Wednesday, October 10, 2007

There's no place like home- part 2-

Mother's Love by Loren Entz
Mother's Love

Our childhood homes can have a profound and lasting impact on how we choose our shelter and what is important in that. As a child we enter the world having been cocooned and protected ( hopefully) by our mother and we find ourselves in our mother's arms. The world that surrounds us is our home and we explore it with all our senses. Years ago, children were born at home and not in hospitals and I had not understood the impact of that ( apart from healthgrounds) until we left our home 4 years ago to move to the present one. My youngest boy was born at home and his first impressions of home are somewhere imprinted on his soul. When we moved he was bereft. Something we did not quite understand at the time but facing another move where we explored the homes he has known, it became apparent that the home he had been born into had a special imprint. Whenever we pass that house,he can recall the Victorian tiled floors, the wooden bannisters and the way the light shone through the stained windows.

In her book, Spirit of the Home, Jane Alexander explains the symbolic shapes of homes. Houses were roundhouses in the past, where families sat around fires, the centre of the home. The circle is the symbol of the earth, the square is considered to be the symbol of order, stability and control. According to Jane Alexander we started building our homes in squares to impose some order and control over the earth and to make ourselves feel safer. Pointed corners are not as energetically harmonious as round houses. The next symbolic shape is the slanting roof. It points to the sky so that the house sits in between the earth and the sky. A house is always going to mean more than just shelter. It is a structure full of symbolism as well as housing not only our physical bodies but energy we cannot contain and memories that linger in our unconscious. Where we live shapes who we are and how we perceive the world around us.

The closer we live together, the less nature around us, the smaller the living spaces become, the less personal the structure of the house, the more we want to bring our individuality inside. Regardless of space, we have filled it with stuff. We are sold scented candles, telling us our homes are unclean, we have central heating to keep us warm and yet we miss something at some level. We move quickly and rapidly when jobs demand it taking with is whatever possessions we have, leaving memories of other places in another place.

If you observe older gerenations when they leave their home, they take with them heavy furniture, the solidity of what has been their home and identity to enable them to journey on. There is a stability in that that we cannot comprehend. In our house we have 2 items that are more than mere furniture : a piano I was given at the age of 12 and a sideboard that was the ' best' piece of furniture on my DH's parents farm. Just looking at it and touching it, brings to mind the place we both called home as children. Thus is the importance of our childhood home. It also carries with it an element of security just like when in Roman times, the mother of the bride would light a stick in her homefire and light the hearth of her daughter's house symbolising continuity and connection.

When we sit around the table for a meal, we recreate that centre in our home around which we can see eachother and share a meal. When we sit around an open fire, we recreate the same primal feelings of belonging just like our ancestors did sitting around a fire in a cave.

The focus now is not in a house but has moved outside, the focus in the house is now often the TV and the computer which has moved our focus from eye contact towards a global vision where we do not really communicate but watch without fully engaging.

What memories do you have of the place you called 'home' and what in your present surroundings, in your current shelter, brings that sense of security to mind and makes it tangible. What is missing?How are you replacing it and with what?

There are still tribes round the globe who live that way. You can watch the way the Bushmen live here and the struggles they face.


Robyn McMaster, PhD said...

Hi, the place I called home does not exist any more. We had a woodstove in the kitchen where mother cooked the meals. Mother had to sew clothes because there was little money. We didn't have TV or video games or computers or access to the internet. We had good neighbors and we cared about them. Today my daughter in law has four boys in the home and she stays there with them. Their life is so vastly different, but the one constant is that each home had a caring nuturing enviornment for children. When children know they are loved, no matter if they are raised by a single parent, they do not seek it in other places.

Parents who "walk the talk" make a difference.


Downshiftingpath said...

Hi Robyn,

That is such an interesting comment.A home is not just a physical space but as we use all of our senses in childhood, more so than in our later years I think, we soak up the feeling of belonging. When parents get that right and it is backed up with a society that cares (good neighbours, interest in community), then that feeling of belonging is carried with you wherever you go.
Many things have changed...more on that in part 3