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What’s Liminal Space?

You know how there are spaces that aren’t really one thing or another? Like how a doorway is neither inside nor outside of a room? That’s a liminal space. And the same concept can apply to religion and religious experiences. Within the realm of religious experience, the concept of liminal space represent transitional zones where individuals find themselves suspended between familiar realities, engaging with the sacred/religious things.

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Liminal space, derived from the Latin word “limen” meaning threshold, refers to a state or space that exists in between two distinct realms. It embodies the threshold where individuals transition from one state of being to another. Liminal spaces are often associated with significant life events, rites of passage, or religious rituals. These spaces represent an intermediate phase where individuals temporarily leave behind their previous state and venture into a realm of ambiguity and transformation.


Liminal spaces possess distinct characteristics that set them apart from ordinary spaces. First and foremost, they are spaces of transition, where individuals exist betwixt and between. In this suspension of normality, boundaries blur, and the rules that govern everyday life become temporarily suspended. They are marked by ambiguity, where certainty gives way to uncertainty, and familiar structures dissolve.


In religious contexts, liminal space serves a crucial function. It acts as a bridge between the profane and the sacred, enabling individuals to embark on spiritual journeys and encounter the divine. Through rituals, ceremonies, and sacred spaces, religious traditions intentionally create liminal spaces to facilitate transformative experiences. They also change the rules. Who you are inside a liminal space may be completely distinct from who you are outside. For instance, you might be a high-powered lawyer professionally, but in the liminal space of a church, you’re a parishioner.

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