Liminal Passages (Liminality, Part Two)  

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Victor Turner said of the betwixt-and-between (where one is likely to experience marginalized feelings during this Transition stage of a Rite of Passage) that one is caught up, as it were, within a Liminal Zone—like a limbo or purgatory—which Turner describes as Anti-Structure.  You have left the settled life of being part of the Structure of a society to enter into this no-persons land. You have stripped away or have had stripped away much of your former identity (this point is for my sister to read re. her recent dream of identity loss; Hi, Lee!).  You have obstacles to face in your Descent as you pass through the Forbidden territory of Anti-Structure, before you can (with your successful passage) re-enter Structure but in a new role and status based on the transformation of your consciousness and personhood you will have attained during this important, meaningful Transition. There is usually a role model or Guide to lead you through this stage; s/he has been where you are aiming to go and has achieved the new status/ level of consciousness you seek to attain with your Quest. Your Guide will help you so far as you need, or ask.

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Liminality is such an important stage for anyone (or group) seeking to bring about a positive, transformational adjustment in order to realize a deeply beneficial goal, that I want to share more examples here for you to ponder in their possible relation to your own contemplated, desired changes.

Hiawatha and the League of the Iroquois (A Whole-Society Revitalization)

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Hiawatha has lost his wife and three daughters, who were murdered by a chief of his own village during a blood feud among the Iroquois tribes and other regional tribes.  He wanders in the woods, desolate and alone. Some say he develops cannibalistic (Windigo-like) thoughts which he despises in himself.

Hiawatha, either from a boat looking into the waters or in a cabin looking in a pot of water, sees a figure—a god, as he is called—named Deganawidah, looking back at him. This figure—some say a real man with a speech impediment also in the woods—conveys to Hiawatha a Condolence Ritual to help him and his peoples grieve their losses, and he imparts guidelines for a new political confederacy, an alliance of the member tribes: the League of the Iroquois. Six tribes eventually joined this League, which still has relevance today. They put aside their internal fighting and agreed to select lifelong delegates (sachems), installed by the Clan Mothers, who would adjudicate disputes. Greater peace, and strength, ensued for many generations to follow.

Lost Horizon (A Personal Calling and Realization of True Potential)

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Robert Conway and a small crew of allies (unknowingly hand-picked) are hijacked when a small plane leaving China-controlled Tibet (in the post-WWII era) suspiciously crash lands in the deep snows of the Himalayas.  Porters carrying just the right-sized and number of coats appear and the porters escort Conway’s group through a difficult passage in the Himalayas over several days. Eventually they round a bend and see the spectacular, verdant and temperate valley where the Abbot and staff of the amazing Temple of Shangri-La welcome them.

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Conway comes to understand after meeting with the aged Abbot that he has been called to replace this spiritual giant when he (soon to be) passes. Yet he has to reach a degree of faith in the validity of this calling and of the purpose of Shangri-La itself in both a world-beneficial and personal sense.  He escorts his cynical brother away from the Temple when his brother nearly convinces him Temple staff have been lying, but once his brother dies in an avalanche and the woman who claimed she was not protected from aging at the Valley suddenly ages and dies, Conway develops but one core ambition: to return to Shangri-La even after he returns briefly to the US. Following another arduous adventure and crossing (a Second Threshold), Conway returns to Shangri-La to return to the woman there he had fallen in love with and to assume his unselfish, divinely inspired role.

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Star Wars Episode 5: Return of the Jedi (Spiritual Warrior Training and Transformation of Consciousness)

A name that you all recognize: Yoda.  Luke Skywalker departs (separates) from his compatriot rebels to find this Jedi Master so he can train to become a Jedi Knight, “like his father before him.” Luke’s training has all the character of a Liminal Passage. He feels frustrated and powerless at first, doubting his own abilities and doubting the veracity of Yoda’s capabilities as a Teacher. Yoda shows patience with young Luke and reveals his own strengths only as needed, asking the Acolyte to work at self-mastery instead of relying on his master’s techniques. When Yoda sends Luke into the mysterious, swampy domain where he will meet his own negative side in the form of Darth Vader (his Dark Father nature, after all), Luke disregards Master Yoda’s suggestion that he leave his light saber behind. Luke ends up defeating only himself by allowing his fear and anger to lead him to confront the image of Vader therein, a lesson very important for Luke to learn.

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Luke gains Jedi skills from Yoda, yet he has more to learn in the forge of experience as the saga continues. He returns to the fields of battle to save his friends and to serve the Rebellion as best he is able.

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To conclude this reflection on Liminal Passages, consider their role in your personal Life Story.  The more deeply the Liminal Zone is entered into and absorbed, the greater the transformation of consciousness that may occur and with that, the greater the benefits may radiate out from the Hero(ine) to the Whole and its values they are pledged to defend and uphold. The Hero is a Role Model for those s/he serves and  hence can become a guide or Teacher for other Acolytes.

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images are from pixabay.com

And so the Great Cycle continues, life after life, purpose after purpose.  What is YOUR PURPOSE for being Here? What strengths can you develop to be of greatest value to the Whole?

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

 

Bury the Hatchet

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As a final post about the Warrior archetype in relation to the life metaphor Life is an Ensemble Cast of Archetype Characters, it seems fitting to recall the story of Deganawida, the Peacemaker who along with Hiawatha established the great League of the Iroquois that served as a model of peaceful governance for the Articles of Confederation that presaged the US constitution.

The phrase “bury the hatchet” derives from an Iroquois ceremony whereby the Six Nations peoples literally buried their hatchets of warfare under the soil while planting a Great White Pine tree so as the tree grew they would be covered by its expansive branches spreading across the four directions.  Thus a warring, feuding peoples were united for peace and prosperity that lasted many generations. Warriors became peacemakers amongst their own peoples.

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The Iroquois League came about after many years of intertribal blood feuding amongst Iroquois speaking Native Americans at a time that predated the settling of White peoples in northeastern North America. As one version of this legendary story describes, Hiawatha was an Onandaga warrior whose wife and two daughters were murdered by a chief of his own village. Hiawatha wandered bereft in the woods in a state of desolation and grief; some say he feared he would become a cannibal, so great was his despair.

In the woods, some say while in a canoe on a lake, Hiawatha looked into the water and saw a godlike figure, Deganawida, looking back at him. (Another version says Deganawida was a man with a speech impediment that Hiawatha encountered while in the woods.) In any event, Deganawida shared the Condolence Ritual with Hiawatha to help him deal with his grief and to bring back to the Peoples to help them to allay their own grief. He also described how the tribes could unite to form a great League, with lifelong, wise delegates or sachems to be installed or deposed by the women of these matrilineal tribes. Deganawida also inspired the ritual for burying the hatchet, a symbolic putting aside of warfare for the sake of coming together as one Peoples, uniting in strength against their common enemies and fostering internal peace.

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This great League forged peace among the Six Nations of Iroquois that joined it; this peace lasted for many generations and still embues these Nations with deep principles of peace and democracy.

It has been said that the ceremonial act of burying the hatchet by the Iroquois peoples is one of the greatest examples of peacemaking in all of human history.

It took a Warrior who allied with and became himself a peacemaker to put aside warlike habits and attitudes in order to embrace unity, peace and the greater Good. If only West and East could BURY THE HATCHET today. At very least, you and I can do so. We can bury the hatchets brandished by any of our own feuding sub-selves, or within our outer community of fellowship. It takes only a CHOICE for the Warrior within you and me to stand up for Life and Peace, not Death or War.

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