Postcard #30: Visit My Sanctuary

If ever you wonder, I’ll tell you why I stay home so often. This place is very much who I am, a place  somewhere to return to time and time again, no matter where I go. This is my place of healing and comfort, my temple, my sanctuary, my hiding place, and official headquarters. After going without this sort of stability in my life, I’m reluctant to move away from it. No matter how tempting the rest of the world is, I’m too much in love with being here.  Whenever I leave I feel like I am abandoning a lover. I am connected to this land by memories, by its people, and the familiar seasons, the sense that everything occurs here according to order, the usual comings and growings of flora and fauna, the woods all around me are alive, we know each other like family, the pace here is  slow and gentle, with everything happening under the canopy of tree branches that have been here longer than I have lived.

I am at peace now, accepting myself as the kind of woman who waits and hopes, stays home to holding down the fort, keep the fire burning, and even if I stand at the shores of the little lake behind my home with longing tears for you, the absences in between visits always gives me freedom and time to concentrate uninterrupted on art. Oh, the images and poetry I come up with when my heart dances in want of you! Of all of you, my friends, in so many places, scattered like seeds, flying like baby spiders who cast their gossamer into the wind and sail off for distant places!  I’m with you and here, in between places, somewhere and no where, taking my vacations in dreams.

My Dream House

Ever since I was a girl, I dreamed of living in a cottage in the woods, and it did not matter where in the world.  It would be a simple place close to trees, nothing fancy, just enough of a home to fulfill the purpose of living comfortable and affordable, somewhere that won’t seem to stick out too much out of nature.  It would be a safe sanctuary, a spiritual place, quiet and quaint, facing away from cars, traffic, and noise.  My future home would face the dawning sun.  I am not the kind of homemaker that loves to cook and clean, so I would still have to live near semi-urban areas, but let the city be within walking distance where I won’t ever need a car for transport.  Let a hospital be conveniently a few blocks away, too, and where I can walk to places of peace never too far from other people but never crowded by people.  Let me live undisturbed, walk at my own pace, and still be a little legend where I live.

And, guess what? I sort of got my wish. Where I live today is very much like my dream house, but it is an apartment, not a place I own, and a temporary setting. I don’t know how many years I will live here. There are times I don’t want to think about moving. I just live fully here in the moment for as long as I can. I am next to the woods. A hospital is a ten minute walk away. So is the grocery store and restaurants. If I need to take a bus to any city, it’s not far to walk to the stop. And I live in a city that is small, progressive, and friendly, quite safe, with the best tasting and most healthy water in the nation.

What if Home were to become a Historical Landmark?

As I got older I wanted to become an “official somebody” for a city.  Like Laurie Cabotthe Official Witch of Salem, or Louise Huebner, The Official Witch of Los Angeles (a.k.a. “Official Sorceress for Los Angeles County”).  I grew up traveling around the Midwest with my preacher mother and we’d often visit historical landmarks and houses.  Some cities had their local heroes — someone or other who only made a footnote in national history, but in their city they were immortal, sometimes places they lived in preserved as living museums advertised as tourist attractions.  When we settled in southwestern Missouri, it was not hard to understand why the state’s nickname is the “show-me state” but I thought it was due to all the many attractions.  Missouri is full of Wild West and Civil War heroes, every place has one legend or other, and for me, living there filled my head with dreams of adventure and glory.

If ever I were to become famous for anything I were to do in life, I told myself, I’d want one of the places I lived in, or stayed at, to become a historical landmark for people to visit and have picnics at.  And then I’d wonder what these Missouri legends would think if they knew that their fame would be celebrated in such a way?  When does sanctuary become sacred site become tourist attraction?  These are things I think about when it comes to establishing a home… anywhere even if it’s just an apartment.  Could an apartment become a historical site?  Well, I have seen plenty of old hotel rooms (the 19th century version of studio apartments) where writers and artists have lived become one, so who knows?  Perhaps someday somewhere someone I knew who becomes famous for some honor they achieved, will they be celebrated in this way?  I then begin to think about how clean historians would make the rooms where once my friends and I have lived, and what a joke that would be!

