One of my astrology clients just wrote to me about a book called: The House As Mirror of the Self. I knew immediately that I loved this idea because I’ve been living it, and perhaps you have too
Have you ever walked into a house and felt it right away? Has a house told you about the unspoken life of the person who lived within it?
Have you ever thought of all the different places you’ve lived in your life and how each space reflected something that reflected your inner life as well? Think of the progression from your childhood room to the dorm room, to the first apartment to the first house…can you see what has endured and what has changed in each move?
Have you noticed how your living space reflects you? Do you need to be spacious with an “open floor plan” or are you like me, going for an older house of character that has “cozy rooms.” No place is perfect: we must sacrifice something in every choice we make with a house, but we also make conscious and unconscious decisions along the way: I want this color in the living room, I want this comfy chair, or I must knock down this wall…who knows all the reasons why?
The author of this book says that what is most revealing about ourselves—and the inner/outer metaphor—is less about the building itself and more about what we choose to put in our space, and how we arrange things. How do we feather our nest? How will we paint the walls? And what cherished objects will we choose to have around us that we’ve carried from house to house?
Although our house reflects something about who we are, it never seems to be quite perfect. Perhaps that makes room for growth to happen, both within our psyches and within our rooms For me, as much as I love the little rooms in this old house, I often feel the need to stretch those walls out! But I can’t. However, I see myself in the objects on the mantel over the fireplace: the old clock, my astrolabe, the zither, and that photograph. I see myself in the cozy kitchen with the sturdy red chairs I’ve carried with me from house to house. Some things I need.
Interesting too how the rooms in this house feel so different from each other—is it true too for the rooms in my psyche? For me there are public rooms and private rooms. Rooms that are dressed and rooms that are simply meant for work; rooms for comfort and rooms for utility. Like me, the house “needs work still.”
The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, had the resources and time to play out this idea of house as mirror for the Self. In his later life he built a separate house for himself away from his family house—a stone house on the shores of a lake. In this cherished house he cooked without electricity in a primitive kitchen and painted oversized murals on the stucco walls. What started out as a one room tower grew larger every year…and he wrote that each addition to his house was a growth in consciousness. He saw himself as being less of a Swiss gentleman and more of a “natural man” so his creation reflected that part of himself. Ah…we should all be so lucky to be able to do that!
But I love my home, and I’ll continue to live within this space that holds me so well now. Yes, this house holds me, and I feel blessed to live in a place that has sheltered people for almost 200 years. I am grateful too for the chance to have rescued this house in foreclosure and bring it back to life. A house that was unwanted for so many years.
Hm…what in me was rescued? Meanwhile I’ll continue to bless these sturdy wide floorboards and these sturdy colonial walls that have kept the fury of winter away…