By JILLIAN KRISTINA
What is it to live in a liminal space? Or, better yet, to become a liminal being yourself?
What is it to possess such power, yet turn your back on it in the name of greed?
What is it to reach out to the beyond, only to have the beyond reach back?
And what is it to feel a love so deeply, not even death can keep you apart?
To find the answers you seek, it’s time to dig – to dig deep. And what better time than now, in the wake of the Fall Equinox; the changing of seasons, the shifting of soil, the gathering of our harvests, hoping that what we’ve cultivated will carry us through the darkness that lies ahead. More importantly, a time when the veil begins to thin, making the possibilities for spirit communication with our ancestors, and those we’ve loved and lost, all the more potent. The time for personal excavation and reckoning is upon us, and the Adams Family knows all too well the nature of both.
In 2019’s THE DEEPER YOU DIG, Ivy (Toby Poser), Echo (Zelda Adams), and Kurt (John Adams) begin as strangers – a mother and daughter who live an unconventional life in a remote area of the Catskills, and an outsider and new neighbor, who is rehabbing an abandoned farmhouse. A fatal accident along a dark, snowy road one night ties the three together in grief, in guilt, in death, and in love, rethreading the fabric of their lives with strands of intuition, of liminality, and the ultimate possession.
A true intuitive turned fraudulent fortune teller, Ivy is meeting with a regular customer who is insistent on contacting her dead husband. Candles are lit, cards are flipped, and the thirteenth card in the Major Arcana presents itself: Death. Ivy conjures the facade, delivering her plea to the spirit realm:
Whispers from the shadows pass through the filament and pierce this earthly realm. Two hearts, once one, still yearn to shine. Bound by love, locked in time. Listen now and hear our calls. Show a sign within these walls.
And a sign responds, but not the one she’s pretending to contact; it’s her daughter, Echo. “Mom. I’m sorry. I love you.” She shakes these whispers from the darkness off in disbelief and resumes the show. But when she arrives home that night and finds no trace of Echo – Echo who wasn’t supposed to go sledding in the dark without her – she knows something’s wrong, and deep down, she knows what she heard. Deep down, the tugs of the raw power of intuition, licked by guilt and shame, begin to gnaw. Ivy feels the calling she abandoned begin to resurface, channeling a message she doesn’t want to hear, pulling her away from everything that was into everything that is…and will be. And in this way, in this resurgence of her truth, Ivy begins to slip not only into a space of liminality, but into a state of one, herself.
There is liminality in denial.
There is liminality in pain.
There is liminality in grief.
She walks the main road in search of her daughter, calling out, hoping to hear a response. And while walking, almost entranced, a truck passes; a truck driven by an outsider, a neighbor, who holds the response that Echo can’t presently give. But he doesn’t stop, urged on by guilt and fear and shame, passing by the desperate mother calling for her missing daughter. And in that instant, Ivy’s intuition peaks again.
‘Twixt the light of the living and the darkness of death, there hangs an invisible realm; a great sphere suspended by the bare string of the lost who lived, but linger, unwilling to release their souls into the eternal mouth of Death.
She goes to her Tarot cards in an entirely new way now; to find some clue as to where her daughter is. She pulls the twelfth card of the Major Arcana – The Hanged Man – not once, not twice, but three times. This card is the ultimate marker of liminality; a sign of initiation, of different perspectives, of a shift of some kind. It denotes a person hanging in stasis while lessons are seen in a new light, assimilated, and ready to be lived.
It also denotes limbo, and this is exactly the space from which Echo is exercising her will. And due to this, Kurt is currently experiencing his own personal limbo in the form of hell, because that little girl he ran over – that little girl he murdered – isn’t in the least bit ready to go gently into that good night, no matter how deep he buries her. In fact, the deeper he digs, the louder she gets, whether appearing in spectral form, or blaring her favorite old-timey music over the radio, or leaving dead coyotes (tricksters) within the bones of that old farmhouse that he is methodically stripping and gutting. Or by simply echoing in his ear, “Tell my mother what you’ve done.”
Timeless and lawless, manifested as seven spectral circles spinning all that was, is, and would be. The Seven Circles be the domain of the wandering dead, and only the dead. Their currency be truth, but they traffic in trickery for those for whom death is not due.
The Seven Circles, geniusly crafted by the Adams family to parallel the Seven Stages of Grief, is a journey into the Unknown – into Ivy’s own internal darkness and turmoil – that she must pass through to find Echo. It’s the grueling process of ego death that one must undertake before arriving at the truth. But, as her friend and former student, Del, warns her, “It is not you who goes through them. It is they that go through you.”
The Seven Circles also seem to be Ivy’s Hanged Man. They initiate; they force a change in perspective. They flip you on your head and let you hang there until your sight shifts, or in Ivy’s case, until she accepts her sight and her gifts – her truth, and the truth of Echo’s death – once and for all.
And yet, Death seems to become a fluid character here, in that it occupies, consumes, and births new life through the very vessel who delivered it, because even in Death, Echo grows stronger, more powerful. More determined. Because now, she only has one goal – to reunite with her mother, the person she loves most of all. “Would you still love me, even if I killed someone you loved?”
Candles glowing, shadows throwing, cards ready, ever knowing. A mockery I made of thee. Blind no more, I choose to see. I swallow whole the worm of shame, and turn my nature towards the flame. My purpose to the truth affixed, I call upon the Circle Six. I turn a card; I beg it shows the secrets that my daughter knows.
Two cards are pulled. The High Priestess – Echo’s favorite card. And The Devil.
These cards don’t just represent what Echo knows, but what she’s manifesting. Now, a new liminal existence is born from the blood and soil and guilt that extinguished the original spark. Now, three strangers become liminal beings themselves, connected in a whole new way on both the physical and astral planes.
Now, through the depths of grief and the container of liminality, love can live on.