The Symbolism of Doors

“She scoured the Earth, wandering and ravenous, looking for doors. And she found them. She found them in abandoned churches and the salt-rimed walls of caves, in graveyards and behind fluttering curtains in foreign markets. She found so many her imagining of the world grew lacy and tattered with holes, like a mouse-chewed map.” 
― Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January

I developed a love for the beauty and fascination of doors when walking through the cities, ruins, and country villages of the world. Doors always attract my attention wherever I go. Weatherworn, small, stained, paned, big, rock…it seems that they all beg to be opened or at least to wonder about what lies beyond the closed doors. What stories do they tell? What history, culture, and experiences lurk in the dark recesses of each door?

Doors have always been referenced and symbolized in imagery, paintings, quotes, tales of new beginnings, closure, or transitions. They fascinate historians, photographers, and artists. There are messages to decipher in open or closed doors and symbolically doors create analogies for spiritualists, psychologists, and teachers…like, “When one door closes, another opens.”

Doors continue to symbolize many elements today. Let’s start with entrances.
Open doors symbolize willingness to explore, to open oneself up to new discoveries. It invites us to investigate. My husband is excellent at investigating new entrances in our travels.

Transition and metamorphosis are the most common ideas represented by the symbol of the door; it is a passage from one place to another, between different states, between lightness and darkness. It is abandoning the old and embracing the new. A door is often used to symbolize the passage from one world to another in religion, mythology, and literature. For example, in ancient Egyptian tombs, doorways were built to allow free passage of the soul from the earthly boundaries. Christians place crosses above doorways to keep out evil spirits. And horseshoes with the open end up are hung above doorways to symbolize good luck when entering a house.

A threshold is the sill of a door and many cultures attach special meaning to a threshold. A new bride is carried over the threshold, symbolizing movement from one stage of life to another. A threshold can also be a boundary and point at which two places meet. It is where two worlds come together and provide a point of passage. Symbolically, it can be associated with rebirth and leaving the past behind. To me, it means movement, whether through the passage of time, or the processes of life we all pass through.

Just an interesting artistic door
But, putting all deep symbolizing aside, I enjoy taking photos of doors simply because they are interesting and artistic. All countries have beautiful and unique doors! The last door in this group is a photo of our Airbnb in La Paz, Mexico.
When we were in Portugal, I had to buy a door knocker in the shape of a hand because it was so prevalent on the doors. In Colombia, I searched everywhere for a metal gecko door knocker because every house had a different knocker on the door.

An ending or a statement
Closed doors can represent rejection, protection, secrecy, exclusion, and imprisonment. They can make a statement like the warning to tourists in Croatia and the house covered in words of warning in Moyogalpa, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. Just as a door that’s an entrance represents a beginning, a door that’s an exit represents an end.

Doors can be symbolic structures that signify important events in our lives, changes in life processes, new beginnings, and meaningful closures or ends. Doors can also represent spiritual, religious, historical and cultural events. Or doors can simply be fascinating photography objects.

I will continue to scour the Earth, wandering and ravenous, looking for doors. Doors increase my awareness and keep my mindfulness in the present. Looking for doors makes me happy and they are always reminding me to pay attention to my world and connect with life.

Do you have a fascination with doors?

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