Gate 33: The importance of retreat and reflection

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Consider for a moment, where would humanity be if we had no access to our history? If we had no way to learn lessons from past mistakes, as well as past achievements? History is an integral aspect of our progress as a species. And what is it really, but the sum total of stories as remembered by those who witnessed the events?

Those witnesses are the embodiment of Gate 33, the Gate of Privacy. In the Human Design definition, it is the “active withdrawal” after an experience in which the person is replete with what they have seen, heard, tasted and touched. And just as after a large, fine meal you need time to digest, Gate 33 needs time to process, reflect, and contemplate its experience. 

In the ancient I Ching, the hexagram is called Retreat. Solitude is of utmost importance for the alchemy of contemplation to transform this temporarily debilitated state into one of strength. The Witness then rejoins society and is able to share their stories with the Collective.

But unlike Gate 56 where the storyteller’s aim is to titillate, entertain, and amuse, Gate 33 wants to instruct. It is the frequency of the Sage, of the wise tribal elder teaching others its hard-earned lessons.

Not surprisingly Gate 33 is located in the Throat Center, on the Sensing Side of the Collective Circuit. This circuit group acquires wisdom by going through a felt experience from beginning to end. It then shares its knowledge with the Collective. The Gate of Privacy points down to Gate 13 in the G Center, to form the Channel of the Prodigal.

Gate 33 and the Throat Center

The very word prodigal reveals a lot about the archetype at play. It implies a departure from the safety of home to experience new things, followed by a return home to share them. The voice of Gate 33 says, “I remember,” and it represents the archive of Collective Memory.

If you have the hanging Gate 33 (without the full channel), you have the memories but perhaps lack the depth to make meaning emerge from them. Another expression of the frequency can be a sense of isolation, or others perceiving you as withdrawn.

Regardless, you probably identify with going through phases of retreat or inactivity. Perhaps find yourself seeking out privacy and solitude. These things are very important to give yourself.

Also, you might be quite fond of history or storytelling. Hilary Mantel, renowned British author of historical fiction, had Mercury (the planet of language and stories) in Gate 33.

And Chris Brennan, the celebrated host of the Astrology Podcast, has his Design Sun in Gate 33. Brennan was an integral part of a movement called Project Hindsight. The passionate historians who worked with him on this project helped translate and disseminate forgotten astrological texts, radically transforming how modern astrology is practiced today.

History is our teacher, and Gate 33 is its voice. What stories are you living out right now that will become lessons for the future?

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