I’ve been something of a gypsy for most of my life, although not entirely by choice. It seems Fate enjoys bouncing me around, and I just go along for the ride, always believing that the next place will be better somehow. I’m not sure if it’s optimism or a restless spirit that drives me, but I know one thing for sure—I’m damn good at packing and unpacking. I counted up all the times I’ve loaded up my belongings and hit the highway—this latest move makes 13.
The first move happened right before my 16th birthday. My parents had finally decided to call it quits, so my mom and I found ourselves on the hill overlooking our humble abode and saying goodbye to the little white house with brown shutters. As my childhood home, the creek, and my favorite maple tree faded slowly into the distance, somehow I knew that I was headed for a life with many transitions. I would have to get used to shifting sands and shaky foundations.
Sometimes I moved for me—because I wanted to attend college or be closer to my job. Sometimes I moved for others, believing in their promises, wanting the relationship to work, sacrificing too much in the long run, and ultimately moving on to save what was left of me. The last two moves were for love. They took me further away from everything and everyone I knew…and much closer to myself. It is the only time I’ve ever moved toward something real and tangible instead of running like hell to escape the bombs exploding behind me. There is a distinct difference between seeking shelter and seeking sanctuary.
All those years I spent running around like a refugee made the concept of “home” reach mythic proportions. I imagined that someday, somewhere, I was going to really settle down and never move again. I would put books on the shelf, and they would stay there. The rooms would always be familiar. The pots and pans in the kitchen would always be in the same place. I would know every tree, flower, and herb in my garden. I would have bird feeders and a rocking chair on the back porch. I would grow old and die there, and they would bury my ashes beneath a mighty oak.
Well…that magical place hasn’t quite materialized yet. Although I haven’t lost hope that it’s still within reach, I’ve had to accept the fact that I’ll get there in stages, like climbing up a mountain.
At times, I’ve wondered if home is just a fantasy we create to give ourselves the illusion of safety in an uncertain world. Almost everything inside a home can be replaced. The material structure can be rebuilt. People cannot be replaced, though, and memories cannot be rebuilt. We need touchstones to remind us of who we are, where we came from, and what we’re doing here.
As a kid, I was force fed the Christian idea that home is not even in this world at all. The lines from an old hymn came back to me as I was writing this piece:
This world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
On one level, I get what the songwriter was trying to convey. Getting too attached to the material world is a recipe for heartbreak and misery. I think the Buddhists would wholeheartedly agree. Always longing for the other side is just escapism, though. We have to be here and now while we are on this journey. There is pain, yes, but there is so much joy, too.
As a Wiccan, I see the Earth as a nourishing Mother, and I feel a strong responsibility to take care of Her. All that lives has a purpose, and even the smallest plants and animals can be powerful teachers and allies. The heart of my faith is finding balance in all things, even when the scene around me keeps changing.
So, when you can’t count on the same four walls, you simply take your magic with you—and then anywhere and everywhere is home. Here are a few rituals and practices I’ve picked up along the way to make whatever space I’m occupying a little more sacred.
- Smudge every room with white sage, especially around doors and windows. This clears the house of negative energy.
- After smudging with sage, light up some Palo Santo to bless each room. As you waft the smoke around, chant blessings for health, peace, and prosperity.
- Use a feng shui magic square to locate the power centers in your house. This can help you decide whether a room would function better as a bedroom or an office, for example. It can also help you decide how to decorate so that energy flows freely and harmoniously.
- Set up a space that is solely dedicated for meditation, and use it often.
- Use essential oils. It’s ridiculously easy to create your own aromatherapy mists, and just spritzing them around can change the atmosphere in a room instantly.
- Placing gemstones and crystals in key areas can also bring in positive energy.
- De-clutter as much as possible. (I’m in the process of doing this now, since my beloved and I have finally merged all our belongings!)
I highly recommend the following books for a more in-depth exploration of creating a happier home (even if it’s temporary!)
Yule blessings to one and all as we welcome the return of the sun!