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This Jungian Life

Jun 24, 2021

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 the symbol is the threshold—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. 

Here's the dream we analyze:

“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.


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