So, let's talk about the Dweller.

Within each of us exists a thing we like to call the Dweller on the Threshold. If you understand
the process of spiritual evolution to be like walking through a door,
the Dweller on the Threshold is the bouncer who is there to keep you
from walking through that door.

Now, it's not malicious. It's not doing this because it's evil - it's just content. It likes you just the
way you are, warts and all. Truthfully, it has some measure of control
over you (as you'll see in a few moments), just enough to keep you just
the way you are. It's desires can be thought of as circuitious: it wants
to keep you just as you are so it can keep control over you, so it
exerts control over you to keep you just as you are.

(It is also not an external entity, mind. It's part of you. We all contain within us multitudes.)

The Dweller on the Threshold is a personification of the intellectual fear
that keeps us from interacting with Deep Mind. In a very real way, the
Dweller on the Threshold is there to prevent us from accessing our magic
and our gods, as it is the inherent human fear of transformation and

The Dweller's finest tools are our fear and our low self-esteem. When we become stronger people through the initiatory
crucible of the Craft, we weaken the hold of the Dweller on us, prying
its fingers away from the passage to the Deep Mind. Thus, the Dweller
fights those situations where we bypass it and begin to touch Deep Mind.

The Dweller usually works in four stages. Through our time in the Craft, we
move through these stages. It is important that you come to recognize
when the Dweller is at work. These stages are:

  • Embarrassment: I feel stupid. This stage is the most common among new witches. Our culture tends to be devoid of ritual, or even if we come from a society that still uses
    it, ritual is normally something someone else does. This is the moment
    where you realize how "ridiculous" you look, standing there in robes,
    with a bunch of other robed people, drawing things in the air with your
  • Resentment: This is stupid. This is another early Dweller reaction. Rather than being turned inward, however, it is externalized: you find all of this stuff you're
    doing to be utter nonsense, and you can't for the life of you figure out
    why you're participating. It's stupid, it's silly and it's juvenile, a
    bunch of adults getting together to play make-believe.
  • Enervation: I'm tired; I'm in pain. Once the stages of embarrassment and resentment have been pushed through, this is the most common one: a feeling of low energy. It may
    manifest as bodily pain (particularly in those with chronic issues) or
    simply feeling too tired - the thought of ritual is just exhausting or
    unappealing. It often manifests as the urge to "just spend some time
    with one another, instead of bothering with ritual."
  • Apathy: I'm bored. One of the latter stages of the Dweller's attempts to derail spiritual progress is boredom or apathy. It starts to seem like you do the same
    thing, all the time. Ritual has become rote, with no feeling in it. The
    Dweller actually takes advantage of the urge to delve deeper into
    spirituality by creating the illusion that what you're doing now is
    actually blocking your spiritual progress, creating the desire to run
    off and find something new, when in truth, we delve deeper through
    continued and disciplined use of our praxis. You don't dig a deeper hole
    by moving from spot to spot; you have to stand in one place and keep
    digging there.
The Dweller can be a very difficult foe to deal with, even for
experienced witches. It has access to every single one of our talents
and skills - even our magic. On those days where it seems like
everything in the world around you is conspiring to keep you from doing
the Work you planned to do that evening, it might be worthwhile to take a
careful look to see if there is some internal desire to just forget
about it and not do it that is radiating outward and affecting your
environment. Stranger things have happened.

Ultimately, it is awareness of the Dweller that allows us to defeat it. Addressing our
desires to remain stagnant, to just "get a little rest right now" with
discipline and discernment are the only means of overcoming them, and
pushing through.

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Oak, thank you very, very much for this... I don't have the time to respond to it, but I WILL say that your post has really helped me. You and I had a similar conversation some time ago.

The Dweller (or Double, sometimes, I've heard it called even,) is an entity in the western traditions... It doesn't seem to be in things like Buddhism/Taoism/etc..

