Opening and Closing Doors

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

Photo by Dawid Łabno on Unsplash

The world of magick is completely natural, a part of our birthright and the essence of being human on Gaea, and yet we can feel completely separate from it until we open the door to it. We are conditioned to be separate from it, so the process of training is learning to open the door. And one door leads to another and then another.

Many realize over the years that those who do not open the door live in a world slightly askew, but parallel to ours. Those who primarily operate in what core shamanism teachers call ordinary consciousness—the state most valued by our mainstream society—seek and often find ordinary solutions to their problems. Those who operate more in non-ordinary consciousness, a magickal state of awareness, often have to partner the commonsense ordinary solutions with the extraordinary, for the process must involve a shift in consciousness as well as mechanics. Sorcerous problems require sorcerous solutions, be they health, conflict at work, family relationships, or vocational choices in life. We work with the forces behind the forms.

Those who don’t open the door remain a bit blissfully ignorant They might get deeper through self-help and psychology, or through reflection in their religious paradigm, but most are not opening to their responsibilities to the spirit worlds and multiple realms of consciousness operating simultaneously. Even if they have an intellectual understanding, if they don’t open the door, they won’t have a direct experience of the reality of it.

So why would we open the door at all? Sounds like a lot of work and not a whole lot of benefit, right? No. We open the door because we have to. Something deep within us needs to open the door—divine discontent, magickal curiosity, a call from our ancestors or allies, an unexplained psychic phenomenon, something triggers us to open the door. And sometimes we let something into our life, and sometimes we step through and discover door after door.

I’m writing both metaphorically of the sublime experience of the magickal worldview, and the acts that literally open magickal portals of consciousness to new experiences and spirit relationships. Doing particular rituals can open doors in our life to new paths, and the process can introduce you to the right people, places, and experiences both in the world of space and time and also in the non-ordinary worlds.

Rituals of Opening

Following rituals and meditation threads from books by those who have actually gone there before us and heeding messages in dreams and intuitions can invite new, beneficial, but sometimes demanding powers into our life. The rituals light you up in the spirit world, get attention, or magnetize a certain force to you. The work might open a door inside you, awakening an ancestral memory or family connection to knowledge and power.

Can’t find other teachers, Witches, or a coven? Do a spell for it. Want to eventually be a Witch? A High Prest/ess? A healer or reader? Do a ritual for it. Want to make a connection to Hecate? To Odin? To Anubis? Yemaja? Make an offering. Build a shrine. Sometimes when you are not even sure it will work, it causes a change and gets things moving.

The intentions you ritualize open a magick door. I have a friend who felt in her bones she was a Witch (and she was right) but had no one else like her, and this was in the days of much fewer resources and books. She called the Witch shop in the closest big city, hours away, and the curt owner said do a spell to find other Witches. She didn’t know how, but the owner simply said, “Light a candle. If you are a Witch, you’ll figure it out.” She did and soon found her first coven and teacher. Today, she owns a Witch shop herself, helping people figure it out.

I have another friend who was deeply connected to feminist goddess traditions but drawn to African traditions, despite being white, as he was living in a majority Black neighborhood. He followed a few of the simple offering rituals from a Luisa Teish book, Jambalaya, and soon found himself having dreams of the Orisha, leading to people who invited him to meet a group, and many years later, eventual initiation into an African Traditional Religion. Those simple rituals out of a popular book opened a door to him, though closed some others. You can’t walk through all doors at the same time. You can’t be all things all the time, so every door opened that you choose to walk through can both broaden and limit your experience, so choose wisely.

Stepping through the door can quicken your magickal pace. I felt like I “found” my path much earlier than I could have (or even should have), so a lot of intensity happened in my early magickal education that was difficult, but it prepared me. I probably would have handled it better emotionally if I had been older, but I walked fully through the door and said I wanted this Witchcraft. So I got it, fully. To walk through a door consciously rather unconsciously wandering on your path can quicken your karmic resolution, but that often means a quickening of your actual karma. Difficult things manifest with rapidity, giving you an opportunity to take responsibility in a new way that you might not have done in the past, and heal and resolve a pattern.

