“Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a
threshold") is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical
subjective, conscious state of being on the "threshold" of
or between two different existential planes” (Wikipedia)
A 'liminal' state is when structures dissolve and the stream of
events undergoes a creative process of change, resulting in the
spontaneous emergence of fundamentally new forms and modes of being.
Thus a 'liminal' state is the state of being in the midst of a
radical, whole system, evolutionary, quantum leap.
It is not a smooth transition but a radical discontinuity. For
example, if one cuts open a caterpillar's cocoon one doesn't find a
half-caterpillar-half butterfly, what one finds is a complex
biological soup that is in a liminal state.
Paradigm shifts also require such transformative leaps, where the
old ways of thinking and being are deconstructed all the way down to
the the fundamental assumptions from which they have grown. When
these are dissolved by the clear light of awareness the new paradigm
will emerge and flourish.
This process is known to alchemists as VITRIOL, the “Universal
Solvent”. It is from this acronym that the word vitriolic arose, to
describe the action of sulphuric acid and its capacity to dissolve
things into their basic constituents.
VITRIOL stands for “Visitas interiora terrae rectificando
invenese Occultum Lapidum.”
Literally it translates as “Visit the interior of earth and by
rectification you will discover the Hidden Stone (the Philosopher's
What it means is that in any context, delve into the foundations
of it, dissolve it into its fundamental constituents and underlying
causes then seek to correct the situation at that deep level, then
you will gain profound insight and mastery of that context. This is
particularly applied in the alchemical context of self-awareness,
self-knowledge, self-transformation and self-mastery.
Self-Realisation, profound insight and effortless mastery are
easily attainable, but only on the “other side” of a liminal
state. If one simply builds upon the old foundation in new ways one
only creates variations of the same old theme. To discover that which
is truly new one must dissolve the old and let things go into a