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  • The Symbolic Power of Home, Part 2: Where is Home?

    In the first part of this series, I wrote about how the experience of connection to a specific place that is home can be powerful and profound. However, there are also many people for whom there is no connection to a sense of home.  And, for any of us, there can be many times–perhaps long periods–when we feel that we have lost anything that resembles that connection.

    There are many real people for whom the experience of not having a place where they belong is overwhelmingly powerful and poignant.  We may not be that sort of person, may not feel that way.  And yet, very often, there is something in the experience of these people that can profoundly resonate with us.

    OK, I admit it: I am really dating myself with the video below.  It’s from 1970, but, nonetheless, I’ve decided to include it, because I think that it represents a remarkable musical expression.  The group is Canned Heat, a blues-rock band from California, and the singer/blues harmonica/group leader is a young man named Alan Wilson.  In my opinion, Wilson’s singing here, in his inimitable blues manner profoundly touches on the experience of what it is to feel without a home.  By today’s standards, the video is very rudimentary, and the band seems far from polished in its stage presence.  However, as you watch and listen to Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson sing and play “blues harp”, it is hard to avoid the feeling that he is putting the whole of himself, the whole of the pain in his life, into those lyrics of endless wandering, “on the road again”.

    “The first time I travelled on, in the rain and snow / I didn’t have no fare, not even no place to go…”

    “My dear mother left me, when I was quite young / She said, Lord have mercy, on my wicked son…”

    This is really an aspect of all of us.  It’s an archetypal theme.  Homer’s Ulysses on his seemingly endless 10 year struggle — and all he wants to do is get back home to Ithaca.  Aeneas, in Virgil’s Aeneid, sole Trojan survivor and refugee from the sack of Troy, for whom there is no home to which he can go back–he must just keep on moving, that’s all there is.

    As good as the human experience of home may be, there are those voices that would remind us that the welcome is never quite complete and total enough.  In the words of the German writer and poet Hermann Hesse, “One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time.”  But there is always a sense in which we are journeying onward.

    The truth seems to be that our deepest yearning for home is something that cannot be fully met by an outer place, however wonderful. We may feel deeply connected to the place of our birth or family life, for instance, and yet something is missing, something for which we yearn.  This is because home, the real home we are seeking is something within ourselves and our own being.  Symbollically, it is the center of the mandala.  Home is connection with the centre of our own being; it is to be accepting of and at home with the deepest part of the self.  But to find that, we must undertake an inner journey.

    Have you ever had a time in your life when you yearned for a feeling of security and rootedness?  Do you know what it is to be “on the road”?

    Are there people who make you feel at home with their warmth and acceptance, as Hesse suggests?

    Have you had the experience of feeling at home in yourself, of accepting who and what you are, and accepting your life?

    I’d gratefully welcome your comments and reflections on the archetypes of home and homelessness.  What would it mean in your life in your life for you to truly “come home”?

    My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

    Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst


    PHOTO CREDIT: © Teokcmy |


    © 2010 Brian Collinson

    1. jamenta


      June 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm -

      Alienation is akin to not having a home. As I’ve gotten older – the alienation is heightened as well with much disappearing I identified with my youth – famous people, places, events.

      For me the most “home” like qualities were the people that entered into the different “acts” in my stage play and then exited or a few still present. Lovers of course are the key roles in my life stage play.

      I recently viewed a photo of Kevin Costner testifying before congress in regards to the disastrous oil spill in the gulf. His hair was gray, his skin sagging from age, his eyes with rings. And here was a man who it (seems almost like yesterday) was remarkably fit and attractive in the many well known films he produced and/or acted in. In addition, during his testimony his words were tripped – his brain had also slowed a bit due to the age.

      I’m not sure what I’m getting at here – what does age have to do with “Power of Home”? But I suppose the key word is “alienation” and “identification”? What are we? What do we value most? Is our meaning contingent on our youth and place and people that fade over time?

      Do we dare hope for more when the final abrupt calamity takes place of death? Do we go back to what many hope to be our “real” home? I am reminded of a quote by Emerson in his essay “Immortality” which I have read many times and is probably one of the best essays he ever wrote IMO:

      “I have a house, a closet which holds my books, a table, a
      garden, a field: are these, any or all, a reason for refusing
      the angel who beckons me away, – as if there were no room or
      skill elsewhere that could reproduce for me as my like or my
      enlarging wants may require?”


    2. Robert G. Longpré
      June 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm -

      Home can’t be found in an outer place. Home is a state of being at peace with one’s self. Being alienated from one’s self doesn’t let one feel at home in any place, even if one has never been anywhere but in the same house for the whole of one’s life. Yet if one is at one with one’s self, it doesn’t matter where one is, one is at “home.”

    3. date with style
      July 26, 2010 at 6:41 am -

      You post informative articles. Bookmarked !

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