The power of boundaries

The power of boundaries
20th June 2017 Tim Malnick
In Centre Edge

In Centre Edge work we learn to pay a lot of attention to boundaries. These places, between one thing and another, always contain emotion and energy. Boundaries can be transition points between physical spaces, periods of time, or even moods, emotions and mental states. Once you start to look, boundaries are everywhere. Boundaries are an essential part of what allows us to perceive a world as made up of distinct and identifiable people, places, things and events. Noticing multiple boundaries and becoming curious about the emotion and energy that arises around them supports more effective and sensitive action.

Often in workshops I illustrate the power of boundaries within traditional folk lore with a reading. This one comes from The Time Life Book of Wizards and Witches, a beautifully illustrated and very well researched compendium of folk lore from all cultures. Because it is so good I am reproducing it in full here, with grateful acknowledgements:


On boundaries:

“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 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.


Exploring boundary principle in our own life

We can ask ourselves questions about our own experience of boundaries. We can become curious in our own experience about the movements between one thing and another, one possibility and another, one idea, person or situation and another.

Some useful starting questions include:

How do I experience the energy at a boundary between one thing and another?

Do I typically respond to boundaries in the same way, or does it depend on the nature of the boundary?

How do I deal with  uncertainty when I am between one thing and another in my life, or in a situation?

How do I recognise and welcome the power and potential of transformation that boundaries offer?

How do my own inner boundaries – the limits of my own thinking, emotion and action – allow or prevent possible transformation in my own life?

What personal boundary (of thinking, emotion or action) can I experiment with stepping beyond or allowing to dissolve? What happens when I do?