The Amazonian Satere-Mawe tribe has one of the most painful coming of age rituals for its boys. To become a man, the boys in the tribe have to wear a glove of bullet ants while dancing around for 10 minutes. These ants have incredibly painful stings that can cause paralysis for up to 24 hours, and the boys cannot flinch for their whole 10 minute dance.
Kill a Man, Become a Man
In Aztec culture, a boy could not become a man until he captured a prisoner and brought him back to be sacrificed. Human sacrifice was a central part of Aztec culture, with the people offering up sacrifices for various reasons and to various gods.
In order to become women, girls in the west African Fula tribe must have to get intricate face tattoos. And the Fula tribe doesn't have high-tech needles to use — they use a sharpened piece of wood instead. The girls must endure the several hour process without grimacing.
Mentawaian women will sharpen their teeth into points with stones once they reach puberty. While the look is intimidating in western culture, it is a standard of beauty in the Mentawai tribe.
A Trippy Trip
Young boys in the Native American Algonquin tribe are locked away in a cage and then given a powerful drug called wysoccan. The wysoccan is supposed to cause the boys to forget everything about their life up to that point. If the young men mention anything about their childhood again, then they are given another dose of wysoccan.
The Lion King
Government restrictions condemn this practice today, but in the past boys from the Masai tribe in Kenya weren't considered men until they killed a lion. To make it even more difficult, the boys were only allowed to use a spear and nothing else.
Ancient Greece had a coming of age tradition called pederasty that would violate several of the sexual assault laws we have today. Back then, a boy would enter into an officially sanctioned relationship with an older man before he was considered an adult. The older man was meant to be a mentor, but the relationship was often sexual.
Poking and Puking
Some tribes in Papua New Guinea have a very gory way of purifying their people. The Matausa tribe have their young boys put canes down their throat until they vomit, and then they will force reeds up their nostrils and then have their tongues stabbed. After this purification process, they will be men.
The walkabout is a tradition among aboriginal tribes in Australia. The coming of age journey involves sending young boys off to live in the Outback alone for up to 6 months. Seeing as the Australian Outback is home to some of the most dangerous animals in the world, this is especially horrifying.
Native Americans have a similar coming of age tradition to the Australian walkabout. Several tribes will send their young ones into the wilderness for several months before they are recognized as men.
Leap of Faith
Boys in the Vanuatu tribe have to participate in the ceremony of Naghol before becoming men. Naghol means "land diving," and the tradition involves boys tying their legs to vines and jumping off of a wooden tower. They try to come as close as they can to brushing their head against the ground.