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The Lore of the Door

Author: Wren
Posted: October 5th. 1998
Times Viewed: 48,000

"If the doors of perception were cleansed,
everything would appear as it is-infinite.
" - (Wm Blake)

Doors have been a key figure in many myths, legends and local folklore. How many of us have heard "The Lady and The Tiger" tale? Here the hero must choose between opening a door to life and happiness (presumably with the Lady) and a door to sudden death (Tigers are known to eat humans for snack food). Doors, as in this tale, often symbolize choices or decisions.

Even now I hear cat owners all over the world saying "C'mon.... either you're in or you're out...I can't stand here all day...Make up your mind already!"

I began thinking about doors in a magickal sense when I ran across a reference while reading a book. The author stated that the word "threshold" came from the same root word as "tree" and, more obviously, to "thresh". Since this also brought to mind the link between the word "dur" (door) being the common term for "wood" and hence to "druid" as "people of the oak", my Capricorn need to make sense out of seemingly random references was unleashed. I opened the "door" to speculation.

The story of a Mrs. Hand in 1920 opened that door a little further...

"While yet a young girl, Mrs. Hand was visiting her grandmother's family . Having been "playing in the garden she ran inside and found that the building had changed. It was suddenly darker, as if there was less window space, and all the furniture was different, and older in design. A door to the kitchen was no longer there. Naturally assuming that she had entered the wrong house by mistake, the girl left. As she exited the lighting changed. So she went back into the house and it returned to the strange, old world formation she had just witnessed. She left to go outside a second time and then, ten minutes later, when she returned for a third peek indoors everything was as back to its normal appearance. The light levels were as expected and an aunt was cooking in the kitchen as anticipated.

In effect, Mrs. Hand seems to have seen the building in two time zones side by side.. But the act of entering the door had worked like a portal or gate through the centuries."-(story excerpt from "Time Travel" by Jenny Randles, Blandford, 1994)

A doorway is that "place that is not a place" indeed. You are not exactly "in" nor are you precisely "out". You are in the act of coming or going...entering or exiting... leaving here and entering there. What could be more magickal than that?

The Open Door at Samhain

"Between the heavens and the earth
The way now opens to bring forth
The Hosts of those who went on before-
Hail! We see them now come through the Open Door.

Some consider the time between Samhain and Yule as a time which does not even exist on the Earthly plane. The "time which is no time" was considered in the "old days" to be both very magickal and very dangerous. So even today, we celebrate this Holiday with a mixture of joyous celebration and 'spine tingling" reverence.

The Samhain Holiday begins at sundown on October 31st. The nightide was always a time to be wary of walking alone in the countryside. So much more on this Night when the veil between the worlds of humans and spirits was at its thinnest. Traditional lore speaks of the dead returning to visit their kin and the doors to the Lands of the Sidhe (pronounced "shee") or Faery Realm being opened.

This Samhain should prove to be one of the most powerful in recent years. Many are already experiencing vivid dreams and recollecting past life experiences. Part of the reason for this is the fact that Saturn is retrograde and will remain so through December 29, 1998.

I also have a strong inkling that the Pagan/Witch community has been working quite vigorously on reclaiming the historical background of the Craft. Who better to answer this call for the Old Knowledge than our own Ancestors! Did you think that They would not hear you?

The Threshold of Time Ritual

Introduction and Admonishments:

I believe in magickal responsibility. Responsibility works in two ways. I have a responsibility as a teacher to offer sensible guidelines to seekers who are about to embark on a magickal exercise. The seeker has the responsibility to consider these guidelines carefully and to undertake only that which he/she can do in safety and to the degree that their present state of magickal training will allow.

If you have previous training in divination, astral travel, conjuration or shamanistic journeying, you should encounter no difficulties in the performance of this ritual. You will be in familiar territory; only the technique itself will be presented to you in different way.

. If you do not have extensive training in these areas-or if you feel uncomfortable while performing the preliminary exercises-please do not continue. No real harm will come to you (There is a natural safeguard built into this technique.), but you will derive no real benefit from it either.

The Time Threshold Ritual can be used by either the solitary practitioner or in a group/coven setting. It is especially powerful at Samhain and at Beltaine.

Preliminary Exercises:

    Exercise Number 1

    You will need a doorway. For this exercise, choose the doorway to your own bedroom. This is your most private and personal space where you feel the safest.

