In Liminal Time

We have been in liminal time since the god virus arrived in its great unseen air-borne vessel filled with reproductions of itself. 

And all of them, cheeky as hell, wearing tiny versions of the helmet of Hades which made the god of the underworld invisible to mere mortals.





I Lock My Door upon Myself, 1891, oil on canvas. 

Ferdinand Knopff, 1858-1921, Belgian. 

Loaned by Bavarian State Painting Collections, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany to the Metropolitan Museum of Art , NY in 2017




The god virus has polluted the air we breathe.  



Liminal time. I have been studying this painting because this is a painting set in liminal time.

It warns against the madness of isolation. 





As above



Liminal time can drive us mad and reduce us to unsociable aspects of our natures.


It can also deliver us to a world ready for our own renewal: of our spiritual lives, our values, of some of our institutions.


So long as we remain in our right minds:


As with all rites of passage, the guidance seems to be this:



feed each other real, delicious food;

drink but not to excess and with libations always first;


multiply the rituals;

and recount stories.  The stories of our past, present and future lives.


(from the tradition of my Ethiopian ancestors and from my teachers at Anthropology, UC, London).



The symbolist painter, Ferdinand Knopff  painted this in tribute to the  British Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.





Detail.  As above




Christina Rossetti‘s poem, the subject of Knopff’s painting, calls upon God for help. 



In Knopff‘s painting, the woman has already entered the in-between world of liminality. 



She is under the eye of Hypnos, the god of sleep and of dreams, his symbol of a red poppy placed beside his bust.

Her surroundings cannot be completely read and are somewhat murky, grey, ambiguous as though uncertainty hangs in the air.  Which it does.


Irises are present: they have lost their leaves and may be at their last.


Iris: a goddess particularly fleet-footed, associated with the rainbow and gifted with great magical skills which she herself can activate without aid. 


To encourage us through this ambiguous and dangerous time. Hope-bearing also.





Detail.   As above




Who Shall Deliver Me?

Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894, English

from The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1904


God strengthen me to bear myself;

That heaviest weight of all to bear,

Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;

I lock my door and bar them out,

The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,

And bar them out; but who shall wall

Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,

And start self-purged upon the race

That all must run! Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,

And start with lightened heart upon

The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,

This coward with pathetic voice

Who craves for ease, and rest, and joys:

Myself, arch-traitor to myself;

My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,

My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,

Can roll the strangling load from me,

Break off the yoke and set me free.





As above

2 thoughts on “In Liminal Time

  1. fascinating and food for deep thought. Thank you for this take on the god, virus!

    1. The fundamentalists among us think this is just a phase of the liminal time through which we have been going since some of our civilizations moved away from earth-centric economies and earth-centric ways of being.

      But that would take scores of posts to begin to describe!

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