What is home?

The saying is that “home is where the heart is”, but home is more than that. For instance, a person can have a spiritual home, without ever having lived there, or even visited the place.

This is awkward to explain in a scientific manner. If you allow for reincarnation though, it becomes a simpler matter to explain. It’s a place you have lived in or which was important to you in a previous life.If you allow for race memory, then it’s a part of the world your ancestors came from, which is written deep into your bones, or in modern parlance, inscribed in your DNA.

I seriously dislike turnip for instance. Baked, boiled, mashed or fried, it causes me a deep seated revulsion. I have no reason in this life to dislike the vegetable – I ate it maybe once or twice in my childhood. I joke that I must have in one of my last lives spent a whole winter eating nothing but turnips – and since my ancestors are European, it’s quite possible.

If you travel to the land of your ancestors, you will come across odd moments where suddenly you feel at home. It’s a strange feeling of deja vu and it will be sparked by a glimpse of trees between houses, or of distant mountains, or even the arrangement of loaves in a bakers shop. Things that ought to be utterly alien become oddly familiar in a way not easily explained.

And yet. This landscape of Australia is also home. I remember after my first overseas trip (which coincided with the European winter) being startled by the quality of the light which floods our landscapes, and the intensity of the summer sky against rolling hills of grass.

I remember also the joy of returning home to each rental house, and the house we currently own, after a hard day. Home of course is partly a made or created thing. We say to visitors “make yourself at home”. The mark of a true friend of the family is someone you don’t have to clean up for.

So how to make a house a home? What if you are stuck in a hotel room for a period of time? How do you deal with a rental house?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Ensure you cleanse the place thoroughly before you move in. Physical cleaning can help, or use a cleaning spell and a sage smudge stick or equivalent.
  2. If you are staying in a hotel, move the bed to where it is more comfortable. unpack into drawers and cupboards. tidy up before you leave each day so you don’t come back to find your things shifted about by the cleaner.
  3. Rental houses are still your home, however temporary. Look after the garden. Plant a couple of new things for the next tenant. Be kind to the paintwork. Invite people over. Suggest improvements to the landlord.
  4. If it’s your house, take the time to observe the patterns of sunlight and shade. Shift the furniture and change the garden to the best configuration for you. This could take a few years!
  5. Above all, wherever you are living, be present in the space. That means taking the time to observe how the room works in different conditions. Mark your children’s height on the wall. Paint the kitchen your favourite colour, not what’s fashionable. Make your own curtains, collect furniture that appeals to you. Home is a collection of memories more than anything else.

Happy Homemaking!