Amazon.com Widgets

Should I let go of my stuff?

Should I have a metaphysical yard sale, in which I sell my Cunningham books, my surplus of pewter jewelry, and my…

…ahem…

…crystals?

GET your hand off that… It’s priceless.

Should I rid my closet of the long, green, hooded robe I’ve worn twice, my Guatemalan patchwork jacket I scored for $7 bucks, or my black ceremonial duds? How about my malas, my God and Goddess candle holders (don’t you just love P. Borda?), or my copper OM chalice?

When I look at the shelf above my desk, I read the titles:

  • A Book of Pagan Prayer
  • A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book
  • The Book of Common Prayer (i.e. Episcopal Church)
  • A Canticle For Leibowitz (thank you, Themon, for the recommendation)
  • Sacred Fire, Holy Well
  • Creation Spirituality
  • The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life
and
  • Pagans & Christians

Is that too diverse?

What about my entire shelf of Bibles? I’ve got the Green, the NIV, the Aramaic translation, the King James, the Revised Standard, the Edicion Pastoral, the Good News Bible, and the New International Version.

I also have a Humanist Bible, which is a whole ‘nother story.

I like stuff. Most of us do, to some degree. But I wonder if this surplus of metaphysical stuff I’ve accumulated throughout the years gets in my way.

How much of this stuff do I actually use?

Not much.

You’d think I was a Witch or somethin’.

These thoughts occur to me as I continue with my ADF Dedicant Path studies. I feel like I’m studying to be one thing, but the stuff around me suggests that I’m something quite different. I’m studying to be an ADF Druid working within a Pan-Celtic hearth, as it were, but my stuff indicates that I’m really quite eclectic.

This isn’t a crisis by any means, but it is something to consider. What does our stuff say about us? And, how much stuff do we need in order to do our religion?

Is an excess of spiritual stuff an indication that you don’t have enough religion?

Should religion curb your consumption? And when it doesn’t — when your spiritual/religious work winds you up with tupperwares full of serapes, tapestries, and unused statuary — is it really nature spirituality that you’re practicing, or stuff spirituality?

It may sound like I’m romanticizing asceticism, but I’m not. Like I said, I like stuff.

I’m just beginning to question why I have so much of it.

This post is not designed to preach what is the right relationship to stuff. I’m just hoping to inspire some classic Bishop In The Grove dialogue about stuff.

I want to know about your stuff. 

Take a look around you. Look at the stuff on your shelves, on your windowsills, and in your dresser drawers, paying close attention to all of the stuff that’s connected to your spiritual path or religious work (whichever term you prefer).

What’s there? How much of us it being used on a daily basis? Any? All? Some?

Do you save your stuff for the High Holidays? Do you haul out the cooler of candle holders for your coven’s rituals, or has it been collected cobwebs in the corner?

Let’s all take a minute and talk about our stuff.

Tagged with →  
Share →

75 Responses to How Much Stuff Does One Pagan Need?

  1. Star Foster says:

    A Canticle for Leibowitz is one of my favorite books.

    I just gave away all my Pagan books and bling. I now have a handful of books, two small packets of incense and a goblet recently gifted to me. I do regret the books, but I don’t miss the bling.

  2. Eran Rathan says:

    My altar has: my reliquary box (a box made by my wife, filled with treasures from friends and family); my ‘little’ reliquary (another box my wife made); my goddess’ candlestick holder; two bronze candlesticks my father got in Athens; two wooden bowls, one with salt, the other with charcoal; and my two dragon sculptures.

    My sword rests before it, and my silver goblet I was given as a gift is beside it.

    I use my altar when needed (certainly not every day, but at least once a week).

    And then, in another room, I have lots of books. Bibles, Torahs, the Qu’ran, Rig Veda, Bhagavad Gita, Cunningham, Bonewits, etc. I use those about once a month or so, mainly for reference.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Thank you for sharing this little glimpse into your space, Eran. I appreciate it.

      Do you feel like your relationship to your stuff is tied in with your relationship with other people? Is that a part of the criteria for what you keep and what you don’t?

      • Eran Rathan says:

        Absolutely. Hel, even my sword was a gift from my father (it was his grandfather’s from WWI, a SMLE sword-bayonet). If something was bought, it doesn’t have as much meaning to me as if it was gifted or given. It creates a sense of duty and obligation in me (going back to our discussion a while ago on the obligations of the gods and of their petitioners) – to be the person that the people who have given me these things expect me to be.

  3. Rev Wes says:

    I do use quite a bit of my “stuff” for the house blessings and weddings I offer, as well as my own personal home altar. BUT, it seems I’m always looking for something else, that other piece of statuary, another book, more ceremonial drag–because, then, it’ll be “perfect!” That needs examining, I do believe.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      I know the feeling, Rev Wes. Thanks for being honest about that.

      I wonder if that feeing of always needing something else, even when about our religious or spiritual regalia, is an extension of our upbringing in a consumer culture.

  4. Excellent post. =)

    I have tons of books, but I find a use for nearly all of them. In fact, I am planning on creating a library system for the benefit of the local community. I also tend to collect a lot of candles and herbs, not to mention seasonal altar decor. The seasonal stuff all stays in a bin in my closet, but everything else is easily accessible in drawers. I ought to take an inventory, because I don’t really know what I have in those drawers.

    In the context of ADF, I think this discussion speaks to moderation. I agree that stuff can be useful, but as Pagans we have to be careful not to get sucked into a modern consumer culture – where one consumes without any thought to where that object came from before it was in our hands, and where it will go when we are through with it.

    TL:DR, Stuff is good, but as Pagans it’s our responsibility not to be wasteful. And, it’s something I have to work on.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Thank you, Kristin! I’m glad is spoke to you. I love that your personal library is going to evolve in to a community library of some kind. That’s awesome.

      You brought up the seasonal storage, and that’s something I do as well. People who keep shrines have cause to change the decorations for the seasons. What I find interesting is how often the adornments are store-bought and not, say, scavenged from the neighborhood. (I can just imagine the expression on some of my neighbors faces if they saw me gathering pine cones in their backyard)

      Bringing it back to moderation makes sense, as does this question, where did muy stuff come from? Who made it? What am I going to do with it once I’m done with it?

      Great food for though, Kristin. Thank you!

