Liminal Time and Space
Hi lovely soul and welcome to the third lesson of your Faery Course.
I really hope you enjoyed working with the elements and that you had fun with the activities and exercises. I know there was a lot of text and many suggestions for activities and it is not always easy to find that much time to do all this. For this lesson we will take it easier, so you don't have to much on your to-do list and you can enjoy the simplicity of the liminal.
Some of you may be very aware of liminal spaces, but others may not know what I’m talking about.
Liminal spaces are places in between, a place between this world and the Otherworld, liminal space or time is a transition between one thing and something else. The word itself is drawn from Latin limen, meaning a 'boundary or threshold’. Liminal places can be found in nature or we may even create it for ourselves. In traditional witchcraft, in Wicca, and other traditions, the practitioner draws a circle around themselves before his or her ritual. This is a way to create both, a sacred space, something that is separated from the rest, and also to protect and to set boundaries; here you are working in a self-created liminal space.
Other liminal spaces that we can connect with Faery are for example the Faery circles, often seen as little circles of mushrooms; folklore warns us to step inside, as we may never come out again.
Another liminal space that I’m very drawn to, is mist. When the mist or fog rises, a veil is created. When walking through it you may feel a sense of timelessness, but you may also loose orientation quickly, because the world as you know it is not the same anymore.
In older times forests were also considered as liminal space, and often the forest represents exactly this in fairytales, a space that stands for transition. The forest contains spirits and sprites, and in the old times it was also seen as a dangerous place because of the unknown. The wild beasts such as wolves, bears and bats reigned the woods, which our ancestors found frightening.
Every time I’m standing on top of a hill or a mountain I can feel this space in-between heaven and earth, it is such a beautiful sensation just being in that space. I must admit the climbing up part may not be my absolute favorite one, but it is so worth it.
Another liminal place that you can visit are caves as we have seen already in the lesson of the element earth. You might want to go back to this, and visit a cave if you haven't done so yet.
There are also the liminal times like dawn and dusk, sunrise and sunset, the twilight, midday and midnight.
Certain points of the moon cycle can be very liminal as well, such as dark moon and full moon
Other liminal phenomena are rainbows and eclipses for example.
The eight festivals of the year such as Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox, Samhain, and Winter Solstice with the twelfth night are liminal times as well and a wonderful opportunity to open yourself up for Faery energy.
The moment just before you fall asleep can also be seen as a liminal moment, and what do you think dreams are?
Other liminal spaces could be islands, as they are in the midst of the sea yet there is land to walk on. There are some legends of Fairy Islands, for example the Fairy Islands of St Davis in Pembrokeshire, Wales also simply called the Green Fairy Islands. They correspond with the Avalon of the Arthurian legends.
Those Islands are only visible for a brief time and than they suddenly vanish.
It is said that the Fae from the Green Islands sometimes visited the markets of Milford Haven and Laugharne. When they purchased something they always had the exact amount of money. Other people that were waiting in line, noticed an unusual behavior from the Fae and they looked strange to them. When the people mentioned this to the shopkeeper, he would nearly always reply that he doesn't remember serving them.
The faeries that visited the markets were said to wear very colorful clothes, and they didn't wear trousers but tights.
It is also said that not everybody could see them, only sharp eyed people noticed them.
Talking about islands we cannot miss out on Avalon.
Avalon is thought to be found in Glastonbury, if you've followed me for a while already you will know how much I love this place. Glastonbury however is only one possibility, when you dive deeper into the myth you will find that another suggested location is the Isle of Man. It is associated with Emain Ablach which roughly translates to “island of apple trees.” Emain Ablach was said to be the home of Manannan mac Lir, the Irish god of the sea, but there is some debate about that. The apple island was said to be a realm of healing where youth was eternal and where there was no winter. The same is said about Tir Na Nòg and the Summerlands, so we can see how we can simply tie all these places together and just call them the Otherworld. However legends have it that Avalon contained large forests of wild apple trees. Apples are associated with healing, youth and eternal life.
If you are familiar with the Arthurian story, you might know that King Arthur was mortally injured at the Battle of Camlann while fighting Mordred. It is said that Arthur was brought to Avalon, where he was healed and nourished back to health by the Lady of Avalon, Morgan La Fay. She was often depicted as a powerful enchantress who shared the same interests as Arthur and she cared for the survival of paganism. Other stories of this myth depict her as Arthur’s half sister and the mother of his son, and her intentions were far more destructive. As so often legends change and we have to make up our own mind about it. Morgan Le Fay also occasionally blended with the character of the Lady of the Lake. However Arthurian authors agree that the sword Excalibur was forged in Avalon, and it still believed, in some circles, that King Arthur still remains in Avalon and that he will return when England needs him the most.
