of the sea, was fickle. He played an important role in ancient rituals
just as he does in today's initiations into the Orders of the Deep. At
his slightest whim, Neptune might throw a storm into the path of a ship
that would splinter her oars and spars like matchwood, or cast her onto
the rocky coast.
In early rituals, the location of the rites had to be right. If every element surrounding the ceremonies was not just so, all Hades might break loose. The location of the ship had an effect on how acceptable the honors to Neptune were. A rite performed off certain capes (for instance, those with temples on them) would work best.
Apprentices had to be instructed in the behavior that was acceptable and unacceptable. As a later Ancient Mariner discovered to his grief, the rulers of the deep frown on anyone who kills an albatross. Obviously, the sailor who isn't so certified is little more than a landlubber. Ask any shellback. The pollywog simply hasn't been around--and a worse stigma for a sailor is hard to imagine.