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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Unlearning the New Age

Summer is a time when I end up doing a lot of reflecting about my practice. Six years in has given me a lot to reflect on. One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is how much I’ve had to unlearn the New Age movement.

Back in high school when I was reading Cunningham and was learning tarot at lunch with my friends, the New Age movement was where I was doing a lot of my learning. I had quite a few occult and holistic shops near me to get crystals and other things that I thought I needed. The older generation Pagans and witches I was interacting with were very much of the love and light variety and just kept pointing me towards Neo-Wicca. Everything I was reading was filling my head with how everything I was meeting was a sign on my path. Books were telling me that every animal could mean something, that angels or guides were trying to contact me, mediumship books told me the dead were always crossed over and peaceful.

Yeah. There were a lot of hard lessons coming down the pipeline that the New Age movement did next to nothing to help me with. I do a lot of head shaking too when I look back at it all. But lately I have been thinking about just how anthropocentric the New Age movement is and how much it conflicts with my current animist understanding of the world.

Anthropocentrism refers to a human-centered worldview, which places human beings as the most important entities in the universe and thus the universe is interpreted only in terms of the human experience and human values. It’s also something I’ve been working to overcome the past year or so and will probably always be checking myself on.

How I interpret the New Age movement is that it teaches people that everything exists to benefit them on their path. Everything is a personal sign, every person has a lesson to teach, every spirit willing to help you and share their wisdom with you, every culture open for you to unlock its mysteries. It teaches that every person is a part of the great big universe and has the power to demand of the universe whatever they want. Needless to say I find the New Age movement pretty damn toxic these days.

As I have really started to work as an animist (and a witch really) at a higher level than just a general belief, what I am experiencing really kicks the New Age worldview in the teeth. If I am going to say that everything has a spirit, then there is a level of autonomy I need to recognize.

With spirits this realization came pretty quickly. It doesn’t take long to figure out that a lot of spirits want nothing to do with people or want something in return for working with you. And that is just fine by me. If a spirit and I can strike a deal, then we work together that way. Sometimes a relationship just doesn’t work out and a spirit ends up being a real piece of work. I would rather be realistic when working with spirits and respect their boundaries and independence than think that every spirit I meet is a guide or wanting to teach me something. This goes for me as well. I do not owe any random spirit the time of day just because they are a spirit either.

Animals were the next thing I needed to unlearn. The New Age really loves its animal dictionaries and animal totems. As an animist, I also want an educated understanding of nature. Anthropocentrism and the New Age told me that every animal was a sign and meant something. As an animist I now understand that unless it is a very rare and obvious sign, that animals are just being animals and not existing just for my benefit. I have a greater appreciation for the animals around me now that I understand why they are doing what they are doing and what that means in the larger scheme of things. Animals do have a lot I can and have learned from, but it takes patience and putting my own needs and interests pretty low on the ladder.

Plants and crystals are where I am currently working on things. As I am tending to my witch garden (even though I have grown things before) I am paying much more attention to just how complicated plants are and how much their spirits deserve my respect. There is so much more to my relationship to them than just asking briefly if I can cut off some leaves and leave a few coins as payment. I’m actually not harvesting as much because I want to work to build that relationship more before I do. Crystals are something that I am more so working on understanding when they come up. I don’t really buy into the New Age advertisements that these crystals can heal my organs or just putting one in my pocket will activate all their stored powers. But I am working to ask more when I do bring them into my practice.

Like I said, there’s been a lot of unlearning of the New Age over the years. I am a lot more critical of what I am learning and I would like to think I walk with a lighter step now too. I no longer understand myself as the center of my spirituality, but rather as a piece of a much larger world and it is in interacting with this world, taking a step back and really listening and watching that I learn and grow. I am not entitled to spiritual knowledge or experiences, I need to earn it and actually pay attention to what is going on around me, to see and feel empathy for more than just myself. That is what unlearning the New Age has taught me.

The Wheel

The Wheel

Past the vast forest filled with beasts and plagued by fog
Past the great desert being washed away by storms
Through the obsidian gate that goes past the sky
Into the bone hordes

Dive deep, deep through the ribs and past the skulls
Fall into the chamber where the bone pickers lie
They tend to their cauldrons and wait for their kin
To pick apart and reform again

But it is not them you are here for, it is for her
She asks if you are ready, and takes you through the bones
Your back is cut on rips and spines, skin shredded and left behind
But it is all worth it for what you find

A spinning wheel in a cavern its own, standing atop a pile of bones
She takes you to it and asks you to spin, to find out just what is within
Fate in hand you take your seat, turning the wheel you cease to think
Spinning for her and your seiðr

Pop Culture Work?

