Thresholds of Initiation

by Joseph L. Henderson

Book, 1967



Call number


Call number



Wesleyan (1967), 271 pages

Physical description

271 p.; 5.75 inches

Local notes

Basing his study on Jung’s archetypal theory—especially that of initiation—Thresholds of Initiation represents thirty years of testing the theory in analytical practice. Joseph Henderson considers archetypes to be predictable patterns of inner conditioning that lead to certain essential changes and shows the parallels between individual psychological self-development and the rites that marked initiation in the past.

Dr. Henderson’s topics include the uninitiated; return of the mother; remaking a man; trial by strength; the rite of vision; thresholds of initiation; initiation and the principle of ego-development in adolescence; and initiation in the process of individuation.

This is essential reading for an understanding of the universal nature of initiation, especially as it relates traditional initiatory practices to Jung’s theory of archetypes.

“In Dr. Henderson’s view, ‘initiation’ is a term properly applied to the process by which a youth graduates from childhood to manhood, but it also means the transition from socially acceptable manhood to the maturity of “individuation.”... Following Jung’s lead, he has discerned in the lore of Greek myth and the practices of tribal societies a general scheme of successive initiations.” —Manas

“Henderson’s careful, scholarly approach is displayed to good effect in this wide-ranging volume, which bears the stamp of his authority and contains the support of long experience. He develops the provocative theory that there is an archetype of initiation and has assembled comparative material brought into relation with dreams from patients to expound its implications.” —Journal of Analytical Psychology

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