By Ron Hays
Recently a friend emailed me a photo of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s art project The Gates, Central Park, New York. It is comprised of 7,305 fabric "gates" spanning the pathways of Central Park. As I closed the email, the image lingered and the words, The Thousand Portals Project, flashed in my mind. Since then I’ve contemplated, meditated on, and discussed with others what those words might mean.
I first asked myself what is the difference between a gate and a portal, since they are often used interchangeably. By definition, a gate is typically a barrier. It separates one area from another. In contrast a portal is an entrance, often an elaborate or ceremonial opening. They both demarcate and define one space from another. One offers resistance, the other beckons you onward. Portals and gates create thresholds. They form boundaries or borders. When you pass through either, you cross a threshold and enter a new space.
I pass through portals every day--from the sidewalk into my office building, from my front porch into my home, from my driveway into my car. Each time my identity shifts. Thoughts change, emotional states alter, and postures adapt to the new place. Most of the time the adaptation is mechanical and I’m unaware that I’ve crossed a threshold. A lifetime is a passage through portals of our experiences--some involuntary but others intentional. There is that moment when I cross a boundary, when worlds can shift on their axes. Marriages, births, graduations, illnesses, deaths are all portals that reshape ourselves and the world we live in. When we stride across thresholds with intentionality, we generate new potentials and opportunities for ourselves.
Imagining a Thousand Portals, I experienced excitement and inspiration. What would it be like to have a thousand sites in the world where I could intentionality walk through a portal and experience a difference, however subtle, in who I am and who I could be--a thousand places, a thousand portals, a thousand potential experiences. On one side, the familiarity of my world and myself. One additional step further….new potentiality, opportunity, and community.
I envisioned a portal of tolerance. A vaulted arch where I, moving with intention and passing beneath, could experience the quality of tolerance in every cell of my being. Tolerance would have a home in me and I would carry its quality into my daily life. Walking through a portal is not going to change my eye color from brown to blue. But an intentional effort to imbue my thoughts and feeling with a quality that I believe is of value initiates and strengthens that aspect of myself.
The portal and the space surrounding it encompass an energetic aspect that can inform and enhance my experience. Created first by the artisans who craft the portal, through their design, workmanship, and intention, this subtle energy braids itself into the structure of the portal. Then, as each person crosses its threshold with a similar intent, this energetic substance accumulates. As I pass through in resonance with its energy, the energetic amplitude of the portal’s quality expands in me--like when one ocean wave matches another and the newly formed, unified, wave grows in stature.
I have a special interest in portals. Several years ago a friend suggested that I tap a new modality for my creative woodworking skills. That same morning the name “Elven Gates” surged through me. My whole body tingled with sensation. With that I sensed some form of collaborative work with the Sidhe. What that was and how it might take place was not clear. I had only vague notions of who and what the Sidhe were and only the subtlest nudges of connection with them.
In the several years since, our collaboration has thrived. In an artistic sense, the Sidhe are my muse. I consult with them on design, question them on particulars, and find that they energetically stimulate my own creative juices. They inspire. But, as the one incarnated in the physical realm, it is my job to shape the form.
It is in this process of creatively shaping material substance, that I believe that the Sidhe have much to offer. Every material form--every portal--has its own energetic signature. When I create a portal, I can though intention and energetic holding of a quality, imbue what I am making with the potentiality of it affecting the person who encounters it. It is an enlivening of the energetic presence that all matter possesses. And an enhancement of the connections between ourselves and the world surrounding us. These connections speak to us through the language of felt sense and imagination and we discover a richer experience of the presence of life.
I feel inspired to learn this language of the energy of substance. Recognizing the portals of my experiences stimulates my development and recognition of this subtle language.
Click here for more information about Elven Gates.