The URL to this website is made up of the words “Crossing The Threshold.” While it informs my work, I have until now made no reference to its meaning. A friend and colleague recent asked me to what what I was referring. That question, along with a new logo and header on this site (and some more changes to come), has prompted this post. With the New Year only a couple of weeks away this feels like an opportune time.
Birth and Death
In ancient times traditional peoples recognized passages in their lives by leaving behind the familiar and heading out alone to spend time in wild nature - both the external and internal. While away they would fast and engage in ritual, to return with a vision and task. These traditional vision quests have been incorporated into more contemporary rites of passage through organizations such as The School of Lost Borders and The Animas Institute.
All rites of passage are made up of a death followed by a birth. To be born into something new, to grow and move forward in our lives we have to give up the old before taking birth in our new incarnation. We are born with new strength, belief and ability. This is not woo, woo, but what we find happens to us as we let go of our old limitations and in doing so make room for what was hidden within us.
Within in the scope of these rites, this process of death and birth is made up of three aspects:
The Three Aspects of the Rites
Severance is our psychological death, our giving up of the old so that we can make room for the birth of the new within us. It is normally preceded by a period of time in preparation. Time spent in the physical preparation for the journey along with reflection on what it is we are setting out to explore. What is it that you are looking to let go of? What self-images are no longer serving you and need to be jettisoned?
Threshold is your time out alone. We are alone in that we do not have the company of others, though our journey is held by friends and guides who sit at home awaiting our return. Their company from afar held consciously, helps to hold us when the small death feels as though it leaves little for us to stand on.
We also have the company of the wild nature and what we bring to our experience of being alone within it. As we enter more deeply into the fast, perhaps for three or four days, our senses become more attuned with the wildness within and without of ourselves. A sense of intimacy arises. Coupled with any ritual, meditation, reflection, or praying that we engage in, we set the ground for our birth into what we are being called to do.
Incorporation is our return to the world. We return leaving behind the old self and bringing with us the new. For some there will be a clear illumination of direction, for others the sense will be less clear. So on our return the support of friends, family and guides is important. Like the butterfly freshly emerged from its pupae, spreading its wings in the sunlight to dry, until those wings have dried the young insect is vulnerable and susceptible to attack and a killing of its new life.
So take care of yourself and be careful of company kept in those days that you emerge from your fast. You also are vulnerable. Use caution in who you tell your story and experiences to. Told to the wrong person the power of your experience can be crushed in a short time. With the right support and guidance your experiences can be given the helpful perspective of the earned wisdom from elders, to nurture your learnings into further growth, helping you see what you have learnt and how it can be taken out into your life and the service of others.
Crossing The Threshold
So Crossing The Threshold emerged out of the recognition that as we go through changes in our lives, we are being called to cross thresholds into something larger, different, to grow and learn more about what it available to us within ourselves. We are leaving behind the familiarity of the old and entering into the unknown that a death and its subsequent birth brings. That transition in our life becomes so much easier and manageable through the support of others. The work is always yours, the guidance and support is to help you on your way.
The change does not have to come about through a wilderness fast. That is one modality. But as we search to step into something new in our lives, our work, thresholds are crossed, the old is left behind as the new emerges.
As Clair Danes says in the her biographical portrayal of Temple Grandin, “A door opened and I went through it.”
What Thresholds do you want to cross as we enter into 2015?