Home is a subject which is close to our hearts, and something well worth exploring, as women and as mothers. The word ‘home’ conjures up all sorts of feelings and imagery in our hearts and minds. But exactly how to we achieve that sense of home. Where is our ‘home’? Does our home feel like ‘home’? The last 9 months has seen me involved in a Red Tent women’s sacred circle. In our most recent meeting, we meditated on the subject of ‘Home’, and what I write here is taken from this group. Thank you to the women of our Red Tent (you know who you are) for inspiring, supporting, and being with me, on this journey.
Whilst there are many ways of running these groups, we decided to run ours with guidance from Goddess archetypes. From Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards, this is the message from the Goddess Vesta:
“There’s an undying flame within your soul, and it’s the light, seed, and spark of your consciousness. Your outer world reflects your inner world. Take a look around your home. Does it reflect warmth? If not, this is easily remedied and oh-so-important to do. It’s a simple task of using your creative imagination to add warm energy to your household, such as lighting the fireplace or some candles, adding cosy blankets and pillows, or displaying greeting cards and fresh flowers. By warming up your outer world, your inner flame responds to meet it. This increases your energy level, which automatically shifts all outward appearances toward the better. Watch how these simple steps recharge the flame within everyone in your household. This flame cleanses away negativity and brings in the new with vigour and irresistible invitation.”
I chose this card from a selection we drew before the group began in earnest, and over the next few months, I was gifted gems of information to guide us in this exploration. I began this journey at a time when my physical home environment needed some attention, as well as my marital relationship. The next few months saw me setting those two cornerstones in order, leaving space to contemplate my inner experience of ‘home’.
The book ‘Woman: A Unique Tribute’ by Dorothy Boux is a beautiful book where the author ‘draws on her deep fund of experience and wisdom to shed light on what it means to be a woman today.’ In the section on home, she states, in lovingly crafted calligraphy:
“Deeply embedded in humankind is the desire to found a home, a shelter where one can feel safe and secure. Whether we dream of a country cottage, a mansion or a simple room, sooner or later we shall choose four walls and begin to gather possessions about us. It is in the gift of woman to endow her surroundings with beauty and peace by remembering that every task is an act of service to those surrounding her. Today, the daily round may also encompass work in city and office; nonetheless, the opportunity to connect with the subtle and spiritual worlds is ever present, and can lead… to great acts of love and compassion.”
Next I quote from Sogyal Rinpoche:
“Nature is always an unfailing fountain of inspiration. To calm your mind, go for a walk at dawn in the park, or watch the dew on a rose in the garden. Lie on the ground and gaze up into the sky, and let your mind expand into its spaciousness Let the sky outside awaken a sky inside your mind. Stand by a stream and mingle your mind with its rushing; become one with its ceaseless sound. Sit by a waterfall and let its healing laughter purify your spirit. Walk on a beach and take the sea wind full and sweet against your face. Celebrate and use the beauty of moonlight to poise your mind. Sit by a lake or in a garden, and breathing quietly, let your mind fall silent as the moon comes up majestically and slowly in the cloudless night.
Everything can be used as an invitation to meditation. A smile, a face in the subway, the sight of a small flower growing in the crack of a cement pavement, a fall of rich cloth in a shop window, the way the sun lights up flower-pots on a window sill. Be alert for any sign of beauty or grace. Offer up every joy, be awake at all moments, to the news that is always arriving out of SILENCE.”
But what does this have to do with ‘home’. This suggests to me that home is not just about our physical homes, but about how we feel ‘at home’ with ourselves. Walking in nature, and being in nature has always brought a deep sense of peace, and feeling of ‘home’ to me, and here I share with you some wisdom about our Earth home from Satish Kumar taken from his book ‘Earth Pilgrim’. Satish is editor-in-chief of Resurgence Magazine, and as a young man embarked on a peace pilgrimage, walking, with a friend, from India to America. Here’s what he says about home:
“Economics and ecology share the same etymological roots in the Greek word ‘oikos’. ‘Oikos’ means ‘home’. ‘Logos’ means knowledge. ‘Nomos’ means management. Ecology is the knowledge of home, and economy is the management of home. To take care of anything you have to know it, understand it, and then you will be able to manage it well. If you don’t know your home, how are you going to manage it? If you don’t know where your living-room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom are, or where your garden is, how are you going to put furniture and tools in the appropriate places? Therefore, knowledge of home is essential in order to manage it.
But ‘home’ is not just the bricks and mortar, not just a building – it is more than purely a house. It is a place of relationships. When one says, ‘I am going home,’ it means ‘I’m going to the place where I have relations. My father, my mother, my daughter, my son, my wife, my husband, live there with me.’ Wherever your relations are, that’s your home. In the context of ecology, home is earth itself, where humans, animals, mountains and forests are in relationships. All species, humans and other-than-humans are members of this planet home, this Earth family, this Earth community.”
Again, the notion of ‘home’ is expanded from house-home to family to the Earth itself. I particularly like the way Satish brings in the idea of relationships and home, since the human experience is ultimately one of relationship. How we relate to members of our family, and how we relate to all aspects of the Earth must be considered in our exploration of ‘home’.
Finally, I’d like to share with you, these thoughts, edited from a piece by Rabbi Howard Cooper:
“What does it really mean to feel ‘at home’ in the world? Relaxed, casually, gracefully, ‘at home’ in this fractious, tempestuous, unredeemed world? Where are we ‘at home’? In our families? In our work? In our local community? In our religious institutions? All these have the capacity to make us feel at home and the potential to make us feel unsettled or alienated. None of them have the quality of ‘at homeness’ as a given. All can let us down, just as the material world can let us down. But maybe looking outside ourselves to feel at home is looking in the wrong place. Maybe we should be asking: do we feel ‘at home’ in ourselves? Can we rest inside ourselves? How often do we feel distracted, on edge, ill-at-ease – we know so well how fragile things are inside us. Not just our body’s state, but our emotional state, and our psychological state. We know how prone we are to swings of mood, pettiness, irritation, anger, jealousy, possessiveness, envy… Are we ever really ‘at home’ with ourselves and in ourselves?”
Today, working at my children’s school as a teaching assistant, I took my regular group of children for a language enhancing session of storytelling and talk. One of the children, in particular, is often very agitated, and struggles to join the group and engage with the story. At the end of the session, I noticed that his breathing was very quick and shallow. I wondered if some deep breaths might help. And so, I introduced the ‘dragon breath’. Close your mouth, take a deep breath in through your nose and ‘haaa’ the breath out of your mouth, as though breathing fire like a dragon. Several of these later, and I had a much calmer child on my hands. I wonder, could it be this easy, just to feel a little more ‘at home’?