The Northern Gate – Airt of Air
Values: Intellect, Thoughts, Inspiration, Communication, Flight, Divination
Colors: White, sky blue, black, silver
Symbols: Circle, bird, bell, flute, chimes, clouds, Sylphs, Angels
Tools: Keek stone, flail, knives
Musical Instruments: Reed instruments
Times: Imbolc, Midnight, Winter, Old Age
Places: Sky, mountaintop, treetop, bluffs, summit of a mound
Zodiac: Aquarius, Gemini, Libra
Power: To Know
Process: Chanting, Visualization, Reading, Speaking, Praying, Singing, Fragrance, Charms
Students and Seekers using Spiral Castle Trad methods and symbolism are encouraged to think of the Gates using the imagery that best conjures up that place, that energy in their mind’s eye. For me, the Northern Gate is a simple wooden gate, almost like that found on a ranch, opening onto a cold and seemingly barren landscape, tatters of a veil blowing from the top post.
The landscape of/beyond the Northern Gate isn’t necessarily barren, of course. (Though, it is fair to say that all of the Gates give us access to places of barrenness that are unique to them — as well as places full of life.) The North, for us, is associated with winter, old age, and midnight — seasons of life and sun not prone to being effulgent or showy. Indeed, we often have to work harder to survive and thrive during these times — or trust that we worked hard enough during easier times to see us through.
We find here the gifts of wisdom, of study, the Sight, and of contemplation — and also the dangers of anxiety, phobias, inaction, and false vision/delusion. It is good and proper that we train our minds and spend time in solitary contemplation, but we have to be cautious about isolating ourselves and spiraling into the negative spaces in our minds.
Kolyo is the Keeper of this Gate, and her visage is enigmatic — cloaked and hooded. Veiled. She is the Black Goddess for us. The Concealed One. Her voice is often a whisper, but it can carry the edge of ice. Then again, she often brings us the comfort of a cherished grandmother. Wisdom is like that: a comfort in one moment, and a painful remonstration in another.
She holds the Staff, the weapon of Air. It is the gandreigh — the riding pole. The fighting staff. The walking stick. The lantern crook. The sounding rod. The wand, Tipped with a head, it is the Spear — or the arrow.
In our Year Wheel, the Northern Gate is the access point to Imbolc, and it is here that we honor and find deep resonance with the spirit allies of Owl, Cat, and Willow — all of which have their own associations with one or more “covered/cloaked” Goddess, as well as similar properties in the sense of nocturnal predilections and solitary tendencies.
This is a time for deep reflection, healing, the first stages of preparation, and initiation.