Crossing the Threshold


A 5-week lecture series:  January 24th– February 21st 2021

Sundays, 3.00 – 4.30 pm, with the Myth, Cosmology & Sacred Team

A five-week lecture series deepening the material we presented in our Opening the Magic Windows course. Dates are Sunday afternoons, 3.00-4.30 pm GMT, 24th January – 21st February 2021. Louise, Mary, William, Angela and Geoffrey will invite participants to step across the thresholds of their windows into the worlds of the heart, myth, story, art and divination in as embodied and participatory a way as Zoom will allow.


Session 1: Sunday 24th January 3.00-4.30 GMT

Louise Livingstone: Entering the Heart: Stepping into Life’s Invitation


Beginning from the position that our hearts receive, and communicate with, the animated world through a living language of images given shape through story, myth, symbol and metaphor, in this session, we step carefully and humbly over the threshold of our own hearts, creating a space for our hearts to speak to us. In this approach towards meaning-making, the world offers itself to the heart first, after which the heart passes its wisdom to the rational intellect – situated, in modern times, in the brain. Sitting in our heart space, we will open ourselves to hear stories and receive images, waiting in the stillness for our heart’s guidance. Allowing these images and stories to touch our hearts first, in this sense, we ‘flip’ the mind-based world of our everyday experience back into the heart; creating the possibility to roam freely and expansively through whatever may arise with wonder, courage and love – stepping directly into life’s invitation to experience whatever it may be trying to show us.

Session 2: Sunday 31st January 3.00-4.30 GMT

Mary Attwood – The Beholder’s Share 

Taking a renaissance work of art as our starting point, this lecture will explore how we might cross the threshold of the image and move from looking at art to seeing through and beyond it. This form of participation is what art historian Ernst Gombrich called ‘The Beholder’s Share’ and has implications for modes of both seeing and being seen.   Renaissance images were created with the intention of moving the viewer into a deeper encounter which affects and guides beyond the image itself. They offer an enriched world of myth, of beauty and of the mystical, of deep philosophical and psychological ways of knowing, and invite us into a place of human ‘betweenness’. These images  draw together all ways of knowing which include the rational, sense perception, the higher imagination and a relationship to something which both includes and is beyond ourselves. 

Session 3: Sunday 7th February 3.00-4-30 GMT

William Rowlandson: Into the Uncanny Space

Windows appear in the fabric of the space-time continuum, allowing light (and
darkness) to pass between different orders of reality. In the previous session (Opening
the Magic Window) William identified these windows within literature as narrative
twists and turns, conceptual conundrums, grammatical games and linguistic tricks, and
he referred to certain texts of Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar. In this session,
illustrated with some personal experiences, we plunge right through the window into
that uncanny space where author, narrator, protagonist, character and reader meet as
ontological equals. William examines the lucidity of this dreamlike space, how it relates
to ideas of the Imaginal, and what it suggests about the nature of consciousness.

William then examines how when we turn back to face the window from the other side –
as Alice gazes both ways through the mirror – so we see that there is no window, that
consensus reality and fictional reality are of the same imaginal order, that consensus
reality is brimming with figures who have spilled from the pages of the fiction. William
explores how lucid dreaming is also lucid waking, how we are all inhabitants of text.

Session 4: Sunday 14th February 3.00-4-30 GMT

Angela Voss: Myth and Transformation: Orpheus and Psyche

In the narratives of mythology, we step over the threshold of our everyday selves and
enter a world where our own, personal lives take on a universal significance and we can
find deep meaning. In this session we will explore stories from ancient Greece, where
both hero and heroine undergo profound changes – Orpheus through experiencing a
journey into the underworld to find the divine feminine, and Psyche through the
accomplishment of impossible tasks in order to find the divine masculine. In both
stories, the end result is a divine marriage (in the original version, Eurydice was not lost
forever!) which can be interpreted as our own inner quest for wholeness, a quest which
inevitably entails facing darkness, grief, longing and despair. In this sense these myths
lead us into the mysteries and offer the possibility of emerging into the light, united with
our inner beloved.

Session 5: Sunday 21st February 3.00-4.30 GMT

Geoffrey Cornelius: Into the Allegoric

Crossing the Threshold is the primordial step into the Mystery. As the alchemist’s Mercurius, it is simple and multiple, benign and poisonous, lucid and paradoxical. We develop the Four Senses theme* with a focus on the Literal / Allegorical reversal and its imagery in esoteric and divinatory traditions. Given the fractured mythopoesis prevalent in our current times, we take up the question of symbolic veracity and right-thinking in our literal and historical reality.

*Introductory notes on the Four Senses hermeneutic will be available on this page as a pdf download from the beginning of February. This should be helpful for those who did not attend last autumn’s ‘Magic Windows’ series.


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