As we turned the corners of the new year, I returned home after living in Stockholm, Sweden for four months. I am finally where I belong. Home. In Northern California where the air has an otherworldly perfume of damp peaty musk and fresh green. Home. As David Byrne of the Talking Heads once sang, “…where I want to be” And as poet David Whyte once wrote, “…where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love.”
Returning home has made me swoony with happiness, in love with things it has taken me long to learn to love: the drafty windows that won’t entirely shut. The chickens John bought as his pet project and over the years became mine; the comfortable-for-one-but-too-soft-for-two (so the lighter person always rolls into the crack by midnight) bed; the redwood hot tub that takes the edge off the dampness that gets in our bones out here but needs vintage car level maintenance; my cramped too-tight house, full of family, energy and life and the wide-open freedom and loneliness when it’s empty. Home’s gentle and secluded nest allows me to love things in myself I have a hard time loving in my self, my life. A safe harbor and guardian of my inner world, home makes room for life’s contradictions. Where else can the quirks, joys, emotional hiccups and sadnesses, the full range of one’s inner everything swirl together and simply be okay?
Home is belonging. We often think we own our house, that it belongs to us, but in reality our home doesn’t belong to us so much as we belong to it. For instance, here’s something I know about my cat, Obi. We can leave him at home in the hands of another caretaker, for months, and he is so happy I’m not sure he even noticed we were gone yet if we’d sent him to a pet hotel or even another family member’s house, his world would’ve ended. He belongs here, to this house. It seems if we care for and love a thing, it owns us (pet owners know this). And like any intimate relationship, the more we invest in the places, people and pets we love, the harder it is to think about ever leaving them. Belonging is not for the commitment shy.
Home is on the inside, they say, and if we feel at home in our self, we can be at home in the world wherever we are. But without a true place to anchor us, it’s impossible to know where we belong. Home is earthly, a physical dwelling place, a country, the friends and intimate partnerships we return to over and over again – the people and place we are charged to care take and care for with devotion and love. By so doing, we create the necessary sanctuary for our self, a refuge to restore our self so that we can go out into the world feeling at home in our self. The safe feeling: you belong here, no matter what we will always be here for you with open arms translates into that magical security of being permanently okay.
The Capricorn Sun’s symbol is a solitary, earthly mountain goat, symbolic for the time of year many of us are gearing up for the year’s necessary material pursuits. As a balance the Cancer Moon asks us to check in with our physical dwelling place, the people we call family and kin, and the condition of our heart. What do you need to tend or heal in your life? What people, pets and family of friends might need your love, care and support? At new year’s we did our family ritual of going round the dinner table with the “best ” and “worst thing” that happened this year. It had been a long time since we’d caught up like this, we learned a few critical things about the secret inner lives of our teenagers and are now thinking how we might better support them.
If your home is not feeling so bright, nor giving you the fulfilment of being “at home”, the planets and signs in the house of Cancer, the astrological Fourth House, say something about the type of home you need and the type of soul mate are willing to live under one roof with, let alone yoke yourself to for eternity. Jupiter/Sagittarius here? A big home and an optimistic, jolly partner. Neptune/Pisces? You need a sensitive, spiritual partner and housemate, and a meditation room at your house. Saturn/Capricorn? A stand-up, reliable partner and at least one room that’s your very own are necessary for “the temple of your adult aloneness.” When a couple is moving in together, I always look to their respective Fourth Houses for homey synergy. The Fourth House is where we find our people and place.
At this Full Moon, tend to the place and people that you return to, that cradle and hold your heart, without which all your worldly pursuits and ambitions would be empty. For Cancer, home is a verb; a tending, doing and caring, a temple flame to be renewed with devotion. Cancer Full Moon asks, In what bright home do you want to love all the things that have taken you so long to love? Are you already living in it? There is no house like the house of belonging.
This is the bright home
In which I live
This is where
This is where I want
To love all the things
It has taken me so long to learn to love.
This is the temple of my adult aloneness
And I belong
To that aloneness
As I belong to my life.
There is no house
Like the house of belonging.
-excerpt from The House of Belonging by David Whyte