Right in Liminal Space
Earlier this week, I was thinking about liminal space.
What is liminal space? It is that place that is “in-between” the world, so to speak. Let me give you a classic example. I live really close to Lake Erie. I like to go to the lake and look at the place where the water meets the horizon. That meeting place, that intersection point: that is liminal space.
It is hard to tell, in this example, where the sky really ends and where the water really begins. The beauty of this horizon point, of this liminal intersection, is that it is easy to see. One of the interesting aspects of liminal space is when we find ourselves in liminal space, living in the moment or in moments in between.
Breaking down the year
I find that the wheel of the year turns in my life. Since I celebrate the High Days, I find it easy to use these points and places of demarcation and natural divisions of the year. The solstices and equinox are solar events. The fire festivals, also known as Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh, and Samhain, fall directly between these solar events.
I take great joy at the Winter Solstice. The Sun stops in the sky at the longest night, just long enough for the days to start getting longer a few days later, here at 41 degrees and 39 minutes north. I run every day and it is really that time between the Winter Solstice and Imbolc that is the hardest. It is dark when I run in the forest, and it is often cold.
Once Imbolc arrives, I can see the days getting longer. It is a subtle change, but it is most evident at Imbolc. For me, the time between Imbolc and the Summer Solstice is my favourite of all, because I get to see more and more light.
Changes in the forest
I do a morning ritual at my Lares shrine in my home to welcome and thank the household spirits that guard my hearth, my home, and my family. My longer, extended set of devotionals is done in the forest, as I run the trails at a metropark near my home.
There is usually no one on the trails as I set out at 7am, and in those early mornings, early in the year, the low light, lack of foliage, and quietness of the forest make it seem like a world apart. It is very much a liminal place. It is a wonderful and different feeling to run on a familiar trail, yet not having the luxury of full light. I feel as though I am gliding through the forest in a world of my own, in a place between the worlds. If the wind is blowing, that feeling is enhanced even more so.
The cycles renew
Slowly, subtly, almost magically, as the light increase, over time, the foliage begins to reappear, fulfilling the Nature Spirits’ promise of returning cycles. As the light grows, the dark run through the forest is replaced by the pale light of dawn and the knowledge that the sun will rise, either as I make my way on the trails or shortly thereafter. This time of pale light is also a liminal time. It is a transition point between the end of night and the beginning of morning. I find myself there, in between.
I feel something miraculous in the dawn, and I understand why other religions have placed such importance in this time, in the raising of the sun, in the arrival of a new day. The old days passes away, slowly, and the appearance of the sun is the promise of light and life that propels us forward into the new day.
I am not sure that I am different at these times, but it certainly feels that I feel different in the pause between the end of night and the beginning of the morning. While I am moving through the forest, by running or by walking, it feels like the world is standing still and I am finding the space in between.
Finding the singularity
The famous Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “Panta rhei”, all is in flux. This is often stated as “you never step into the same river twice”, but I think we can also say “you never step into the same morning twice”.
I feel that some of the Gods and Goddesses move along with me through the forest, while, for some others, I feel that they are standing apart and watching. While, in the long time stream that the Goddesses and Gods enjoy there is a certain continuum. In my much-shorter existence, the changes from day to day may be minimal, and while that liminality of time and place may be there tomorrow, the person moving through that liminality has changed, has accumulated some experiences perhaps.
I am not the same runner that ran through this place yesterday.
The sun stops again
I like to feel that the Spring will last forever. Winter will extend past Imbolc to its cyclical end at the Vernal Equinox. I soak up the lengthening days in between that Equinox and the impending Solstice as the light greets me earlier each day. There is more of the day to experience, enjoy, and engage with. I wrote this poem/prayer with this thought in mind:
I raised my face to the morning breeze,
And it touched me like a mother’s touch.
In the early light,
On that quiet morning,
From a pallet of
Birds and sky,
Grass and pale sun,
Earth and branches,
I found myself
Painted into the day.
That mother’s hand,
Still besides my face,
I held it while dreaming
This beautiful day.
The day whispered
“The spring will last
Just you watch.”
I stepped into that
And breathed it in
Like an ever-blooming
My senses telling me that
This morning is eternity
And if I close my eyes,
I will float like a leaf,
After celebrating the Solstice with members on different continents this past weekend, I relished in the last two extra days of spring that latitude and longitude had gifted me. As I moved through the forest on those early mornings, I found myself in between the seasons, in a world set apart, knowing that, for just two days, I would be in a season apart, living in between, right in liminal space.