In memory of a dear friend, Ruth, who was cremated today.
She made the world a brighter place, and filled it with laughter, mischief and creative passion.
She saw clearly and with an open heart, and I will miss her.
In memory of a dear friend, Ruth, who was cremated today.
Thresholds are magical spaces, which lie in between two places or states. They are neither one nor the other, but are a mixture of both at once. Because they are neither here nor there, they lie in the third place which is not of this place, but is the once-upon-a-time place of fairy tales and myth.
A threshold space can contain opposites, and so it is space where everything is possible. They are spaces where one thing ends and another begins, and so hold both beginnings and endings. Change occurs by crossing thresholds, by passing through liminal spaces, and finding new possibilities to challenge the status quo.
The word itself is quite mysterious and seems to have Norse roots. [Old English therscold; related to Old Norse threskoldr, Old High German driscubli, Old Swedish thriskuldi]
Thres meaning tread or step, and skoldr or skuld meaning shield or skin. So together they give the meaning of a protective edge to the steps we can take. In other words a place where we should pause and chose our steps carefully.
Some thresholds are clearly marked by doors or gates, which bar our progress, literally making us come to a halt before moving forwards. In our inner world these can be feelings or experiences which keep us from changing. The gates or doors prevent us from moving into the transitional space where change and new ways of thinking and doing become available to us. Of course fear is usually the biggest door we will encounter, and fear of change will keep us locked out of an emotional space where we can think in different ways. We may never manage to get passed the gate and into the field beyond where there are new views, new landscapes and potentials just waiting to be discovered. We remain cut off from our potential to grow and change, because of the fear of change itself. Better to stay safely tucked behind the walls and fences of our life as we know it, than to risk stepping over a threshold and allowing all that unknown, unpredictable potential to sweep us away into who knows what. Our egos can feel very afraid at thresholds, and for good reason, because we don’t know what lies beyond.
Thresholds can mark the liminal edges between states of being, between earth and water, between sleep and wakefulness, between night and day. Despite appearances there are no clear cut edges where one thing ends and another begins, rather there is a blurred edge where both states exist at once. The edge of a loch, scattered with rocks and stones is both earth and water, and our ancestors saw in between spaces like this as gateways connecting this world with the otherworld. Where the water and the stones of earth meet something new is created by the mixing, waves ripple back across the water and sound pours out into the air. The encounter of opposites can create something new.
Thresholds are wonderful places, full of the potential to change, to release old ways of looking at things, and to open up into new ways of encountering and experiencing life. Perhaps you can use the thresholds you cross everyday to waken up a little more. Each doorway you step through could be a chance to pause just for a moment and notice where you are and where you are going. Start to notice the changes in light and sound as you cross through doorways from one space to another, and in this way become a little more engaged with your life as it actually is right now, with all of its wild potential.
Discover more thresholds at the WP Photo Challenge
We visited the South West of Skye, and in the magical Glen Brittle, encircled in the black jagged rocks of the Coullins, we found a stone pyramid. Spilling from its base ice cold water tumbled over waterfalls and poured into turquoise pools, called in Gaelic the Pools of the Speckled People, in English they are named the Fairy Pools. The sound of the waterfalls filled the air with enchanting water music, and the sunlight glittered on the surface of the pools in mesmerising golden stars. We watched cloud shadows drift in impossible slow motion across the steep sides of the mountains, and we soaked the peace and the light deep into our bones.
The colours of the rocks and the pools filled our imaginations with wild and impossible stories, while eagles circled high above on wide outstretched wings. Mountain hares flashed their white tales at us as they fled up the slopes and away from our prying eyes, disappearing into the vastness of this heather clad Glen.
The air was warm in the sunlight and the water enticed us to dip our feet in these magical blue pools, but we soon felt the cold bite of the snow between our toes. The numb tingling freshness of snow melt stayed with us long after we had replaced our socks and boots, but we lingered a while beside the sparkling waterfalls, reluctant to leave this enchanted spot. Time seemed to slip away under the powerful gaze of the high guardian mountains, and the soft embrace of smooth water worn rocks and moss.
Up in the more remote parts of Highland Scotland, there are breathtaking roads which wind their way through steep glens and over mountain passes, with just a thin strip of Tarmac. These single track roads can offer thrilling driving experiences rolling for miles with no traffic lights, stop junctions or changing speed limits, no roundabouts or pedestrians, just you and the hills. This particular one track road twists and turns over the Bealach na Ba, the Pass of the Cattle, and it rises from sea level to 2053ft in just five hair raising minutes. Clinging to the side of the steep cliffs it eventually takes on hairpin bends, and remember that if you meet someone coming in the other direction one of you has to reverse to the nearest passing place. You can’t drive this road in auto-pilot and the adrenaline will keep you wide awake living every minute, feeling every bump and curve.
There is so much going on between the twisting turns and the steep incline that it’s hard to take in much else, but the crumbling mountains and the wildlife all call for attention too. This a street full of action, but so far removed from city driving that it’s like learning a whole new set of rules.
We travelled North and West a few days ago, heading right through the heart of the Cairngorms, the high cold heart of Scotland. Here the Blue Hag of Winter has her home, and here she makes her last stand against the rising light and warmth of Spring. The air is stubbornly cold with snow and ice still clinging to the mountains
The thin air seems to suck the snow from the high ridges, weaving it into clouds of liquid light. This field of cairns seems to stand watch over the glowing waters of the loch far below. After this point the road begins to drop down into the softer warmer glens on the western side of the Cairngorms. A place to be thankful for having made it this far across terrain which claims many lives each winter. A place to appease the mountain spirits if you are travelling the other direction, for here you cross into the territory of the Mountain Cailleach.
a few glens and ridges later we had dropped down to sea level and we passed Eilean Donan Castle wreathed in golden daffodils beside the salty waters of the sea lochs. We had reached the west coast and were nearly at the end of our journey, the beautiful village of Plockton in Wester Ross. Spring was waiting for us, but winter still clung with all her heart to the mountain tops, as she is want to do.