  5. I am probably one of those who has *way* too much stuff. I still have all of my Neo-Wiccan and Eclectic stuff and the Hellenic stuff was a recent addition. What I have, I use. It may be once a year, but it’s all used. The books may be an exception to that, but I’m my witchy friends’ library. So the books are used, but besides the Hellenic ones, they are not used by me. I did pack a bunch of books that I don’t even loan out into a box. If I don’t miss them, they will leave the house soon. I love having the things I suddenly feel I need at my fingertips and couldn’t part with any of it. Still, it seems to be spreading and my girlfriend is a tad worried 😉 We’ll see what happens, but the Hellenic bits are not going anywhere (even though my girlfriend does give me that *look* when I come home with another book of Greek myth…).

    Also, bloody brilliant crystal! <3

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Thanks for the comment, Elani. I’m glad you’re a part of the dialogue!

      I guess the important thing is that we periodically examine what we have, what we use, and what we no longer have a use for. At the same time, we might do well to pause before purchasing and consider the impact of another item. John Michael Greer advises people to always wait 24 hours before making a purchase. If you see something you like, wait until tomorrow and then decide.

      I find this method saves me a lot of money and keeps me from making frivolous purchases!

      Again, thanks for sharing your ideas here!

  6. You have no idea what your asking here Teo. I grew up in the Mecca of Pagan Stuff. Knickknacks from all over the world would make their pilgrimage to my parents house.

    In many ways my mother was the Tchotchke Pagan Princess.

    My parents, Lady Galadriel and Lord Athanor, has stuff in spades. It was all stuff they believed they had purpose or would find purpose for. After my dad’s passing, we keep finding amazing things from their time here, and we have only managed to clean out about two rooms.
    Here are some of the highlights
    They had* a large library of around 3000 books.* a large collection of about 150 different herbs* a large collection of about 125 different essential oils* 50 or so recordings of classes, discussions, rituals etc* entire unpublished manuscripts of my mothers works for books she had planned
    Of those things I inherited the thing I cherish the most is the Venus and Pan statue that I inherited from them, as well as their altar. It was their first deity statues ever, going as far back as 76. Some of my first memories are of these statues and of ritual.
    On my own I have the typical pagan things that I amassed from growing up Pagan. its interesting to see the two collections begin melding.

    One thing that is very clear to me now is that it is possible too have simply too much Pagan stuff.

  7. My altar – more like a shrine, but that’s neither here nor there at this moment – is compiled of various representations of the deities I work with and honour: a statue, a raven talisman (also P. Borda, so sad he’s closing up shop), a lantern, a deer antler I was gifted, a gargoyle, a wooden carving, a fabric scrap, and a vial of “Find Your Path” oil.

    On the one hand, I fully agree with the idea that Pagans collect too much stuff. There’s this pressing “need” on many to collect all these “cool objects” or “ritual tools” when we don’t necessarily need it. Why buy that $142 wand when you connect much better with that stick you found on a hike years back or, in one case I’ve come across, the paintbrush you’ve used for years?

    On the other hand, what if it’s what the gods demand of us? For my altar, the objects there are symbols of the deities I work with. They are there because they are what will make my gods happy or what they have requested. So if the gods request it, then I am okay with buying it or using it for my practice. It’s a gift, of sorts. I just happen to hold onto it so they can use it when they desire.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      “Why buy that $142 wand when you connect much better with that stick you found on a hike years back or, in one case I’ve come across, the paintbrush you’ve used for years?”

      I love that. Thank you for being a part of this dialogue, Kaye.

      The question you pose at the end is more complicated, for sure. In your practice, how have you discerned the things that the gods wish you to purchase? Also, are the things your being encouraged to acquire things *must* be purchased, or can they be made by hand?

      • “I love that. Thank you for being a part of this dialogue, Kaye.”

        Any time, Teo.

        As for how I discern what should be purchased for the gods, that’s a tough one. There are times where you just know, other times when it feels like a punch to the stomach (in a good way, if that makes sense), at least to me. I get a tightness right beneath my ribcage when I know something is “Right” and what the gods want me to do.

        As for what can be made by hand, I try to make whatever I can by hand. I also try to make things for others by hand. There are times, though, that it gets difficult. Actually, a good example of all of this happened just recently. I was going through a flickr album of another Pagan blogger (Ms. Graveyard Dirt and her Secondhand Sundays album) and came across a particular item that I knew I had to buy, but not for myself. It was to be a gift for a very good friend of mine who has been going through a tough time spiritually. I contacted Ms. Dirty and purchased the boat and sent it to my friend. Now, said item was something that could have been made by hand, but I have neither the tools nor the money to do so, but I *did* have enough to purchase the boat. (Although with the recent move, money has been tight, so it was a pretty big sacrifice, but one I was willing to make for my friend.) And not only did my friend love it, but I was supporting another friend and fellow Pagan by purchasing from her.

        And that’s another thing. There are many Pagan artisans out there who *do* make high-quality or good-quality items, and I think they sometimes get lost in the shuffle, either by people who are making low-quality items or those who get caught in the debate between the sides of “make or buy”. For me the answer is this: Make what you should, buy what you must, support when you can.

  8. John Beckett says:

    When I started out I bought tons of stuff – and I used it. The longer I practice, the less stuff I seem to need. I’ve hung on to most of it – occasionally I’ll need something for a group ritual and it’s nice to have it on hand. The only things I regularly use in personal practice are my devotional statues, incense burner, wands and a few candles.

    Books are another matter – I love books. The biggest upside to getting a kindle is not having to find shelf space for more books. The biggest downside to getting a kindle is not getting to put yet another bookshelf in a place it really shouldn’t be.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Ah…the sprawling bookshelves.

      I love them.

      You bring up a good point, John. A lot of what we acquire for use in private can become very useful in group work down the line. That is one reason for holding on to stuff.

      I also like this idea that the stuff we need at the beginning might be less necessary as we develop a more regular practice. We kind of internalize the stuff — we make the physical tools into psychological tools, in effect.

  9. I have many magical books which serve as references when I am trying to compose a ritual, make a potion or new oil blend or find a different tarot spread to use. I have an addiction to books, which is in fact a love affair that dates back to my childhood. My statuary and other magical tools are housed in my office, which is also my sacred space. I like having my stash of candles, herbs and oils so that I can have them immediately available when inspiration strikes me.The change for me is that I have started making my own tools, preferring the more personalized touch in celebrating holidays and doing rituals. I have at times, incorporated my crafting into my ritual. For example, I spent the entire day of Ostara making new things to celebrate the holiday: I made a knitted ribbon to wrap around the broom that hangs outside my door, I dyed eggs and then used the same dye to dye yarn. On Llamas I made an oat bread and harvested things from my garden. What I have noticed as my spiritual practice has grown, is that my excitement and need for material goods in general has diminished a bit, while my excitement in observing the natural environment (pets, animals and nature) that surrounds me, has greatly increased. Lately, I find myself asking whether I really “want” a certain shiny thing I may come across in my travels. It’s a given that I don’t “need” it. As a result, I buy a lot less, but enjoy what I do get, that much more. I feel the pull away from material things could be a natural progression of the spiritual path.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      I love that you’ve discovered a connection between the making of your own religious and celebratory items and a lessening in a need for the “shiny things”. That does seem like a natural progression, and one that leads to — as you mentioned — a deeper valuing of the things which you already have.

