Priestessing the Liminal

The month of August is concluding today, and I’ve been having difficulty writing anything but ritual for the past few weeks.  Throughout this month, my thoughts have been returning over and over again to the liminal, to liminality, to thresholds and transitions and initiations.

This is the time of year that’s always filled with anticipation and exhilaration for me as I eagerly await the promise of the coming Dark.  This Summer has filled me up to overflow with travel and family and pilgrimage and oceans and rivers and heat and sun I’m ever so ready to shift into a more inward, inner-focused space.  There is lots of work to be done there.

During the span between Lammas and Fall Equinox there is a certain luminous quality here in the Bay Area, a changing of the light, a *feeling* that exists like at no other time of the year—golden, bright, hot…and yet painted over ever so delicately with a touch of chill, fog, and shadow.

This is the liminal, the place where anything can happen, a place where potential, power, and all possibility reside.  I always feel hope and promise during this time of year, a whisper voiced on the Winds of Change of new lessons soon to be learned, new bridges soon to be crossed, new paths soon to be blazed.

The intensity of the liminal as we approach the threshold of Autumn brings me great comfort.  And yet I know that for many this time of year brings sadness, fear, and worry.  Many don’t do well in the energies of the Dark, the Winter, the cold, the gloom—it is not their time of year.  I know this sadness, fear, and worry intimately, for it comes to *me* between Imbolc and Spring Equinox.  That is when I feel the ennui and melancholy arising within myself each year.  And since I’ve become conscious of this, I can—and do—take steps in advance to mitigate the sadness, depression, and lethargy that come for me then with their uncaring and ever-hungry maws.

Priestessing is very much about the *in between*…the place where one thing was and another thing might be, but there is waiting and patience needed as we honor what has left and anticipate what may—or may not—come to be.

And this is a very uncomfortable place for most people, this strange landscape of limbo.  Humans seems want things to be this way or that, black or white, good or bad, right or wrong…all absolutes, all of the time.  To want to make a decision—any decision—in order to move out of the awkward, often annoying, ill-fitting, sometimes harsh and irritating, domain of the Unknown. We want things to be over and done, wrapped up neatly and put away in the back of the closet just in case we want to take it out and peek at it again one day. And yet, when I look around, I see that we live the majority of our lives in the liminal, in the *in between*, in the space between, in the waiting. 

Anxiety can easily sprout from the liminal.  We project ourselves further and further out on the time line.  What if this happens?  What if that happens?  What if this person says or does this, or that? How will I handle this situation, or that situation?  What will happen to me? We can become anxious when we don’t have the answers, our future concealed. We may feel disorientation, dislocation, groundlessness, even dissociation.  We have to wait to live through what may or may not happen…and even then, we *still* may not have those answers.

We can feel sorrow, even grief, about what has ended, been destroyed, or died (metaphorically or physically).  We’ve moved forward and that means that something has been left behind, had to be left behind.  Parts of our identity may feel as if they have completely unraveled, even dissolved. We are unclear about our next steps and then that can bring with it more anxiety.  The liminal can be a confusing, painful place to be.

The Tower card presents an intense image of liminality.  What once was is coming crashing down, the rubble not yet cleared, the dust not yet settled.  As strange as this may sound, this is one of my favorite tarot cards. I love the possibilities presented when old, outmoded structures are removed without contemplation or decision, never to be built (in the same way) again. The Tower card always brings with it a sense of vast expansion to me, just like this time of year, just like the liminal.  In the energies in this card I see opportunities for growth, for self-realization, for leveling up, and for further integrating my innate wholeness.

As a Priestess, I’ve learned that I must be infinitely willing to sit in the uncomfortable—the liminal—longer.  I like this definition of the word: “occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.”  Sitting in the liminal is to sit in no place, and yet to sit in all places at once.  It requires a release of the ego and an intentional, continual stepping into service. 

Life is in the journey—we hear this all the time.  Life is truly the *process* of living, not the events that we experience.  When we make it from one side of any threshold to the other we are simultaneously initiated, reborn, new born. Again.  And again, and again, and again. “To initiate” means to cause a new process to begin, and in order to begin in healthy ways we require fresh perspectives.  This is an important and crucial gift of the liminal—new ways of seeing and being and doing.

As I learned from the writings of Francesca de Grandis, “The initiation never stops.”  I am forever grateful for these words. And I add to them that although the initiation never stops, nor does the liminal, the holy *in between*.

Won’t you dwell here with me, Dear Ones?  

With Love, Lady Jesamyn

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Art: 1, 2:  Moi; 3: Pamela Colman Smith

About the Author

Transformational Priestess of the Luminous Void, I am the founding High Priestess and Lineage Holder of Sisterhood of the Moon (a matriarchal ritual community) and Sisterhood of the Tribal Priestesses (a consortium of teaching Priestesses), as well as Founder and Facilitator The Women's Mystery School of Magick & Empowerment. I am vowed to lifelong study and I enjoy particular enthusiasm for manifestation magick, the oracular path, and the fine art of ritual facilitation. My spiritual ministry is dedicated to empowering women and other people of integrity through truth-speaking, authenticity, and self-exploration. In my "free time" I enjoy sampling fancy cheeses and interesting libations, obsessing over professional sports, and admiring animals of all kinds, especially black cats. You can find me here: www.SisterhoodoftheMoon.org and here: www.WomensMysterySchool.com. Thanks for reading!

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2 Comments

  1. What a fabulous read!! I got very into the subject of liminality about two years ago, during an extremely difficult, painful, and seeming endless period of liminality. I read everything I could on the subject and it helped me to accept my position and gave me the strength to fully transition out of it. A few things still stand out to me from that time, I loved the definition of liminality as “the realm of pure possibility” and in this realm you are the most aware of yourself. I also loved the Buddhist teaching of “no mud, no lotus”, if we don’t go through this transitory, liminal space, no matter how painful, we can’t grow. And finally I liked Sartre’s description and found it to be very true, for it led to a deep spiritual awakening within myself, “I see liminality as a phase in social life in which this confrontation between ‘activity which has no structure’ and it’s ‘structured results’ produces in men their highest pitch of self-consciousness.” <3

    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful, vulnerable response–I really appreciate what you’ve shared here and how the liminal has impacted your life. Bless the liminal…and bless *you*!!! <3

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