On the power and potential of Boundaries

On the power and potential of Boundaries
9th January 2017 Tim Malnick
In Workshops

Often in workshops I illustrate the traditional power of Boundaries with a reading.

This comes from The Time Life Book of Wizards and Witches, a beautifully illustrated and very well researched compendium of folk lore and traditional beliefs from all cultures.

Because it is so good (and because I was just about to insert it into another blog post – but saw how long it is) I am reproducing it here, with grateful acknowledgements:

“In a world so shifting and uncertain, it is not surprising that great store was set on all that was not clearly one thing or another. At the in-between places – rivers and borders – and at all edges, verges, brinks, rims, fringes and dividers, anything might happen, and chaos could be loosed upon the world.

It made no difference whether these were borders of space or of time. Caves, the thresholds between open air and the solidity of earth, were often entrances to the world of spirits. Wells linked the visible world with subterranean realms and had an innate enchantment that might give awareness s of the future or restore the dead to life. In the space dividing foam and water or bark and tree, devils could be confined by those who knew how.

Certain objects held magic by virtue of this same borderline nature. It was no accident that mistletoe could heal diseases and bring good luck (or sometimes bad) to those who held it. Mistletoe belongs to the edge of the family of plants. It grows not from the ground but in the air, thrusting its roots deep into the bark of hawthorn, oak or rowan trees.

Dew likewise is posed at the limits of definition. Though water, it comes not from sea, river or spring but from the air/ It does not flow with gravity but rests lightly on leaf or grass blade. And it comes and goes at yet another borderline, the division between night and day. There were those who though that dew mysteriously digested sunlight and made it into gold.

Dawn and dusk were magical times, for they divided the fundamental elements of existence: night from day, darkness from light, the period when evil was abroad from the time when it banished to its secret sanctuaries.

So also the times between the seasons. Among the Celtic peoples of Ireland, Britain and France, winter began at Samhain, the fist of November, later called All Hallows Day.

On the prior evening the rules of reality were suspended, the air was more dangerously charged with magical power than at any other time, and the spirits of other worlds were free to roam. The eve of Beltane, or May Day, which marked the beginning of summer, was another crack through which primeval magic entered.”

Questions we can ask ourselves about our own experience of boundaries, the movements between one thing and another, one possibility and another, one idea or person and another, include:

  • How do I experience the energy of that Boundary?
  • Are the energies at a Boundary mainly problematic for me, something to be resolved or smoother over?
  • How do I rest in the uncertainty and also recognise the power and potential magic at a place of Boundary?
  • How do my own Boundaries – the limits of my thinking, emotion and action – allow or prevent possible transformation from entering into my life?

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