On a visit to Deadwood, South Dakota in 2010, I was surprised at how small of a town it was, and how tiny of a crowd its 19th century heroes were. Like a small group of friends who haphazardly made themselves legends, and then their friends added more stories to the bullshit, friends of friends make money selling ever more embellished tales, and even more legends sprout from those silly stories, and then before long you have the entire nation believing you and your friends are bigger than life. As my friends and I drove into Deadwood, it felt like coming home, but “home” was tarted up a bit for the tourists, and the spirits there happily haunt the place as if eating up the attention as much as they would when they were alive.

Come Over for a Visit!

If you were to visit my place right now, unexpected, you’d see what kind of homemaker I am.  I’m not!  I’m a lazy bitch, my dear.  I am disorganized in general, “accidentally forgetting” to do things immediately and letting them build up, especially when I live alone.  I am careless when it comes to the kitchen, avoiding it as much as possible, using only a few utensils and re-washing one dish at a time so I don’t have to do dishes, and, yes, the sink and counter is more often than not, very cluttered.  I find housework a waste of time.  I only want to do work that I want to do: drawing and writing.  So in order to do housework, I have to reward myself with work I want to do!  Otherwise nothing gets done.

Even so, whether or not you can come for a visit, I’m going to, right now, describe to you what it is like, without holding back, to spend a day and night in my sanctuary:

First of all, finding my place is a little tricky.  The streets in Stevens Point are a little weird, as if someone drunk drew them up; one end ends somewhere and begins again in a different corner.  My apartment complex is hidden behind several other bigger ones, yet once you see mine, you’re sure to not forget it.  The buildings are like little cabins next to Schmeekle Reserve, in fact they were once called “honeycombs” because that is their shape.  Built in the 1970’s, they tend to have the tell-tale designs of that decade, earthy and muted, the roofs close to the ground, giving the tenants lots of shade.  Once you are here, you’ll notice the deep, dank, green smell of the trees and nearby creek.  The air, even during the hottest summer days, is slightly cool because of the tree cover.  In the front window you’ll see Mr. Snuggles, my cat, wide-eyed and wondering who you are, staring at you like some yellow-green-eyed demon.  I don’t burn incense a lot, but my apartment always smells good (even on garbage days).  It’s a combination of sweet smells like lavender, fruits, sandalwood, and Nag Champa mixed with the teak wood that goes with each apartment (they used it to accent the interior space) and the green smell from the woods.

My Humble Pie… um, Pad

It’s a small place, but not too small.  My living room seems bigger than it is with plenty of cushy chairs and a fluffy black leather couch loaded with plush pillows perfect for naps.  My entertainment system I inherited from my Aunt Madge after she died, but it is slowly sagging in the middle due to the weight of my old television.  I need to replace it, however I feel obligated to keep it for old memory’s sake.  I’m sentimental like that.

The whole apartment is a pie slice, with the bathroom being the center of the tip of the slice.  I have an upstairs loft with a skylight.  I once kept an altar up there, but Mr. Snuggles laid claim to the space, so now it’s his bedroom as well as a meditation room.  He occasionally sleeps on the empty top of the wooden altar!  Like a living statue of the goddess Bast, he basks in the humidity that rises in the room due to the concentration of the sunlight streaming in from the skylight that also keeps Planty-Poo (my spider plant, yes, I do name my plants, too) alive.  A futon with plenty of pillow and a few old tapestries for blankets is always made up there for guests, but Mr. Snuggles often uses it as his own bed.  Every week I have to clean it because it gets full of his fur.  If you plan on sleeping over, he’ll end up sleeping with you, or more likely, on top of you and close to your face.  He lives up to his name.

As for my bedroom, it’s full of books, pillows, all manner of stuff, much I will leave a mystery.  I have a habit of collecting scarves, many of them imported from all around the world.  I also collect headdresses for belly dance, use old costume jewelry as decoration, and my bedroom furniture is vintage French Provincial style inherited from my Aunt.

