Crossing the First Threshold

In this section of what Joseph Campbell refers to as the “monomyth,” or the hero’s journey, one finally enters into the field of unpredictable adventure, leaving behind the known parameters of one’s own world and exploring the unknown and dangerous realm, where rules and limits one has known no longer apply.

Frequently, this stage is followed by what is called entry into the “Belly of the Whale,” taken from the Book of Jonah in the Old Testament and Hebrew Bible. While often described as the low point of a person’s life – being euphemistically swallowed whole by a whale – this is actually the point at which one begins the separation or transition between worlds, or even within oneself. It is the point of recognition by the hero that he or she is willing to undergo transformation, to die to him or herself.