility. And if they’re not capable of summoning that state of attention, then they need to be put down. That’s the gist of it, anyway, in a tribal society that can’t afford the aggressive idiocy of young men too self-absorbed to bond with their peers and elders in service to a common good.

Our form of culture can afford, of course, to carry them… at least for a while.

Going off to war, or at least serving in the military used to fulfill the function of this tribal initiation, though it was always somewhat problematic, given that uncertain relationship between whatever war and actual survival. It’s easy to idealize the tribal mode of life as being necessarily in touch with Life Itself, and therefore able to perform a proper death initiation leading to a genuine apprehension of and orientation toward the Good. Such an ideal initiation might be likened to the magnetization of iron.

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