Exploring the Scary Doorways of Liminal Space

liminal space

Doorways. The horizon. Midnight. The water’s edge. Stairwells. Elevators. Living in the covid pandemic. Cliffs. The mouth of a cave. New Year’s Eve. Equinoxes. Solstices. Rites of passage. Separation. Birth. Death.  These are all liminal spaces, or places of in between this and that. They are magical doorways of potential where ordinary boundaries don’t exist. They invite questions like:

  • Will you go this way or that?
  • Who will you be on the other side?
  • What would you like to create from here?
  • Will you let go? Will you transform?
  • How is your faith?
  • Are you ready?
  • Who are you really?

Liminal space is scary. It’s like adolescence. You’re not who or where you were, and yet, you’re not who or where you will be either. There is no handrail to steady you. No person to guide you. No boundaries to restrain or support you.

Modern life doesn’t prepare us for being in these magical doorways of liminal space. To negotiate it well, you to understand it.

The Approach to Liminal Space

Many people are completely unaware of liminal space. They move through life without transitions. This is how we have so many grown ups who still don’t know how to be adults. When we practice transitioning, we become more aware of them and can plan for them.

For example, as we approach graduation from high school, it helps to put some time into getting your cap and gown, thinking about the ceremony itself, and making plans for what happens afterward. If you aren’t defining it as a transition to adulthood, it’s not. If you are still being supported by your parents and having them pay for all your needs, you haven’t transitioned. So, the process is both in the things that you do and the ways that you think.

A spiritual example could be transitioning to an animist lifestyle. The approach could be educating yourself about what animism means to you. Maybe you attend some rituals, join a group, or do some genealogical research. You can enter into liminal space without any preparation, but it will likely be a whole lot more difficult if you do.

So, as you approach liminal space, see it for what it is. Set an intention for what you want the other side to look like. When you participate in the process, you feel more in control. You may not hit that target, but it will help you to plan. Planning should happen before you enter it. What tools or supplies do you need? What skills? Do you need a helper? Are you mentally prepared? Do you have the energy and stamina?

Dancing in Liminal Space

While you’re in liminal space, sometimes there is nothing to do but surrender, be vulnerable, and let Fate have its way with you. We often want to take control, but control will only get you more of what you had. To become new, you have to be willing to lose control.

In this space, you want to stay mindful and present so that you don’t lose the growth required to get to the other side. Or worse yet, be destroyed by the process. If we let ourselves be overcome with fear, anxiety, or any other emotion, we may not have to courage to keep moving.

So my suggestion is to keep an open mind. Don’t let the past fool you into seeing what was instead of what is or what could be. Trust that this will end when it’s time, and you will be right where you are meant to be. And be patient. While transformation can be instantaneous, most often it’s a process.

It’s tempting to rush the process and just get it done. Slow down. This is where the transformation happens, not at the end. This space determines the end. Let it be purposeful and something of your choosing if you can.

Embracing the Newness

Once you’re beyond the threshold and on the other side, claim your new status. Marriage, graduation, and certifications are not just pieces of paper! They remake you into something new. Acknowledge that. Incorporate it into your new identity. If others are to regard you as different, you must see yourself as different or else what was the point? What does it mean to be a spouse, a graduate, or a certified XYZ? Embody that.

Liminal spaces are all around us. Possibilities abound. If you’re ready to transform, surrender.