January–Beginnings and Thresholds

A statue representing Janus Bifrons in the Vatican Museum

January is named for Janus, the Roman mythological god of beginnings and transitions. The name is taken from ‘janua’ the Latin word for door. Crossing a doorway or threshold is symbolic of moving from one phase or one level to another. Janus, usually shown as a two-faced figure looks both to the future and the past.

The New Year, the start of January is a good time to evaluate the experiences, lessons and treasures from the past and decide what we will take with us into the new year.

A popular archetype in mythology and legends is the threshold guardian. This person or creature is posted at the gateway to a new level or phase of the hero’s journey. Its purpose is to test the hero and prove him or her worthy to cross the threshold into the new territory.

Have you ever noticed that once you proclaim your intention to start something new you’ll get a great opportunity related to what you are planning to leave or discontinue? For example, you decide that the time is right to leave your job and start the business you’ve been planning then you get a great job offer in the field you’ve just decided to leave. This gives you another opportunity to choose the safety of the career you know or break the ties and move toward your dream.

A fellow speaker and corporate trainer once told me that he was no longer going to speak on a certain topic that had been a stable of his business for years. He was heading in a new direction. The following week I learned that he had passed on a great opportunity to be interviewed for an article and get some good publicity on that old topic. I congratulated him on having faced the threshold guardian, confirming his dedication to his decision to redirect his business.

This January look at what the past year has given you that you want to take forward into the new year. Decide what things, situations, behaviors and yes–even people you want to leave behind. As you set your intentions for your new year be aware of any threshold guardians that appear to test your resolve. Know that facing them confirms that you’re ready to step into new territory. Backing down only means that you aren’t ready yet and need a little more preparation. Either option is just a part of your journey. YOUR journey. To be traveled your way.

On this threshold of the year 2012, like Janus I am looking both back at the past and forward to the future. I am grateful for the many friends and adventures of the previous year and look forward to new beginnings starting in January.

Happy New Year!

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