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Observations placeholder

Clark, Fay Marvin – Into the Light - The initiation of the Wangarapa by the Wirinum



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Into the Light – Fay Marvin Clark

The first initiation ceremony is that of circumcision and is the youth's most important step toward manhood. After the circumcision, he is given a special name which moves him up one point in the social rank. His new name is "Wangarapa" (a boy who must not be seen). For the next year or longer, he must not see or be seen by women. During this period he must not see any of the rituals being performed around him, as he is required to lie face down and only hear, not see, the rituals.

Finally he is prepared for the final tests. The youth is staked out, spread-eagle fashion, face down, for several days while six testers (men) sit behind him completely out of sight and poke him with a stick, while the seventh person, the Wirinum or medicine man, asks, "Who poked you?" The youth must answer. This goes on day after day for many hours each day.

After darkness comes, the candidate is given a little water and allowed to rest.

The next day the experience is repeated over and over, until the youth's Kuran (or entity) leaves his body, and from a point above the body, correctly calls out each time who poked the body on the ground. When all six calls are correctly made three times, the ordeal is over. Only one last act is done before the youth is allowed to return to his parents.

The graduate is turned over on his back, and the Wirinum, using a sharp flint and a stone, knocks out two front teeth as a certificate that he has passed the final rite.

In the weeks we spent among the natives, I personally saw only a few young men who had lost their two incisor teeth. This would lead me to believe that most of the young today do not participate in the true puberty rite or that the final act of the Wirinum has been discontinued.

I found the aborigines to be … very friendly once they realized that we accepted them and their way of life and were not going to attempt to convert them to our ways. In reflecting on the past, I would willingly give up my two front teeth to be able to leave my body anytime I wished, just by closing my eyes and turning around three times. For me it doesn't work, I've tried it.

The source of the experience

Australian aboriginal

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps