The midnight Vigils ritual has come to an end. Having peaked into the unnameable void, that gap between days or lives, the monks and nuns welcome a few hours of rest in their cells. Then, in the predawn hours, they wake again for the day’s second ritual. Laudes Matutinae, sometimes called Lauds or Matins nowadays, was in some medieval monasteries combined with Vigils, making it the longest ritual of the day.

For us, the Lauds ritual celebrates the time of day when the veil between worlds reaches its thinnest, when polarities (night and day, sleeping and waking) fall apart, or merge into indistinction. Lauds is about the threshold between night and day, the vague in-between that follows sleep yet precedes waking, the limbos and bardos between life and death, or life and life, between earth and sea, sea and sky, between the developed human landscape and wilderness.

Lauds is where we face the liminal:

In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”[1]) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.

During the liminal stage, normally accepted differences between the participants, such as social class, are often de-emphasized or ignored. A social structure of communitas forms: one based on common humanity and equality rather than recognized hierarchy. ‘”Communitas”…has positive values associated with it; good fellowship, spontaneity, warm contact…unhierarchised, undifferentiated social relations’.

Keywords/images: The liminal (from Latin līmen, “a threshold”). The Dreamtime. Not purgatory, but Limbo. Bardo Thodol… Places of Transit; the Greyhound Station. Entering the dreamworld. Pulling back the veil. Opening the doors of perception.

Practices: lucid dreaming & dream yoga, paratheatre.

Laudes Matutinae: Facing the Liminal is our name for second year of our eight-year exploration of the western monastic office, our Art Monastic Cycle.