house

INTERPRETATION


Home, privacy, familiarness, rules, conservatism


About the meaning: While my interpretation of the House starts with the place we call our home, the theme which connects all the House's meanings is "familiarness". Familiarness is implicated in all the following dimensions of meanings, not just in the one where it is explicitly mentioned.

Home / family / privacy: For me the most obvious meaning of the House is "home", and anything which has to do with our home life, our housing situation, our household. Furthermore, the House can mean that we feel at home somewhere or with something or someone, that we are comfortable with something. Along a similar line I have also interpreted the House as settling down with or settling for something. Furthermore, the place people call their home more often than not also houses their family. So the House is the card which represents our family - our family of origin as well as the family we have started ourselves, and in some contexts the House may also represent specific family members. Slightly more abstract but very useful is the interpretation of the House as privacy. In that sense the House can stand for anything which is commonly considered private or which we desperately try to keep private.

Familiarness / normality / fear of the new: In our home we are surrounded with what is familiar - or, put differently, we only feel at home at a place we have intimately familiarized ourselves with. So this is something else the House often signifies: familiarness, familiarity, intimacy (in a non-sexual sense) - anything which is so familiar to us it seems "normal", things we are very used to, anything which is long established. And in some cases, the House seems to indicate something more than just that. Sometimes it suggests a specific type of closed-mindedness: an aversion to that which is unfamiliar. The House can suggest that we discard or negatively value something simply because it is new or unfamiliar. In extreme cases, the House can even hint at xenophobia.

Order / plans / safety: In every home there is a certain order in place. I'm not talking about cleanliness here, I'm talking about the regularities, about the simple structures which everyone in a mutual home lives by (not necessarily happily!). So this type of order - regularities and simple structures - are also part of the House's meaning. Furthermore, I sometimes read the House as plans. For the plans we make organize and regulate our lives, too. They are guidelines for our (future) behaviour which we willingly establish for ourselves. And because order, and having a plan, make us feel safe (and may actually lower the risk of unwanted outcomes) I also sometimes interpret the House as actual or perceived safety - safety especially in the sense of a low risk factor, or in the sense of "nothing threatens the established order".
Bear in mind that the House doesn't necessarily say that these are productive things. For example, we might be so fixated on the plans we make that we can't (re)act spontaneously anymore. Or, an inability to take calculated risks, a compulsion to always choose the safest option, might be hindering us to live life to the fullest.

Tradition / confirmed habits / conservatism: Closely related to the last paragraph is the issue of conventionality, tradition and, on an individual level, habits. The House may represent a traditional world view, anything that is conventional, or certain traditions or customs themselves. It stands for things we claim "have always been like this!", for that which we view as "proper". And the House can represent our individual confirmed habits, too, habits so ingrained they seem like laws of nature to us. Put in slightly different words, the House represents conservatism - a mindset which seeks to preserve things as they are. Now, conservatism, traditions, and habits, can be helpful. When we preserve things as they are, the resulting continuity makes us feel safe. Traditions serve as guidelines and anchors in difficult times of transition. And strong views on what is proper reduce complexity - they make it unnecessary to think about everything anew every time. But the House might also be a hint that tradition is keeping us from living our lives according to our individual abilities and needs. Strict conservatism can hinder us to make life better because we block innovation. And confirmed habits can make us very inflexible, hogtying us in unfamiliar situations where they don't work.

See also the annakblogs article >> So, is the House a positive or negative card?


About the Image: My illustration of the House hopefully speaks for itself. A house (not very large, quite obviously a family home) nestles among high trees at the back of a private garden. Because the House represents family I couldn't resist adding a tiny father, mother and child. And because the card represents tradition to me, conservatism, I gleefully painted the father busy with the carriage, and the mother with the laundry. The child is safe inside the house, waving out of the window. Yes, on the card the figures are so tiny that you can only guess what they are doing. But after all, while I think their presence defines the house more definitely as a lived-in home, they are not what the card is about.
The closed gate with its big latch wasn't on my first sketch of the card. But I only felt satisfied with the image when I added it. Without it, the house seemed too accessible. I wanted to stress that this card is about private affairs, and about keeping not just the public out but also change and the unfamiliar. So now, once you are inside the gate you're welcomed: the house's door itself is open. But as an outsider, you're kept at a distance by the closed gate. The roses on the gate and also on the house's walls I included not as a representative for familial love. Instead, I added them because I felt they introduced a certain drowsiness, an almost "Sleeping Beauty" aspect to the illustration. Everything is in stasis, maybe pleasantly so, but nothing ever changes.

Note: If you compare the card House to the card Garden you will notice that the overall design is similar. It is easy to imagine that the municipal garden begins behind the trees on the house's back.



The Garden is peopled with tiny folks, too, only in the Garden's case there are not just three but many. For the Garden represents the whole of society, or at least large groups of people. Its huge gate is open, and the card's borders are "open" on one side, too - after all the Garden stands for publicity; for that which is accessible to all.  
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