I found myself at my sit spot at dusk yesterday evening. The sun had already pretty much set; the sky was a deep, almost purple, blue and the Park was slowly sliding into shadow.
A few birds were still singing when I first arrived. As time passed, a few became two and then fell to a single song high in the tree opposite. It was a complex and beautiful song. Perhaps birdsong always is like that but becomes revealed when framed by silence. And then the song stopped.
That silence felt powerful, but I couldn’t work out why. Was the end of the song a metaphor for the end of the Summer or even of death? Both have been in my consciousness recently. Somehow I knew it wasn’t simply a resonant metaphor, but I still couldn’t understand why that place at that moment felt so significant.
I was back there at dusk today and again heard the last bird song. This time I got it; it was a moment of transition that a created a liminal space.
Cave mouths and mountain tops are liminal spaces, as is the seashore, especially where the waves claim the land and then recede. The Celts call them ‘thin places’, places where boundaries meet. Permaculture emphasises the importance of places where two eco-systems meet. Such boundaries,which it calls ‘edges’ are especially abundant and diverse.
Liminal space emerges from time too. The Pagan wheel of the year is marked by festivals that celebrate liminal moments: Samhain, Winter Solstice and Beltane to name a few. What is it about liminal space that is so powerful? That question remains vitally alive: Although Victor Turner discussed the role of the the liminal in ritual he didn’t explain it. I have a feeling it’s related to the uncanny, but that simply makes it all the more mysterious!