stage: departure
step: 4. The Crossing of the First Threshold
brief description: This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.
pithy quote: "With the personifications of his destiny to guide and aid him, the hero goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the "threshold guardian" at the entrance to the zone of magnified power. Such custodians bound the world in four directions - also up and down - standing for the limits of the hero's present sphere, or life horizon. Beyond them is darkness, the unknown and danger; just as beyond the parental watch is danger to the infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to the members of the tribe. The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored"
-- (Campbell 78)
"The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades"
-- (Campbell 82)
questions to help frame this step
  • What world is being left; what world is being entered?
  • What or who is guarding the threshold?
  • What obstacles must the hero overcome to truly begin the journey? -limits of home or society, limits of personality, limits of perception, physical limits?
  • What events cause the person to cross the threshold?
  • What is the threshold and how does the person cross it?