At the moment I am reading “Le Chamanisme” by Mercea Eliade. It is slow progress because my French is not as good as my English. In this he writes about the selection and initiation of shamans across a wide range of cultures. He notes that the proto shaman often has a bad illness which causes him/her to take up the profession. The proto shaman is initiated into the ranks by a variety of grisly methods either by another shaman, the spirits or the Gods. These rituals include dismemberment, removal of bodily organs and the inserting of various crystals. The shaman dies and is reborn with new organs and limbs. So far, he hasn’t commented on whether this is actual or metaphorical. The insertion of crystals is actual amongst Australian aborigines. The proto shaman is taught the trade.
There is a rite of passage in which he enters the craft of shamanism.
The aboriginal shaman is called a man of high degree.
I have read that freemasonry has its various degrees and rites, of which I know very little.
I have participated in a number of rituals at The Royal Albert Hall, dressed in an academic costume at which a swathe of undergraduates is admitted into the degree of bachelor or master. I have signed the document granting a ~hundred people either a B.Sc. or M.Chem. I have partaken of viva voce oral examinations in which together with another we recommend the awarding of a Ph.D. There is no actual disembowelment, but the brain is given something of a workout. A Ph.D. means that you are qualified to do research on your own, it does not say if you will be any good at it. There is a whole lot more to learn after this degree.
There is ceremonial magic in the academic rite of passage. The academics are led on stage by someone carrying a rod of office. It is all a bit seventh ray.
Once qualified people can become a member or a fellow of a learned society. I myself was once a member of The Royal Society of Chemistry and The Institute of Physics.
Yesterday evening I put up the various degree in the Toltec Tradition as per Theun Mares. The blue books talk about nine planetary initiations two of them being threshold and the third being the first initiation proper, the Transfiguration. In the scheme the initiation is given after the necessary work has been undertaken and the rod of initiation starts, initiates, the next phase of the journey. There is ritual magic involved. Speculating a little the Transfiguration is the culmination of the Warrior’s path and specifically the Path of Freedom. One becomes free of the clutches of the darkened paths. The third initiation precipitates the fourth.
In the blue book schema at the fourth initiation the causal vehicle is ruptured, and the being no longer is required to incarnate, the causal vehicle is blown off, nirvana. But there are still five possible initiations to be undertaken in this planetary scheme. At the fifth initiation the being becomes a master of wisdom and if I understand it correctly writes a kind of thesis so as to “crystalize” the knowledge and wisdom acquired. The initiations are not on the physical plane as per your common or garden degree ceremony.
Initiation and rites of passage are pretty common, from your tribal shaman to your freemason, to your modern university and the inner plans subjective initiations.