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Article: Lost or Liminal Space?

Black women

Lost or Liminal Space?

By: Quiana LaRae

“There is so much life to be lived in the in between.”

In her talk, Why Do So Many Millennials Feel Unaligned w/ Their Age? A Presentation by Alex Wolf, Alex Wolf talks about a lack of rites of passages and rites of passage ceremonies in today’s Western society. She speaks to how traditional and Indigenous cultures prepare their youth to enter society through ceremonies. She goes on to say, the community would come together to show the youth where and how they fit into society as a whole and the importance of each life stage. However, in Western society today, this process is either lacking or non-existent, leaving young people confused and ill-prepared.

Professor Manu Ampim, historian and researcher, explains, "There are five major African initiation rites of passages that are are fundamental to human growth and development. The five rites of passages are birth, adulthood, marriage, eldership, and ancestorship.” Professor Ampim defines a rite as, “a fundamental act (or set of rituals) performed according to prescribed social rules and customs.”

Anthropologist, Arnold Van Gennep in his work, Les Rites de Passage, describes rites of passages as having three-parts — separation, liminal period, and reassimilation.

Many of us understand the concept of separation or things ending; whether it be a graduation, break-up, being witness to a friend or loved one transitioning, or things simply running its course. We fundamentally at the basic level understand when things end, we either celebrate or grieve or both. However, there are times when things end – when we come to a place where a phase, a relationship, a space, or a time in our lives comes to an end. Then, there are times when we realize it’s time to let go and it’s unclear on what’s next. We turn away from one place in our lives only to turn to a wide, open wilderness – and if so bold, we step into a time of transition. A space in between here and there – the liminal space.

Liminality is defined by as “the transitional period or phase of a rite of passage.”

Father Richard Rohr writes, “To get out of this unending cycle, we have to allow ourselves to be drawn into sacred space, into liminality. All transformation takes place here. We have to allow ourselves to be drawn out of “business as usual” and remain patiently on the “threshold” (limen in Latin) where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin.”

Many mislabel this space as being lost, outside of purpose, or confused when in fact, you are in transition. In a space that is unknown and filled with possibility. Rather than grasping or forcing the “what’s next,” I encourage you to create ceremony and ritual in this space.

One of the ways you create ceremony is through meditation. Create a space where you can truly pause, rest, and breathe. Consider opening your ceremony with sage. Blue Sage Eco Boutique's White Sage Smudging Wand is perfect for clearing the energy in your space prior to beginning your ceremony and/or ritual.

Photo via BLK + GRN

The White Sage Smudging Wand is made of white sage, traditionally used for ceremonial purposes. Like white sage, palo santo, also known as “holy wood,” is also used for ceremonies. BLK + GRN Palo Santo Smudge Sticks are used in the traditional sense, to clear misfortune, negative thoughts and to chase away evil spirits.

Photo via BLK + GRN

If you find yourself in the gray space, unclear on what’s next, what if instead of forcing the answer, you joined the ancestors in creating a ceremony and ritual to honor the space?