      Thank you, Valerie, for sharing a little bit about your relationship to stuff. I’m grateful that you’re a part of the dialogue!

  10. Brendan Rowe says:

    I can honestly say that the majority of my “stuff” does get used. I practice an eclectic form of DruidCraft so I have a home altar for Witchy needs and a home shrine for Druidic purposes. I do have two Norse statues that I want to find a good home for since I settled on a solely Celtic path but my Celtic statues are timed to the light and dark halves of the year so they all get used. Books are my one main form of clutter but like John Beckett I have begun to digitize my collection by purchasing new books on my Kindle Fire. Even though I can honestly say that I use most of my stuff, none of it can take the place of sitting under a tree beside my local river and just becoming one with nature.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      That last part, Brendan, really hits home. I felt that way after my recent trip to the mountains.

      Thanks for sharing with us how you relate to your stuff!

  11. Matthaios says:

    My stuff…

    I’ve got books. Certainly my collection is not huge–only about 4 shelves on a bookshelf if we count exclusively Pagan/Magical material and not the four other entire bookshelves through out the house with a good deal of stuff on mythology, world religions, and the like. A few years ago, I gave away a handful of books (I regret giving some of them away…others nobody would take). I have a shelf full of journals.

    However, I do have a bookshelf with a ton of herbs, resins, and incenses. I have a small closet of robes, cloaks, gloves, and thermals that I wear throughout the year (all the robes and cloaks are hand made and my coven works outdoors). I’ve got a box and closet shelf with stacks of papers–letters, class notes, scripts, and personal notes.

    Most of my tools are handmade. I also have a small selection of scrying mirrors, a Golden Dawn-style pentacle, a small selection of wands of various woods, and a entire set of hand made Enochian tools that I occasionally use. These Enochian tools are based off the material in Lon Milo DuQuette’s “Enochian Vision Magic.”…hand carved beeswax Sigillums and all.

    And I have a number of altars. My bedroom altar with what I would consider “typical altar stuff”. I have an ancestor altar–ancestors both genetic and spiritual (Tradition upline), I have an altar to my patron God on the mantle, a “Ritual Room” with altar and circle laid out (this room also holds most of my magical stuff)…and an outdoor space that is slowly becoming more elaborate. The latter two ritual spaces for when I can’t make it to the covenstead.

    I also have a few shelves with candles and candle-making paraphernalia.

    Do I have too much? Eh…maybe. I might go through and pick out books that no longer serve me and donate them to my coven’s “library”. The rest of it (except the Golden Dawn-style pentacle I made because I thought I might want to try my hand at that variety of magic at one point) I keep in pretty regular use. My Witchcraft stuff–certainly. My Enochian stuff–occasionally.

    I like stuff. I don’t necessarily “need” it all…but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. Does it indicate there is something lacking in my main path, Witchcraft, if I also do some Qabalistic or Enochian workings now and then? I don’t think so. I like to explore those paths on occasion because it sometimes gives me a different perspective on things.

    I figure I might as well enjoy all this stuff before my fiance and I get married and start our family…when kids come around and that “Ritual Room” gets converted into a bedroom again…I may have to downsize…but until then…it’s a big old Witchcraft extravaganza. 🙂

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Well here’s to the pre-kid Witchcraft extravaganza!! That’s awesome. 🙂

      Yeah, I don’t see that stuff is inherently a bad thing. It’s a matter of scale, use, and – ultimately – perspective. For some, minimalism makes certain things impossibly. But, as we’ve seen in other comments in the thread, minimalism can be key.

      Thanks for sharing with us what your stuff looks like, @b72de2b989476529666533df2d9acc4e:disqus. It’s great to get a glimpse into your world!

      Blessings!

  12. Tori says:

    I tend to binge and purge. I had more stuff than I do now. More books. More nature items on my alter. Then I moved. I only brought the books I thought I’d look at. I left the acorn, shell, cool rocks, and various other trinkets. Then when I got here I bought runes to replace the ones I had made years ago. I am buying books for my kindle (a terrific invention, though I, like many others, miss the feel of a book and the many bookshelves.) I am trying to realize that I don’t need the stuff. But I want it.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      I wonder if there’s some middle ground, @1400cacce5ab4544ff9ffaee86c8b149:disqus. Perhaps that’s what you’re working your way toward. Like a lot of other people have said, stuff can be useful, and moderation is key.

      Do you have a regular practice, one which give you cause to use the stuff you have?

  13. eelsalad says:

    Ooooo I love stuff. Stuff is the best! (I have a lot of stuff, as you might guess, both witchy and otherwise.) I keep books (some would say hoard) obsessively, even ones I don’t like or refer to regularly, partly out of a horror of knowledge being lost. I have some weird, unusual books in my metaphysical library. I also have a lot of classics.

    I have a fair bit of witchy paraphernalia, too, and mostly keep it. Sometimes an item will tell me it needs to go to a new home, and I’ll sell it or give it away, but that’s pretty rare. Herbs and incense can go stale, but things like crystals I’ll keep until they let me know they need to go elsewhere.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Thanks for the comment, @eelsalad:disqus. Glad to know a little bit about your relationship to stuff!

      I wonder — do you use your stuff in solitude, or does any of it ever come out to be used in group?

      • eelsalad says:

        Both, really. My set of basic tools are items where I only have one of each, so if I need a tool in class (I study with T. Thorn Coyle) or a group ritual, I bring and use the same one I use in my solitary practice. I do have two copies of Thorn’s first book, one for me and one I lend out to friends. 🙂

  14. About two years ago, my husband and I made a conscious decision to “de-stuff” our house, getting rid of anything that was not directly serving us in our living of life (for mundane items) or advancing our spiritual practice (coven and individual). We’ve gotten rid of jewelry, statues, hundreds upon hundreds of witchcraft books, notebooks, candles, incense, tools, and on and on. (And that’s not starting to talk about the “mundane” stuff we’ve gotten rid of!) During the process where we’d put out a blast e-mail to folks asking if they wanted anything, we actually had people come up to us to ask us if we were getting out of the Craft because we were getting rid of so much stuff. (We weren’t.) We had people ask us if we were in financial issues, which would explain why we were getting rid of things. (We aren’t.) I cringe to think that there may have been some people thinking we were giving away all of our stuff because we were going to become suicidal or had a terminal illness or something. (We aren’t and we don’t.) When we mentioned this was done out of a desire to have a better quality of life by focusing on simplicity of practice, you would have thought that we had said that we were planning to sprout wings and fly away. We found out, the hard way, that there is a major stigma of being a Craft person who doesn’t have libraries full of books, drawers full of jewelry, boxes full of candles and incense, and so on. Even now, it makes some people uncomfortable around us because they can’t understand how we could be spiritual and yet not surround ourselves with things that are outward symbols of a set spiritual path.

