Openings, passageways, portals, transitions, doors, and gateways… to move from one environment into another holds a certain fascination for me. It is almost as if I have held my breath in expectation or anticipation of what I will find beyond. Perhaps it is because they have the ability to move us beyond the everyday and the ordinary or the out there space of objective reality to the in here space of imagination. Psychologically these subjects project us into the unknown, providing questions, not answers. After all, many times the questions are much more important than the answers, the journey more important than the destination. I never cease to be intrigued by transitions whether they are found in man-made structures or nature. I have always drawn to them. However, for many years I had no idea why.
What I discovered is that they are universal symbols that have been with us for thousands of years and that they convey special meanings. Cooper’s, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, and Julien’s, The Mammoth Dictionary of Symbols give the following explanations. The Portal represents hope, opportunity, passage from one state or world to another, or an entrance to new life. The Door, an important element of a house, represents transition and metamorphosis The Gate shares the symbolism of the threshold as entrance; communication; entry into a new life; communication between one world and another, between the living and the dead. It is also the protective, sheltering aspect of the Great Mother. A Passage represents the change from one plane to another, from this world to the next or the transcendent world. Passage from the profane to the sacred; the return to Paradise; gaining higher states of consciousness; transcending the pairs of opposites in the dualism and polarity of the manifest world.” The “Threshold represents the passage from the profane to the sacred, from outer profane space to inner sacred space; entering a new world. As a boundary symbol it is the line of meeting of the natural and supernatural; this is ritually defined in the ceremony of “beating the bounds,” redefining the realm of space. Sinking in water, or entering a dark forest, or a door in a wall, are threshold symbols as entering the perilous unknown.”
Many scholars and authors have addressed the pull that these places and sites have on us psychologically, culturally, geographically, biologically, mythologically, and geologically. Among them are Rupert Sheldrake, Paul Devereux and John Steel, David Abram, Constance Rodriguez, Joseph Campbell, C. G Jung and Mara Freeman. Their work on this an related topics are certainly thought provoking even though our Western cultural climate with its’ disconnect from “the sacred” remains skeptical. Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., author of many books including, The Presence of the Past, and biologist best known for his discovery of “morphic resonance,” explains it as such, “fields are embedded around every living thing, including the “stone people.” These fields carry information that informs each cell, plant or rock.” Paul Devereux and John Steel, authors of Earthmind and founders the Dragon Project. used Geiger counters, ultra sound and other instruments to measure the magnetic frequencies at different places on the earth, specifically sacred sites, they found that the instruments registered higher in frequencies at the sacred sites than at other locations at nearby sites. David Abram, in his book, The Spell of the Sensuous, investigates the notion that we have some innate understanding within us that allows us to “differentiate between the subjective and objective world.” Constance S. Rodriguez PhD., author of Pathways to the Self: Threshold Places and Sacred Portals suggests that “Perhaps we have forgotten to think of the world as animated – an ensouled – world and it is this memory that lives in the threshold of consciousness that pulls us to the sacred sites throughout the world – to re-awaken us to the unseen worlds found in threshold places.”
As an artist I am most interested in places that speak to me, places of transition, signaling the intersection from one place to another, either of the material or spiritual world. These places are “rites of passages” and can be found all over the planet at sacred sites such as Stonehenge and Avenbury, England, the great mound at Newgrange, Ireland, Chaco Canyon, NM and many other famous and not-so-famous locations. These special places are charged with an energy all their own. When you find one, it is like holding your breath in anticipation of what will be found beyond. I think it is because they have the ability to move us beyond the everyday and the ordinary or the out there space of objective reality to the in here space of imagination. Psychologically these subjects project us into the unknown, providing questions, not answers. After all, many times the questions are much more important than the answers, the journey more important than the destination. I never cease to be intrigued by these transitory spaces; these energy charged places, whether they are found in manmade structures or nature. I sometimes record them realistically, and other times they may become a compilation of what I call “place and memory.” At any rate these are places of special energies that have captured my imagination and attention. Perhaps they are an acknowledgement that what we physically see is not always the sum of actual reality. ■
DOOR KNOCKER, KING HENRY IV’S MEAD HALL: graphite on paper, 5″x 7″
ENGLAND REMEMBERED: monoprint, 6.25″x 7.75″