My Love of Liminal Spaces

I’ve always been attracted to liminal spaces. I love archways, courtyards, graveyards, and crossroads. I love stories about places that are in a time out of time or gateways to other worlds. So it is no wonder that as I continue to actively practice witchcraft, that I keep noticing just how much liminality plays into my craft.

Witchcraft and folk practices are filled with references to liminal spaces. How often do we see spells or superstitions telling us to put something in a doorway, window, or fireplace? How often do we see references to doing something at dusk, dawn, or midnight? How often do we read about crossroads, railways, graveyards, or even paths in the woods?

But I do not think it is enough to just blindly incorporate liminal spaces into one’s practice. Just like with every aspect of the craft it is important not to just blindly follow or copy, but to learn and understand the hows and whys of what we do. By researching and learning about liminal spaces, both in the folkloric and practical sense, we develop a greater appreciation and understanding of these spaces and, in turn, we can better work with them.

Right now, a lot of my work with Hekate has involved learning about crossroads. I knew a bit about crossroads before I started working with Her. I knew that crossroads were places you left not so nice spells, and that they were places people met to make deals with figures like the Man in Black or the Devil. But in working with Hekate, there is more to crossroads than I could have ever thought. The crossroads is a way to travel, it is a piece of an infinitely larger web connecting paths and places. To look back when leaving something at a crossroads is not only disrespectful because you might offend the being you are working with, but it is also a great sign of doubt. This is only the tip of the iceberg and I know I still have a lot more to learn. But I now have so much more respect for crossroads and what they represent.

The liminal space has become a sacred space for me. My circle is more than just a protective barrier. It is creating a place betwixt & between. I am between the mundane and spirit world, able to interact with both. My trance work is making my body into a liminal space, giving me that gateway to ride the hedge. The andalusite I wear around my neck is carrying the crossroads with me.

I firmly believe that to be a witch is to accept liminality as a permanent part of your life. It is always having one foot in the mundane and the other foot in the spirit world. I think that is why I love liminal spaces so much. Not only are they practical places to perform my magic, but there is also that sense of kinship, of home, when I am there. They are certainly not places to dwell, but they are not meant to be dwelled at. They are meant for travel, for moving forward. They are places that are beautifully betwixt & between. The liminal is sacred, belonging to no one, yet innately a part of all of us.

 

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Sometimes Ritual needs to be Quiet

Earlier this week, I lead my University’s Pagan Student Association in a ritual celebrating the coming of Spring. Myself and the other leader of the group had been planning the ritual since February. We planned it assuming we would be outside but once we got closer to the date, I realized we should prep an indoor version as well. The two rituals were very different in tone and the indoor ritual didn’t look like anything I had ever experienced. But inspiration had struck hard for both versions so I wasn’t going to question it.

I guess I should talk a little bit about our group. We are pretty interfaith when it comes to what we believe. Those of us who are Pagan all work with different deities from Norse, Celtic, Greek, Near East, and even Japanese sources. We also have Christian, Baha’i and Atheist members who are interested in interfaith and learning more about Paganism. As a result, planning a ritual that includes all of us can be rather difficult. Our solution has been to format our rituals through a more animist lens (albeit with some Wiccan formatting for the ritual itself). All of us can get behind the sacredness of nature in some form or another. However, one of our other challenges was that none of us ever frequently attended group rituals. Myself and the other leader of the group were the only ones who had, and even then our practices were more solitary than anything else.

So in crafting this ritual, we wanted it to actually connect with people. We wanted a ritual that anyone from any tradition could participate in and get something from it, but still have it be clearly Pagan.

What ended up happening was actually really beautiful. Instead of calling the elements in a very loud invocation, we described what reminded us of each element on our campus. For Earth, we talked about the grass being green from all the storms, and everything coming into bloom. For Air we talked about the smells in the air and the little wind chimes one of our members had hung in trees all over campus. Fire was the warmth of the sun but also being able to walk around at night without freezing. Water was a lot of talk of storms, especially one that woke us all up a few nights earlier. Spirit we divided into two parts. The first was a silent remembering of the ancestors and those who had left our life followed by silently acknowledging the new relationships that had come into our lives. Then we went around the circle and out loud welcomed for ourselves the forces that were guiding us. For many of us, this was the time we welcomed our deities and for others it was welcoming a concept like ‘new beginnings’. This was all followed by a guided meditation and a discussion of what we experienced.

The feeling of this ritual was wonderful. Everyone in the circle participated and there weren’t any awkward silences of people not knowing what to do. It was a quiet ritual and an intimate ritual. And sometimes, that is just what you need.