Household Symbolism

homegoodsA man’s home is his/her castle. It’s also chock full of symbolic furnishings and doodads. Give your story some symbolic zing by being familiar with a few of the household symbolic heavyweights.

Books: Wisdom and learning.
  • Is the book old or new?
  • Are pages torn out (think Dead Poet’s Society) or bent?
  • ls print large or small? Do the book need a translation?
  • Does book contain esoteric or forbidden or dangerous information? ( Remember  the movie The Mummy when the Egyptologist yells,”You must not read from the book!” )
Bowls: The feminine—it’s a womb thing. Prosperity.
  • Is bowl full or empty?
  • What are the contents?
  • What material is it made from?
Box: The unconscious mind—think Pandora. Containment of emotions. Limitations. Close-mindedness.
  • Is the box open or closed? Locked?
  • What is box made of?
  • Where is box kept?
  • Who opens box?
  • Who locks box?
Broom: Spiritual cleaning. Ridding home of evil. Protection against curses. Witch transportation.
  • Who is doing the sweeping?
  • What problem is swept away?
  • Is broom constructed from a specific ( and therefore symbolic) wood?
Fan: Femininity. Social class. Dispels evil spirits. Releases soul into immortal realm (Taosim).
  • Who is holding fan?
  • How is it used— to cool, hide, flirt, conceal?
Hearth: Home. Family. Emotional warmth. Females. Maternal nurturing.
  • Is fire smoldering, blazing, or cold?
  • Who is tending the fire?
  • Who is beneficiary of the warmth?
  • What is burning? ( a romantic  or incriminating letter, a body, evidence?)
  • How big is the fireplace?
  • Is hearth ornate or simple? Luxurious, pretentious, or utilitarian?
Key: Access to wisdom. Freedom. Success. Secrets. 2 crossed keys are a Christian emblem of the Gates of Heaven.
  • What is key made of?
  • Who is using key?
  • Why is door locked?
  • Does key work in the door?
  • Who and why does someone steal the key?
Knife: Death. Sacrifice. Cutting away emotions/ideals/prejudices/etc.
  • Who is wielding blade?
  • What is being cut?
  • Is blade dull or sharp?
Loom: Mother Goddess. Luna goddess. Feminine power.
  • Who is looming?
  • What pattern is created? What colors woven?
  • What material is used?
Mirror: A zillion meanings—well, almost. Vanity. Truth. Clarity.  Distortion. Reflection of soul. Inner calm (Taoists). Transitory nature of reality (Hinduism).
  • Who or what is reflected?
  • What is NOT reflected?
  • How is mirror framed?
  • Does the mirror break? And if so, what really broke?
Pen & Ink: Learning. Creativity. Destiny.
  • What is written?
  • Who is the  writer?
  • Does writer make mistakes or blot paper?
  • Is script illegible, elegant, precise?
  • What surface is written on?
Purse: Wealth. Vanity. Prosperity. St. Matthew—once a tax collector. Judas Iscariot—betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
  • Is purse full or empty?
  • What material is purse? Remember you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
Screen: Mystery. Concealment.
  • Who is behind the screen? Is it titillating or frightening?
  • Who is looking at the person /thing behind the screen?
  • What material is screen made of?
Table: The Last Supper. Equality—of round. A coming together. Circle of Life. The Divine.
  • What shape is table?
  • What material is it made from?
  • Who sits at the head of the table?
  • Who arrives and who leaves?
  • Is something spilled upon the table?
Thread: One’s lifetime as determined by the gods.
  • Who cuts  thread?
  • What material is thread?
  • What is thread stitching together?
  • Did thread become loose?
Timepiece: Mortality.
  • Does clock run fast, slow, or exact?
  • Does someone stop time?
  • Is time more important for one character than another?

Have fun with symbolism!

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