Each of the generational cycles is unique; each one governed by a different planet at a different age and yet they all have something in common. We come to the end of an old life and find ourselves at a crossroads. It’s not unusual to feel lost, alone, and adrift. Do we continue to go forward or do we break free and enter the unknown? There are signs and omens that come to us; as subtle as an inner voice that whispers from somewhere deep inside or as dramatic as a health challenge or a divorce that stops us in our tracks and forces us to examine who we are and what we are doing. It can feel both fated and frightening, for an old life is over and a new one hasn’t begun. We find ourselves in transition and that is never easy.
One of the best books on dealing with change is The Way of Transition, by William Bridges. Change is a “situational” shift; we move cross country, we get married, we have a child, we switch careers, etc. “Transition, on the other hand is the process of letting go of the way things used to be and then taking hold of the way they subsequently become. In between the letting go and the taking hold again, there is a chaotic and potentially creative “neutral zone” when things aren’t the old way, but they aren’t rally the new way either. This three phase process – ending, neutral zone, beginning again – is transition.”
Jungians call it liminality, from the Latin threshold and refers to the space between here and there. It’s an actual place; in ancient times it represented a crossroads, a sacred location protected and guarded by Hermes and Hecate. It is also a psychological state, when we are not who we once were, yet not who we will become. Author and artist, Susan Kennedy (a.k.a. SARK) calls it the “messy middle.” I call it the Hallway as in “One door closes, another one opens, but it’s hell in the hallway.” But I have found that the Hallway is also holy and a necessary part of each cycle. For one thing, these periods transcend normal time and boundaries and therefore have a magical quality; people come into our lives who have important information for us; we have great insights, intuition, and significant dreams. And perhaps because we are desperate, exhausted, and our defenses are down we are more willing to let go of the old and more open to embrace new ideas and experiences.
According to William Bridges: “Without transition, a change is mechanical, superficial, empty. If transition does not occur or if it is begun but aborted, people end up (mentally and emotionally) back where they started, and the change doesn’t work. In spite of the new boss, (or new house or new baby), nothing is really different.”
Bottom line: No matter what cycle you are currently going through; don’t grit your teeth, soldier on, and try to hurry it along. It is such a rich and fertile time; embrace the chaos, make friends with the unknown and most of all give yourself enough time; time to process the changes and honor the transition for it is a sacred rite of passage, a birth, and a new beginning. “Even cowards can endure hardship; only the brave can endure suspense.” -Mignon McLaughlin