THRESHOLD: Moving Between the Realms

Jun 24, 2021

Photo Credit: Joseph Lee

In medieval times, the threshold was a plank that kept barnyard “threshings” outside the house. In the sciences, a threshold is the limit of magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a definitive change to occur. In human development, life stage thresholds are marked and recognized through ritual. In psychoanalytic work, threshold is a symbol—a visible but not literal representation that calls consciousness to apprehend a larger, unseen reality. 

Science fiction, mythology’s modern descendant, has richly storied this process as transition into a new world. The ambiguity and disorientation of this liminal situation requires the sacrifice of old attitudes and willingness to surrender to a new reality—a space of potential enlightenment. The ultimate goal is to recross the threshold and bring the symbolic experience home to consciousness. 


“It is late at night and I find myself lying in a dark alleyway at the foot of a tall building. It seems I have just got married as I am dressed as a bride, in a bejeweled white dress. A fat woman with a very round face is looking over me with mean eyes. She is pulling my bridal jewelry off me, one by one. She tears my earrings away making my ears bleed, then the big nose pin, then my neck piece and so on. The woman looks into my eyes and says that my husband is dead. As she’s tearing the jewelry off of me, my bridal dress begins to wear out. I am unable to stop her. Suddenly, I find myself in the entrance hallway of what seems like a palatial old house. It is dimly lit. I am feeling drained. My bridal dress is all rags now, I can’t feel my feet. I look down and notice that both my feet are missing, it seems that they have been wrenched off of my legs. I am floating. I can sense that I’m in a watery world. My breath is draining out through my legs. I manage to float to the edge of the grand staircase and hold onto the post at the bottom. I look up and try to call out to my sister, who I know is sleeping upstairs. My voice is stuck. I am dying.”


Arnold van Gennep. Rites of Passage. https://www.amazon.com/dp/022662949X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_10TZ7PBV2KD9PBZ14DVJ


Learn to Analyze your own Dreams:  https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/


  1. William

    And there I was, Waiting for Godot with all it’s associated drama. Two years after discharge from military, looking for a box of certainty, Any Rand, of course, even to the extent I studied and read everything I could get by her and even engaged in side shows at gatherings arguing with a socialist and then alone one night, a voice says “you understand Eastern religion.” The relief that came from that made me curious, so I looked into it and sure enough: Enantiodromia. So I took a few religious studies classes which seemed elementary and got a grad school recommendation from the department chair. The unconscious crossing that left the past like a swept away accident. Grad school was a hybrid study of art and technology. Just wanted to mention Jung’s Enantiodromia as an unconscious threshold of reverse engineering, building forward out of a the ruins of an exploded container of soon forgotten shards of irrelevance.

  2. Todd

    Regarding the dream: I would say that being stripped of her bridal gown could feel like she is being stripped of a previous notion of wholeness….the idea of being a successful bride, a successsful householder and a happy spouse/partner— one half of a total whole (a complete and happy home). To date, she feels denied the dream of the happy and complete home, (perhaps even denied the experience of motherhood?) She is thus languishing en solutio… dissolving in water, dismembered, depressed, deflated.

    Kali (the terrible but great mother) in her gruff benevolence is stripping her of this old notion of wholeness in order to prepare her for a new path and a new experience of wholeness. This is the true coniunctio of which marriage is only an outward symbol. A new path and a new sacred marriage within … but for now she is before the threshold…but if she can hold on for a bit longer, i think that some major transformation will soon arrive.

  3. Simcha

    A question about the dream interpretation…

    JL at 56:00 “The ego experiences itself as losing all energy, all life force. And in profound interventions, the archeytpal levels will take all of the energy from the ego.”

    How do the archetypal levels take all the energy from the ego… Or why? Does that mean when one is depressed, the archetypal levels “save” the energy for the ego at a later date? Or they take this energy away, thus deepning the depression? Or the attacking woman in the dream IS that taken energy of the dreamer / dream ego?

    Thanks for another great episode.


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