Sometimes though, a relationship with specific Beings whereby their functions are established is not part of the process at hand. This is not a commonality for Traditional practice. These groups of people have already developed a relationship and understanding with a variety of entities. I have nothing against solitary practice. In fact, all Traditionalists have their own individual practice in addition to the praxis of the group with whom they work. The use of Gatekeepers becomes an issue when various Entities are provided with keys to doors without an accompanying set of additional functions. In a newly established working relationship, these functions need to be made clear.
If an individual is working alone and not within the boundaries of a set methodology, before the name of some Spirit/Ancestor/Angel/Deity/etc is called upon to bring forth or open the pathway to a particular plane/directional providence/realm/etc then that entity needs to have had a rapport developed prior to then with that individual. During that establishment, the role of that Being must be laid out along with the specifics of their guardian functions, and most importantly accepted by that Being. Imagine the havoc that could ensue if during the first time having been called forth a Deity* is made demands of, given access to the ritual space, perhaps even being insulted by in-their-eyes being reduced to the role of a porter, and has no intention of complying, playing nice, or refraining from making the insult upon their mantle known.
There are many scenarios that could play out. Perhaps the Elemental Spirit, just as an example, called decides to open the door as asked and additionally just lets anything from their plane mosey on through. Why have guardians if they don’t do anything? This is particularly problematic when someone who does not know better picks up a how-to-book and uses established methods to open channels. Usually nothing happens. Sometimes though, the gate opens and without further ado, what comes through the gate comes. Someone can say all day, “I honor thee East, spirit of ___, and ask for your wisdom,” in relative safety and without fear, pretty much as often as they would like. This is not the same as calling a specific entity within a magickal circle to open a particular doorway by which the Witch can access that sphere and gain its influence upon their working.
Additionally, sometimes the roles of Gatekeeper and Guardian are separate. Even if this is the case, my advice stands. Get to know the Beings whom will be your ally in the Arte before they are called to fulfill that position. If you aren’t doing that level of magick, don’t be too concerned. Lighting a few candles does not require for a portal to a specific influence to be opened. But if a name is used, even in normal worship and ritual, know what you are asking of whom. For example, asking the King of the Djinn to teach you the lessons of Fire will bring much to the table, not all of which is gentle or desireable. It would not take much additional work to set up parameters of these lessons when entering that relationship.
So what got me thinking about all this? Driving to work did. I work on a military base and this morning, no ID check, the guards at the gates were just waving everyone through. Thinking this a bit absurd, I voiced the thought by saying, “What is the point of having guards if they don’t do anything?” This turned my thought to the more metaphysical and this post is the result thereof.
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."
*Please have a good reason for asking a Deity to be a Gatekeeper. Some Gods or Goddesses, such a Manannan mac Lir work naturally in this capacity, others, such as Loki, do not.