A few years ago, I came to deeply dislike the term housewife, on a gut level, and it did represent everything that I did not want to be part of, and everything that I did not want to be identified with: worthlessness, value only through another (the husband), lack of contribution, lack of creativity, dismissiveness of individual needs, and absence of any expression of the self. This word became the epitome of resentment for me.
Then, at some point in the year 2020, after a lockdown, a pandemic, children doing school from home, my husband doing work from home, the stop of my hands-on practice and thus the loss of my home-studio space where I used to see clients and hold classes, I heard something: my house was calling on me. The walls and the floors were asking of me a different kind of presence, the personality of this house was coming through and asking me to pay attention, to listen. As I started to sort out children’s clothes and toys, decluttering and giving things away, sorting out paperwork and putting what was not of need anymore in boxes, as I was putting myself into all those tasks, my home became a new territory, and we started to create a new dialog together. There is something to say about putting the parts of myself that were not needed anymore away, and relieving myself from some kind of clutter from the need of external recognition. My own sorrow, growth and transformation seemed held and mirrored by the change that was happening in my home.
I enjoyed taking the time differently for cooking, I slept in and spent more time inside with my family. I built a stone wall outside, along the South side of the rain garden, bringing boundaries and a deeper sense of connection with this land. The time I spent outside became related to the inside in a way I had not experienced before, there was an anchoring and a centering of our home within its surroundings - as opposed to two different spaces (the house and the outside). I came to see my cleaning and decluttering as offerings to the house itself, as a care-taking of our shelter, our place for safety and union, a place that hosts our values and sees us grow. I started to see joy in the exchange of those tasks, like something one does knowing that it provides happiness on the receiving end.
In my studies and practice of somatic awareness, psychology and personal development, I have learned to see my body as the container where everything that has ever happened in my life takes place. Now, I see my house as a co-creative space where most of my life is happening, and for me at this point it means my motherhood years, my forties, my travels into the darkness of a marriage and into the brightness of the same marriage. This home is the place of my golden years - a very special time.
Over the months, the dreadful term housewife morphed into being the wife in this home, into being the woman who enters into the queendom of her life in this home. I started to see that I truly chose this place, and that this house and I were becoming familiar to each other - as in the old definition of a familiar: a companion, an intimate associate.
And then a detail of a story came back to me, because that is what stories do, if you have woven a relationship with them and fed them from your own soul: they swirl around time and come back to you again and again, bringing the most wonderful gifts . This one is a story I heard a few years ago, told by Martin Shaw, and retold by Lara Veleda Vesta, about Fox Woman Dreaming*. It starts once upon a time, with a lonely hunter. He returns to his hut on a cold Autumn evening, and sees from afar smoke coming out of the chimney. He rushes home and finds nothing but a warm meal on the table and the smell of care in the hut. Days pass and the same scene happens, until one day he decides to come home earlier to find out the reason behind the mysterious cooking. He opens the door carefully and this is what he sees: behind the door hangs a fox pelt, and in front of the wood stove stands a woman with long, dark red hair and green eyes, busy throwing herbs into the pot of soup. The food smells delicious, there is a gentle hum in the air and the whole hut seems in perfect rhythm with all worlds. The hunter knows this woman is Fox Woman Dreaming, he knows that she is a creature of the Underworld and that he is not lonely anymore. She looks at him and says with a low and sure voice: “I am going to be the woman of this house”.
The story continues of course, but for me this year, the treasure was in that part: to be the woman of this house. I was offered a new - or quite old actually - definition of being the woman of a house. It has to do with care and nourishment, with the creation of a full life within a shelter, with a marriage between the worlds, it is about integration, and about being the embodiment of both the world that we see and the world of the unseen (or Underworld). It requires commitment and devotion. Not devotion at the cost of losing ourselves but at the earning of finding more of ourselves. It is an honoring of what we are provided for, and it is indeed a true, intimate association.
And so, my invitation is this: Be the woman, or the man, of your house.
Know it intimately and cultivate it so you can find nourishment, rest, and inspiration there.
To create that kind of relationship and sanctuary is a practice, it will most certainly evolve with the seasons of the natural world and with the seasons of our life, with the seasons of our children’s lives or the phases in our relationships. It reflects where we are and what brings us stability and inspiration, and to stay inspired within our own familiar environment is not a simple task. It requires from us to notice, to make space, to keep clarity, to question, and to not be afraid of changing what has been the same for a long time.
For the Solstice, I painted our entrance door. This project was swirling in my mind for weeks and weeks, and I took great care in each step of the process: cleaning, removing the hardware, sanding, more cleaning, first coat of paint, drying, cleaning again, second coat of paint, putting hardware back. This was an important ritual for and about the portal into my house, an announcement to the world(s) that I was solidly grounded in this place. There are runes drawn under my door and there are ancestors’ blessings, there is a secret little pouch with herbs, and there are prayers breathed into the wood. There is a lion and two snakes that serve as a door-knocker for most eyes to see, and that are a reminder of values and of allies for me. And there is a little fox inside, hung at the back of the door to keep the dreams from the Wild alive.
All these are symbols and portals into the other world, for the woman of this house to travel with. For the woman of this house to always know who she is, and what she is here for.
*Fox Woman Dreaming told by Martin Shaw:
*Fox Woman Dreaming told by Lara Veleda Vesta: