Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Contemplating "Home"

Since writing the Samhain post about honoring my grandfather, Giuseppe, the other day, I've been thinking about the concept of "home." He moved around a lot, was an immigrant a few times over, and when I was younger I found some sense of pleasure out of the description my mother gave our family as "nomads." Yes, we have appeared to have a sort of "itch," it seems.

Since our immigrant ancestors, we've ever been on the move. At first perhaps it was due to the pursuit of better economic conditions, but is there something more? A constant search for a feeling of "rightness" and belonging?

Last night I was watching an episode of the Originals (a vampire show) and the topic of "home" popped up. Two of the characters were discussing how fiercely they would defend their right to live in their home city, and I thought, "I don't know what that feels like." To be so connected to the place where you live that you would fight to stay there. So I decided to pull some cards about it. I didn't ask a clear question, I simply held this idea in my mind as I shuffled ("What is home, and how does a lack of home impact me? How do I find home?"). I pulled:

8 of Grails/Cups - Judgement rx - 10 of Skulls/Pentacles rx
Tarot of Vampyres
The 8 of Grails was fitting, since it is a card of movement, of dissatisfaction or lack of fulfillment. It's about going on a journey. There is something here of the nomad experience. The 10 of Skulls is the quintessential "family legacy" card - what do you pass down to future generations, and what have you received from your own ancestors? It's a card a closely associated with the essence of a family's material being and presence. And in the center lies Judgement, provoking so many questions I don't even know where to begin.

I live in central Florida now, but I was born on the east coast, and spent my early years between Connecticut and Rhode Island. At about kindergarten age my natal family moved to Michigan, and for nine years I lived in one town, moving to another (very different) city for the next eighteen years. Then my husband and I packed up our things and our kids, and drove into the deep south. You might think that Michigan would have been that "home" for me, but I felt discontented there despite having lived in that state for most of my life. It didn't feel like home, though it was certainly very familiar.

And while there have been many wonderful aspects about life in our "new" state, I don't feel at home in Florida either. So I ask myself:

Will we always keep moving on in search of a place that feels right? If so, we will never provide that land-rooted legacy for our future generations; instead ours will be a legacy of the nomad, the pilgrim, the wanderer. 

And if we always search, are we destined never to find? 

Is the answer in the act of deciding to stay rooted to a place, to not move even when we feel discontented? 

Is the answer in the realization that our legacy moves within us and doesn't need to be anchored; that perhaps our legacy itself is in our movement?

Is there perhaps no answer at all? 

Perhaps this is the legacy of all immigrants who lose their connection to ancestral lands. There is something to be said for the "family oversoul" - those gentle energetic ties that connect us to our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and beyond. As I did a cursory search of my own blog I found that for last year's Samhain post I had a "conversation" with my grandmother (who passed on thirty years ago) and the 10 of Pentacles was the heart of the draw. It's interesting that it has come up again almost exactly one year later. In the context of that post the focus was on honoring and reuniting family - the idea that home is where the largest grouping of multigenerational family is. A year ago we were considering moving back to Michigan since my mother and step-father are still there. And yet we are still here, with no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.

I sometimes imagine how our family's oversoul impacts me, us. Does my grandfather's wandering nature wield a more forceful vibration through the generational lines? His children, whose American bloodline epicenter lies in Connecticut, are now in Michigan, Tennessee, and Florida. Two of them are fairly regular world travelers. Their children are in England, New Zealand, Alaska, Saudi Arabia, Boston, Florida, California. The net is cast ever wider. Most of those are world travelers as well.

So is "home" in the people, or in the land? Is it in both? How do we recapture a sense of belonging - to each other, to a particular part of the earth? Or do we not? Do we simply restructure, rebuild, reconfigure family "legacy"? Do we start over, honoring the past and releasing it? I don't know, but I'll be sitting with this for time to come.


  1. So many questions and no clip and clear answers! It is hard to let go of the questions after you asked them and trust God you will receive the answers when the time is right. For now maybe the only thing you can do is to embrace the feeling of being home where ever you and your loved ones are

  2. You raise some fabulous questions there, Olivia! I can see the idea of a migrant legacy having many positives. And there has been migration throughout the ages, there's plenty of evidence of that. Yet, there are also plenty of writings about the connection to the land - just think of the Fisher King! I've been a bit of a world traveller, and my mum lives in a different country to where she was born. What I do, though, is try to connect to where I am while I'm there - by walking the streets and the parks, getting to know the trees and the seasons. I may not be here forever, but while I am I make it my own :)

    Will look forward to reading what answers you come up with for yourself and your family...

    1. Thanks, Chloe :-) Ah the seasons! Speaking of land, moving south removed me from the intensity of the changing northern seasons which I miss quite a bit. But while here in Florida I have come to appreciate the more subtle signals that seasons are transitioning (some leaves do change, the acorns fall, the cypress trees lose their needles, certain pink seed pods emerge, the air dries). In those ways I open myself to connect with the land where I happen to be. And there is always beauty there! I will post more on this soon! <3

  3. The other day on my hike I came across some chalk art by the neighborhood kids and the image that captured my imagination most was the 'home' drawing at the end of a hopscotch grid. I thought of the little hands spelling out the huge, lopsided word and then containing it within the larger structure of the grid...wondered how that little body felt as it spelled out, in all innocence, such an ongoing and universal theme...This memory inspires the sense that your deep questions are the kind that are meant to be lived out. A wonderful post, Olivia.

    1. Thanks, Rose! I think you are quite right... Some questions can only be lived out - I like that :-)