In my grad school studies, I just completed a course about psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. In it, I learned about Bollingen Tower, which he built in 1923 on Lake Zürich. He spent several months there each year, without electricity or running water.
I learned that, upon returning to the tower after a long absence, Jung’s ritual was to speak aloud to his pots and pans (Jung was a talented cook), ask their forgiveness for being gone so long and promising to remain for a while and give them the attention they deserved. This apparently gave him a sense of peace and well-being, and only then did he feel free to go about making his home there once again.
That sounds just a little odd to me, but then, how many of us have walked into our homes after being away on a trip and said, “Hello, house!” out loud? Not so different, really.
This lead me to thinking about incense and smudging (I’ll make the connection clear in a moment). Almost every culture on earth makes use of scent and smoke in some way in order to purify a space. It’s usually, but not always, part of a sacred ritual.
I burn incense, and occasionally smudge with white sage or Palo Santo wood, and wave the smoke around in my sanctuary at home, and sometimes in my sanctuary space at my office as well. It gives me a sense of peace, and somehow seems to clear room for new thoughts, for new energy.
So, the idea of Carl Jung speaking to his pots and all the rest of us greeting our houses and burning incense set a light bulb off in my mind as to why a sanctuary works the way it does. Why does setting up a space, and more or less consecrating that space as sacred to my soul work the way it does?
I think it comes down to energy — and by energy I mean that positive spiritual intention that lives within all of us. I mean love.
When we create a sanctuary for ourselves, we lovingly put this space together. We lovingly fill it with artifacts of nature and with reminders of the nobility of the soul within us. And then, after a difficult day when we have been tried to our very core, that energy — that love — comes back to us and refills us over and over again. That’s why a sanctuary works.
Can you find a sense of sanctuary anywhere? You bet you can.
Is that sense of sanctuary more powerful when you can intentionally create, consecrate, and fill this space at home with your loving intention? My goodness, yes.
One of my biggest shocks came when I discovered that I had been doing this unconsciously with almost every space I created as an interior designer. And I believe that practice of infusing interior spaces with love is why some of my clients have been so visibly moved when they walk from room to room upon seeing their new home for the first time.
Jung’s tower was his sanctuary. In speaking to his pots and pans, he was infusing that space with his love, his energy. In doing so, somehow, those physical objects reflected back his own love back to him and gave him the peace he needed in order to move forward.
In the same way, then, the objects we lovingly place in our sanctuary hold and reflect back our highest and purest of love and intention back to us.
This is not a new behavior. We as humans have infused a given space with our energy since building the first temple, consecrating the first cathedral, or the first time a young mother-to-be lovingly prepared a place for a forthcoming child.
This is what we do when we create a sanctuary space for ourselves. We infuse it with our energy, with our love. And when we need it most, that love comes back to nurture us.
With deep, deep gratitude and wishes for a blessed new year,
P.S. We should totally try this at home. When I get home from now on, I’m going to say, “Hello house! You are so lovely, and I missed you so much! It’s so good to be back within your walls.” I am going to do the same thing to my office when I arrive, even if my team looks at me askance. Will you do this? I’d love to hear about what differences you feel in the energy of your home.