Liminality

Crossing the Threshold

You know the day destroys the night; Night divides the day
Tried to run; Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side

– From the Door’s 1967 song, Break on Through, which they explained “is about breaking through from life to death (the other side). It’s a song of transition to the spiritual world.”

It is odd, when you think about it, that we are all very familiar with the word subliminal but not with its parent word, liminal. When I check the Oxford Dictionary, Funk & Wagnalls and Roget’s Thesaurus on my bookshelf, the word Subliminal appears – defined as “adj, Psychol: perceived below the threshold of consciousness.” Liminal, on the other hand, has no entry in any of these.

Subliminal, then, means below that threshold of consciousness which we know (thanks to Freud and Jung) as the subconscious or unconscious. We hear the term sometimes used in relation to a sneaky kind of marketing known as subliminal advertising.

For those unfamiliar with the word liminality, it is used these days mostly in an anthropological sense, and stems from the Latin word līmen. My Wheelock’s Latin text book has this entry:
līmen, līminis, n., threshold (liminality, subliminal, eliminate, preliminary).

The concept of Liminality is not difficult to grasp: it’s that moment in between two boundaries, the transition between one stage and another. It can be an event such as dusk or dawn, or a place like an entranceway. In human terms, it could be a point of ritual, a rite of passage, an initiation into a group or a transition in life. For our conscious awareness, it lies in that twilight zone between sleep and wakefulness.

For centuries, mystics have thought of themselves as being “dwellers on the threshold,” working towards a breakthrough to the other side in a process that is sometimes described as “death before dying.” There are some naturally gifted psychics who can communicate with otherworldly beings, but most of us have lost the ability to perceive other realms. There are several possible reasons for this loss – one of which is often cited as being the calcification of our pineal glands, resulting in the atrophy of our sixth and seventh senses.

According to mythology and religious texts, humans were once able to communicate with the gods. By “gods,” in the plural with a small g, we are talking about those beings who intervened in our evolution, making us what we are today. Depending on your own views, you might substitute the word with demi-gods, angels, ancient aliens, the Anunnaki or sky people. Stories are still handed down that recall the names of some of them, however modern scholars dismiss those as being figments of ancient imaginations.

The epic tale of Cupid and Psyche is a classic example of liminality in Greek myth. Psyche, both too beautiful to be human and yet not quite a goddess, proves her very existence is liminal. Her marriage to Death makes her no longer a maiden, yet not quite a wife. Essentially, she resides between worlds – and then her transition to immortality to live with Cupid serves as a liminal rite of passage. She shifts from mortal to immortal, human to goddess, when Psyche drinks the ambrosia and seals her fate. 

The question asked by sceptics is that if we had relationships with these gods millennia ago, why are they not with us now?

Nearly all traditions relate that there was great separation: a fall, a scattering of tribes and languages, a flood and a punishment – not only of humans but also of certain rebellious beings who provided us with knowledge and techniques that empowered us to advance our civilization independently. The penalty imposed by a higher authority was that we prove our ability to reconnect with their world all by ourselves, while they watch on.

And so the gods will depart from mankind – a grievous thing and only evil angels will remain, who will mingle with men, and drive the poor wretches into all manner of reckless crime, into wars, and robberies, and frauds, and all things hostile to the nature of the soul.” [From Hermes’ Prophecy].

Have we now progressed sufficiently to cross the threshold from lower to higher consciousness and redeem our right to mingle once again with those demi-gods or alien entities? We may be straddling that hazy borderland of liminality right now. As the ancient Egyptians would have put it, we may be in a “state of becoming.”

I must admit at this point that my contemplations this week have drawn some inspiration from watching series two of the television show, His Dark Materials. For those who have not watched it, the word Dark in the title does not refer to evil, but rather Dark Matter, and the premise of the story is that science has found Spirit and Dark Matter to be one and the same. The characters find locations where they are able to draw back the curtain separating this world from another.

There are those who say that the only way to reconnect with other dimensional realms is through technology – and reports exist online claiming that devices capable of this already exist, but remain hidden from the common people.

It is reasonable to suppose that the transition from the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages did not occur overnight, nor did that yield to the Renaissance at the dawn of a single day. Nevertheless, the imminent New Age could conceivably emerge quite suddenly if, for example, ‘disclosure’ was made about UFOs, or previously withheld technology was suddenly released, or members of the alleged secret world government were exposed. Likewise, the less desirable but ever-looming spectres of war or revolution might constitute a necessary ‘dark night before the golden dawn.’

Whether or not you are drawn to be instrumental in the birthing of the New Age, it might not be the best idea to sit around passively waiting for others to make new discoveries and announcements. In the interests of being prepared, a good way to rouse your dormant senses is through breathwork, accompanied by sound and vibration techniques.

This condition of Liminality should be viewed not with fear, but with joyful optimism. We may be standing at the threshold of a whole new world, which will usher in the New Human endowed with conscious awareness of higher realms and the beings of light who dwell in them.

I’m gonna turn and face the music
The music of the spheres
Lift me up consume my darkness
When the midnight disappears

I will walk out of the darkness
And I’ll walk into the light
And I’ll sing the song of ages
And the dawn will end the night

I’m a dweller on the threshold
As I cross the burning ground
Let me go down to the water
Watch the great illusion drown

I’m a dweller on the threshold
And I’m waiting at the door
And I’m standing in the darkness
I don’t want to wait no more

[Dweller on the Threshold by Van Morison, 1982]

Published by australianesoteric

Paul V Young is a freelance writer and published author. He is a certified practitioner of Reiki, NLP and LOA, and a certified TEFL English Teacher. After working and travelling in SE Asia for many years, he has now settled down at the Gold Coast, Australia.

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