Organizing data from cultures the world over, Eliade lays out the basic patterns of initiation: group puberty rites, entrance into secret cults, shamanic instruction, individual visions, and heroic rites of passage. The vast information, assembled so beautifully, transcends usual scholarship. Eliade always affirms the greater experience in all initiations - the indissoluble tie between humans and the cosmos of Gods, spirits, animals ancestors, and nature. The absence of initiation in our culture has left modern men and women often isolated from each other, from the invisible powers beyond, and from the myths that sustain daily life. The primal soul desire for symbolic rituals pushes youth into substitutes for initiatory experience: gangs, suicide, car crashes, teenage pregnancy, street drugs. These "symptoms" show the unquenchable urge for existential transformation and the need for elders, mentors, and rituals. This book is about crossing - from confusion to knowledge, from innocence to experienced elder.