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Organizing data from cultures the world over, Mircea Eliade, one of the preeminent interpreters of world religion in the twentieth century, 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 here transcends usual scholarship. Eliade always affirms the greater experience in all initiation – the indissoluble tie between humans and the cosmos of gods, spirits, animals, ancestors, and nature.