Stuck in the Liminal with Her: Hekate and the Unwanted In-Between

Stuck in the Liminal with Her: Hekate and the Unwanted In-Between December 10, 2017

liminal cove

Beyond any other location, Hekate is associated with in-between places, like a crossroads or the shore. As a witch, I love the magick that is typically found in these liminal locations. The magick of the liminal extends to our personal lives as well if we can learn to embrace the value of being stuck-in-the-mud. We can seek Hekate’s guidance through this fallow period and journey out of our personal underworld.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been writing about various aspects of what I call The Holy Darkness, referring to the month of November as the most important month in the calendar year for practitioners of Modern Hekatean Witchcraft. The Holy Darkness is about the return of Hekate as a dominant energetic force around the globe.

My Personal Underworld

Part of Hekate’s rise to power are Her underworld aspects. We’re witnessing a dark period in history on many different fronts. My journey with Hekate is very much enmeshed with my own walk through hell. She first came to me when I was at my weakest. It’s been a long, strange trip since that night years ago. Now, I’m perched on the edge of the life I’ve always wanted and I find myself reflecting about the past.

For me, the most recent leg of the trip out of the underworld was the past two years I spent in a personal liminal zone. At times, I felt so completely stuck. That nothing in my life was moving forward. However, Hekate was there as a guide and teacher every step of the way. Even when I was walking in circles while stuck in the mud of the in-between.

Queen of the In-Between

Hekate is definitely the Queen of the In-Between. Her liminal aspects are entwined in her underworld energy. You can head over to my blog on Hekate of the Underworld Night to read more about Her in this role if you like. There are many aspects of underworld energy, ranging from the chaos of Hekate Brimo to the quieter aspects of our personal trauma and shadow self. There is great pain in our personal underworld, but great learning and healing can occur as well. Being stuck in a liminal zone in my personal life was perhaps the most challenging time for me.

Sweating it Out

I’m going to start with a story demonstrating just how much I dislike being stuck anywhere. Years ago, I attended a traditional First Nations sweat ceremony with a group of friends. Once I was seated – crammed in between other women wearing long dresses and no bras – I immediately started to feel stressed. I couldn’t let myself go enough to fully participate in the event. The heat was too much. I was certain there were a thousand bugs crawling up my legs. Nothing resonated with me. The pipe was passed to me time and time again, each time I was convinced that it was getting harder to breath. Once another round was finished, a friend announced that her asthma was acting up and she had to get out.

In case you’re not familiar with the rules of a sweat, the only time a person can leave is in between rounds and once you’re out you can’t go back in. Immediately, I piped up that I would go with her to make sure she was okay. Sweet relief flooded me when I crawled out. After making sure my friend was okay – she had her inhaler – I thought we would go for a drive until I had to return to pick up the rest of my crew. “No,” said the fire keeper, “no engines can be started until after the sweat. The gate is locked until then.” I settled myself around the fire until it started to pour. We took shelter in my mini-van. By this time I was almost panicking. I spent the next two hours – which seemed like days – laying in the back of my van, trying not to freak out. Powerless. I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t go outside in the downpour, and I couldn’t go back into the sweat. I was stuck in the in-between.

Stuck in the In-Between

I love many types of liminal spaces, but I’ve always loathed being stuck in the in-between like that night. Stuck in a relationship that is destructive. Stuck in an unrewarding job. Stuck due to illness. Stuck in an outgrown way of thinking. Stuck in a place between what used to be rewarding witchery and where I want to go. Stuck in all these ways at the same time.

Here’s the paradox: being stuck is the epitome of liminal. The spaces I seek out to worship Hekate or to practice witchcraft are the embodiment of the in-between. The crossroads, the shore, dusk, dawn, and the shadows are where I am most comfortable spiritually. However, only if I can flit in and out of them at will. Sometimes, Hekate keeps the gate closed forcing me to remain between. Other times, it’s my own foolishness that keeps me there. I have to walk in circles until I figure out what is going on. My faith is tested. I feel abandoned by Hekate. I feel weak, defeated and incapable. There’s too many barriers in front of me. I know where I want to go, but there’s no way to cross over the threshold to the new start I desperately want.

Liminal Lessons

This feeling of “stuckness” is a big part of the underworld journey of our lives. During chaotic times of great transformation, we’re often too busy with surviving that there isn’t the time to reflect. Once the upheaval has passed, we are often left in the in-between. The painful past is over, but the desired future is a distant glimmer on the horizon. Here in the liminal zones of our lives great personal growth and deep healing can occur. If we only let it. I’ve spend most of my life raging against in-between times – from jumping from one romantic relationship to another like a frog hopping across stones in a pond to getting angry with witchcraft for not yielding my desired results.

Hekate kept providing me with liminal time and I kept refusing it. Finally, a couple of years ago my life was in such a state that I had to listen to Her. I joined Her in Her beloved liminal for an extended time. Let me say that I didn’t go willingly and often didn’t like it there. Hekate, who had often spoken to me, was a silent companion. I couldn’t conjure up that old witchy feeling no matter what I did. My spirit guides were missing in action. I wanted to move forward, but that gate just wouldn’t open. For the first time in my life, I didn’t climb over the wall.

The Key of Radical Acceptance

Radical acceptance was required for getting the key out of the liminal. Like most things with Hekate, She’ll give you the Key, but we have to earn it. Then, the work to get across the threshold is entirely up to you. I had to come to terms with my regrets and my limitations. The key of radical acceptance required an incredible amount of work in all areas of my life from the most mundane to my relationship with Hekate. Being in a spiritual and practical liminal zone gave me the space to make these changes.

Accepting things as they were took a lot of time and effort, so did changing my thought and behavior patterns. I had to keep myself busy in order to resist the old temptations. One of the practices that I found most helpful was to recite the Orphic Hymn to HekateThe Ephesian Letters and my own prayers. I turned away from my old ways of being in the world and seriously sought out a virtuous life – one of passion, integrity and service. My thoughts and emotions were often in a jumble, but I kept praying for Hekate to guide and protect. Sometimes, all I could get out was “help me.”

Thomas Taylor translation
(Thomas Taylor translation)

limitless oak

I learned to accept and appreciate being stuck in a liminal place – the opposite of that long-ago night of mini-van panic on sacred land. There was great beauty here in the in-between. I began to understand why Hekate is especially fond of this realm of neither here-nor-there. I know why She leads her children to the liminal – we need that experience of stuckness to move deeper in our own lives and further into Her mysteries. That time of being stuck in the liminal with Her has been one of the greatest blessings Hekate has bestowed on me.

Hail Hekate,
Ruler of the Liminal,
And all the World,

Accept my gratitude for
Your gift of the in-between.

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