Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Entrance to the Liminal

"I suppose the simple truth of the matter is that I have always been enthralled by doorways, windows, gates, thresholds, hearths, chimneys, hidden forest trails, gaps in the hedgerow, garden hollows and portals of any kind. It isn't unusual to find me standing lost in thought in front of a newly discovered gateway or curled up in my Morris chair at home with a mug of tea and a faraway look in my eye, thinking about such places and where they go. I'm entranced by their situation, their architecture, the materials of which they are formed, and even their color, as much as I am by what lies beyond them.

Liminal spaces can be compelling, and they can exert a powerful tug on the sensibilities. Every hero's journey or heroine's journey begins with a call to adventure, with one breathtaking, serendipitous, watershed moment in which she or he recognizes a liminal space, responds to its eldritch music and steps across the threshold into another realm. No hero or a heroine here (at least in this lifetime), but the presence of a gateway, any old gateway, calls to me in a voice as lyrical and compelling as that of the mythic sirens, a mere glimpse or a casual mention of one, and off I go.

Mircea Eliade once wrote of doors and thresholds as being both symbols and passages, as places where the passage from the profane to the sacred world becomes possible. The philosopher Martin Heidegger described thresholds as joinings or spaces between two worlds, potent common or middle grounds which hold, join and separate two worlds, all at the same time. In other words, thresholds are sacred places which form a boundary between what is "here" and what is "there", but they are in themselves neither here or there.

Within the seemingly empty space of a doorway or a threshold, one sometimes senses ancient, wild and chaotic forces in motion, and thresholds have the power to open a cranny or passage between this world and the other side, allowing those tumultuous forces to blow through. Cultures from ancient times to our own knew it, and they took special measures to secure such places, carving arcane protective sigils on their door lintels, inserting sprigs of rowan and Brigid's crosses into the doors themselves, burying pins and needles beneath their hearth stones, sweeping and blessing their thresholds, and nailing horseshoes above their doorways."

- Kerrdelune, Beyond the Fields We Know III

When I begin a Taijiquan form, moving from standing still (Wuji) to raise hands and then lower hands (Yang and Yin), this is a threshold or doorway for me. Through this beginning movement I enter into a new level of being and open myself up to new experiences. I leave the realm of the ordinary and step into the realm of the spirit.

1 comment:

  1. Benno Lyon12:36 AM PDT

    wonderful! And, as is said in the tao te ching, the vessel of the cup or the frame of the door is what creates the space, but it is the empty space that makes it useful!