When I was a little girl, I used to be obsessed with sitting and playing in doorway thresholds. My Papa used to have a bag of seashells that he kept for me to play with when I was a kid. I’d spend hours lining up and moving the shells around while lying on my stomach inside of the threshold. As I got older, I practiced my climbing skills in the doorway or contorting my body to fit in the space with my body and feet off the ground. It was a little weird, I admit. And I never slam doors, as my instinct is to twist the knob and quietly pull them closed even if I’m all alone. Perhaps there’s always been a part of me that recognizes and is drawn to liminal places; to negative spaces.
“Witches walk between the worlds, with one foot in the world of Force and the other in the world of Form.” – some smart Witch.
I think many of us who practice witchcraft also exist in liminal spaces outside of our magical crafts. Liminal space exists in gender, sexuality, ethnic makeup and DNA, as well as personality. Most witches that I know straddle the hedge between socially acceptable and not. We’re on the outskirts of societal expectations but it’s where many of us feel most comfortable. And even if we’re not comfortable there, we’re often forced to inhabit that space because of who and what we are to society.
Liminality and Sacrifice
This past year has left all of us wandering in liminal space. We’ve walked the rows between safety and risk, assessing the differences between our needs and wants. A decent number of us have sacrificed creature comforts and entertainment outside the home in favor of altruism. At the core of it all has been sacrifice, though. So many of us rose to the challenge, as most witches are familiar with sacrifice. However, there are those who have allowed discomfort to sway them from doing what is ethically good. Those individuals are driven from a place of fear – fear of sacrifice and fear of discomfort.
It’s been my observation that those of us who dwell in multiple liminal spaces outside of heteronormative existence are generally more comfortable with sacrifice. Our LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC friends and family are intimately familiar with discomfort and sacrifice. They’ve endured more than their fair share for their entire lives. Often times, they’re asked to do more with less and to bear the brunt of others’ cowardice, laziness, and fear.
Liminality and Resilience
Those of us who have been wandering in liminal space our entire lives have steadily been building resilience. Resilience and resistance. We will eventually emerge victorious from our lifetime of being sentenced as outcasts. For some of us, those moments of victory may be brief. We emerge, we revel in our ascendancy, and then we sink back into the depths of liminality. Sometimes by choice and other times by force. Almost always invisible to those who put us there in the first place.
Invisibility has its advantages, however. Witches do their best work under the shroud of darkness, do we not? Let us consume oppressive societal structures from beneath. Like termites, the impact of our work will not be glimpsed until the structures are folding in on themselves. So be it.
I invite you to bask in whatever kind of liminal space you are currently inhabiting. Some liminal spaces are permanent and others are temporary, but incredible growth can result from both. Do not despair in the darkness, my friends. A caterpillar’s greatest transformation materializes in darkness before its eventual emergence as a butterfly. A complete and utter breakdown of all that the caterpillar was before it was a butterfly must occur. Lean in to this change and resurface, reconstructed and renewed.
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