"Every object in a Lodge should be a symbolic representation of the different aspects of force functioning upon the plane which is is intended to raise the consciousness of the candidate... Form, colour, movement, sound, and incense make their appeal to the gates of the physical senses, each of which is an analogue of the subtle senses..."
That quote is from Dion Fortune in her Esoteric Orders and Their Work from the chapter on The Use and Power of Ritual. Most of the book is just Fortune acting superior, but that chapter at least has some points I agree with; I don't think anyone who has studied and practised magic for any length of time would disagree with the idea that the physical can influence the mental and spiritual. A ritual space induces a magical state of mind.
For most modern witches and magicians, our homes are our temples. City dwellers usually don't have the luxury of a back yard (or even a balcony) and if you live alone chances are you don't have a spare room you can dedicate solely to magic. While I do harbour fantasies of having an attic with a permanent ritual circles drawn on the floor, I don't mind having my living space function as magical space because I do feel that it helps integrate my occult practice with my day-to-day life. I am not a kitchen witch, but I understand the appeal of everyday magic that is not set apart as something lofty and 'other.'
The home, then, as temple: your decor becomes your symbolic representations. Form and colour set the emotional tone not just for the mundane but the spiritual as well.
This brings me back to my snarky post the other day about ugly couches. Artists, I think, often possess a magical mindset and so I am even more baffled by those who don't spare a thought for what their home looks like. One of my good friends has an apartment that has the feel of a haunted smoking room - you walk in and expect to be handed a brandy by Vincent Price. It's a magical house that cultivates a particular atmosphere.
It is atmosphere that's been on my mind lately, as a few people I know have moved or are planning to. In an attempt to be helpful, and also simply because I love home decor, I've spent time looking at Gravity Interior (especially the studio apartment tags), and Tiny-Ass Apartment.
Perhaps not shockingly, I decided to move the apartment around again last week. (The last time I did so was in the summer, which was long ago enough for my tastes.)
The living room now seems palatial to me. I gave my sister and her boyfriend my old dresser set in exchange for one of the Ikea wardrobes they had - their bedroom was being dominated by two of them and was not comfortable. I had worried it would do the same in my space, but after some fiddling with location I seem to have found a place for it where it doesn't look too much like a huge fridge. It helps that my apartment is predominately white with wood accents.
My apartment has an old fireplace that has been sealed up, and a little electric fireplace stove was placed there by the landlord. Mine broke a few months back and I never got around to asking it to be replaced, and with winter on the wane it seems silly to bother with it now. Instead I put some flameless candles I found on sale in there, although eventually I want to get some bigger ones. I also want to replace the old black bucket chair now by the mantle, but these are things that can wait.
The living room now has ample space for me to dance in, and I think I could even lay down a properly large circle. My sister says it feels 'airy' and I find myself pleased with that. "Form, colour,
movement, sound, and incense make their appeal to the gates of the
physical senses" after all, and for me an atmosphere of calm is essential.
As for Fortune's "symbolic representations of the
different aspects of force" I considered what artwork to keep up, why I wanted it present, and where in the house it worked in harmony with other pieces.
I'm lucky in that I didn't have to buy a lot of new stuff - I bought some drapes, a floating shelf, some candles. It all came in under a hundred dollars and the reward is a space I feel comfortable both living in, and having others visit. It can function as studio, temple, sanctuary and library. There's space for new objects (a ram or goat skull someday, hopefully) but in the meantime it doesn't feel empty - everywhere I look I see something that reminds me of the life I want to lead.
As for Miss Frances, she's just happy she has her special chair.