The most authoritative ethnological studies have highlighted, since ancient times, the practice of initiatory ceremonies in any culture: in Egypt, Greece – with the Eleusinian Mysteries – but also in the context of all the peoples of the five continents. Initiation is therefore a very vast and impossible topic to be dealt with exhaustively: that’s why Irène Mainguy proposes a documentary summary, objectively taking into consideration the various and different theses, whether they are only divergent from each other or clearly antithetical. The author addresses all aspects of the topic, those of an ethnological order, as well as philosophical or metaphysical ones, on which specialists have expressed themselves with points of view sometimes opposite, but nonetheless complementary. This publication, without wishing to fully investigate the subject, is intended to allow readers to follow Ariadne’s thread in the maze of the hundreds of studies published on the subject. In a society that lacks reference points, where materialism largely dominates, it is legitimate to ask oneself about the place that belongs to the initiatory ideal. How does initiation offer the keys to better self-knowledge? Can it still be said, in our day, that it allows one to advance along the Path of Wisdom and Knowledge? Depending on its particular characteristics, how can Masonic initiation be located in relation to other forms of initiation? Irène Mainguy sheds light on these and other questions, insisting in particular on the constants of initiation as a rite of passage, with its values, specificity, aims and purposes.
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