Symbolism of Doors

Doors hold the essence of mystery, seperating two distinct areas, keeping things apart. They are a barrier, a boundary, which must be negotiated, before the threshold can be crossed. The mysterious beyond is hidden from sight by the closed door, and some sort of action must be taken before the otherside becomes visible and available to us. The closed door is full of potential, for anything might lie beyond, as yet unknown and unseen. Yet the closed door may also be limiting, preventing us ever gaining access to its hidden contents.

Sometimes gaining access may be as simple as approaching and turning the handle, but perhaps the door is locked. Then we need to knock or ring the bell and negotiate with the guardian or keeper of the door. Saying the right words, or holding the correct credentials will then secure our passage. This theme recurrs in countless fairytales and myths, from Ali Baba to Cuchulin. Belonging to the club or group which lies within, or paying the doorkeeper might also secure passage, but some doors remain subbornly closed, unless you hold the key.

The doors may remain closed to protect those who live within, or to maintain a secret, or to keep a space sacred and to keep out the profane. These nunnary doors are heavily fortified, and their protective powers are boosted by the stone guardians watching from above. Lions, bulls and flames are frequent guardian symbols found on and around doors, adding to the protective qualities of the barrier. 
 So when we face a closed door, we face a choice. What action will we take? Will we turn back defeated by the barrier,or will we push forwards and attempt to gain access? The nature of the door itself, and its guardians may well shape our choice, helping us decide if we will feel comfortable with what lies beyond. The symbolism of a door closing on us, is one of an opportunity fading, of a potential now lost to us.. That way no longer lies open to us without negotiation and effort.

  The symbolism of a door opening to us, is one of exciting new potential. The block which stood before us has now been removed and we are free to move forwards, and to cross the threshold into something new. We are invited forwards into change, with nothing to negotiate except the transition of one place to another. The guardian of the threshold is welcoming us forwards. Change beckons us with open arms.
  So the door is protective guarding the doorway, denying or allowing passage through from one place or one state to another. The symbolism of the door is closely bound with the symbols of doorways and thresholds, and of keys and locks, hinges and handles, bells and guardians. The door itself either allows movement forwards or prevents it, and in this way we can see the door as a symbol of duality, as it is either closed or open, locked or unlocked.
The root of the English word door lies in the Sanskrit word Duarah, which means two doors or gates. From this comes the Greek Thura, the German Tur, Middle English Dure or Dor, Old Norse Dyrr and these all mean door. We also find the Gaulish Doro which means mouth, giving us an interesting image of the lips as double doors to our mouths and the words beyond. A guarded way in and out of our bodies.

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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132 Responses to Symbolism of Doors

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  5. Kenneth Vincent says:

    Seonaid, I found your post regarding doors while doing research on the symbolism of doors for a commencement speech I am giving to prisoners in the United States. it’s wonderfully written and expresses the sentiment I would like to use to inspire these men who are finishing their high school education after making poor choices that landed them in the prison system. I would like permission to cite your first graph (and hopefully pronounce your name correctly) in my speech.

    • Of course, I’m delighted that you have found my words and thoughts so inspiring. What a wonderful thought that what I’ve shared can go on inspire others… my name is pronounced “Shone…is” if that helps
      Good luck with the speech x

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