HOMESICKNESS: Longing & Belonging

May 19, 2022

Photo Credit: Fernando via Unsplash

From Homer’s Odyssey to the Wizard of Oz our native soil draws us home, whether home is a small Greek island or a simple Kansas farm. The soul has a natural longing to return to the place of its beginning and belonging. Home is a state of safety and changelessness; it is our foundational experience of original completeness, containment and care. As we mourn the loss of the familiar and face the unknown, homesickness generates neural activity similar to physical pain. Its underlying intent is to spur us into detaching from the familiar and investing in the foreign. Homesickness asks that we bear leave-taking and loneliness in service to belonging to a wider world, building new relationships, and the eventual realization that the soul’s true home is a transcendent source of personal being.

Here’s The Dream We Analyzed:

“I am walking up the street toward my apartment at night. Near my building I see a man with a small dog on a leash. The dog is a tiny Yorkshire terrier and the man is very large. He is wearing a long, dark trench coat and has wild black hair. He looks a bit threatening. The dog is on one side of the sidewalk, the man is on the other, and the leash is between them, blocking my path. I try to step out into the street to go around, but as I do, the man swings around and the dog runs around my legs. I get all bound up in the leash and am pressed up against the man. He puts his face right up to mine, like he might try to kiss me, and I see that he is the Devil from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. He begins to blow some kind of smoke into my mouth. I think he is trying to get inside of me–to possess me or steal my soul. I blow the smoke back into his mouth and it forms a kind of ring that circles between his mouth and mine. I know that I won’t have the strength to keep him out for very long.”


John Hill. At Home in the World: Signs and Symmetries of Belonging. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1685030211/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_VBGPAMVEX5X2DA2XB3HQ


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  1. Lauren Wein Mank

    I listened to this excellent episode while packing up my apartment of 16 years, the only home my three teenage daughters have ever known. We are moving elsewhere in our neighborhood, but there is still so much uncertainty for all of us right now, and I feel as unsettled as my kids do so it’s hard to help them navigate it. I love what you said about working towards home inhabiting us as opposed to the inverse, and I am trying to make that my mission. Meantime, there’s a poem that has been coming to my mind these last few days, and it’s one that I think is very much in conversation with this episode. It’s called The Pomegranate, by Irish poet Eavan Boland, and it’s in the voice of Ceres/Demeter whose daughter Persephone has been taken captive by Hades and held in the Underworld. One of the many amazing things about this myth is that Persephone is complicit in her own captivity–she eats the pomegranate seeds. She wants to go back to her mother, to innocence, to purity, but…. maybe there’s a part of her that wants access to the darker forces…. Demeter wants nothing more than to rescue her, but as all mothers know, we cannot spare our children from living, from learning hard lessons. From the poem: “If I defer the grief, I diminish the gift.” We can’t spare our children or ourselves the painful lessons of the world. Change will always mean loss, but hopefully it also brings us closer to where and who we need to be.

    I will include the poem here in its entirety. With thanks for keeping me company through this challenging day, and for adding meaning and dimensionality to all of it, as always.

    Lauren Mank

    The Pomegranate
    Eavan Boland – 1944-2020

    The only legend I have ever loved is
    the story of a daughter lost in hell.
    And found and rescued there.
    Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
    Ceres and Persephone the names.
    And the best thing about the legend is
    I can enter it anywhere. And have.
    As a child in exile in
    a city of fogs and strange consonants,
    I read it first and at first I was
    an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
    the underworld, the stars blighted. Later
    I walked out in a summer twilight
    searching for my daughter at bed-time.
    When she came running I was ready
    to make any bargain to keep her.
    I carried her back past whitebeams
    and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
    But I was Ceres then and I knew
    winter was in store for every leaf
    on every tree on that road.
    Was inescapable for each one we passed. And for me.
    It is winter
    and the stars are hidden.
    I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
    my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
    her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
    The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
    She could have come home and been safe
    and ended the story and all
    our heart-broken searching but she reached
    out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
    She put out her hand and pulled down
    the French sound for apple and
    the noise of stone and the proof
    that even in the place of death,
    at the heart of legend, in the midst
    of rocks full of unshed tears
    ready to be diamonds by the time
    the story was told, a child can be
    hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
    The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured.
    The suburb has cars and cable television.
    The veiled stars are above ground.
    It is another world. But what else
    can a mother give her daughter but such
    beautiful rifts in time?
    If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
    The legend will be hers as well as mine.
    She will enter it. As I have.
    She will wake up. She will hold
    the papery flushed skin in her hand.
    And to her lips. I will say nothing.

  2. Gary Dingman

    Homecoming tales are stories of integration aren’t they? The Wizard of Oz is the underlying myth of America being the young nation that it is. We are adventurers and homebodies all in one. Rainbow chasers who don’t like getting wet.


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