Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ironwood Rhubarb #7

"Whether we or our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do." (Wendell Berry)



Every human  being goes through transitional states in life. At some point you outgrew your diapers. Later you learned how to tie your shoes and learned how to read and write. Perhaps at one point or another you decided to get married, take a job in a different state, buy a house, or start your own business. Too many changes (transitions) in a short period of time may have adversely your mental health and overall satisfaction with what life has brought your way.

If there was a sanctioning elder during these transitional states your experiences might be considered liminal, a threshold between two differing personal realities. If there was no sanctioning elder, these threshold experiences would be considered liminoid.

In the book of Genesis Jacob wrestles with an angel and is given a new name and mission.  He suffered physical injury while wrestling with the angel. Thus we have the motif of a shaman as a wounded healer.

Proverbs 26:4 and 5 give two contradictory approaches when a fool is messing with your reality: respond in kind or don't respond in kind. You will be in a transitional phase as you decide the appropriate response.

The liminal/liminoid state is a threshold state, neither here nor there, neither up or down, neither up or down. One has to dispense with the old before acquiring the new.

An entire society may go through these transitional states. One that comes to mind is the 2000 USA presidential election, ultimately decided by a 5 to 4 decision of the Supreme Court.

Sometimes a liminal/liminoid state can last a long time with no clear outcome or sense of finality. George W. Bush declaring war on terror might be considered an example of this. Even Donald Rumsfeld felt that the phrase "war on terror" was not quite right.

Cultural anomie--deteriorate/shifting norms of a society--also came about as a result the Roe versus Wade decision, creating division regarding unwanted pregnancies.

For an ordinary Joe or Jane a transition may come after a vivid and disturbing dream. Other changes could be deterioration in health, falling in love with a third person while in an unsatisfying marriage, loss of employment, or the death of a loved one.

The milieu for a successful liminal transition will involve sacred space and time with a tribal elder--often an individual that is a psychologist or a minister of a church that you feel comfortable telling your stories to.  For a liminoid experience you might want to spend time at the seashore, camping/hiking in the woods, or reading a book that guides you through your change, the author filling in for tribal elder.

When Ronald Reagan wanted to quite using tobacco, he started munching on jellybeans, though I don't know if that was the best way to transition.

You can't win them all. Happy transitioning!

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