    Do this exercise during the daylight hours. You should be alone, or if you have an understanding household, ask them not to disturb you.

    Stand or sit in the doorway with your back facing into your room. Place one hand on each side of the doorway lightly enough to just brace yourself and with your hands placed at a height level that is comfortable for you. Close your eyes.

    One of the most deep-seated fears of humankind is being surprised by something that comes from behind you. Our eyes are placed facing directly forward with just a little depth perception to the sides. Our backs are literally our blind spots. Most people do not like to sit with their backs facing toward a door or open space in a restaurant. There is a sense of vulnerability that makes us uneasy. Warriors of old often pledged to protect each other's backs. We are uncomfortable with what we cannot see approaching.

    Remain in this position for ten minutes if you are experienced in achieving altered states of consciousness; five minutes more than that (to achieve that level) if you are not.

    Visualize the room behind you turning foggy or filled with swirling mist and then becoming simply an open space of nothingness. You continue this until you have the feeling that if you took a step backwards, there would be nothing there for your foot to contact.

    When you have been able to clearly both visualize and feel the effect of the nothingness, press your hands firmly against the sides of the doorway to ground yourself and open your eyes. Take a few seconds to make sure that your balance has returned and walk forward out of the doorway. Don't be surprise if you feel that you have to sit down for a moment. Don't be embarrassed if you sneak a quick peek into your room to see if it's still there!

    The most common sensation reported at the beginning of this exercise is a slight sense of disorientation followed by a feeling of pressure against the spinal column. The impulse to turn around and look into the room (or ease a foot back to check if the floor is still there!) can be as slight as a thought or as overpowering as a sense of panic. This is that safeguard that I told you about. If you became extremely uncomfortable or fearful, do not continue with any further exercises, although you may want to try this one again from time to time. It does offer good experience on handling the fear of the unknown.

    Exercise Number 2

    Repeat the above exercise at night. Again you should be alone or undisturbed. You may place one small candle in the room facing you-so you won't trip over anything-but the rest of the area should be as dark as possible.

    This exercise usually raises the intensity level about ten-fold. What child has not glanced in fear at his/her closet door at night? After all, the fear of 'things that go bump in the night" is the premise behind horror films, alien abduction reports and ghost stories.

    The feelings reported after this exercise are often quite startling. There is intense pressure upon the back as if something in the room behind you is expanding outward. A few folks report the opposite-a feeling of being sucked into the room. Remember, you can always press your hands firmly against the door frame and this will help you to maintain your composure and your balance.

    Once again-Are you listening to me, seekers?-do NOT attempt any further progressions if you experience a sense of deep fear or physical affects such as trembling or headaches. If I find out that you went against my advice, I will sneak up behind you and smack you right upside the head...(grin)


Many old shamanic Pagan traditions held the North-or the North Star-to be the hub from which their energies came. Because of this association of the North with Pagan practices, many old Christian churches eventually walled up openings on this side of the building to prevent the "devil' from entering.

An old folk story about this practice is related by Doreen Valiente in "An ABC Of Witchcraft."

"In the old days, when attendance in the Church was more or less compulsory, people who secretly adhered to the Old Religion, in other words those who were Witches, made a point of coming into the church by the north door, and taking their seats close to it."

Archaeologists can effectively date a pre-Christian burial in the British Isles because of the north-south alignment of the remains. Christians were buried in an east-west position.

To those who follow a very traditional Old Path-or want to connect with very traditional Old Ancestors-a doorway in the North would be most appropriate. Many modern Celtic Traditions may prefer to use of the westerly direction attributed to Summerland or Avalon for their orientation. It's up to you.

For those Pagans who live in a chilly climate, you can do this ritual within any interior doorway. For those who prefer outdoor circles, you can easily construct a "doorway" by using three pieces of trellis board. Simply stake out the two uprights and place the remaining board over the top. This type of material -with all its openings between the slats- is easily decorated with ribbons and garlands and is light weight and collapsible for easy transport. If one of your group has a truck, you can even make a "doorway" for each of the directions and decorate them accordingly.

The Ritual

As outlined in the preliminary exercises, the threshold is a place where two worlds meet. Divination is usually an important part of Samhain/Beltaine seasonal rites.

As a solitary, you can personally contact your personal Ancestors or scry a vision of the past or future while within the doorway of Time. In a group setting, the coven Priestess, Guardian or Seer may be the designated oracle for the group working.

