LOT'S WIFE..Turn around..look back...see with new eyes

Saturday, December 31, 2011



“Where did you go to, if I may ask?,  said Thorin to Gandalf
 as they rode along.  "To look ahead." said he.
"And what brought you back in the nick of time?"
"Looking behind,” said he.
                                          ___J.R.R. Tolkien, THE HOBBIT

As we enter a new year, let’s talk about …JANUS and doors..

First ..a little Roman history:

Numa Pompilius is given the credit for the addition of the month of January in the 6th century B.C..

There were seven kings that ruled Rome before it became a republic… Numa was the second…He added Januarius, meaning month of Janus.  

Janus was the Roman god of beginnings and endings and of gates and doors…
Though many Roman gods can trace their roots to the Greek pantheon, Janus stands out as having no Greek counterpart….Janus is Roman.

Janus had two faces….. one face looking to what is behind and one face looking toward what lies ahead.  His ability to look both forward and behind made him the guardian of exits and entrances.

The importance of Janus was seen on Roman coins. The earlier coins depicting an older bearded face looking behind with a younger clean shaven face looking forward.

 As, the Roman Empire grew both faces were shown as clean shaven. Later on in the empire both faces were shown as bearded with Janus holding a key in his right hand.

He was the guardian of the jani,  the ceremonial gateways in Rome; these were usually freestanding structures that were used for symbolically auspicious entrances or exits.

The most famous Roman gateway was the JANUS GEMINUS, which was, in actuality, a shrine to Janus at the north side of the Forum.  It was a simple rectangular bronze structure with double doors at each end. Traditionally, the doors of this shrine were left open in times of war and kept closed when Rome was at peace.

Doorways are powerful…how many times have we entered another room for some reason and then, upon crossing the threshold, forgotten why?

 There was actually a study done on the act of passing through a door and its affect on memory.   “Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an “Event Boundry” in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away,” says Gabriel Radvansky, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame.

An EVENT BOUNDRY…I like that!

 The reasoning behind the symbolism of the two faces is that both gates and doors have two sides.  In order to end something, or to start a new beginning…. one must pass through and exist on one side or the other…. To remain in the middle is not an option.

Doorways symbolize our transitions of life. And …there is no avoiding them.  We are always on thresholds.   Each doorway …. new possibilities…. the necessity of letting go.

There are times when the door behind is slammed shut, forcing the opening of another door that is not chosen, is difficult, but must be entered.

There are the times where there is choice …to close the door, with deliberation, and resolutely walk away, to face the finality of that act and the knowledge that life is now forever changed and cannot be called back..   

And then there are the doors that are sought and opened with excitement … the entrance embraced…a new area to explore..

The story of our lives is in doors, gateways, and thresholds.

It is important to reflect on what was left behind as a door closed and what new territory was revealed in the door that was opened, because it is in that newly opened door that the good things in life are found…the things we did not even know were there.

Crossing the threshold can bring healing, new vision, personal growth, the discovering of a talent, a profession, or new relationships.

And so we return to Janus in his role as the Guardian of Exits and Entrances....the representative of beginnings. In order to enter a new place it is necessary to emerge from the old.

Janus is the god of motion and the starting of actions. He is change and transition. He is the progression of past to future, the passing from one condition to another. He is the shift in the paradigm.

New Year's Eve, exits are faced, for Auld Lang Syne… 

Tomorrow… Janus Day…  face forward, to entrances…
 It is the first of the New Year, seek the doorways... 

 Do not look back…..enter…...

"Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!"  So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter."

___J.R.R.Tolkien, THE HOBBIT


  1. quite fitting! and well done, as usual! Happy New Year, Seeker!

  2. Yep! Here we go! New j-o-b, new k-i-d, new r-u-n(s). Maybe, being a January girl, that's why "Janus is the god of motion and the starting of actions. He is change and transition. He is the progression of past to future, the passing from one condition to another. He is the shift in the paradigm" sounds so much like me!

  3. Nice post. I like the idea of a variety of types of doors, some you are forced through, some you choose. I also like the idea of being able to create your own doors, or maybe sticking with the metaphor you can seek new doors. So much of life is forced on us and yet some major parts are things that we seek out: children, jobs, runs (to paraphrase la partera). Sometimes it seems like all we have are the doors laid out before us, the ones forced on us. It's always kind of amazing when you are able to find one of your own and then step through.

  4. A great thought-provoking post. May I copy the picture of the many doors? I'm tucking you into my "favorites room".