Ultimately, it all comes down to liminality.
Because I’m an animal-person, between myth and reality, both poetic and mundane, symbolical and raw, both feline and corvine. Because I’m raven, and Raven is mutifaceted enough in itself; and clouded leopard, both ancient and modern cat, stretching between felis and panthera, dwelling in the liminal setting that the forest is – between sky and earth. Clouded Leopard is the liminal cat by essence.
Because I’m a trans-person and androgyne, not quite male nor female, a bit of everything, or completely other. Something else at the fringes of what most people know, as surreal as legendary creature, and as true as anyone else. Altering my body to reflect my mind, walking my own path and re-interpreting what it is to be a man in this world. And I am not the only one.
Because I’m a synesthete and an artist, an oneironaut and dreamwalker, a spiritual and feral person, because I belong to the Mediterranea of crossroads and boundaries, and because I deal with more than one language on a daily basis… the list goes on and on. In short, because in most areas of life, my place, role or perspective is ambivalent and I cross a lot of different boundaries.
This can work for some people; but most folk only are liminal in a specific context or at a certain point of their life, and it doesn’t go beyond that. And I’ve read writings about liminality, some of which I related to, and others that – in my own perspective – only superficially grasped the concept. This isn’t a way of saying some are valid and other aren’t: I’m saying we often experience liminality in a way or another, whether is it through sickness, travelling or being queer; and as such, there’s a myriad of ways to be liminal, and I want to expand on my own, because this is a central point in my life and worldview.
What I’m trying to explain more precisely is how deep this can get, and what it’s like when so many aspects of yourself are related to liminality. I wrote about the Traveler archetype years ago, because I was getting closer to this realisation. A lot of symbolism in this fit, but it does not suit me completely because my (liminal) being translate in being a Traveler, and not the other way around – alternatively some people may suscribe to the Shapeshifter archetype primarily or secondarily, in relation to liminality.
Moreover to be a Traveler first and foremost, I would have to journey physically on a more regular basis than I’ve been allowed as of late in my life – right now I especially suit the symbolical and spiritual meaning of the word, by the way of physical transition, dream-walking and such as. I am driven to expand my liminal experience across countries eventually, though. In any case, until now this Traveler archetype was a way to circle around the core of my life and being through various metaphors, until I found in Liminality itself all the elements I was trying to describe. I am a liminal creature. Which is to state, not solely an single or two aspects of who I am, and not as a temporary state.
The reason I insist on this aspect is because I’ve read a lot of beaufitful, lyrical writings about liminality, but I’ve never seen much about what actually comes hand in hand with Liminality to me: Strength. I thought for a while about what makes me click more with certain people than others when it comes to this subject, and what I found is that invariably, when the person has so much personal background connected with it that it becomes an essential part of who they are, then the problématique of “being strong” arises.
Of course Strength and its different variations is something central in Warrior, Hunter and such archetypes, but here I am simply talking from a “Liminal being” perspective.
So, why do I say Strength is such a big component of liminal individuals? This is something obvious to us: the more liminal aspects you have to deal with (characteristics, defining traits, identities…) the hardest it is to find your place in a world or the other, because you always end up in-between. If you think of it from the animal or gender perspective: you are challenging a number of rules and norms, and you have to make or find your own answers in order to be at peace with who you are, and it’s complex to be identified, understood and accepted as such.
This is vastly different from being liminal in one specific context or domain, or over a limited amount of time, where elsewhere in your life you still belong to a sphere or another, like solid basis you can rest on – even though there is a whole spectrum between that situation and the Liminal archetype itself. As a liminal being on the other hand, your main perspective is that of an outsider because you are generally marginal whatever the context is. This means there is no domain in your life where you do not have to fight in order to exist, if you choose so – playing the chameleon and hiding is another alternative, but while there is no direct confrontation, it can be equally exhausting.
Therefore, for the Liminal Being, existing and staying true to who they are is a matter of Strength.
Sometimes it conflicts with the local norms, other times it’s simple and easy. Being liminal is about balance between who you are and how to function in this world, and regarding other people there’s a lot of work involved in translating the extremely personal, non-binary, norms-challenging concepts of the liminal being into something others can wrap their mind around. Being liminal is about making the best compromises to stay true to oneself while operating in any situation and context. Mastering those abilities is the key for us to making Liminality work without it becoming too much of a burden.
There is a lot of ways society enforces its laws over individuals, and the people who are the most aware of this are those at whom this pressure (I’d say violence) is directed. This is why to me Strength and Liminality always come hand in hand, at least for liminal people who do preserve their identity and integrity as liminal beings: they have to be strong, by essence, because they do not fit in; and surrending to a side or the other – and therefore conforming with something specific – makes them lose their ambivalence. Such individuals therefore cease being liminal at this very moment. This is to say it is possible to compromises a lot with the self to avoid social and emotional turmoil, and most people do to some degrees, but it may only push them further from liminality, and from themselves as well.
However this isn’t to say liminal people lack flexibility and that liminality validates the binary system, quite the contrary; balance isn’t a matter of solely two aspects, but society in general is binary and this is why people may seem to variate between only two categories. Liminal people serve as example to push boundaries and make seemingly opposite aspects co-exist and work together in a coherent whole – a liminal identity isn’t about a lack of consistency, nor it is about indecisiveness. It is defined by its position relatively to a definite system in a specific time and place, which it questions. Without break-rulers, the world would be stagnant and there would be no evolution over the course of history. Deviants, outlaws and such liminal people can fulfill this role. However this isn’t because they don’t ascribe to certain rules that they don’t have their own.
I am, like many others, a very structured individual. I’ve been brought up in an environment where I was explicitly told that I was to become a self-reliant individual able to think by myself. I understood very early not all “given rules” work at all times, and that somes could never work for me. As the individual I would grow up to be, it would become necessary that I either conform to the world around me, thus giving up about the whole self-reliance thing in order to repress myself, or find the ability to make my own place and exist according to a slighty different set of rules even though it would mean I would rarely be in peace with society. I chose to walk my own path.
This is not to say I’m the ultimate rebel – I’m not. But because of who I am – that is, Liminal – and as I don’t want to give up on this, I need to be Strong in order to take it all, and if I’ve lived up to this very moment as you are reading me, knowing all the fucking crap I’ve been through, even though for a long time I didn’t consider myself “strong” because I wasn’t the way a Warrior seemed to be, I can tell you what it’s really like and all the fucking Strength you need to keep being. Liminality isn’t just about beauty and musings and self-ponderings; sometimes it’s just about fighting (back), survival and self-reliance. A lot of people seem unaware of this, because they marvel over the magic of it all and don’t get the bigger picture, unless they experience it themselves.
This is the price to pay and I won’t surrender – in spite of everything, to me living up to my standards and staying true to myself is clearly worth it… even when it is as challenging as Liminality. What seems like a very theorical or metaphorical affair is real life to me. I am getting tired of writing over archetypes and metaphors, because this never show integrally how real or substantial or tangible it is. It resonates with the deepest, most primal and practical aspects of who I am, in my daily life and choices, as much as into my brain.
Not simply part of a personal mythology, but living liminal in flesh on a daily basis.
Ultimately, it all comes down to liminality.