Sometimes we feel we see the path, or the door, and can’t get through it. The door is locked. The path is blocked. We have to ask if there is a higher purpose to why we are being obstructed. Is the answer “Not now”? Or is it “No, never”?

Spells of Unblocking

African Traditional Religions and American folk traditions have spellwork referred to as road opening, and these spells can be helpful to open the way. Traditionally to be a “true” road opening, the spell should involve the herb Abre Camino (Eupatorium villosum), but since that is not necessarily in my herbal repertoire, like most Witches, I’ve made do with other opening and clearing herbs quite successfully for myself and my clients.

A simple spell from my book The Lighting of Candles is an Open the Way candle. Take a yellow candle on the waning moon and carve your name into the candle, along with the words OPEN THE WAY three times upon it. Anoint with this oil:

Open the Way Oil No. 2

  • 3 Drops of Lemongrass Oil
  • 3 Drops of Cedar Oil
  • 2 Drops of Palmarosa Oil
  • 1 Drop of Citronella Oil
  • 1 Drop of Camphor Oil
  • 1/8 Oz of Base Oil
  • Pinch of Rue
  • Pinch of Cinquefoil
  • Pinch of Sulfur

When you light the candle say, “I open the way to health, happiness, good fortune, and success on all levels. So mote it be!” If there is something specific you are blocked from, make that a part of your declaration. Let the candle burn and when it is done, the way shall be open and blocks removed!

In modern Witchcraft, these rites are adapted using messenger and traveling deities as allies, such as Hermes or Mercury, or guides that open and close doors, such as Hecate in her role as key bearer and guardian of the gate. Janus, the two-faced Roman god, is also the god of thresholds and doorways. In the Hindu tradition, Ganehsa, the elephant-headed god, is called to remove impediments and open the way, and I have found him quite amiable to anyone who approaches with respect. I credit Ganesha’s aid in purchasing my first home. You can call upon them in spellcraft or make offerings to petition their aid:

In the name of the Three in One and One in Three

In the name of the Two-Faced Lord of Past and Future

I ask for your aid.

Hecate. Janus. Gods of the Gates.

Use your keys. Open the way. Hold open the gate. Allow me safe passage along the path of life.

Make the road easy.

Bring me to safety, success, and comfort.

And then make an offering to Hecate at a three-way crossroads and to Janus at the threshold of gate to somewhere in your town or city, particularly to a public square or governmental building. A simple effective offering is roasted barley for these two deities.

Magick of the Threshold

We also have traditions of decorating our front door to bless the door, particularly in British Folk traditions where the doorstep is “chalked” as it is during Epiphany, after the Yuletide celebrations. Epiphany marks—on January 6th, in the month of Janus—use the initials of the Three Wise Men, the Magi: CMB for Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. The year digits are divided with the first two, then the three initials, then the last two, to invoke the blessing, riches, and wisdom of the three wise kings upon your doorstep. For example, 2022 would be 20*C*M*B*22. You can also use other door marks using symbols of protection and blessing in chalk. I’ve used Celtic knot designs and astrological symbols.

In our household, we often change the wreath on the front door to invite auspicious energies into our life, changing it for each sabbat season on the Wheel of the Year. Seasonal decorations in general are ways to protect, consecrate, and invite blessing into the home.

An effective magickal programing is to use literal doorways in your life for a specific intention. Say you wish for more prosperity. You can tell yourself, “Every time I enter through the doorway…” and touch it with your left hand “…I open the door to greater and greater financial prosperity, for my highest good.” Repeat this in your home many times, and then, as it becomes ingrained, when you pass through any door, just reach out with your left hand in the same general place That way you can change your intention with a different door and a different position of height on the door frame. The original practice of this comes from the work of Carlos Castaneda’s dream teachings. Every time you pass through a door in the waking world, remind yourself you will “awaken” in any dream. When you dream of passing through a doorway, you will then become lucid in the dream. The technique can program you for any intention.

