In ancient Nordic Shamanism on All Hallows Eve, communities believed that the spirits were abroad that night and so the villagers would lock their doors and only go to church in groups, locking all doors against the presence of spirits, whom they feared. The Shamanic people of that time however would walk out on the land that night, going through seven gates with the intention of meeting with the spirits and empowering their lives.
In the Sumerian myth, Inanna passed through seven gates in her journey of descent into the underworld. She condemned to death and her body was hung from a hook. Three days later she was rescued and bought back from the underworld, she was reborn. At each of the seven gates she had to divest herself of her fine jewellery and garments, this is symbolic of casting off the ego and returning to the soul within.
In Five Element practice which has its origins in Taoism, there are seven sacred dragons who are the temple guardians, they guard the temple or palace of your being. It is their job to devour any intruders that enter this holy place that exists within you. In ancient Shamanic practise this is known as a spirit intrusion. The seven sacred dragons are the protectors of the Tao, the Soul within.
This form of the Seven Gates originated from my 35 years as a Five Element Taoist practitioner. It has been developed by the Silver Lodge, a group of old women who do not obey the rules. We have sat together during the eight festivals for a number of years. We meet for three days at or around each festival, we create Sacred Ceremony, Council, Medicine Walks; developing Medicine Ways for today’s world.
We work with creativity, crafts, magic and laughter. Our focus has been to think about what it means as a woman, to be an elder in today’s world. What are we responsible for and what are we no longer responsible for? I have taken the names of the Gates from the acupuncture points used in Five Element practise.
This practice is an initiation, taking us all to the root and branch of who we are, to our connection with spirit, it is a pathway of total transition and transformation, it is alchemy. With each gate you will look at your personal story, the story of women globally and the story of your connection with the earth.
We have looked at how these gateways work within the Four Shields and First Gate is the Gate of the Body, so it is South Shield. It is about the physical aspect of our being, the place of the beginning of our journey. We will then step into the West where all illusion falls away and we find a new story, this place that can be difficult for us and for young people globally. We will look at our connection to nature and to the earth. We will emerge in the North with a sense of purpose and finally in the East we will deepen out connection to Spirit and know that we are nature, that we are not separate but an integral part of the whole, the web that has no weaver. For the Taoist creation is imminent and happening all the time.
For us in the Elders lodge we have come to realise that this process is not completed each time with each gate, rather it is just an opening of our awareness a journey into the unconscious. In the traditional world of the nomadic tribes, one departs and returns. The journey is not linear and permanent, but circular and continuous. And no essential journey is complete until the return is made.
In our Lodge it is often the case that even when we have thought that we were not really ‘doing it’ we have each found that profound change has taken place just by opening awareness. We have been doing the Gates over the last five years.
I look forward to hearing your stories and sharing my stories with you. Remember I am also going through these gates alongside you, this is a lifetime practice and each round of the wheel brings new insight and new teachings.
You will be invited to do thread-work in between our sessions, and it is up to you how much or how little you put into this. Remember that this process is about your personal experience but it is also about your people and the world of nature which you belong to. You are woven into the world and the world is woven into you.