Why does Santa Claus go down chimneys? Granted Santa is a fictional creation, but even a legendary character should have some logic behind his behavior. Why doesn’t Santa just go through a window or door? I feel there is a potential insight here.
Perhaps Santa’s jaunts down the smokestack are for the same reason witches had a reputation for flying up chimneys on their broomsticks. Since the “historical” witch is also a fictional character, the legendary witch shares something in common with Santa besides their non-existence…their fondness for chimneys.
In the past there were wise men and women, the cunning folk, who might be accused of being the witch of folklore. But the Devil loving, Sabbath attending, broom flying, storm raising, animal hexing witch was a fabrication of the Church. An awful fabrication since the Church burned people at the stake for such imaginary offenses.
The fictional witch was said to fly up a chimney on her broom on her way to join the Sabbath. It was said witches couldn’t fly out a window or door. It could only happen using the chimney. Quoting Emile Grillot De Givry, “A witch could not leave by the door or even the window: the dark, mysterious hole of the chimney, where only the sweep’s boy could venture without quaking, was her customary channel to communicate with Heaven.”
Since both Santa and witches are creatures of the imagination, their behavior could be considered a reflection of our own subconscious and therefore symbolic.
As a metaphor we could look at our home as representing our physical body. Inside our home we dwell, sentience kicking around like the mind inside our brain. The windows of the house are like eyes and ears through which we can see outside and hear what is happening around us. A home’s door is like the mouth, through which we bring in sustenance and communicate with those outside.
What does the chimney represent? It is a dark corridor between our self and the heavens. It cannot be easily traveled thru, and it exits out to a place where we are not meant to stand: above us. The chimney symbolizes the secret connection between earth and sky, our selves and the Universe.
If the chimney is a metaphor for the passageway between the physical world and the spiritual, then the behavior of Santa and the Witch makes sense. Santa symbolizes the Powers Outside seeking to enter our home, enter our imagination, and give blessings in many forms. Santa sneaks in and does not knock leaving behind spiritual gifts.
The Witch represents our own personal imagination. The Witch lives inside the house but seeks to enter into another realm. This world cannot be entered through the physical senses (the body’s doors and windows). It has to be entered through our quiet inner core…the tunnel, the chimney within us. Spiritually or creatively the witch wants to escape the four walls.
All of this may not be only symbolism. People who had out-of-body experiences reported seeing their body below them as they hovered around the ceiling. Some also reported passing above the ceiling, thru the structure until they were high above the building where they could literally see the roof. Like a witch up a chimney!
The idea of a building representing the human body is nothing new. The Tarot card the “Lightning Struck Tower” displays such symbolism. The flesh colored tower suggests the body with a crown at the top symbolizing the human intellect. Lightning from above splits the crown from the building, separating mind and body. The falling men are incapable of flight.
Notice how much the tower resembles a chimney. The lightning could represent the severing of our higher consciousness from our everyday consciousness. We’d lose our compass, our sense of direction. We are falling and not flying like jolly Santa dropping by with gifts, or the flying Witch seeking enlightenment. This card suggests a divorce between our higher consciousness and us.