MythBlast | Beginnings and Endings
New Year’s is, traditionally, the time set aside for reflecting on the year just past and setting goals and making resolutions for the year to come. It is a curious emotional position in which to find oneself, not quite out of the old year and not fully engaged in the new, a liminal space leaving one betwixt and between, attempting to resolve the conflict between past memory and future ambition–just the thing New Year’s resolutions ideally do if we can realize them.
The month of January was named for Janus, who was the unique (he had no Greek precedent), ancient (some scholars find a relationship to Romulus), and very important Roman god whose numerous and elaborate rituals acknowledged his influence over thresholds, transitions, endings and beginnings, gateways, passages, and time. His two-faced image was what one first saw in preparation for entering the most significant gate to the Eternal City, Rome, called the Ianiculum, the old face of Janus looking into the past, into death, even, while his young face is turned to the future and possibility. One might think of his domain as eternity itself, replete with births and deaths, beginnings and endings, and all varieties of psychosociomorphic possibilities. In fact, Janus may may be thought of as the god of the gap, occupying the liminal space and offering solace to those of us caught betwixt and between.
Thanks for taking the time to read this MythBlast.
You can read more about Janus in Campbell’s work, Occidental Mythology; please click the link to learn how you can get a copy.
Bradley Olson, Ph.D.
Bradley Olson, Ph.D., is the editor of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s MythBlast series. Dr. Olson is a Depth Psychologist in private practice in Flagstaff, Arizona; his work with clients is heavily influenced by his interest in Jungian Analytical Psychology, literature, and Mythological Studies.