    I feel that some people do need to have stuff–and that’s okay. I just hope that someday it will become socially acceptable not to be surrounded by stuff as a way to show spiritual devotion.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      This is great, @facebook-1667402816:disqus. Thank you for sharing this story with us here.

      I love those last lines, too. I share that hope for you, and I think I may choose to follow in your footsteps with a practice of minimizing my stuff.

    • Elissa Rich says:

      I think it’s not just Craft-y folk who get confused about this kind of downsizing, but (Western) society in general – we’re all so tied to consumerism that it’s a bit hard for folks to understand a desire to disengage from that. So taken in that light, and the fact that for years it was hard to find the ‘stuff’ in general, it’s easier to understand their confusion than it is for them to understand a need to let go. However, there has been such a rising tide of feeling for this letting-go that I do think it’ll become easier to ‘get it’. You may get tired of explaining yourself, but between that and having people see how you live, they’ll come around. 🙂

  15. Considering I’ve been “collecting stuff” and practicing my craft since 1984, one would think I’d have more than I do. With students over the past 20 years, some of my books and stuff have wandered off to live somewhere else, some of my cherished items (jewelry, candle holders, crystals) have turned into gifts, and a few things have broken or otherwise been destroyed. Such is life. What’s more significant to me than what I have, is how often I have to dust it 🙂

    There are books I bought when I was 19 or 20 years old that I still pick up and re-read, in part to see where I was coming from at that point in my journey, what I was paying attention to. Sometimes, those “oldies but goodies” have reminded me of some of the simple beauty and joy that first attracted me to this way of life. Sometimes, it’s a lesson in humility and I either laugh or smile about my younger, more naive self affectionately.

    I have a small space on my shelves for what I categorize as “putrid dreck that never should have been published in the first place”, and I reserve those for student review of what and why I might put something in that category.

    There are things, like the candle holders my departed sister gave me, that I reserve for special rituals. I wash and dry them as part of my ritual preparation, and think about the love behind the gift.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Thanks for sharing, Alan. It’s nice to get a sense of what your stuff looks like!

      You’re the first I’ve seen write something about keeping stuff of poor value (i.e. the crappy books). Has that proven to be a useful teaching tool for you?

      • Oh my, yes. One of the things new folks are concerned about is wasting their money on something bad, so having them on hand to show them what I consider bad and explain why helps them develop their own assessment tools. I’d say the bad books are equally valuable to the good ones, really. One of my favorites was a present from my father. He meant well, really, when he bought me the “Modern Witch’s Spellbook” from Sarah Morrison… but I show my students the spell to keep from getting drunk at an office party (chanting over a small blue porcelain elephant and then carrying it with you), and the reactions are hysterical and usually amount to “Just use common sense and don’t drink around coworkers, that’s just stupid”.

        In the class on consecration, I show them a “fancy” wand that I’ve had for 20 years and worked with regularly, and then I pull out a stick freshly harvested from the back yard. We consecrate the stick and then they feel the before/after energy, and compare it to the one I’ve had for so long. Then they take the stick home to work with 🙂

  16. I actually had to do this just recently, because we were moving back to our hometown from another state. I had decided to make a backpack dedicated to my ritual items – and I have a ton of stuff that, in the end, is quite useless. I packed my most favored books, one white pillar candle in glass, one small green candle, a sandstone incense holder (as my cauldron, as it is fire proof), and a green jewelry box that has crystals and my bone athame in it. I also have my working book of shadows and my book of mirrors. And that is what I have in regards to my Craft. Is that enough? I believe that, for simple things, yes. But in the end, when we are settled at our final destination, there will be more. I wont have separate herbs from my kitchen herbs though, because many of the ones I use will be for cooking and my Craft – expect the poisonous ones, those will be going in a dank, dark place away from uninformed friends and baby fingers. I think a persons spiritual STUFF, and the amount they have, is all individual, just like our beliefs – but there is a fine line between useful and not. Thanks for the great article – it has actually inspired my to write something on the subject too <3

    • Teo Bishop says:

      I’m glad the post was useful to you, Victoria, and thanks for sharing with us a little about your life. I agree with you that there isn’t one set rule system for how much stuff is too much, or what stuff is useful and what stuff isn’t. Perhaps the key is being honest about what we actually use and what is collecting dust.

      Again, thanks for being a part of the dialogue, and best of luck to you and your family on the move!

  17. Kilmrnock says:

    Most of the stuff i’ve collected is books , my spouse is an eclectic Witch so alot of the books are still used for reference , but many of my books have to do with key points on my personal pagan journey. For example i have Kerr Cuhulians Books , altho i’m not wiccan his books were my first exposure to the Warrior path that helped me survive the painful breakup of one of the first pagan groups i belonged to . At this point i am An ADF member w/ strong CR leanings and also still a warrior , i also have most of Isaac’s books , those helped steer me to ADF, druidry . i have Celtic books i still use for my Celtic Studies . These and other books have an almost emotional value to me as do my Cunningham books , my first pagan books from back when i first came to the pagan path. My [our] books is something i don’t think we’ll ever want to part with , like most pagans we love our books .Now as far as ritual wear i have two robes i still use and candles i use on my hearth alter , and my wife still uses most of the other alter stuff . Now i do have some figurines i could part with , but i like that stuff as well . Even some Jessica stuff from b/f she turned to the dark side .As a Warrior i have ties to Morrigan le fey and the fey, most of my figurine are fey . I even have Jessica’s seasonal set , signed, that i use on my alter for what season it is , those i don’t want to part with either , i like that kind of art work . Our home is decorated with that kind of stuff . Anyone with a clue will know as soon as they walk into our home , pagans live there .You right we pagans love our stuff , and i think thats ok .. I , we actualy, have collected our share of pagan, gothic stuff and are not getting rid of any of it . Kilm

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Thanks for sharing, Kilm.

