Before we dive too deep into this particular gate, let’s start at the beginning with two questions I get a lot:
What are the gates and what do they do?
How do I know which gates impact my chart? And how do I know HOW they impact my chart?
What are the gates and what do they do?
The gates come from the I’Ching, which are these sixty-four pretty universal life lessons. When Ra “channeled” Human Design, he mapped each one of those 64 lessons to one of the centers in our bodygraph and called them “gates.”
I like to think of the gates like little light switches. Imagine that as we’re gestating in the womb, we grow these 64 little buttons, like mini light switches, and they all start off in the OFF position. Then two magic moments happen:
The moment we’re born, a certain combination of gates get activated. This is where Western Astrology and the I’Ching meet. You know how the astrological natal chart is like a snapshot in time of exactly what the celestial heavenly bodies were doing at the precise moment of your birth? I like to imagine that each one of these celestial heavenly bodies has this long phantom arm that gets to reach down and turn ON one of those little mini light switches, thus activating that specific life lesson for this incarnation. These are represented by the column of numbers in black on the bodygraph.
Exactly three months before we’re born, that process happens for the first time. Snapshot of the heavens, phantom arm reaches down (metaphorically), and little gate light switches are turned ON. These are represented by the column of numbers in red on the bodygraph.
It doesn’t matter if two or more planets reach for the same gate; they all get credit. And sometimes, the same planet reaches for the same gate three months before we’re born and the moment we’re born. Just depends on where the planets were and how they move through space.
Which brings us to question two:
How do I know which gates impact my chart? And how do I know HOW they impact my chart?
Answering the first part is super simple: they’re listed in the columns of the bodygraph (the first number listed, the one before the decimal point, is a gate that has been activated in your chart). The numbers on the left (red) represents our unconscious design, and numbers on the right (black) represent our conscious personality. To put it a little more simply, we’re probably super aware of how we’re learning the lessons in black, and it might take a bit of reflection OR the help of a loved one to really understand the lessons in red. You can also look on the bodygraph itself for any numbers with a gray circle around them with a little black or red colored line coming off the number,.
To understand what each gate means for you, we have to take into account:
whether the gate was activated at birth (black/conscious) or three months before (red/unconscious)
what planet(s) activated it (ex: if it was turned on by Mercury, it’ll probably impact your communication most, etc)
the number that comes AFTER the decimal point called the line. The line represents where you are karmically in the process of learning the lesson
A couple other, more advanced things to consider:
If the gate is within an CLOSED (DEFINED) center, this is a quality or trait that is fixed and consistent within you, or a lesson that you’re definitively here to learn. You have access to it regardless of whether you’re completely alone or whether you’re in the middle of the masses in Times Square, it’s definitive part of who you are.
If the gate is within an OPEN (UNDEFINED) center, this is a quality or trait that isn’t consistent within you, and emerges primarily when you’re around someone who has the center it lives within closed OR others with this center closed need to be present for you to learn the lesson. For example, I have gate 21 activated within my open Heart Center. Gate 21 brings a competitive energy. When I’m alone, or around others with this center open, I’m not at all competitive. BUT I’ve noticed that there are certain people whose energy hits me in a certain way that bring out that competitive side of my personality that otherwise lies pretty dormant. It’s not their fault, though. It’s not that they’re necessarily DOING ANYTHING that makes me feel competitive. It’s just that they happen to have their Heart Center closed. Think of gates in open centers like light switches that are flipped on, but on their own, no power is flowing to the lamp. When we’re around folks with those centers defined, it’s like the power all of a sudden gets switched on and the lamp lights up. The capacity was always there…the power just wasn’t until the person with the defined center showed up :)
Just a reminder: We GROW into and alongside our charts. Just because it’s hard to see where a gate/line/planet combo is surfacing in your life right now doesn’t mean you should disregard it. Life’s runway is (hopefully) long and energies may surface later.
GATE 36 | THE GATE OF CRISIS*
*try to ignore the scary name! Remind me to go on a rant about the way Ra Uru Hu used language. He uses what he called "keynotes” as shorthand for gates, channels, parts of the profile, and incarnation crosses, and a lot of them are downright inflammatory. I mean, imagine in ANY other context someone telling you that you were an opportunist or here on the planet to engage in confrontation? OY. Once you step beyond the keynotes and really read up on each gate/channel/profile line/incarnation cross, etc, the reason for the keynote usually becomes clear (often, it has to do with the shadow side of the lesson taught by the gate) and nine times out of ten, there really isn’t cause for alarm.
In a healthy expression, Gate 36 surfaces as an emotional endurance of sorts, meaning you’re able to hold space for the emotional storm that feeling all your feelings can be, but you also have the wisdom to wait for that storm to pass to gain the emotional clarity BEFORE taking action. It’s also the humanity and compassion to understand that others may also struggle with big, difficult feelings and lash out at us when they’re deep in the throws of their own emotional storm. 🥺😩Everyone is in a different place when it comes to mastering the navigating of strong emotions, and when we’re the healthiest in this gate, we can look at those emotional explosions in a subjective, compassionate way, rather than personalizing the outburst and punishing the other.
