The Known Gates

There are many famous gates. Some are reality-based, and some merely virtual. There is the Arc de Triomph, but there is also the gate to Dorothy’s Aunt and Uncle’s farmhouse, over which an argument about the fate of a small dog sets everything in motion eventually arriving at a pair of ruby slippers, and all that proceeded from their existence. There are the Gates of the Old City, Jerusalem, yet there are the The Great Gates – The Great Gates was the original entrance to Khazad-dûm. It was located in Dimrill Dale. Any Tolkien-savvy human could tell you that! In literature, film, music, art – gates are a rich source of metaphor and drama, they open outward allowing the hero or heroine to begin their journey, and then open inward with their return from their quests. Gates, then, are doorways from where and how we live to where we may discover our own journey. Gates enjoin us to strive, and welcome us to our rest at the completion of our work.


In mythology, and thus in story generally, there must be a seeker, a hero or heroine, and there must be a return, else the quest is without meaning. Our lives today seem far less about individual quests, and more about competing for scarce resources on increasingly un-level playing fields. The gate plays a role as mediator of movement and containment simultaneously. Our lives require both, otherwise, we cannot be whole. We contain our movements, and we also move beyond those fixed states. Growth requires action, and contemplation. Too much of one overbalances the equation, whereas not enough of one makes the equation weak and ineffectual. This computer I am using to write this, inside the place we call the Internet, is completely dependent on the concept and reality of gates. Each logic gate is in a state of 1’s or 0’s at any instant, and each such choice made by each such gate creates language and action, and by extension, enters our reality through our own interactions with it. The gates swing both ways, so to speak.


When I go out my front gate in the morning, on my way to my outside-world work, I close the gate behind me trusting it will remain steadfast in my absence, be ready to open for me again when I return, and to have protected the lives of the people I share my home with against any and all harm. When I am within it’s embrace, I must trust it will extend similar protection to me, yet not be seen as a threat or denial to my neighbors, my community, my friends.


There are gates not understood to be gates, yet gates they are, nonetheless. A memorial stone is a gate, a grave marker is a gate. A diploma is a gate, as is a doctorate. A life challenge is a gate, one which may not open again should the challenge prove too much, or which may lead to many other gates as a consequence of mastering the challenge. A relationship is a kind of gate, as any relationship worth pursuing is, of course, a life challenge of the highest order. This type of gate also opens in the other direction, but may not take you back to the original point of departure.


The gate begins and ends each journey, serves as the start and end of the trip.  Open it now, and step through it’s portal….


A Torii – A Japanese Gate to a Shinto Shrine

A spirit gateway.

If spirits have gates, then a gate to wait for the moment of release makes perfect sense. Consider the lich-gate:

A lich-gate (also known as a lych-gate or corpse-gate) is a roofed gateway at the entrance to a churchyard where the coffin is placed to await the arrival of the clergyman. It wouldn’t do to bury a wet coffin now, would it?

Given the trials we face in life, it is nice to know that we may be afforded every courtesy after we depart.

The Gate is Open

This project depends on you - and your photos of gates. Great gates, different gates, unusual gates, non-obvious gates. Be sure to include your contact information, permission to use your photo, and a name for proper credit where credit is due! Be a part of the Gate Project.