Experimenting with the Occult: The Role of Liminality in Slumber Party Rituals


While the slumber party itself is a significant preadolescent ritual, this article examines, in particular, how the import of belief is heightened by conditions of liminality during three specific slumber party rituals that involve the occult: "Cat Scratch," "Concentrate," and "Sandman." After contextualizing the study within children's folklore and examinations of ritual and belief specifically, the author discusses how the slumber party space, as a liminal environment, is conducive to these belief-oriented rituals. The latter portion of the article analyzes interview material, collected by the author, in light of specific contextual information—such as the informants' religious, educational, and political backgrounds. Ultimately, the author concludes that within these three rituals that involve the occult (and thus a whole host of beliefs), the liminal environment allows participants, who might in other circumstances feel less permitted to engage in these activities, to experience a measure of freedom.