When we’re super emotionally unhealthy or feeling really vulnerable or fearful, the shadow side of Gate 36 emerges in a couple different ways. It can show up as collapse and intense personalization of the actions of others (see my crying-in-the-dark moment below). It can also manifest as a calling in of crisis and drama and self-sabotage.
Here’s an example: I used to teach first grade, and when I was in my first year in the classroom, one of my littles was having a really tough time at home and brought those big, tumultuous feelings to school every day. Her dad had always been the pushover at home, a big teddy bear of a man whose love language was indulgence and gifts…but he was no longer in the picture. Her mom was more the disciplinarian, and she ran a tight ship. Mom’s love was just as fierce, but manifested as protection and structure. This little girl was struggling with all that rigidity and constantly being told what to do and how and when to do it. With her dad, she had a least a bit of a break, but now that he was gone, from her perspective, between home and school, the world was all RULES and ROUTINES and there was no space for what SHE wanted to do. So sometimes she would break down and have these EPIC tantrums. I’m talking screeching, throwing books and furniture, throwing herself on the rug, tearing her classwork to shreds. She even bit me once. To say her emotional wave was intense was a gross understatement and I worried a lot about her safety and the safety of the other littles in my classroom.
I have gate 36 on line 1. In fact, it informs my incarnation cross, so my life’s karma/dharma is all about learning how to effectively navigate big emotions, both in myself and in others.
On my worst days, I took her tantrums so personally. I was a terrible teacher. This kid hated me. My colleagues were going to hear her raging and KNOW I had no idea what I was doing. She’s going to hurt herself and it’ll be all my fault! I remember once, after a particularly challenging morning, while the kids were at lunch, just closing the door to my classroom, turning off all the lights, sitting in the middle of the rug, and having an epic cry of my own.
On my best days, I was able to view her tantrums more objectively, not as something that was happening to me but as something that she was battling with that I could observe with compassion and empathy. Over time, I got better at leaning into my open solar plexus to feel into when a tantrum might be on its way, so I could proactively give her the one-on-one attention and, more importantly, the sense of choice and control she needed to calm and start to feel a bit in control again. Luckily, over time, the good days became more frequent than the bad but it took time and patience and reflection.
This little girl, at 6 years old, probably had some solar plexus activations as well. Part of her journey probably has to do with navigating her own emotional wave, but at six, I couldn’t expect her to have that mastered and I knew I was a part of teaching her how to handle her feelings in a safe way. I’d like to think we were placed in each others’ path for a reason: she was there to teach me how to navigate big, loud, messy, uncomfortable, uncontrollable feelings in others, and I was there to help her learn how to recognize and safely ride out those same feelings in herself.
We learn the lessons of Gate 36 through relationships of all kinds throughout our lives, and like all gates, we never “win” or “master” Gate 36. The goal is always awareness and adjusted action instead of impulse and emotional recklessness.
So let’s look at Gate 36 when it’s paired with each of the lines of the hexagram:
Gate 36 on Line 1:
Line 1’s lesson is all about learning how to reflect inward during challenging times. When in the midst of crisis or turmoil, instead of letting heightened emotions make major decisions for you, this lesson is all about remembering to wait for emotional clarity before you act. This lesson is heightened a bit if your 36.1 is activated by Mars. The planet Mars is all about what drives us, and when we’re in the middle of a really emotionally charged situation, this lesson becomes remembering that what truly guides us isn’t the raging emotion you feel in the moment, but something calmer, clearer and more still…and learning to let THAT clarity inform the decision-making process.
Gate 36 on Line 2:
Line 2 is all about our relationships. The lessons we learn through line 2 start with an examination of who we lean on in times of challenge, and how we lean on them. Do we expect others to do the emotional heavy lifting for us? Do we use our relationships with others as a means of avoiding dealing with challenging emotions? Who can we lean on in times of crisis? And, as importantly, who can lean on us? How do we show up for others?
Another big theme of Gate 36 on line 2 is LOYALTY. To quote Kendrick Lamar’s single “Loyalty” off the 🙌PULITZER PRIZE WINNING ALBUMN🙌 Damn:
“Tell me who you loyal to
Is it love for the streets when the lights get dark?
Is it unconditional when the 'Rari don't start?
Tell me when your loyalty is comin' from the heart“
When we’re in times of crisis, who do we remain loyal to? What circumstances call our loyalty into question? When we’re in the middle of a challenge, do we make decisions based solely on what’s best for us, or are we considering the needs of those we love as well? These are all big questions that we unpack over and over again if gate 36.2 is in our chart.
Gate 36 on Line 3:
The lesson of 36.3 has a phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes vibe to it. This gate is all about what happens both BEFORE, DURING and AFTER challenge and crisis. Let’s work backwards, shall we?
