The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The return and reintegration with society, which is indispensable to the continuous circulation of spiritual energy into the world, and which, from the standpoint of the community, is the justification of the long retreat, the hero himself may find the most difficult requirement of all. 


The Two Worlds, the divine and the human, can be pictured only as distinct from each other – different as life and death, as day and night.  The hero adventures out of the land we know into darkness; there accomplishes his adventure, or again is simply lost to us, imprisoned, or in danger; and his return is described as a coming back out of that yonder zone. 

!!!!    Nevertheless – and here is a great key to the understanding of myth and symbol – the two kingdoms are actually one.

The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know.  And the exploration of that dimension, either willingly or unwillingly, is the whole sense of the deed of the hero.  The values and distinctions that in normal life seem important disappear with the terrifying assimilation of the self into what formerly was only otherness.  As in the stories of the cannibal ogresses, the fearfulness of this loss of personal individuation can be the whole burden of the transcendental experience for unqualified souls.  But the hero-soul goes boldly in – and discovers the hags converted into goddesses and the dragons into the watchdogs of the gods.1000 faces, pg 188

That is the hero’s ultimate difficult task.  How render back into light-world language the speech-defying pronouncements of the dark?       1000 faces, pg 188

Cont’d – How represent on a two-dimensional surface a three-dimensional form, or in a three-dimensional image a multi-dimensional meaning?

How translate into terms of “yes” and “no” revelations that shatter into meaninglessness every attempt to define the pairs of opposites?

How communicate to people who insist on the exclusive evidence of their senses the message of the all-generating void?  1000 faces, pg 189

Why re-enter such a world?  Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of transcendental bliss?   1000 faces, pg 189

As dreams that were momentous by night may seem simply sill in the light of day, …..

…. so the poet and the prophet can discover themselves playing the idiot before a jury of sober eyes.  The easy thing is to commit the whole community to the devil and retire again into the heavenly rock-dwelling, close the door, and make it fast.  1000 faces, pg 189

(Oisin) had descended consciously (awake) into the kingdom of the unconscious (deep sleep) and had incorporated the values of the subliminal experience into his waking personality.  A transmutation had been effected.  But precisely because of this highly desirable circumstance, the dangers of his return were the greater.  Since his entire personality had been brought into accord with the powers and forms of timelessness, all of him stood to be refuted, blasted, by the impact of the forms and powers of time.  1000 faces, pg 190