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The Stinging Bullet Ant Glove Initiation

As some of you know I have been doing a lot of research on different initiative practices from around the world

This is one particular initiative practice that I have always considered fascinating for its sheer requirement of mental fortitude and physical resilience

I introduce you to the Sateré-Mawé tribe, a people of Brazil whom reside in the lush foliage of the Amazonas

Largely unaffected by external influence these tribes people offer a window into a rich traditional way of life and culture

My study relates directly to their rites of passage for their young men into adult and warrior-hood

These initiative, transformative rites for men are seen as fundamental for human growth, development as well as socialization

They portray elements to me which are mostly lacking in the modern cultural landscapes in which we reside today

The Sateré-Mawé value qualities of strength, resilience and courage amongst many others across dimensions that we could categorize as both yin and yang

They are hunter and warrior people whos priorities lay within protecting their community from neighboring hostile tribes and the gathering of food and resources

Due to their culture and environment their young males are raised with the constant theme of becoming warriors

The path of becoming a Sateré-Mawé Warrior is no simple feat it involves a transitional rite of passage through ceremony which involve copious amounts of pain

Staunched and nervously alert the young males gather with the tribes warriors and elders

They are led by their elders and other courageous warriors before them who have been through the same initiation into manhood

Here they will be tested by a natural predator of the Amazon the Paraponera Clavata a species of bullet ant whos sting is said to be as painful as a bullet piercing the flesh

Powerful toxins from the ants sting cause uncontrollable shaking and intense waves of pain

Pain from a single sting has been known to last for up to days Initiates will not only receive one sting but many as they don gloves which have been woven with sedated bullet ants gloves for a minimum of 5 minutes

The only relief is the support that they will receive from their tribe, elders and the already revered warriors who have been through the same process

The elders and warriors will dance and sing with the young initiates creating a liminal space of safe supportive transformation

When the gloves are removed the pain can last for hours and even days

After the initiation is complete the young men are now embraced in their transformative state as men and warriors to be respected and integrated with their new status by the rest of the tribe

The now new warriors have willingly displayed public vulnerability and confronted adversity physiologically, emotionally and mentally in front of the warriors and elders that they look up to

These ancient ceremonies may seem barbaric through a softened modern lens yet the positive psychological, cultural, spiritual development that their inherent meaning contain are immensely profound

There is a famous saying throughout African tribes “Just as arms and leg are part of the body so are Rites apart of the community”

Rites of Passage ceremony link the individual to community, the richness of them self and a more potent spiritual world

To me it is clear, in a society which is swept with depression, men floundering for sense of meaning, low levels of self-esteem and worth there needs to be much more value placed on the passing of man wisdom

There is a need for a contextualized supportive form of Rites for young and older males who have never lived through such a collective transformative experience

These initiative experiences are neither primative nor a luxury they appear to be an imperative necessity

I am in the process of brewing something very special for future times and I’m looking forward to sharing it with all of my bros



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