      Seems there are a lot of book lovers around here! For some reason, books seem much less like “stuff” than other items. Personal prejudice, I suppose. I’d easier part with jewelry (which I love) and unused ritual items than my books.

  18. Joshua says:

    Hi Teo,

    I’m Joshua. I’m new to Paganism and an ADF Druid (or I would be if I could afford the membership). Stuff is actually a really hard thing for me to wrap my head around. I’m a hyper-minimalist by nature and actually only own 3 things: a shirt, pants, and a pair of shoes. I use them every day but they’re in good condition. I try to take care of them.

    I’ve seen impressive altars and collections of books but they don’t appeal to me. Certainly I enjoy reading new and interesting books but once I’ve read them I enjoy redistributing them. As for an altar, I prefer to just be outside. My practice consists of conducting simple ADF style rituals using what I have handy in nature around me.

    Cheers,

    Joshua

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Hi Joshua,

      Thanks for reaching out. I’m glad that you’re a part of the conversation here.

      I’d like to volunteer to sponsor your first year of ADF membership. I recently received two donations to Bishop In The Grove (there’s a “Donate” button at the top of the sidebar) which totalled to almost $25, the amount of a membership. I’d like to offer that money to you.

      I’ll shoot you an e-mail to see if you’re set up for PayPal.

      Blessings,
      Teo

      • Joshua says:

        Hi Teo,

        I’m not sure what to say. Other than thank you. $25 is a lot of money to give anybody, much less someone you don’t know. I appreciate your generosity.

        Cheers,

        Joshua

  19. crafters22001 says:

    I once heard Brooke Medicine Eagle call it the Paraphernalia Path. I too have more statues than I have places to display them, unused robes, loads of books. I can remember when Pagan books were hard to find so I’m reluctant to part with them.
    Circle Sanctuary has a library that accepts donations of books, maybe some day Cherry Hill Seminary and the New Alexandrian Library will too. We might also consider other traditions and how they deal with this sort of thing. We know the Judeo-Christian tradition tithes income, well I once heard that the Islamic tradition also tithes 5 percent of what they already own every year. What if we got rid of one of every 20 ‘things’ we own every year, say, sell it in a yard sale and donate the proceed to our spiritual institutions or maybe the local food pantry?

    • Teo Bishop says:

      That is an awesome term! I’ve never heard that before. Thanks for sharing it.

      I love your ideas about donation, @2d55140e446803229ea0ea9313e10d54:disqus. Whether it be by giving some of our less used (or unused) items to Pagan organizations, or donating much needed money to institutions like Cherry Hill and the New Alexandrian Library, a regular practice of giving to the community seems like a very healthy thing to do.

      • Elissa Rich says:

        In that spirit, I also think it would be a great idea to ‘pass along’ unused or no-longer-needed things to one’s students or beginners. Didn’t some of our paths used to do that kind of thing? 🙂

  20. Aine O'Brien says:

    As someone who has purged her stuff several times, I will tell you that now I do not rid myself of anything spiritual, however, I am not the consumer I used to be. I find a lot of my spiritual tools in nature, or disguised as other “things” (mostly vintage.) I love my books and after purging books and tarot decks only to buy them all over again, I never again consider getting rid of them. I am now about keeping what I have and reducing my additions to my magical stuff. I use my stuff a lot, perhaps not daily but I do consult my library from time to time and I use my magical items regularly.
    Like I said, I have purged, but found that I bought the same things again, so I no longer do that. They are a part of who I am now.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Aine. I’m glad you’re a part of the dialogue here.

      I wonder – what was it that inspired you to purge in the first place? Were things getting too cluttered in your physical space, or were you starting to think (as I indicated in the post) that perhaps your stuff was cluttering up your practice?

    • Merri-Todd Webster says:

      I’m kind of grateful that I’m not the only person who has purged stuff and then reacquired it.

  21. I like stuff too — but I find that moderation is important. *wink* I’ve learned over time to give away my excesses when I find them, often to others or as an auction item. Have you run across Discardia yet? It has a tie to common Pagan practice cycles.
    http://www.discardia.com/

  22. Marc says:

    Teo,

    I’m a semi-packrat by nature, it’s a terrible thing. I have
    bibles from the 1800s written in German, accompanied by equally old rosary
    beads simply because I think they’re cool. While I wouldn’t say I have a lot of
    “stuff” (mostly because my entire life is condensed into a 8 x 15
    room), but it’s hard for me to let things go. In regards to my spiritual stuff:
    I really don’t have much at all, all things considered. The majority of my more
    embarrassing books (from my early days) are in storage in a closet, and
    probably should be donated to someone. But getting rid of books is anathema to
    me, so I keep them, even though they are of no use to me.

    Out of several book shelves, I have only one given over for
    my Paganism. This shelf contains the following:

    -These books: ‘The Lesser Key of Solomon’, ‘Dante’s
    Inferno’, ‘Paradise Lost’, my Pagan journal/book of shadows, two glorified
    sketch pad-grimoires, two Kenneth Meadows books (Shamanic Experience and
    Shamanic Spirit), Diane Paxton’s ‘Trance-Portation’, Raven Kaldera’s Northern
    Tradition Shamanism books (‘Wyrdwalkers’, ‘Wightridden’, ‘Pathwalkers Guide’,
    and ‘Jotunbok’), Lupa’s ‘DIY Totemism’, and ‘Pagan Prayer Beads’.

    -Three tarot decks: Shapeshifter’s Tarot, Shadowscape’s
    Tarot, and the Necronomicon Tarot. The final one is a novelty.

    – Five scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs.

    On my wall, I have my goat-skin drum which is, sadly,
    underused. My habitual ineptitude of being able to connect to higher states of
    mentality through trance and music strikes again.

    My altar consists of: -Two glass cups with sea sand, clear
    and blue stones, and tea light candles. I swiped them from my cousin’s wedding.

    -My hand cut set of Anglo-Saxon runes (wood burned on
    lilac).

    -A large candle in a low glass bowl.

    -A hand worked chalice, filled with an assorted sundry of
    bird feathers (Mostly seagull and owl).

    -Two pestle and mortars, one stoneware the other wooden.

    -A soapstone incense burner (underused, probably can be
    removed).

    -A Japanese red ware bowl I was given as a gift, ironically,
    for the family Christmas. I use it to burn incense and other items in.

    -A small, circular, Yggdrasil-themed jewelry box filled with
    sea salt.

    -A dried rose.