"Fighting" the dweller is an unwinable situation -- you will not "win" against yourself... but being aware of it, as you say, is the best way to adapt to those little(and not so little,) things that it throws in your way.
OMG< Oak, this could NOT have come at a better time! I've noticed that every time I make up my mind to dive deeper into my studies, I begin to stall. I'm too tired, my head hurts, I can't sit still, I become distracted. This past 2 weeks I have tried to put aside all my normal distractions. I've taken away the temptation of my WoW addiction, by freezing my account. LoL I have set my mind to pick up my studies once again and move forward with my path. I have joined Sherry's book study group and yours as well. I have began to read the books required of those study groups. But every time I sit down at the computer I begin to feel tired, and my head starts to hurt or my restless legs and hip pain kick in and I have to get up and move. It's always something. Other times I seem to read the same paragraphs over and over and not remember what I read. Then I begin to beta myself up. I feel stupid. I wonder how I will ever be able to move on. I wonder if I'm even worthy of joining with the the great minds of people like you, here.

Reading this made me feel a little better. It also made me think of a stand up, Christopher Titus, when he spoke of his "inner retard" telling him he couldn't do things he wanted to do. I have always picked on John about his self esteem issues stopping him from doing what he wants to do, telling him to tell his inner retard to shut it. Apparently, I need to do the same. LoL

Thank you for this Oak, and making me aware of what I need to do, at the time that I need to do it! ♥
Thank you very much Oak, for this excellent post. I had never actually heard of this idea before, but several nights ago while I was meditating and chanting my Goddess's name in my head I suddenly felt like I was on the cusp of something, kind of like the feeling before you let yourself fall. I had a surge of fear rise up in me and I popped back out of my trance. I was very upset that I let the fear stop me from learning something crucial that night. I feel better now that I know that it is just a part of the process that I must overcome. Thanks again and blessed be :D
Well now I have a name for that pesky little voice in my head! ....Thank you for posting this... Hope you don't mind me printing and posting this on my bathroom mirror...great constant reminder to not give in!
Wow, I wish I had found this sooner. It sounds very Lovecraftian to me! Then again, the creepiest things in the world hide in the recesses of the human brain...

I deal a lot with the first two stages. Since I share my home with a partner who isn't religious or even spiritual, I have to fight feelings of embarrassment whenever he walks in and sees me casting Runes, or reading Tarot cards. I've been organizing my many sloppy BOS's into one organized, gorgeous leather bound BOS, and I have to fight the urge to slam the cover closed whenever he walks by my desk. Heaven forbid he walk into my ritual space when I'm in the midst of an Esbat or Sabbat celebration! I think that would throw me so far out of my Witchy state of mind that I would have to give up for the night/day.

Now, I know that all of the above reactions are stupid. He doesn't care what manner of odd-looking things I do in the name of my practice, and he's said as much. He doesn't judge me for what I believe. He may tease me when I get home from an occult shop "More candles and herbs? Yeah! We didn't have enough in the first place! :x" but I know he's not serious. So I've had problems putting my finger on what was causing these extreme embarrassed reactions. Now that I know it's nothing more than an annoying subconscious hobgoblin, I think I can deal.

Just as he doesn't care how....interesting.... I might look while inscribing Pentagrams in the air with my oversized letter opener, I should also NOT care. That's hard, but it's another part of the learning process. Like learning to play the trumpet. It's the loudest instrument in a band or orchestra, well, besides percussion, and when you mess up, EVERYONE knows. Not just everyone in the band, but everyone out in the audience as well. But everyone makes mistakes, so I guess the question isn't whether we are going to have embarrassed moments, but is instead how are we going to let those embarrassed moments affect us on a deeper level. Do we pick up the horn and try again, or do we abandon forever any hope of ever getting the hang of it? Well, I dunno about everyone else, but quitting has never really been my style.

Rachel Ann (EisHexe) said:
Wow, I wish I had found this sooner. It sounds very Lovecraftian to me! Then again, the creepiest things in the world hide in the recesses of the human brain...