There are a few indications why it is believed that Glastonbury is, or was Avalon. The name Glastonbury, in its earliest Welsh form, translated as the „Isle of Glass“, which is another name that was given to Avalon.Though it is not an island today, it used to be surrounded by marshes, making it a veritable island. Originally, a boardwalk across the marsh was the only entrance to Glastonbury.
It is believed that in Celtic times, the Glastonbury Tor, or hill, was a sacred religious location. Pilgrims used to follow the priests and priestesses of the pagan religions in a procession up the Tor. They believed the Tor held a secret entrance to the afterlife. From 670 AD, the Tor was occupied by a Benedictine monastery called Glastonbury Abbey.
It became associated with the Arthurian legends when in 1190 AD, the monks of the Abbey, claimed that they had found the tomb of King Arthur and his wife Guinevere, as well as a cross carving which marked the tomb as such. The words : „Here lies renowned King Arthur in the Island of Avalon“ were engraved on the cross. A large, male skeleton was found in the coffin, allegedly with a head wound, but there was never really proof. But the monks’ claim did, however, draw a lot of attention to their abbey, which resulted in an influx of visitors and greater financial support that they needed because in 1184, Glastonbury abbey church was completely destroyed by fire; just a few years before the 'discovery' was made. As the location of Arthur's grave had never been identified before this gave the monks an opportunity to provide a location for it. To top it all off, the Norman Kings were concerned about the possibility of a Welsh rebellion and were keen to prove that King Arthur was indeed dead, meaning he would be unable to lead a rebellion. This would, in turn, discourage the rebellion and provide peace of mind. Some speculate that the Norman Kings and Glastonbury monks may have even planned the hoax together.
However, the Tor has long been believed to be an opening between heaven, earth and the Underworld. It rises 518 feet above the surrounding plain. Seven man-made rings are carved into its side, giving it a terraced or labyrinth-like appearance. It is believed these were made by Iron Age people, possibly for farming or to allow a great number of people to meet in a central place at once, perhaps for a sacred ritual. Some believe that like many of earth’s sacred places, it sits on intersecting lines of mystical energy called ley lines, which are thought to attract magic and powerful spiritual forces, and we will talk more about this in a future lesson.
Avalon was also believed to be inhabited by nine sisters who are enchantresses, Morgan le Fay being one of them. In the “Vita Merlini,” Geoffery of Monmouth describes the women of the Apple Isle:
„Nine sisters rule there by right of birth over those who come to them from our lands. Their leader is more skilled at healing and more beautiful than her sisters. She is called Morgan, and has learned the properties each plant has to cure sick bodies. She also has the power of changing her shape, and of flying through the air on strange wings like Daedalus. She can be at Brest, Chartres or Pavia whenever she wishes, or glide from the sky onto our shores.“
We often see in Celtic myth how women living in seclusion being powerful healers, oracles or shapeshifter. They are the keeper of the sacred wells, keepers of the perpetual flames, or sacred space. They serve a liminal purpose, with one foot in the Otherworld and one in the tangible world.
But let’s move away from Avalon now and have a look at another liminal place that you can find easily in your own area.
Crossroads for example, are still somewhat seen as a no-man’s land. It is believed that you can connect with the spirit world at crossroads. In older times suicides and murderers were buried at such places, as it was seen as an unconsecrated ground, set apart from the everyday world. Perhaps it was believed that the malign spirits of the dead would scatter along the roads leading from the crossroads and not to be concentrated in one spot. This probably also led to ghostly legends that became attached to crossroads and they have become associated with magic, and the appearance of demons, witches, spirits and faeries. It I also said that Samhain is the favorite time for spirits to gather around crossroads. In European lore it is said that the spirits gather there at this day to walk in procession to visit the homes of their relatives. These ghostly processions can be seen if you stand at the crossroads and rest your chin on a forked stick.
Another very liminal place I’ve visited last year, is Wistman’s Woods.
I did write about this experience on my blog, and you can also find video here, in case you haven't seen it yet.
There are many other liminal times and spaces I will not list them all for you, but maybe you can think of some.
I hope you enjoyed this lesson and that I could provide some valuable information, and as already mention this time there is not so much homework, so that you can relax and simply enjoy your liminal space.
- Find liminal spaces in your area and spend some time at these thresholds. Those places are often rich with Faery energy, just tune in and observe. Keep your eyes open while sitting in those places and maybe you will see some flickering lights in the corner of your eyes. If so you know there are faeries.
Your Faery Homework
- Find liminal spaces in your area and spend some time at these thresholds. Those places are often rich with Faery energy, just tune in and observe.
- Think of other liminal times, what could they be? Write your ideas and the connection you make with Faery and the liminal down in your journal.