On thresholds and border crossings

To write or not to write and what's behind Door #3.

I’ve always had trouble with transitions. Those passages in between when you’re making and unmaking, when you know you’re finished here but you’re not quite there. And worse, you don’t yet know what ‘there’ is. It’s like your cosmic GPS has gone wonky on you and now you’re on your own. They’ll tell you that it doesn’t matter that you’re almost forty, that age is just a number and you should just let that socially-conditioned shit go and – wait for it – trust the process.

Except I have checked and there is no process. I would know because I have the Sun and Mercury in Virgo and we are process whores (among other things). This is how we make sense of the world – through a logical framework (Introverted Thinking in the MBTI). 

No, what we have here is the complete absence of clarity and direction wrapped in Neptunian fog and a fuschia pink bow. This is the opposite of a process! Now because I understand astrology, I know that this period is going to last another couple of years at least (yes, bring out the confetti). 

This means that now, my information-craving Virgo parts can find respite in the knowing, while other contradictory-but-equally-significant parts of me can jump right in and ask “But what if the fog is a good thing? What if it’s keeping us blind to what’s actually keeping us off course? What if the only way we can access the information we need in the here and now is through this temporary blackout? In other words, what’s possible now?” 

This is Extraverted Intuition and is the auxiliary function of INTPs and INFPs. I recently discovered that I’m actually INTP, not an INFP – as my dreams and Jungian analysis have also confirmed – and it’s really made me feel seen. But the point of course is not to stop at feeling seen, but to go looking for the missing function – feeling, in my case and highly intense ones at that – and bring it out of cold storage while my ego screams and writhes in agony at the very suggestion.

This is why I love depth psychology. Never a dull moment. 

The MBTI is a broad system (astrology is way more nuanced) but I do think it’s useful if we first of all know how to answer the questions (I didn’t) and work with what we find out instead of reading those feel-good descriptions in order to feel smug. This is as pointless as people taking irrational pride in their Sun signs or any astrological placements for that matter. But that’s a digression for another time. 

Let’s go back to the chaos, the ambiguity and the tension of opposing forces that seems to pull you in different directions as you set foot on what’s clearly a psychic borderland. This is the home of the archetypal Trickster who invites you into these unexplored and even forbidden spaces within yourself. Do you trust him and take the leap or do you turn away in favour of what is safe and familiar? 

While much of children’s fantasy literature would have you believe that there is always a reward for crossing the threshold, this is simply not true. Sometimes, a closet is just a closet and running headfirst into a brick wall is going to give you a concussion, not a magical train ride. 

We are, after all, in the realm of the Trickster and part of his job profile is tripping us up when we could use a good lesson in humility. So how do you tell if it’s going to be a trick or a treat? I’m not sure but let’s see. 

I suppose it would depend on how big a role the Trickster plays in your own psychology and where you find yourself in relation to him in this moment. How much do you identify with being the outsider, the black sheep, the one who flouts convention, mocks or questions authority, embraces fun, chaos and the shapeshifting aspects of the Trickster in making it up as you go?

My answer has always been “a lot more than I should.” I am a list-making, system-loving earth type but when it’s come to the big decisions – love, writing, quitting jobs, getting married, becoming a parent, getting divorced, becoming an astrologer and changing my worldview, getting a dog, getting a second dog, building a house, you get the drift – I have always jumped. For the most part, this has served me well. My thresholds were in fact portals to magical worlds where I was rewarded for the courageous act of answering the call to adventure. 

But, as Jung would point out, ‘sooner or later, everything runs into its opposite.’ This is a psychological law. So if the Trickster is such a dominant part of my conscious personality, then somewhere in my unconscious resides a powerful Father (the astrological Saturn) – law, structure, boundaries, discipline, rationality, authority – his psychological opposite, and sooner or later (usually midlife) they are going to collide. 

This is typically when we feel torn, conflicted, reach an impasse or tell our people we’re going crazy. Usually, there is an outer life situation that reflects this inner ‘tension of the opposites.’ In my case, I find myself held back from writing – the one thing I’ve done consistently – by the Father in his darker expression as an inner tyrant, unrelenting in his need for control and perfection, critical of my abilities and dismissive of my need to play. I experience this as a crippling Imposter Syndrome. 

When I give in to him because the not-enoughness is unbearable, and avoid the thing I love to do, the Trickster-Child starts itching to break free (literally, my skin breaks into eczema). So I decide to show him the finger and write, but he mocks me in the form of blank pages and I give up again. 

Jung’s answer to this was to ‘hold the tension’ of these opposing forces instead of picking a side so that enough pressure was created for a ‘third’ to emerge.

This third, called the transcendent function, would unite the two and transcend them, and bring forth a new solution. In colloquial terms, this is the ‘aha’ moment when you see something you couldn’t see before. But you cannot make this happen – you cannot manipulate it, because it’s not coming from your ego. All you can do is hold. 

I’ve already rambled on for longer than I intended to, but I started writing this because I felt the whoosh of what I hope was the transcendent function kicking in a few days ago, after months of holding, analysis and dream incubation. I don’t know if the auxiliary function in MBTI is also how the transcendent function shows up, but that’s certainly how I have experienced it so far. Mine is extraverted intuition and always presents as a flash of inspiration. It comes suddenly and invites me to try something new. This time, the idea was to write – not my book or newsletter but somewhere on the www under a pseudonym. 

I have never liked writing under pseudonyms before but I felt this incredible lightness in my being at the thought of it. I realized just how much weight I have placed on my writer persona all this time, to the point that it’s so hard for me to see any value in myself if I cannot write. But writing was also my mirror and the only way I could see myself and it’s been excruciatingly painful to not be able to do that. It’s easy to see why the pseudonym could be a solution. Since there are no expectations, the Father loses his power and the Trickster-Child gets to do his thing - shapeshift and play!

So, I’ve decided to follow my intuition and disappear into this virtual nook for however long it may take to retrieve my mirror. This obviously goes against all logic (because what writer does not want to be read) but that is the whole point since that’s my ego’s comfort zone. Let’s see how it goes.

This post was an experiment to see if this was the real thing – if writing under a pseudonym (I started writing this for the new blog but ‘tricking’ Father Saturn and posting here) was actually helping. If you read this far, thank you. I cannot tell you how much it means to me at this time <3

If you find yourself in a threshold of your own and would like some clarity from a Jungian astrological perspective, I’d love to help. To request info or book a reading, write to me at balan.judy@gmail.com