(Thanks Tom for the prompt!)
There are definite differences between living somewhere, and calling it ‘home’. It comes from relationship with place, and any other entities that share it with you. My sense of ‘home’ has often involved places I wasn’t living in – the venue for TDN meetings, folk club venues and festivals give me a huge sense of ‘home’ while dwelling places frequently haven’t.
As a druid, hearth is vitally important to me. I’m happiest in places that can have proper fires, and I think a fire is the best focus for a living room. (Not a television as is the case most places.) Once you get past the bare essentials, there are other things that make a place more ‘home’.
Other living things – be they people, plants or animals. Being the only living thing in a place does not seem homely at all to me.
Items that connect you to others. I’ve always had things from my family, and gifts from friends in my personal space, and they help shape it for me.
The means to work creatively – spaces that enable creativity and inspire it, are vital to me. Again, dwellings set up to enable little more than TV viewing I find challenging.
The investment of care is a very defining thing. Looking after a place is very much key in my relationship with it. Other people sharing the space need to have a similar approach though, or you don’t get something that feels like a home.
A home doesn’t just take your time and energy, it gives back. More than just the shelter and comfort the building provides, a sense of home is a consequence of the family or community living in it and associated with it – friends, neighbours, visitors, those who were there before. A home is very much about people. It should be a place of solace and retreat, a place where it is possible to be sociable, to play, relax and work as needed.
In Irish tradition, Brigid is the Goddess of the hearth. The Romans had house spirits, Norse tradition has them too. A home should include a sense of spirit and sacredness – without that, it’s just a place you go to sleep. Honouring the gods of home and hearth, honouring the dwelling, deepens the relationship we can have with it.
To my mind, the social, emotional attributes shaping a home are far more important than any physical goods. It’s an old cliché that home is where the heart is, but a dwelling place that does not serve your heart, is no kind of home.