Even before I received the news that Nine Gates Mystery School founder Gay Luce is in the process of dying, I’ve had Nine Gates on my mind. Thinking a lot about Gay, though, I’ve really been reflecting on her creation and the amazing ideas at the core of its structure. Although there are many layers to Nine Gates, the central theme is that we are like flutes with many notes possible but most of us only play one or two all the time. Each chakra has its own tone, its own characteristics, vibration, etc.
When you really learn to tune into each chakra and understand the uses and purposes of each, you can move at will from the energy of one to the energy of another, shifting energy to suit circumstances. As you proceed through the 2-part workshop, you spend 2 days on each of 9 energy centers. There’s a master teacher for each who teaches practices from his or her tradition or specialty that use that chakra and help you build energy there.
The teachers have changed many times over the 30+ years since I attended, but just as examples, for my sessions we had:
- David Patton, Celtic tradition with the Dromenon, or labyrinth, as the central focus for the bubbling spring chakra in the feet
- Gay Luce, who trained extensively with Tarthang Tulku and Claudio Naranjo, teaching practices about birth and beginnings for 1st chakra
- a teacher from Mantak Chia’s school teaching the Taoist practices of the Inner Smile and the Microcosmic Orbit for second chakra
- Ellen Margron, longtime facilitator of the Fisher Hoffman method teaching techniques of discovering locked in emotions and releasing them for third chakra
- Angeles Arrien teaching practices based on her Basque background for moving from third to fourth (heart) space
- Paul Ray, Sufi master, teaching chants and breathing practices to hold heart space
- Gay Luce teaching Right Speech and Right Listening for the fifth chakra
- Serge King teaching Huna practices for sixth chakra
- Gay Luce leading death and dying practices for seventh chakra
- Gay Luce teaching about connection to higher realms for the transpersonal chakra
There was always a large staff composed of Mystery School graduates. Behind the scenes, they helped elevate the energy of each chakra by resonating together before each class session (3x a day) into the energy of whichever chakra was being addressed and then dispersing around the room amongst the students and holding that energy space.
As a student, I was way too wowed by all of it to realize what the staff was doing aside from also mentoring all of us, being there to help if we struggled with a practice, etc. And it took a couple of times serving on staff for me to really comprehend how much it added to the power of living in each chakra to have the staff holding the energy space.
The sessions are designed with three classes a day, one filling the morning (and for those who want it there are exercises before breakfast), one the afternoon and one the evening. There are also some amazing rituals thrown in. It’s an immersion experience. For some people, the teachers are exciting, the multitudes of new practices they learn almost come too quickly to take everything in and they come away with more enthusiasm about all that than understanding about “playing the flute”.
Many of us also went on to study more with some of the teachers. I did a lot of emotional work with groups facilitated by Ellen Margron, read a lot of Serge King’s books and went to one of his workshops, attended various Sufi events, practiced Right Speech and eventually taught it, etc. Many people who were taken with some of the Buddhist practices Gay taught went on to join Spirit Rock. After Baba Harihar Ram began teaching a lot of people joined his Sonoma Ashram. You get the idea. So many ways to get a LOT out of Nine Gates.
Throughout all of it, though, there are lessons to be learned about moving among the chakras. At feet, for instance, so many useful things about grounding are part of it. If you’re in high anxiety, really worrying about something, all your energy has moved up to your head. If you put your attention into your feet and hold it, the energy will flow downward and it will help calm and ground you.
One of my fave stories was about a grad who was in NYC one day when a storm created winds so strong at rush hour that people were blown down if they tried to go outside, so thousands of people were caught in their buildings. She really wanted to get to the subway and on to an appointment. So she put her energy in her feet, imagined her feet having tentacles into the ground and walked across the plaza to the subway.
Many times when I’ve been on my way to an interview or a meeting about which I was nervous and for which I wanted to be in my power, I’ve quietly done the microcosmic orbit while riding along on the bus or up in the elevator, bringing energy into the power space of second chakra. A grad who worked as an exec for a big company would make sure he entered meeting rooms first and would move into heart energy, working to fill the room with it and hold that energy space during the meeting.
These are just some examples of the ways in which we can play much more complex music in our lives than the repetitive couple of notes we usually stay stuck in.
My spirituality centers around my belief that everything is energy, so learning how to work with energy for me is the goal. And hanging around with a teacher whose core teaching and way of living were so totally immersed in energy practice was such a gift!