    -My turtle shell pouch, consisting of my fetishes (Two
    bronze leavings from a casting, a buckeye globe/seed, quartz, a seashell,
    tiger’s eye, bronze Yggdrasil pendant, unfinished garnet nugget, a cat whisker,
    and various stones picked from around my travels).

    -An Ancient Roman door lock bolt (dated between the 1st and
    3rd centuries, CE).

    -Abalone shell with my smudge sticks.

    -A huge piece of chert.

    And that’s it. I don’t have too much in the way of tools. In
    fact, I have none in the traditional sense. I’m always looking for new stuff,
    but I generally am very picky about what I want my altar and personal space to
    look like. I’m in the market for a seax, but I’ve resigned myself to deciding
    I’ll need to hand-forge it. I’m big on either creating your own tools or
    purchasing them with intent/receiving them as gifts. I’m also really big on
    objects not only being there for being sacred, but representing a fundamental
    link to other periods. Examples of this would be the door lock bolt, and the
    chert.

    I feel that Pagans have a tendency to be overloaded with
    gear and equipment, especially stuff that is pretty kitschy. I feel this way
    because I’m a reenactor, and I’m really big on not settling for inferior or
    lesser quality goods, and mean no offense to anyone in particular. But I also
    would say that I don’t think it’s any worse than Christianity, where one can go
    into the dollar store and find terrible Christian-themed figurines, etc.

  23. Laurel Moore says:

    Stuff.. Oh my goodness. Well, on the one hand I feel slightly less guilty about my hoarding after having watched an episode of ‘Hoarders’ with my sister. She informed me that, while I am by no means a minimalist, “At least you can see your floor and your familiars are clean and safe.” So, there’s that.

    I like stuff though. Pretty things, hideously ugly things, useful, not, decorative, etc. I do pass things on from time to time, generally after a ritual or community gathering if I feel a strong pull to leave something with an old friend for reflection or a new friend for study. I tend to part with books most often, but I almost always repurchase them… I pass them along to saplings new to the craft or even just friends who don’t understand, but want to be supportive. It’s nice to have a few things around when my nieces visit, something inevitably goes to live with them every time. I try to let them gravitate towards whatever is most intriguing at the moment, rather than what *I* think they should be working with.

    I have many mundane collections as well, but I feel like anything that you connect with can be spiritual. Even my favorite Starbucks mug from Korea.

  24. This post is particularly poignant for me now. My mentor died last week, and I seem to have inherited many of his items. My greatest fear in this is that I’ll be more attached to the items that he owned rather than the memory of him. I do plan to keep many of his books, because he underlined so many passages and wrote so many messages. I want to see how he devoured literature, religious books, and life. I’ve also inherited his liturgical vestments, something I plan to use if I am (hopefully) ordained as a pastor. I was hoping he would be my ordination sponsor; instead, he will be present with me, but in a way I was not expecting.

    I also ended up with his socks.

  25. Lo says:

    I’d never get rid of my books– a good number of them are out of print and hard-to-find university publication types, so they’re worth their weight in gold to this bibliophile. The rest… I don’t really have too much in terms of “the rest”. At least, not compared to some, that’s for sure! But I absolutely hate clutter and I hate making magpie purchases, so I’m always trying to cut down on that sort of thing.

    It’s tough though, when you’re building a reconstructionist path, and no one’s there to tell you what you need to have. My shrine has been through 3 incarnations so far, and I’ve found since I moved it from its previous location, most of the clutter I had set before my god images weren’t necessary in the least. I’d put them there for me, not for them. So it’s safe to say that I get much more positive and “right” feeling from the shrine now than I did before, and I’m able to focus more on the gods, spirits, and my relationship to them, rather than things that I do and look at that are there for the sole purpose of impressing myself.

    However, doing this still requires that I test out new things– new offerings, things made from different materials or with different motifs, patterns, colors, etc. so I can know what’s most pleasing to them. And that usually requires I acquire -stuff-. Bummer.

  26. Jason Mankey says:

    My books are like my children, I could never give them up, even the ones I dislike or think are worthless. (I don’t ever want to read “Teen Witch” again, but I feel like I should own it for historical purposes.) Between my wife and I we have over 30 different deity statues, many of them deities we don’t actively worship or have relationships with, but I have them, and I feel like discarding them would be like dishonoring those gods. I think we own ten chalices dedicated to ritual purposes, who knows, maybe we’ll have 100 people over for ritual at some point and need all of those chalices?

    A lot of this stuff I have because people give it to me, and since receiving a gift feels like a special blessing, I’d feel guilty getting rid of them. It is silly how much “Pagan Stuff” we have, but almost all of it is readily accessible in our house and at least “looks nice” on the five altars we have scattered around.

  27. David Crawford says:

    It’s funny you bring this up. I have been purging for a few years to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ I have that goes unused… that just collects dust. However I have even started getting rid of books that I use all the time. There are two reasons for this. First I have read them so much many are starting to fall apart. Second, the stuff that is not already available in digital format I am digitizing for myself. I have a Nook and buy nearly all my fiction and leisure reading in epub book format. As a Druid I want to save trees. As I start to purge these I will be donating them to ADF so they can start to build a library for those that can’t afford the books can barrow from.

    As for herbs, stones, incense, and the like… well I usually use those up so fast I don’t have to worry about it. But I do want to reduce the size of my altars. I would like to see them scaled down to the bare minimum for their actual use.

    So thank you for this article because it made me realize that there are others out there thinking along these same lines.

  28. Mortal Crow says:

    I’m of the broke-pagan variety. This is both good and bad. Good because I have what I need. Some candles, some books, a few useful herbs. Bad because I would like to have a statue or two, or just something that reminds me who (what) that altar is dedicated to.
    My favorite one has 1 red candle, a green stone (unknown), a picture i painted of Hunnin and Munnin with the runes for family and strength and a feather. simple.
    It is also good to have no breakable things in reach of small children. My one and only statue (Gaia) had to be retired after superglue incident number 6.
    It’s nice to be simple in terms of stuff.
    Contrast that with my group’s stuff; we have 4(?) bins of paraphenelia we drag around plus a closet we rent from the local UU. We are ensured that we have whatever we may need at any point. Which is kind of nice too.

  29. C.S. MacCath says:

    I finished a set of ogham today that took me a year to make. Last autumnal equinox, I cut a dead branch of Nova Scotia Maple from a tree, cured it through the winter, cut and sanded it this spring and blessed it today (I smell like a sweetgrass campfire right now; it’s awesome).

    I love the tools I’ve made, and I connect with them so much more deeply than anything I’ve bought over the years. I also make candles every year on Imbolc, enough to last the whole year, from soy wax, cotton wicks, essential oils and salsa jars.

