What is a Liminal Space? Thresholds to the Spirit World
Some people believe the spirit world is a parallel dimension to ours. That it lies directly on top of ours, fully functioning in its own way all around us without us ever knowing. But some of us know. Some of us experience spirits our entire lives while others don’t see or experience a single thing. But the question remains – are there doors to the spirit world? Our ancient ancestors believed there were thresholds…lines we could cross to get to the Otherworld. These lines all around us, sometimes in obvious places. We will answer the question what is a liminal space?
What is a Liminal Space?
A liminal space is a place in the physical, mental, and/or spiritual worlds that is “in-between”. It’s neither here nor there. And, fascinatingly, these liminal spaces are what we also know to be thresholds to the spirit world and other worlds, in general. In this article, we will specifically talk about physical liminal spaces. If you’d like to learn about magical and personal liminal spaces, click here.
Physical Liminal Space: Thresholds to the Spirit World
If you’re sensitive to spirits and energy, you might be able to feel or see the entrances to the spirit world easier than others. Typically, a door to the fae realm will feel light and airy. You might see flashing lights or auras around trees or other objects. A “pulling” feeling might occur in your chest or third eye chakras. You may hear music or whispering. Keep your mind and heart open.
Caves: Underground Liminal Space
Since prehistoric times, caves were an entrance to the land of the dead – the Underworld. Our prehistoric ancestors left their markings on cave walls. One of the most famous cave paintings is located near Montignac, France. In addition, the Aztecs feature caves in their myths as the place of creation, namely the Seven Caves of Chicomoztoc. The ancient peoples revered caves, not only for comfort in winter months, but for what caves represented – the womb of the earth. From the earth we come and to the earth we return; therefore, caves are an entrance to the spirit world. If you were to travel deep into a cave, you’d reach the Underworld. NOTE: don’t be stupid and go spelunking if you’ve never done it before! Always have a partner, as well.
Cemeteries and Graveyards
The cemetery is an obvious liminal space and threshold to the spirit world. It’s not only a resting place for the dead, it’s hallowed ground, and a place where people gather in love and loss. These things come together in a whirlwind of energy to provide a definitive threshold for spirits to come through. There are spirits that are still attached to their bodies, as well as guardians of cemeteries who were either once human spirits or angels. When you cross the cemetery gates, you cross the threshold guarding the outside world from the land of the dead. The gates of cemeteries are iron to keep the spirits from getting out.
Crossroads: The Ultimate Liminal Space
I once saw a woman state in a FaceBook group the crossroads is a metaphorical place not a literal place of spirits. I’ll bet this woman never sat at the crossroads after sunset. In many traditions all over the world, the crossroads was a place where spirits congregated and could be contacted by the living. There’s quite a few deities associated with the crossroads: Hecate, Papa Legba, the Devil, and more. It’s a junction where two roads meet or cross each other – a liminal place that’s neither here nor there. Spirits linger in liminal places. If you work with spirits of the crossroads, be warned – some are tricksters. Because they guard the door to the spirit world and only let those enter whom they feel worthy.
Doors and Windows
In the older days, our ancestors believed spirits lingered in doorways and windowsills. Just as a door or window protects the household inhabitants from the physical world, they also protect us from the spirit world. Spirits are attracted to the living, be it their loved ones or enemies, and may try to enter a home. But sometimes they get stuck on the threshold for one reason or another. This is why it’s bad luck to step on a threshold – you should always step over it. It’s possible to step through a door into the world of spirits, just as we step through a door into a building or to the outside world. Scott Cunningham says to leave your front door a jar just a bit during twilight hours, then peer outside. You may see the spirit world.
Edge of the Woods
Corners, edges, doorways, all of these things have a common factor – they mark the perimeter of a place. The edge of the woods marks the beginning or end of a group of trees, plants, and animals. The wild places left in the world are still teeming with spirits of nature – fairies, tree spirits, forest guardians, the Green Man, and more! Therefore, when you cross the edge of the woods, you cross into the forest spirit realm. We’ve all heard stories of people getting lost in the woods and experiencing creepy things. I wonder if this is because the forest spirits are feeling territorial, etc.
Fairs, Festivals and Marketplaces
This one seems odd – why would spirits be somewhere lots of humans gather like a fair or festival? I believe it’s a common misconception that spirits are to be found in quiet places away from society. In fact, many spirits gather in places where there’s lots of human activity for a few reasons including the Djinn. One reason is they are attracted to the energy that living beings give off. Another reason is because they may think they’re still alive.