My Empty Altar

I have a small bedroom altar space, but I no longer keep a formal altar anymore.  This does not make me any less devoted to my Gods, I’ve just grown accustomed to not having an altar due to the years I was homeless and lived on the move.  I’ve learned to keep a mental altar that I can draw upon at any time, any where, for any need. This I learned from necessity because I could not set up an altar where ever I stayed.  For a little while I carried a medicine pouch with tiny emblems inside to represent the items placed on an altar.  That was my mobile altar.  Then when I could not always wear that, I created the altar in my mind with a temple to go with it, something that I have not lost since.  It is very freeing to not depend upon physical props to do magic and spiritual work, however on special holy days I put out flowers and other offerings for the Gods, but they don’t stay inside for long. Since I live so close to the woods, my offerings go directly to the source. I step outside my door and walk into the woods, letting Spirit lead me to the place where it is most needed. I have no need for statues of the Gods, I have plenty of paintings of my own making, and I make it a habit to draw portraits of those whom I pray will let me capture their likeness for others to see.

What I’m Like as a Host

I’m very talkative. Very excitable talkative, like losing my breath I’m so excited you’re here kind of talkative, and I can’t relax right away because I have to make sure you’re comfortable first. I’m not very good at listening right away because after giving you a tour of my place, I will next want to take you out into the woods! The nature reserve is rather tame, however there are parts that have a wild bent to them still, I know where the deer roam, and can find the quietest places to meditate at, just in case in the morning you want to roll out of bed and have yourself some peace to start the day tomorrow. The reserve is also the best place to take a morning jog, too. I don’t have a lot of food, nor do I keep wine, but there’s a liqueur store down the street that carries a little bit of everything. Just down the way from that is an Asian grocery and a very affordable late night restaurant that serves “wet burritos” that are quite nice (they’re covered in melted cheese and baked) that I may recommend for a meal. Otherwise, I usually make sandwiches, or some other quick meal. If I’m feeling really ambitious, on occasion friends and I like to potluck it or cook together. No problem.

I’m not Suzy Homemaker! I’m often embarrassed about that, but if you want movies, books, good conversation, and cozy pillows, hey, I can provide plenty of that. Plus, did I tell you I have a friendly cat who loves being held? No home is really a home without a cat in it. I should print that somewhere in my apartment as a motto. I’m often lost without a cat in my life. Mr. Snuggles and I go together. He clings to me like my child and he orders me around like a husband!

Not everything’s mess around here. Everything I put in here is for comfort. I would not spend so much time in here if it weren’t my little witch cave walled with pillows and art prints, candles and interesting perfumes… I am usually alone, but never quite lonely. Mr. Snuggles and I are always open to visitors.

When can we expect you?

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4 thoughts on “Postcard #30: Visit My Sanctuary

  1. Thank you for sharing a bit about your sanctuary! I too linger mostly in my little oasis with my furry children and down my favorite paths with the spirits in the woods, after going too long without having a place to call home. Your writing always inspires me, and I’m off to waft my home with Nag Champa and cedar and ponder the magic of my own little sanctuary.

    1. Yay! So happy I inspired you today (and at other times, too). That makes it all the more worthwhile for me to wake up, wipe the dust out of my eyes, and write.

      Tonight I’m burning some lavender and basil to mask the smell of cottonwood and cigarette smoke burning outside (thanks to some of my neighbors). It’s been a cold start to June here in Wisconsin, but I’m enjoying the cool nights. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. More to write soon! I have some catching up to do.

  2. Love your description! Feels as if you’ve given me a little tour of your space. I think our housekeeping styles are rather similar actually, although frequent vacuuming is a must here with two shedding dogs. 🙂

    1. Oh, that reminds me… have to vacuum around here, too. I tend to have a major dust and hair problem as well. My dust bunnies multiply quicker than I can keep up with them! This time of year is especially messy because Mr. Snuggles sheds his winter coat, and I seem to “shed” too with my long strands of hair seemingly renewing and lightening with the sunshine.

      However, the vacuum doesn’t quite cut the mustard, so I end up on my knees with a small broom to whisk away at the corners where those dust bunnies love to hide and breed in the most! 😉

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