You're right. In fact, my favorite Lovecraft quote: "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the mind to correlate all of its contents", from whose initial words beget the Cthuhlu mythos.

The contents are upon the other side of that threshold. I think the deepest mysteries, of which the mind can unlock, can be frightening to such an extent that even the Dweller may appear merciful.

Truthfully, I don't actually know if this is ubiquitous to BTW - I imagine it is in some capacity, as in my experience you can't go through a genuine occult initiatory experience and not run face-first into a super-charged Dweller, but I suspect we wouldn't all use the same words.


My line has a corpus of material used to deal with the Dweller. The goal, however, is integration rather than eradication. The Dweller serves a vital purpose in the human experience. It's just that we have given it a lot of power and say over our lives. The goal is to return the Dweller to the proper place in the initiate's life - as an advisor, rather than a drill sergeant.

The running joke was that the only way to remove the Dweller from one's physical existence is to remove one's self from physical existence, and as the Dweller knows this, it's the voice that prevents you from taking a sharp turn off the Bay Bridge. ;)


(And for those not familiar, here's a shot of the Bay Bridge: )


Needless to say, as we don't advocate suicide as a viable option for dealing with the Dweller, our choices are left to 1) integration and partnership or 2) manipulation by and subjection to. For a witch to progress in their studies and practices, active work must be done towards #1, otherwise the Dweller very quickly turns people away from the practice of witchcraft. 

Your Dweller is a force for stability. It works to prevent change - ultimately, it "likes you just the way you are." In many ways, the Dweller works to help us achieve normalcy and stability.


The downside of this, however, is that the Dweller also tends toward stagnation.


Now, the Dweller seeks to use the tools that we give it. For most people, this means the things that impact how we behave: things like guilt, fear of ridicule, self-loathing. It will also use other tools, including a witch's own magic, to take whatever steps necessary to keep radical transformation from happening in the Self.


We all have a Dweller, but as we begin to practice magic, seek spiritual development, and/or immerse ourselves in the initiatory crucible, it gets more active. We're facing down the possibility of greater change through these mediums, so the Dweller fights it harder, generally by using the four approaches above: Embarrassment, Resentment, Enervation and Apathy.

To add on to what Oak posted, the Dweller doesn't want you getting hurt, and anything unknown means you might get hurt. So doing something like starting a course of spiritual study that might change you means that you could get hurt, so it will fight you on that. Getting married might get you hurt, so it will fight you on that. Going to school might hurt you, so it will fight you on that. On the other hand, it will also try to keep you from going down a dark alley in an unfamiliar town, taking a trip on roads you don't know when there's bad weather coming, experimenting with drugs, and so on. When you push through and make change, the Dweller will shift its idea of what is familiar and safe. In the last example, about experimenting with drugs, once you're an addict, the Dweller will try and keep you as an addict, because who knows what could happen if you stopped--it is familiar and therefore safe in the mind of the Dweller.

***Just a Thought***


As adults, it is easier to see how the Dweller plays a role in our lives. Often, childen (especially teens), are faced with the same four factors of: Embarrassment, Resentment, Enervation and Apathy. They are quick to want to grow-up, yet often, lack the ability to deal with the Dweller. They are easily sidetracked from their goals, or infact, can't even make realistic goals, due to the presence of the Dweller. In the school setting, teachers witness their behavior in such roles as: the "Class Clown", the "Teacher's Pet", the "Jock", the "Nerd", the "Trouble Maker",and various other forms of titles. Within each of these, the outline of acceptable behavior is outlined, and must be adhered to, in order to maintain the title. In fact, there are some,that never outgrow these titles, even after reaching adulthood. Pushing to make a positive change, is not easy, yet, how often do we say, "grow up". 

Wouldn't life be vastly different for all, if the dealing with the Dweller, was as simple as growing older....

Blessings, MJ)O(

Wow! oh I really like this post, it puts a lot of things into perspective for me : )


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