After a deeply emotionally challenging experience, this gate on line 3 asks us to examine what we do next. Do we wallow in failure in the darkness, or do we stand the eff up, dust ourselves off, and start moving towards the light? Remember: line 3, the Martyr, is all about trial and error. It’s not about living perfectly (because that’s NOT A THING) but rather about what we do when we fail and fall down. Do we take the time to reflect on what we learned through the trial and focus on the discoveries? Or do we beat ourselves up for what went wrong?
And what do we do with those discoveries when we encounter the next emotional crisis? What do we choose to BUILD from those ashes? Do we allow them to inform future decisions? Or do we channel our inner goldfish and approach each situation like a blank slate, leaving the lessons we’ve been taught behind?
This gate isn’t just about how we metaphorically rise from the ashes of a crisis and what we build after, it’s also about what we choose to burn to the ground to begin with. How easy is it for us to dismantle and shed behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve us, that perpetuate stagnation or worse, self-sabotage? Where and when do we struggle to let go of that which weighs us down?
All big questions with no easy answers, but the overall vibe and aim of this gate is very much the old cliché: to grow through what we go through. If I were analyzing this gate in your chart, I would pay attention to the planet that activated this gate for clues as to where in your life you’re likely to learn these lessons.
Gate 36 on Line 4:
The vibe of gate 36 on line 4 is INTEL: intel from others and intel from our emotions. When we’re faced with change or challenge, how do we get the information and intelligence we need to move forward?
Because this gate lives in the emotional solar plexus, we’re talking emotional intelligence, not intellectual facts and details (remember: so much of Human Design is getting out of our heads and back into our bodies). When we’re about to enter into a period of change (ex: moving, starting a new job, ending a relationship, etc.), how do we survey the emotional landscape to get a sense of what’s to come?
Let’s take changing jobs as an example. For people with a closed solar plexus, this might mean really getting still and quiet and carving out time to sit with your feelings to get a sense of emotionally what might be on the horizon. How do you feel about leaving behind the team you’ve worked with for years? How do you feel about the new responsibilities you’ll be taking on? How might these feelings inform future behavior? For folks with it open, this might mean getting still and feeling into what those around you are emotionally navigating to get a sense of what might present a challenge in the future. How are your colleagues feeling about you leaving? How is your manager handling it? How might their feelings inform their behavior or potentially your own? This gate is about how we let emotions inform not just how we perceive those around us but our own next steps as well.
Gate 36 on Line 5:
Gate 36 on line 5 is all about which emotions we allow to surface publicly during times of crisis, and which we chose to endure privately. Sometimes, thriving in the face of challenge means we have to just put our big girl pants on and PUSH THROUGH in order to come out on the other side.
Every time I read about this gate, I think about my years in sales. So many times I had to deliver a high-stakes sales presentation when I was sick or in the middle of an emotionally challenging time. Once, when I was set to deliver a presentation for a contract worth several million dollars, this guy I had recently romantically reconnected with shared something with me that just shattered my heart…mere HOURS before I was set to go in front of this committee. Privately, I screamed into a pillow in my hotel room, then took a long, hot shower where I cried some more…then I put on some Beyoncé, a red lip and my favorite heels, took many a deep breath, and publicly channeled that emotional energy into crushing that sales presentation.
Make no mistake: the lesson of this gate is NOT to suppress our feelings. I felt my feelings. I let that wave kick the shit out of me for a few hours. But I also learned, in that moment, how to put my rage and sadness and hurt down for a while, how to hit the pause button on those big feelings so I could continue to move forward. Am I always good at this now? Have I “mastered” this gate/line combo? Fuck no. But I like to think each time I get a little bit better…
This gate is also about learning who to share our emotions with. Sometimes, opening up about how we truly feel just isn’t safe or productive, and not everyone deserve the privilege of getting to see our raw, vulnerable side. There are situations that call for us to play our emotional cards close to our chest so we don’t inadvertently betray ourselves to those who would take advantage.
Gate 36 on Line 6:
The vibe of 36.6 is all about triumph over adversity. We learn this lesson by staying true to what’s right and just in the midst of crisis and trying circumstances. You know how Dr. King once said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”? When we have emotional clarity and we’re aligned with our higher self/the greater good, this gate is here to teach us how to stand strong in our convictions as lies reveal themselves and the darkness dissipates. The key here is emotional clarity: this gate is not a permission slip to justify problematic actions just because we were feeling some kind of way. Clarity comes after all the big, bad, intense feelings of the wave itself. This is about what we discover in the calm after the storm, our emotional intelligence guiding us through the wreckage to what is true and right and clear. When this gate/line combo is out of balance, we self-destruct and engage in cynical or crisis-seeking behavior, letting adversity kick our ass again and again and again.
Do you have Gate 36 in your chart? Did this resonate with you? Let me know in the comments!
Bunnell, Lynda & Ra Uru Hu. The Definitive Book of Human Design: The Science of Differentiation. HDC Publishing, 2017.
Parkyn, Chetan. The Book of Lines: A 21st Century View of the I’Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes. New World Library, 2012.
Stein, Diane. The Kwan Yin: Book of Changes. Llewellyn Publications, 1989.