Natives of the Liminality

It occurs to me that some of you may not be prepared for the various natives – beings, creatures, entities, personalities, even deities – that you may encounter out here in the Liminality. Sometimes they may even be found in the mundane world, haunting (or guarding) the portals and passages that lead outside.

In normal life, everything is classified and kept in boxes. But creativity demands that we break free from these boxes. When that urge emerges, one has to move out of reality into the liminal zone which exists in imagination. For a long time one struggles in the space which is neither this nor that, a bit of both, until new classifications and boxes emerge and once again replace the flux with stability. Failure to acknowledge this liminal space in life leads to the end of imagination. It blocks innovation, transformation, growth. It leads to rigidity, decay and death.

Truly, nothing can ever really prepare you for encounters with some of the Liminality’s natives. Each encounter is a unique liminal event: a hybridization between the liminal being, you and all the particular circumstances surrounding your meeting. We can, however, assure you that these encounters are likely to be pivotal moments, which have the potential to completely alter the trajectory of where you thought you were headed.

We will primarily be using material from other sources for this guide so that we can be assured of clear, correct information. After all, a liminal being such as myself usually can only provide a liminal answers.

Liminal beings are those that cannot easily be placed into a single category of existence. Associated with the threshold state of liminality, from Latin līmen, “threshold”, they represent and highlight the semi-autonomous boundaries of the social world.
Liminal beings are naturally ambiguous, challenging the cultural networks of social classification.
The cultural anthropologist Victor Turner considered that liminal entities, such as those undergoing initiation rites, often appeared in the form of monsters, so as to represent the co-presence of opposites—high/low; good/bad—in the liminal experience.

Liminal personas are structurally and socially invisible, having left one set of classifications and not yet entered another. The social anthropologist Mary Douglas has highlighted the dangerous aspects of such liminal beings, but they are also potentially beneficent. Thus we often find presiding over a ritual’s liminal stage a semi-human shaman figure, or a powerful mentor with animal aspects, such as a centaur.
God of the Hunt by ElementalJess on DeviantArt

One can prepare for probable encounters by considering the nature of one’s quest. You may recall our previous discussion of the “hero’s journey.” While you are definitely (probably) not a hero (are), it may be useful to look at the journeys of the myths or legends that relate to your situation. While anything is possible, it’s more probable for you to see alien hybrid Liminailians if you’re headed for outer space. The future may contain hybrid machines, while an attempt to unearth treasures of the past may bring one before various chimera of the mythic age. Examples from Legend (both ancient and modern) can provide clues on how to proceed.

“A legendary liminal being is a legendary creature that combines two distinct states of simultaneous existence within one physical body. This unique perspective may provide the liminal being with wisdom and the ability to instruct, making them suitable mentors, whilst also making them dangerous and uncanny.” (3):

The Liminality is not confined to the mythic past. Past, present and future: all are one out here.

Many beings in fantasy and folklore exist in liminal states impossible in actual beings:

Hybrids (two species):

-Centaurs from classical mythology, among them -Chiron, the mentor of Achilles
-Tritons from classical mythology, half-human sea beasts[8]
-Satyrs and their elder counterparts the Silenoi[8] from classical mythology, half-man half-goat (similar to the Roman Faun)
-Harpies from classical mythology, half-woman half-bird (see also: Furies)[8]
-Cynocephali, dog-headed humans
-Yali (Hindu mythology)
‘A liminal figure, like the Sphinx…straddling the divide between animal and human, and partaking of both’.

Both human and spirit by blood:

-Merlin is a cambion, the son of a woman and an incubus
-Caliban in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest
-Abe no Seimei, legendarily attributed a human father but a kitsune (fox spirit) mother

Both alive and dead:

ghosts, among them Tiresias, the dead seer whom Odysseus consulted in the underworld, in the Odyssey. Tiresias also had been transformed into a woman and back into a man while living, and was blind as well as a seer.

Both human and machine:

In science fiction, liminal beings include cyborgs, such as the Six Million Dollar Man and Seven of Nine from Star Trek.

Both human and alien:

hybrids or adoptives torn between their human and alien natures, such as Spock from Star Trek or Valentine Michael Smith from Stranger in a Strange Land.”

Yog Sothoth, who exists within all thresholds and between spaces, is the ultimate resident of the Liminality. It can be useful to offer prayers and sacrifices calling upon the Outer God for aid, especially in matters of navigation, entry or escape.

Other powerful Liminailians may be the reason you are on the journey to begin with. By powerful, I mean godlike. Deities can be responsible for casting us out the door to wander in the wilderness. They can also be the finale of quests where only a divine hand can open the door to tomorrow.

You may happen across a solitary old woman at a crossroads. This is no happenstance meeting. It would be wise to know the best ways to survive and encounter with Hecate, should one plan on traveling past those crossroads.

