Liminal worlds

The concept of liminality is fairly recent, coming into usage by anthropologists, mainly to describe rituals and other events that place people on borders or boundaries. The realm of faerie, however, has been recognized for many centuries by people all over the world. And faerie has always been a liminal world, whether or not that term was ever used to describe it.

The place where faeries reside has often been called the Otherworld. It has been characterized as a place of eternal twilight. Twilight, of course, is the time between day and night, so it is by definition a liminal time. The same could be said for the first moments of sunrise, but twilight has traditionally been the time of day considered to be the most magical. The time of year that corresponds best to twilight is the Celtic day of Samhain, now called Halloween, which marks the beginning of the dark half of the year. This day has traditionally been associated with both faeries and the dead. In both cases, the point is that the veil between worlds is thinner than usual…

Faeries for their part, along with their kin elves, trolls, leprechauns and various types of Otherworldly denizens, have always existed in such a realm. A modern rendering of this idea can be found in Neal Gaiman’s book, also a movie, Stardust, where an actual wall separates the land of mortals and the faerie world.