I’ve been thinking a lot about the status of a magic-user as one of “between worlds.” The liminality between the everyday “normal” world and the mysterious and weird world beyond the veil is a hallmark of magic and mysticism. We inhabit that between place, right on and sometimes just over the edge.
And I think that we have certain obligation because we exist at this liminal space. As I said not long ago:
Our role is to bring back knowledge from beyond the boundaries of the “normal.” Our role is to guide people who have approached or crossed those boundaries, then bring them back or push them further. And so you have to bring back what you encounter.
And I think this pretty well describes what I have seen from most magicians, witches, mystics, etc. and how they end up expressing their spiritual reality. In some way, they take advantage of inhabiting that liminal space, and at some point, they help others cope with their own experiences there.
But I’ve been dealing a lot with magic as augmenting my identity rather than defining it. Like a doctor doesn’t continuously heal people, or a pilot isn’t always flying, I have a life that isn’t always spent exploring the realms beyond.
But there is a liminality that exists there as well. And I wonder which one influenced the other.
I work in restaurants. Since I was 16. I enjoy the immediate problem-solving and activity that accompanies serving people and preparing food. I enjoy the artistry of cooking. And I like the interactions I have with (most) people I serve in that capacity.
But I’m a pretty intellectual person as well. I’m pretty smart and I understand some fairly heady concepts in different subjects. Which is why I went in to academia: I had hoped to leave the drudgery of food service behind and do Smart People work, researching and writing and teaching. Because I enjoy learning. I enjoy writing and telling stories. And I enjoy helping people understand things they didn’t understand before.
So part of my identity is based in a concrete world of rushing to get properly prepared food to demanding people is a short time, and provide them with a positive experience. And part of it is based in the abstract world of pondering and considering great intellectual and metaphysical things.
And if I spend too much time in either world, I get frustrated and want to go back to the other.
It seems that for me, liminality also defines my identity. I am in a place between the everyday world of concrete experience and expectation, and the abstract intellectual world of high thought and mental experimentation. I am in an awkward in-between that will not allow me to integrate fully into one space or another.
And I wonder if perhaps this blog is a manifestation of that. If this is the true fusion of concrete experience and interaction and abstract intellectualization and theory. If this is the part where I tell my story and bring something to the reader that is hopefully useful.
Because I need a vocation and a career. And while my heart always leads me back to storytelling, my debt keeps dragging me into food service, and hope and curiosity keep dragging me to the Academy. My storytelling is not yet marketable.
But I ponder this, as I grope for a direction in life. My natural talents and inclinations are such that I will only be satisfied by dipping between two worlds and sharing the experience with others. Just like my magic.
Perhaps I am in error, and magic is more central to my life that I thought. Or perhaps that liminal nature draw me to magic in the first place. Perhaps there is a reason so many magicians are outsiders.
But the place between is still a place, and now that I know I can stay there, perhaps I can find a better path to get there.