Where there are many dangerous deities associated with the Liminality, some encounters are more fortuitous. Other gods may even seem strikingly familiar:

Budh, mercury, the planet, is associated in astrology with curiosity, intelligence and cunningness. Mercury, the element, is like liquid silver (hence called quick silver) taking the shape of a metal. Thus Budh is associated with adaptability, contextualizing, shape-shifting… Even Budh-vaar or Wednesday, the day of mercury, is right in the middle of the week, three days after the start (Sunday) and three days before the end (Saturday).

Hermeticism refers to a discipline of mysticism derived from traditions surrounding Hermes, the Greek god of communication, and Thoth the Egyptian god of wisdom. … This tradition dates back to the Hellenistic period and the marriage of Egyptian and Greek cultures under Alexander the Great.” (4)

Magick could even be described as the art of negotiating Liminality. Seers, Sages and Sorcerers must be fluent with many occulted betweens. This is why Witches, Wizards and Warlocks are often found here in the Liminality, and are masters of communication with Liminal beings. And of course we have the most liminal Magick Users of all, those involved in Necromancy: the dangerous science of (re)connecting the living world with the ever waiting, hungry energies of Death.

Whether you must seek out a practitioner of liminal arts, or if you seek to master and wield them yourself, knowledge of archetypes, motifs and tropes may be instrumental in whether or not you succeed. We conclude with examples of who, or what, you may prepare to expect:

Tropes of liminal beings

-Blind Seer: They see with only the inner eye.

-Child of Two Worlds: A member of two very different, often opposed, communities who may have trouble fitting completely in with either one.

-Cyborg: Mechanism and organism welded into one entity.

-Disability Superpower: Both having the advantage and being at a disadvantage.

-Double Consciousness: A Liminal Being torn between the two states.

-Feathered Serpent: A feathered serpent basically unites the heavenly and the terrestrial in one being.

-Flying Dutchman: Trapped in endless travel through space, time, and the realms beyond.

-Gender Bender: Goes from one biological sex to another.

-Hermaphrodite: Someone with both male and female sex characteristics.

“Fierce” by 3gregor

-Heroic Bastard: Neither of his parents’ social status, nor exactly not of it.

-Hybrid All Along: A character learns that they’re a hybrid.

-Hybrid Monster: Many species, one monster.

-Master of Disguise: A character of many faces and identities.

-Mix-and-Match Critters: Part one critter, part not. Also sometimes known as a “chimera.”

-Mortality Grey Area: Can’t be properly classified as dead or alive.

-Non-Linear Character: Both in and out of time

-Not Quite Human: Just like a normal human, except for one obvious difference.

-Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: A god, demon, or otherwise otherworldly being or creature who is both male and female. Or neither.

-Oxymoronic Being: A living self-contradiction.

-Paradox Person: They exist, when they shouldn’t.

-Planimal: Both plant and animal.

-Psychopomp: Often the only being capable of crossing between the worlds of the living and the dead.

-Secret Identity: Ordinary person, living among ordinary people, and superpowered wonder.

-Semi-Divine: Has an “essence” that is partly mundane and partly supernatural.

-Trans Nature: They’re uncomfortable with whatever role they’ve been born into or assigned to and wish to change it.

-The Trickster: Frequently, particularly in older myths, have a theme of guarding/crossing/exemplifying the thresholds between gods/humanity, good/evil, life/death, male/female etc.

-The Undead: Both dead and alive.

-Uplifted Animal: An animal gifted with human intelligence. Opinions vary on whether this is a good gift or not.

-When Trees Attack: Sessile plants with motion.

-Wild Card: On the moral border.

-Wise Tree: Both a plant, and with a mind.

-You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Both comprehensible/experienced — and not.

Of course, many liminal encounters happen right here on Earth within the course of our daily lives. It’s probably accurate to say most people will have a liminal earth encounter at some point in their lives. Take note if/when you do. Share it with others. Put it on the Liminal Map. You never know who you might help, somewhere else on this Liminal Earth.

What Is A Liminal Map?

Check it out:

“Spooky things happen every day all around us! Instead of brushing these peculiar moments and bizarre encounters off as chance, or mere coincidence, what if we talked about them, mapped them, and tried to decode the message?
Is there a specific place where you’ve seen fairies, ghosts, bigfoot, time travelers, extraterrestrials, ultraterrestrials, crow conferences, sentient lawn computers, lanyard’d ogres, broccoli wizards, etc.? Does your town have an urban legend you’d love to get to the bottom of? Send us your story and we might include it on our map!”


(1) Liminal Beings: Indian Mythology

(2) Liminal Beings (wiki)

(3) Liminal Beings (Tropes)

(4) Hermeticism

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