Pop culture work, that is pop culture magic, spirit work, astral work, etc., has been on the edge of my mind for quite some time. I have known that it was a practice for awhile now, but have never really delved into it personally. The more time that goes by, the more I am interested in it, though.

Media has had a fairly significant impact on my life. I never really had friends growing up, but was a heavy reader. When I was a bit older, I feel in love with video games for their ability to uniquely tell stories. A little after that I learned a bit about film and fell in love with the various ways that movies and television could tell a story. For a lot of my high school career, right up until I registered for college, I wanted to be a storyteller of some kind. That may have been an author, a screenwriter, or a filmmaker…I never full decided at the time. Regardless, immersing myself in media has been something that I have been doing for most of my life. I have had more heroes and more inspiration from fiction than I have from real life. Now as an active witch and spirit worker, pop culture work seems like it would be a damn good addition, right?

I think that there are a few reasons as to why I haven’t fully delved into pop culture work. Oddly enough, it isn’t disbelief. My woo life has made very little (with the exception of egotistical claims) too out there for me. Instead, I think the main reason that I hesitate is not knowing where to begin. Pop culture magic is easy enough to approach. That is just adapting something in media into my own practice. I would just need to go back and take a few notes. Pop culture spirit work though….I understand the basic concept but don’t really have any idea of how to get started. That and if I do meet a spirit from pop culture that I am interested in, I wouldn’t want to be weird about it. I have a bit of a tendency to fangirl with media I like…

I do think that I will be looking into pop culture magic possibilities in the near future. That means picking up the Wheel of Time series again, looking at Dresden Files magic in a bit more detail, and maybe casually watching some Charmed. Pop culture spirit work though will likely stay on the back burner. I already have so much to explore of the astral without adding in pop culture dimensions so for now it will wait.

I like keeping my practices adaptable and loose to a certain extent simply because I like having more than one trick up my sleeve. Pop culture work is certainly in my future with this kind of style. It’s also probably something you will see me writing about on here as I start practicing more.

Reflections on Midsummer 2016

Yesterday was the summer solstice. Normally I don’t celebrate the holiday. Summer heat has never been my thing and weather above 80 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t really my thing. It was the full moon that convinced me to get my magic on. The full moon acted to balance out the day for me. Both the sun and moon were at the height of their power in my eyes.

I won’t go into very much detail because I personally believe in the power of secrecy when it comes to magic. I did two magical things yesterday, one when the sun was at its apex and the other when the moon was at its apex. Balance was the theme of the day really. I was also lucky enough that I had the house to myself all day and all night due to the other occupants going to the beach out of state and spending the night.

The first spell was about taking in a sense. It was about declaring what I wanted/needed and bringing it to me. I did this with items that reminded me of the sun. Fire, plants that have been flourishing in the summer heat, objects that shine in the light…all of these were essential. I wasn’t able to preform the spell outside on account of the wind, but it was probably for the best because of all the chanting going on. It was a very involved spell and took quite a long time in comparison to other spells I have done. One thing that I found interesting was that the wind built up stronger and the clouds became darker as the spell went on. A thunderstorm hit as the spell finished. I took it as a very good sign and a parallel to what I was doing, power being built up and then released into the world. Over the years I have developed a serious respect for summer storms and their power, again adding to the significance.

My second magical act was very different. It was done late at night and was about giving. Balancing everything out. It was a much more private affair, quite and only between myself and the spirits I am close with. I gave back to them some of myself because they have given so much to me, including the magic I had done earlier. The weather had cleared up by then and the night was still. It was a calming end to the day and both acts were very memorable experiences.

The day went very differently than I thought it would be. I did not anticipate the theme of balance the day had, but it worked out for the best in the long run. I don’t know if I will ever celebrate the summer solstice again. It still isn’t exactly my thing. But I am extremely satisfied with how my magic went. I also learned more about balance and how it applies to my magic more than I had before. It will definitely be something I consider in my future workings.