How you use the Doorway will depend on your personal or group beliefs. Those who find this an effective means of divination can adapt it for use at any time during the year. In fact, after you have experienced the Threshold, you may never enter a doorway again without being aware of its magickal implications.

You should conduct your ritual as usual, properly preparing yourself and the area. The preliminary exercises merely demonstrate how to focus on the Threshold, not how to adapt them for your particular beliefs. Pagan practices vary so widely, that I would not even attempt to make this a 'one size fits all" ritual. YOU are the magickal practitioner and it is you who must discover what the crossing of the Threshold means to you.

I am surprised that the magickal connection of doorways to Otherworld journeying is not being more widely taught today. I seek merely to introduce you to its possibilities. You may claim this as a recovered part of the Old Religion or go on to modernize it as you wish.

The secrets of the Old Religions are hidden within metaphor and myth. They are often only fully realized when one dares to take that intuitive leap into the unknown. Standing on the Threshold of Time requires courage and trust. This is an important concept in occult thought and a necessary element in some of the oldest initiation rites from around the world.

This is Mystery standing in the Threshold of Time.

"Now the veils of worlds are thin; To move out you must move in.
Let the Balefires now be made, Mine the spark within them laid.

Move beyond the fiery screen, Between the seen and the unseen;
Shed your anger and your fear, Live anew in a new year!

(Above passages from FIRESTAR BELTAINE 1986)

Notes and Lookups:

Webster Definition for "door": door 'do-(*)r, 'do.(*)r n [ME dure, dor, fr. OE duru door & dor gate; akin to OHG] turi door, L fores 1: a usu. swinging or sliding barrier by which an entry is closed and opened; also : a similar part of a piece of furniture 2: DOORWAY 3: a means of access.

Webster'Definition for "thresh": Thrash Thrash, Thresh Thresh, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Thrashed; p. pr. & vb. n. Thrashing.] [OE. [thorn]reschen, [thorn]reshen, to beat, AS. [thorn]erscan, [thorn]rescan; akin to D. dorschen, OD. derschen, G. dreschen, OHG. dreskan, Icel. [thorn]reskja, Sw. tr["o]ska, Dan. t[ae]rske, Goth. [thorn]riskan, Lith. traszketi to rattle, Russ. treskate to burst, crackle, tresk' a crash, OSlav. troska a stroke of lighting. Cf. {Thresh}.] 1. To beat out grain from, as straw or husks; to beat the straw or husk of (grain) with a flail; to beat off, as the kernels of grain; as, to thrash wheat, rye, or oats; to thrash over the old straw.

Webster Definition for "threshold": thresh.old 'thresh-.(h)o-ld n [ME thresshold, fr. OE threscwald; akin to ON threskjo:ldr t]hreshold, OE threscan "to thresh"- 1: the plank, stone, or piece of timber that lies under a door : SILL 2a: GATE, DOOR 2b1: END, BOUNDARY; specif : the end of a runway 2b2: the place or point of entering or beginning : OUTSET 3: the point at which a physiological or psychological effect begins to be produced.

Webster Definition for "tree":

    1. tree 'tre- -l*s n [ME, fr. OE tre-ow; akin to ON tre- tree, Gk drys, Skt] often attrib da-ru wood 1a: a woody perennial plant having a single usu. elongate main stem generally with few or no branches on its lower part 1b: a shrub or herb of arborescent form {rose ~s} {a banana ~} 2a1: a piece of wood (as a post or pole) usu. adapted to a particular use or forming part of a sturcture or implement (archaic).

    2. tree vt or treed; or 1a: to drive to or up a tree {treed by a bull} {dogs ~ing game} 1b: to bring to bay : CORNER 2: to furnish or fit with a tree.

Webster Definition for "wood":

    1. wood 'wu:d, 'wo-d, 'wu.d aj [ME, fr. OE wo-d insane; akin to OHG wuot madness - more at MVATIC archaic : MAD, VIOLENT

    2. wood 'wu.d n [ME wode, fr. OE widu, wudu; akin to OHG witu wood, OIr] fid tree 1: a dense growth of trees usu. greater in extent than a grove and smaller than a forest, 2a: the hard fibrous substance basically xylem that makes up the greater part of the stems and branches of trees or shrubs beneath the bark and is found to a limited extent in herbaceous plants 2b: this material suitable or prepared for some use (as burning); 3: something made of wood; esp : a golf club having a wooden head : escaped from peril or difficulty - out of the woods.



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