One of the most powerful doorway guardians blocking the path is what has become known in Theosophy and the Western Mystery Traditions as the Dweller on the Threshold. It is akin to what many today call a shadow guardian in the context of shadow work. It can be the part of you, the part of a tradition, or the part of the collective that challenges you before going forward, challenging you with your fears, angers, and unconscious motives, requiring you to becomes more conscious before progressing further spiritually on the path of initiation. Those who pass become open to new realms of consciousness through the threshold door. Those who fail can be stuck until they figure out what is required to pass. The process can be ritualized, occur in dreams, or manifest as a part of life, in the natural trials and challenges that occur on the path of life, as seen through the sorcerous lens.

Gifts Given

Sometimes the very presence of another magical practitioner can catalyze a process and unlock a new level, or the practitioner gives you a gift that does the catalyzing. And as a magickal practitioner, you yourself might give a gift that likewise triggers changes in others.

A friend of a friend, an athlete open to the mystical side of things, talked about his love of the big cats, and I had recently been gifted some cougar bones that I had no idea what to do with, if anything, but Witches get given all sorts of odd things for our magick. I offered to make him a cougar talisman with them, and it opened a door to some shamanic journey work.

Sometimes it’s not even gifts but simply connection, being involved in a ritual, that “introduces” you to powers, even if you don’t know it. A friend who was not involved in Witchcraft, but who asked for a healing ritual when he was ill, ended up with an inadvertent connection to Hermes. In the simple ritual I silently called upon Hermes as a part of the work of healing connections. The recipient of the healing said he heard someone whispering to him who said his name was Hermes, even though I never said the name Hermes out loud. While some might have opened the door, he got freaked out by the experience, and after one semipublic ritual decided Witchcraft was not something he should pursue, and he ended contact with me soon after that, as my world grew too strange for him.

You Can’t Go Back

Sometimes we try to go back through a past door and return to where we were. Though that might work in the physical world, it doesn’t quite work in the metaphysical. The only way is forward. You cannot return to a former state of innocence once you know what you know; you can only “make haste slowly,” step by step.

Sometimes we seek to break connections with people, teachers, and groups, but again, even though the way is forward, by closing a portal door behind us, we can sever the connections in most cases. Sometimes we inadvertently close a door by unknowingly, or knowingly, breaking an oath or vow, and the consciousness of the collective ejects us from the space, not necessarily forward, but sometimes adjacent. We might even feel as if we are forced back, required to take responsibility for our transgression so that we can find another way, another door. Life can become catastrophic for some who break vows. Sometimes we break unjust vows that are really bindings, however, and get propelled forward when we release that stored tension.

Opening the Doors on the Path

If you find you want to open the door to what is next for you, or to find what gateway is possible for you, try this simple spell.

At a transition point in the astrological “weather” when tides are shifting, such as the full or new Moon, gather the following:

  • Skeleton Key
  • Bowl of Soil from your Local Area
  • Three White Candles
  • Water
  • Offering of Grain or Cornmeal

In your sacred space, have your bowl centered, flat, and packed down with dirt perhaps 3/4ths full, not up to the rim of the bowl. Behind it have your three candles in a row. Light them from left to right for the past, present, and future with these words:

By the Ladies of Fate

Show me the way.

I know where I have been.

I know where I am.

I seek to know where I shall be.

Show me the way.

Take your key and quickly pass it through the flame of each candle, again left to right. Say:

Guardians of the Gate

Keepers of the Threshold

Unlock the door

And open the way.

I seek the next turn in the crooked path

On this sacred land.

So mote it be!

Place the key into the dirt, as if the dirt were a door lock. Turn the key and “open” the gate. Do so with intent and meaning, and then pull the key out and with your bare hands, “open” the dirt starting at the keyhole. Make an indention in the dirt.

Hold the water vessel. Blow upon the water three times to bless it. Pour the water into the bowl, and let the muddy water settle as you scry into it, like a dark mirror, letting the candlelight reflect in it for any messages or intuition for the next step on the path, the next portal to enter.

When done, thank the powers of the ladies and the guardians. Snuff the candles. You can return to light them again and let them burn out full. Take the bowl of water and mud back to where you gathered the dirt, along with your offering. Return the dirt and thank the land spirits and powers called with your offering.

Follow your scrying guidance and the path forward.

Temple of Witchcraft