    That said, I do have a lot of stuff, but most of it is quite old. I stopped buying Pagan bling a long time ago except for the occasional ritual necessity (incense, stones, salt, etc.). My husband does still gift me with the occasional piece of statuary, though, and I don’t think I could bear to part with any of his gifts.

    I’ve always wondered if the tendency in Pagans to hoard stuff has to do with the Western tendency toward consumerism. It strikes me that as we reconstitute this religion out of old scraps of wisdom, we’re bringing our modern sensibilities as well; some good, some not so good.

    Anyway, now I’m thinking about things I can part with. Anybody want an Odin statue? I had to repaint it when the condo above us sprang a leak over my altar some years ago, but it’s in lovely shape. I could throw in a vanilla/mint candle (or maybe lavender; I’m not sure what’s left in the box upstairs) too. You could donate to Teo’s blog maybe, since he’s being so great with his donations, and I could ship it to you at my cost. If you’re interested, just reply to my note here.

  30. Chef Ette says:

    I have a friend who told me “I was present when Alex Sanders once told a few of us that he knew
    of a magician who carried all his magical tools in a matchbox… it
    didn’t click at the time, but I think what he was saying was forget
    all the trappings and paraphernalia, magic is a state of mind…”
    I have to agree because it’s the way I was taught. The only things I have are books but the rest is all a mental thing. I do have an altar but it’s very very simply set up. For me simple is the best thing. Books I won’t part with though, I think your liking stuff is perfectly ok for you as long as you don’t end up like the houses on those hoarding shows 😛 with your diverse book collection I would say it says about you that you are a very interesting person and you are willing to learn about other religions. blessings always, June

  31. […] their relationship to Pagan and metaphysical stuff. It was eye-opening.I’m reminded of one comment now.“On the one hand, I fully agree with the idea that Pagans collect too much […]

  32. Kismit Jax says:

    oh the stuff. that wonderful eye candy. i do have quite a bit of it. but something that was passed down to me from (yet another stuff collector) when i first got started on my path “this stuff is pretty. and it is neat. but you don’t Need it. you need your heart, your will and your focus. the rest is just window dressing”
    that is the stuff i will never give up 🙂

  33. Merri-Todd Webster says:

    I have gone through multiple rounds of de-paganizing and getting rid of books, but I have a core of non-book “stuff” that I’ve hung on to. I think the best way to describe it is to say that I have two shrines, one for the household, one for me. At the household shrine on the mantel and around the (gas) hearth, there’s a placque representing the Lares and Penates, traditional icons of Christ and the Virgin, two small gilt and painted statues of Avalokiteshvara and Tara in the Tibetan style, a statue of Freya, a statue of Sarasvati, two sets of goblets, one clay and one stone, and a lot of candles. On the hearthstone is a Tibetan-style box incense burner and a candelabra of seven votive candles. At my desk I have a “tree” (twig), cauldron of incense, clay cup of water, a Himalayan pink salt candle holder with holes for three tealights (recent gift from my spouse), and a variety of very small statues including a clay painted Ganesh, a wee crystal skull, and a stone carved with a running horse. An icon card of Julian of Norwich is pinned up nearby. I finally had to accept that I wanted, or the gods wanted, a private space for me and a household shrine at the hearth.

    Meanwhile a lot of books I once (or twice) parted with are now available on Kindle, thank the gods. I still have loads of Christian, Tibetan Buddhist, Zen Buddhist, Wiccan, Celtic Pagan books, including historical stuff, texts like the Mabinogion and the Historia Regum Britanniae, Tarot, ogham, astrology… um, I think I’ll stop here. But I don’t have a lot of tchotchkes, if you know what I mean, no little fairy or dragon or unicorn statuettes, no pagan posters, no special robes. I do have a lot of rocks, though. I just call them “rocks” and not crystals or gemstones. (I love your, um, crystal in the pic!)

  34. Vyviane says:

    I love my Pagan stuff. I love the way it looks.I love the way my house smells like a incense shop. I love the way being surrounded by Goddess makes me feel. I love how it engages my child. I love being reminded of all my Sisters around the world that love me and send me trinkets, most they have made themselves. My family prefers the way our Pagan stuff looks vs other things we could decorate with, say from Ikea. We love bowls of rocks and crystals, women statues and paintings, tiny altars tucked away in corners with animal totems and tarot cards on them, Celtic tapestries and antique candy dishes everywhere full of different incenses and anything Greenman. Not many material possessions make me happier then my big jars of herbs and sacred waters on their shelves,especially if they are in mason jars- it’s like being able to live in a real life Pinterest. I use plenty of my stuff- some daily and some when the mood strikes.

    I do have a high turn over of stuff so while I maintain a certain amount of stuff it’s not always the same stuff. With three cats, many children visitors and a clumsy husband things get broken. Candles and incenses get burned and used up quickly. I freely gift my stuff out as people come and go from my house, my friend says coming to my house is like opening a stocking on Christmas morning. There is a steady in flow of new things as I have generous friends, a five year old and a job that involves scouting hundreds of sacred sites for tours.

    I do get a little overwhelmed with the amount of things my son finds or makes for the Goddess out of our yard – stones, leaves, pinecones, sticks etc. Some we decorate or try to make crafts out of but once a year I try to encourage him to bring anything falling apart to the portal fire and burn it in Her honor. It’s a little sneaky but I literally found 32 pine cones in my house once and I am not sure if the Goddess really wants 32 pine cones covered in cat hair on her altar 😉

  35. Julie Lynn says:

    It is really interesting how this post seemed to have popped up just around the time I was wondering the exact same thing. I am experimenting with chakra healing and was wondering the necessity of the vast multitude of crystals and tarot decks that are suggested in my many books (*ahem I am also a heavy book hoarder like most of the commenters here). Before I decided to jump on the bandwagon, I had to make a conscious decision that all of the perfect ingredients were not crucial. That making do with natural and meaningful materials that have popped into my life would hold more power than a chest full of newly purchased items.

  36. Jubal DiGriz says:

    Even in ancient times pagans had quite a bit of swag, so don’t feel too bad…

    “The man in the grave was about 40 years old and unusually tall for
    the Iron Ages, 1.85 meters. He wore a flat cone-shaped hat made of birch
    bark adorned with circle patterns and punched decorations; his body was
    wrapped in colored textiles. He had a golden necklace and shoes. Near
    him was a toilet-kit made of comb and a razor; a small iron knife, a
    quiver of arrows and a small bag containing three fishing hooks were not
    weapons but rather hunting artifaces.

