For the last ten years or so I have had this recurring dream. I am in a large house. It usually starts off being The Old Rectory, the first house we lived in when we moved from London, but then I realise there are parts of it I didn’t know were there. I walk through whole wings, endless bedrooms, hidden corridors, dusty echoing spaces. Firstly I feel overwhelmed. How can I cope with all this? And then comes a feeling of mounting dread. There is some evil hidden away here, something that mustn’t be awoken. The feeling intensifies and it becomes a nightmare – the kind that has one waking with a gasp, heart pounding, scrabbling for the light.
As I walked into Yobaba Lounge I felt a jolt. This place. What was it? Then Gertrud gave me a tour of the whole house and I realised. This was the place in my dream. Or very close. The house is vast, so vast Gertrud isn’t quite sure how many rooms there actually are. ‘I think there were fifty originally,’ she says. ‘But now, since we took out partitions and so on? Who knows?’ Many have been beautifully restored but even more are still slumbering. Some rooms you can’t even access – they are blocked up. How weird is that?
Now I’m fascinated by houses, by homes. So much so that I wrote five books about them (well, six if you include the illustrated version of Spirit of the Home). I firmly believe homes have personalities just as distinct as people’s. Even new homes, brand new places, can’t help but be influenced by the land on which they are built; by their proximity to other places; by the layout of their rooms; by the direction in which they face. The Chinese knew this and developed the art and science of feng shui to explain it. The Indians knew it and developed Vastu Shastra for the same reasons. I could go on, with examples from all the indigenous traditions of the world, but you get the picture.
This one had more than a personality; it had the resonance of a temple. And, as I lay on the hammock, idly gazing back at the house, something struck me. The main part with its three pillars mapped out the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Ten windows for ten sephiroth. Except…it didn’t quite fit. But then…doh…the bottom sephirah is Malkuth, the Kingdom, the realm of Earth. So, go figure, Malkuth is the Earth, the ground on which the chateau sits. And then it all fitted perfectly. It links neatly with tantric yoga too – with its triangles pointing up (Shiva) and down (Shakti). And I spun it round, so it became three-dimensional and then it became a Merkaba, a divine space-time ship. Oh, I do so love this kind of playful mind game.
This illustration of the Tree of Life shows it pretty clearly. So, Malkuth (Malchut, the bottom red sphere) is in the Earth. Da'at is the 'hidden' sephirah, known as 'Knowledge' - it corresponds with the Abyss that separates the lower spheres from the supernal triangle.
It’s pretty common to look at a house with an eye to the chakras (so downstairs rooms are lively and earthy and need equally punchy earthy colours – vibrant reds and sociable oranges and energising yellows). As you move up to the next floor, more soothing balancing colours come in – blues or greens for sleeping. And up the top, should one have space, is the ideal place for meditation rooms (in shades of violet, indigo or pure white). So, no wonder that Gertrud and Mangalo had placed the yoga shala up at the top of the house – in Kether, the crown chakra – and no wonder it was such a peaceful space, conducive to deep states of meditation.
Does any of this matter? No, not really. Does it have a practical application? Well, only in as far as one could work with the energy of the house, by boosting the energy of certain spaces. But mainly, it’s just cosmic play.
And, oh…my dream house? I found out what had been hiding in the dark corners. Am I brave enough to tell you? I’m not sure.