Posts Tagged ‘gates’

Writing this up so that I remember it for posterity. Not sure what the end result will be.

I don’t often remember dreams, and when I do they are usually gone within a few minutes of my waking up. This one has stuck with me now for awhile, and I want to get it written down so that I don’t forget it.


I dreamed I was going through an ordeal – in the original sense – a test of sorts, where I had to pass a certain number of gates. I was on a long and winding path, and there were ten total gates that I had to pass through. (It was very important that there were ten.) Each one had a gate guardian who was tending a fire at the gate, and the only way to go forward on the path was to pass through. The gates had tall sides, and were blueish-purple and swirly, like portals, but they were (to my mind) clearly “gates” I had to pass through.

I passed through the first four without incident or really memory. I just know that they felt “easy” and that I didn’t have any trouble getting through them. When I got to the fifth gate, my FB friend Cat Heath was the gate guardian, tending her fire.

Except I couldn’t get through. I threw myself at it and bounced off or slid down or fell. I did this for some time, until I was bruised and battered and lying in a heap at the foot of this impassable gate. And Cat looked down at me and said “Well, clearly you’re not ready for this.”

And I woke up.

My first thought was, “Well fuck, I didn’t even make it halfway through before I failed.”

Sometime later in the day, with the dream still on my mind, I went to lay down and see if I could get back into dream-space and ask some questions and maybe look around a bit, and I was immediately back into the space in the dream, lying at the foot of the fifth gate.

And I asked Cat why I wasn’t ready, and what I needed to do. She looked at me, a little puzzled for a moment, and the said “The slow blade penetrates the shield.” She turned back to the fire.

I hauled myself up, approached the gate, and then slowly – painfully slowly- began to push my hand through the gate. And it worked. After some time, my hand was able to pass through.

And then I snapped back to reality again.


I have taken this to mean that it’s time to slow down, that things will happen in their time (whether I’m talking about my clergy work or my divorce or any other thing in my life). Talking with other priests makes me think that this is especially related to my clergy training, but I think there’s more to it. Also that this isn’t something I can force – that I must – MUST- go slowly and force myself to take the time that it takes to be ready for what is coming next. Which is a hard lesson for me, but I will take it as a good sign that my divination on this has been very favorable since I had the dream.

I am still looking for a good diviner to confirm my suspicions, so if that’s you, please get in touch with me. I’d love to get an outside confirmation on what I think is really going on here.


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3. Describe the concepts of the Center and the Gates in ADF’s Standard Liturgical Outline. (minimum 300 words)

ADF’s ritual structure revolves around a recreated “sacred center” that exists at the center of all worlds (rather than between the worlds, or in a liminal space, as most neopagans do). This sacred center is the axis mundi – the axis about which all the worlds revolve, and through which we access the magical and energetic currents found in each of the worlds (the number of which usually depends on the hearth culture, but most often three or a multiple of three). The sacred centers that we use in ritual allow us an orientation in the world and a fixed point from which to observe and participate in the cosmos (Dangler). The axis mundi itself, the axis of the world, can only exist at the center of the universe and “all things extend about it”, it’s presence is not an ordering force, but a break that “allows the sacred to pour into and destroy the homogeneity of space” (Dangler). In this way the axis mundi is both a type of sacred center, and a type of gate through which we encounter the otherworlds.

This central axis is represented by the sacred fire, which transforms offerings so that they may be consumed in the upperworld, the sacred well, which transmits offerings so that they may be consumed in the underworld/lower world, and the sacred tree, which forms the pathway across all the worlds and holds the ways open. These three “hallows” are recreated in each ADF ritual as part of the ordering of the cosmos and creating the sacred center, transforming an ordinary fire, well and tree into their sacred counterparts. The fire, well, and tree together form the Center of All Worlds, the creation/recognition of which is recognized as a crucial part of ADF liturgy. (Paradox)

Once we have affirmed the Center, we then open the gates. The gates function as a way to “tune” the groupmind’s psychic powers to whatever “wavelength” the ancestors, spirits, and/or gods will be communicating on” (Bonewits “Step”). Depending on the ritual, there may be one gate (or portal), or three, or more. Some ADF rituals open one central gate in the center of the ritual space, while others call upon both the fire and the well to open as gates, with the tree holding them open as the axis between them or opening as a gate to the far reaches of the middle realm (or both). These gates are the portals to the otherworlds (however many of them you need) through which we make our offerings and from which we receive blessings. The gates can be considered plural insofar as they are triple (Fire, Well, and Tree) or singular insofar as they together open a single portal (Newburg). When we make offerings to the well or to the fire, their energy passes through those gates and is available to the Ancestors, Dieties, and Nature Spirits to consume as sacrifices. In return, They give of Their energy and nature to bless us in return (Newburg). This transaction happens through the open gate(s).

While the gate(s) aren’t strictly necessary – you can communicate with the otherworlds without them – they make that communication easier, much like phoning ahead before you go to visit friends and family makes it more likely that they will be home to receive you and will not be elsewhere or busy or sleeping. In ritual, when we want the specific attention of the powers and spirits of the otherworld, it makes good sense to open the gates and inform Them that we want Their presence and attention.

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