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INITIATION (Lat. inilium, beginning, ...

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Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 570 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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INITIATION (Lat. inilium, beginning, entrance, from mire, to go in), the process of formally entering, and especially the rite of admission into, some office, or religious or secret society, &c. Among nearly all primitive races initiatory rites of a bloody character were and are common. The savage pays homage to strength, and the purpose of his initiatory rites is to test physical vigour, self-control and the power of enduring pain. Initiatign is sometimes religious, sometimes social, but in primitive society it has always the same character. Thus, in Whydah (West Africa) the young girls consecrated to the worship of the serpent, " the brides of the Serpent," had figures of flowers and animals burnt into their skins with hot irons; while in the neighbouring Yoruhaland the power of enduring a sound thrashing is the qualification for the throne. In no country was the practice of initiatory rites more general than in the Americas. The Colombian Indians compelled their would-be chief to submit to terrible tests. He had first to bear severe beatings without a murmur. Then, placed in a hammock with his hands tied, INITIATION INHIBITION- come the brothers and sisters, and their issue as collaterals. Failing collaterals, the inheritance ascends to the father and his relations, to the entire exclusion of the mother and her relations. Even when the estate has descended from mother to son, it can never revert to the maternal line. As to succession of brothers, a distinction must be taken between an estate of heritage and an estate of conquest. Conquest is where the deceased has acquired the land otherwise than as heir, and corresponds to the English term purchase in the technical sense explained. Heritage is land acquired by deceased as heir. The distinction is important only in the case when the heir of the deceased is to be sought among his brothers; when the descent is lineal, conquest and heritage go to the same person. And when the brothers are younger than the deceased, both conquest and heritage go to the brother (or his issue) next in order of age. But when the deceased leaves an elder and a younger brother (or their issues), the elder brother takes the conquest, the younger takes the heritage. Again, when there are several elder brothers, the one next in age to the deceased takes the conquest before the more remote, and when there are several younger brothers, the one next to the deceased takes the heritage before the more remote. When heritage of the deceased goes to an elder brother (as might happen in certain eventualities), the younger of the elder brothers is preferred. The position of the father, after the brothers and sisters of the deceased, will be noticed as an important point of difference from the English axioms; so also is the total exclusion of the mother and the maternal line. As between brothers and sisters the half-blood only succeeds after the full blood. Half-blood is either consanguinean, as between children by the same father, or uterine, as between children having the same mother. The half-blood uterine is excluded altogether. Half-blood consanguinean succeeds thus: if the issue is by a former marriage, the youngest brother (being nearest to the deceased of the consanguinean) succeeds first; if by a later marriage than that from which the deceased has sprung, the eldest succeeds first. United States.—American law has borrowed its rules of descent considerably more from the civil law than the common law. " The 118 novel of Justinian has a striking resemblance to American law in giving the succession of estates to all legitimate children without distinction and disregarding all considerations of primogeniture. There is one particular in which the American law differs from that of Justinian, that while generally in this country lineal descendants if they stand in an equal degree from the common ancestor share equally per capita, under the Roman law regard was had to the right of representation, each lineal branch of descendants taking only the portion which their parent would have taken had he been living, the division being per stirpes and not per capita. But in some of the states the rule of the Roman law in this respect has been adopted and retained. Among these are Rhode Island, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana " (3 Washburn's Real Property, pp. 408, 409; 4 Kent's Comm. p. 375). When such lineal descendants stand in unequal degrees of consanguinity the inheritance is per stirpcs and not per capita (In re Prole, 1907; 104, N.Y. Supplement 581). This is the rule in practically all the states. But as in no two states or territories are the rules of descent identical, the only safe guides are the statutes and decisions of the particular state in which the land to be inherited is situated. The law of primogeniture as understood in England is generally abolished throughout the United States, and male and female relatives inherit equally. In some states, as in Massachusetts, relatives of the half-blood inherit equally with those of the whole-blood of the same degree; in others, like Maryland, they can inherit only in case none of whole-blood exist. In some of the states the English rule that natural children have no inheritable blood has been greatly modified. In Louisiana. if duly acknowledged, they may inherit from both father and mother in the absence of lawful issue. Degrees of kindred in the United States generally are computed according to the civil law, i.e. by adding together the number of degrees between each of the two persons whose relationship is to be ascertained and the common ancestor. Thus, relation-ship between two brothers is in the second degree; between uncle and nephew in the third degree; between cousins, in the fourth, &c. In a few states such degrees are computed according to the common law, i.e. by counting from the common ancestor to the most remote descendant of the two from him—thus, brothers would be related in the first degree, uncle and nephew in the second, &c. In most states representation amongst collaterals is restricted—in some to the descendants of brothers and sisters, in others to their children cnly. venomous ants were placed on his naked body. Finally a fire was lit beneath him. All this he had to bear without flinching. In ancient Mexico there were several orders of chivalry, entry into which was only permitted after brutal initiation. The nose of the candidate was pierced with an eagle's talon or a pointed bone, and he was expected to dig knives into his body. In Peru the young Inca princes had to fast and live for weeks without sleep. Among the North American Indians initiatory rites were universal. The Mandans held a feast at which the young " braves " supported the weight of their bodies on pieces of wood skewered through the muscles of shoulders, breasts and arms. With the Sioux, to become a medicine-man, it was necessary to submit to the ordeal known as " looking at the sun." The sufferer, nearly naked, was bound on the earth by cords passed through holes made in the pectoral muscles. With bow and arrow in hand, he lay in this position all day gazing at the sun. Around him his friends gathered to applaud his courage. Religious brotherhoods of antiquity, too, were to be entered only after long and complicated initiation. But here the character of the ordeal is rather moral than physical. Such were the rites of admission to the Mysteries of Isis and Eleusis. Secret societies of all ages have been characterized by more or less elaborate initiation. That of the Femgerichte, the famous medieval German secret tribunal, took place at night in a cave, the neophyte kneeling and making oath of blind obedience. Imitations of such tests are perpetuated to-day in freemasonry; while the Mafia, the Catnorra, the Clan-ma-Gael, the Molly Maguires, the Ku-Klux Kean, are among more recent secret associations which have maintained the old idea of initiation.
End of Article: INITIATION (Lat. inilium, beginning, entrance, from mire, to go in)
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