Yet another reason is because some spirits feed off the energy produced by large crowds of the living. In Judika Illes’ Encyclopedia of Spirits, she says spirits “enjoy them as much as we do.” It depends on the spirit, too. Fae and elementals may congregate moreso in wild places, while the deceased are attracted to places of the living like fairs, festivals, parties, feasts, etc.
Groves are circles of trees. There are oak groves, pine groves, sequoia groves, cedar groves, willow groves, just about any tree that groups together could be considered a grove. Druids considered groves their sacred sanctuary. Groves house ancient tree spirits and land guardians, and therefore are another threshold to the spirit world.
The hedgerow is a row of bushes that guards one’s property from the wild. It kept animals and intruders out. The hedgerow itself is a threshold between the family’s property and the wilderness, and therefore is a liminal place where spirits gathered. Once again – a place that’s neither here nor there but in between much like a door to the spirit world. This is where the term “crossing the hedge” comes from – it means to cross the threshold of our world in to the spirit world. If you don’t have a hedgerow, but you have a fence, this too is a threshold. Pull off 3 splinters of wood from your fence and infuse in flying ointments and shapeshifting oils.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all? Mirrors are powerful spiritual tools – tools that not only reflect our images but are also a threshold or door to the spirit world. You might have heard of people covering mirrors after someone in the family dies – this is to prevent the soul from getting trapped. Many people refuse to keep mirrors in their bedrooms because mirrors “freak them out” (TBH, I have 3+ mirrors in my bedroom and have never had a problem). There are stories of haunted mirrors, like the mirror of the Myrtles Plantation, and superstitions about breaking mirrors. Still others use mirrors to “scry” or see into the other world. Mirrors are a powerful tool to peer in to the realm of spirits. Use them wisely. Cleanse and charge them.
Seashore and Beaches of All Kinds
The seashore is a liminal place – bridging the gap between the earth and the ocean. It is another powerful threshold to the spirit world. To the ancient Celts, the spirit world was under the ocean. In addition, water is a conduit for spirits which adds to the sacredness of the seashore. Elemental spirits gather at the seashore and are more active during a Full Moon. Ever heard of ghosts along a seashore? It’s no wonder there are ghost ships and spirits seen walking the beach.
Abandoned Places as Liminal Spaces
You may be wondering, why would abandoned places be liminal spaces? I look at it this way – they are “places” but are no longer used by humans. So, they’re technically no longer places in the human’s eyes. They’re no longer a daily destination. Therefore, they’re neither here nor there. In addition, abandoned houses tend to harbor spirits like the dead and the fae. Again pointing to the fact that they are indeed liminal and a threshold to the spirit world. In places in Ireland and Scotland, castle ruins are particularly liminal and are frequently haunted by mystical creatures like red caps, gnomes, kobolds and ghosts.
How to Enter Liminal Space
There are different ways to enter the spirit world through liminal space, and all take great practice and caution. Other ways to enter the spirit world include walking over or through a threshold to the spirit world combined with entering an alpha state of mind. You can do this physically by entering a cemetery or sitting at the crossroads and opening your mind and senses to the spirits around you. Offerings to the spirits are helpful in creating rapport. Always cover your head and back of your neck with a scarf, bandana, hat, etc. when physically traveling to spirit thresholds – this keeps spirits from attaching.
Some people enter the spirit world naturally without even knowing it. I believe sleepwalkers are natural spirit world wanderers. If you’re a sleepwalker, you’re instantly in liminal space and probably entered the spirit world during one of your episodes. Astral projection also takes you into the spirit world while asleep. Another effective way to enter the spirit world without even leaving your home is through guided meditation. Look up meditations on shamanic journeying and traveling up or down the World Tree.
Before performing such powerful meditations, it’s best to cleanse your space and yourself. When you come out of the meditation, be sure to close out your session with the spirit world by grounding your energy and sternly stating out loud that no spirits are to follow you into this realm – the door to the spirit world is closed. Another cleansing is advised to rid yourself and space of negative energy/spirits.
Liminal Space and Spirit World Entry and Exit Tips
- Cover your head and back of neck when going to spirit thresholds and crossroads
- Cleanse yourself and/or space before entering the spirit world
- Cleanse yourself and/or space after spirit world contact
- Never eat food or drink while in the spirit world – you may get stuck there
- Set an alarm or have someone wake you out of your journey
- Always be polite to the spirits and deities you meet there but don’t allow any to push you around. If they feel malevolent, they probably are.
- Ground your energy after spirit world meditations
- Offerings to the spirits at thresholds and crossroads are crucial!
- Practice third eye opening meditations to aid in seeing spirits
- For forest entry – carry iron, pull pockets inside out, or wear clothes inside out
- For cemetery work – leave a few coins at the entrance for the guardians of the cemetery. Do your work and never look back once you’ve left the cemetery.