Arnold Van Gennep, a 20th century Belgian anthropologist, once wrote that all cultures use similar rites of passage.
In East Africa, the Barabaig tribe shave the heads of their pubescent “warriors-to-be” and cut lines in their scalp with razors. Other cultures circumcise.
In suburbia, we smoke our first cigarette, dance at the prom, or take off the training wheels.
And when we’re brave enough, visit a haunted house.
There’s always three stages in a rite of passage: separation, liminality, and incorporation. Big words but simple concepts.
In terms of a haunted house, when you pull into that parking lot, buy your ticket and enter through the squeaky, spider-webbed door, that’s the “separation”—you exit the Old and enter the New.
Tumbling over your friends laughing and pausing to notice that heartbeat of yours slowly pumping back out of your ears at the end is the “incorporation”.
But the fun part is the middle—the “liminality” phase. It’s where anything goes. And it awaits you at the House of Torment.