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