    Eight of the drinking horns suspended from the southern chamber wall
    were made of auroch horn; the ninth is made of iron with inlaid strips
    of gold; each horn would have held up to five liters of beverage…

    The large bronze cauldron, probably made in Greece, was decorated
    with three lions on the rim and three handles with roll attachments. The
    cauldron could have held between 400-500 liters of local honeymead (or
    hydromel), dregs of which were found within it. A small golden cup was
    placed on the top of the cauldron. The bronze bench on which the
    occupant lies measures 2.75 m in length and is supported by eight female
    figurines cast in bronze and standing on wheels, so the bench could be
    rolled.”

    http://archaeology.about.com/od/ironage/qt/Hochdorf-Germany.htm

  37. Princess of Dork says:

    I have a lot of stuff from my early days. I use little of it, now, but just when I had about decided to clear out most of it, I acquired two magically-minded stepkids. Now, I figure I’ll hold on to it and let the kids use what they need for their practices.

    I think, in the beginning of any new path, religious or otherwise, we want to get the accoutrements that symbolize belonging because we’re not really sure that we DO belong; I believe the term “fake it until you make it” would apply here. When I first started writing with an eye to publish, I bought tons and tons of writer’s guides. I knew what I wanted to do but I wasn’t sure how to get there. I was just certain that these books would have the directions, you know? So, I bought them and read them, then bought more and skimmed them, then bought more and left them sitting on the shelf. Now, much like my overflow of magical tools, they await the eager hands of the next generation. And once the kids realize that they don’t need all of this stuff…well, then what to do with all of it is their problem!

  38. Elissa Rich says:

    We all have such interesting and different connections with our ‘stuff’, and for many different reasons! I like to think my own collection is relatively small, but it also doesn’t include my books – I put them in a separate category because 1) I’m a bibliophile and 2) I’m a big knowledge nerd, and there is no way I can store all that info in my head. 🙂

    That said, I do think that there is benefit to letting go of pieces that don’t serve you. Much like it’s good to let go of everyday items that simply take up space, it’s good to let go of Pagan-y, Craft-y, whatever-y bits as well. In this, I think it’s important to distinguish from a good emotional and spiritual connection to an item versus something you’re hanging on to because you *think* you do. In other words: is it a crutch? It’s a tough question, and the answers will be different for each person.

    As for what one’s stuff says about your path: well, that’s a bit different, to me. I’m on a bit of a fence. Does it really matter to you what your stuff says to others? If so, why? (This is not a judgmental question, although it may seem so – could be that it’s an important part of feeling part of one’s community. I don’t know, it’s not for me to say, but a good examination is worthwhile, I think.) To me, it’s more important as to whether or not one’s stuff is cluttering up your head-space as well. If it’s not, then I don’t see it as a problem. But if it is, then it’s time to clarify and declutter both head-space and physical space.

  39. Julie says:

    I’m a minimalist pagan. I have very little stuff, mostly because I think it’s important – as a pagan who cares about the amount of damage we do to the environment – to consume as little as possible.

    I found it fantastically freeing to get rid of (almost) everything, and haven’t missed any of it. What’s more difficult is resisting new things coming in! So I’m going with ‘one thing in, two things out’.

    My altar is the bare minimum (mostly second-hand or fair-trade) of permanent items plus seasonal things I’ve found outside. My athame is a piece of driftwood that I found on a near-by beach, which fits my hand perfectly. 😀

    I do think there’s an expectation to have lots and lots of stuff in the pagan community (and a lot of pressure to support local pagan shops). I try to put the idea of minimalism across without being too much of a pain in the arse. 😀

  40. This has been a matter of some concern for me, as I come from a long family line of hoarders; I never had any friends over at my house while growing up, because any strangers seeing the inside of the house would have resulted in the house being condemned immediately. (After my parents got divorced when I was nine, and my dad was saddled with paying off $30K of my mom’s credit card bills — an even more weighty amount in 1975 than it is now — my father worked four jobs and my stepmother worked three just to be able to get by. I did all the cooking, cleaning, etc. while my oldest brother did the yard work. It’s very hard for a nine-year-old to take care of a family of nine by herself, and things got out of control very quickly, especially given the facts that my parents were just too tired to ever pick up after themselves at the time.)

    So I have very strong hoarder tendencies of my own. I realized this about ten years ago, and I try to police them pretty fiercely. My own house is cluttered with *stuff* (including five cats), but it’s clean enough to perform brain surgery in. Recently, I’ve been decluttering many of my possessions — books, DVDs, music CDs, clothes that no longer fit (I’ve lost 115# in the last 2 1/2 years) — and either giving them to Goodwill or selling them at the local Disc Replay (for media). The only books I *haven’t* gone through during this de-stash are the pagan and faith-related ones; I imagine they’ll continue to remain exempt even as I continue to pare away at things in future decluttering raids (my library currently stands at a bit over 5000 books; if I hadn’t gone through and gotten rid of the ones I did, it’d be somewhere between 8K and 10K).

    I don’t have anything in the way of robes, at least (the only pagan clothing I own are t-shirts from things like The Troth and PSG), and I recycle candle stubs by melting them down to make new candles, so I’m spared those particular batches of clutter. But crystals (and fossils — remnants of the spirits of things that once lived long ago), herbs (my mother and her mother have trained me in herbalism since I was nine, and I currently write the herbalism column every issue for the Troth’s magazine Idunna), incense — yeah, I have a lot of those. I’ve currently imposed a ban on myself for buying any new incense until I’ve used up what I have; that’ll probably last a good five years. I have a small handful of statues, several of which were gifts, that form the centers of shrines to particular deities I’m closest to; it’d be nice to have more statues, but I have nowhere else to put them, and because I’m such a bibliophile, I tend to argue with myself that the $40 or more that would buy a single statue would buy many more books.

    One of the things I do collect related to my beliefs that others might not are the bones, skins, antlers, etc. of animals, relics I use as a connection to the spirits of the animals that once bore them. This is a relatively new part of my path that I am currently exploring, but they’ve built up fast: I have five or six BIG Sterilite bins of deer bones and skulls, snakeskins, raccoon skulls, turtle scutes, deer antlers, etc. The spiritual ecosystem on the patch of land that my house rests on has gotten very active of late.

    I think the important thing about all this — for me, at least — is that all this stuff gets used on a regular basis. In my experience, the hoarders I’ve known tend to hold on to stuff because “I might be able to use it SOME day” or “what if I throw it away and then two days later I need it for something?”, or because of emotional connections to items. I try to be really vigilant toward that kind of thinking in myself, because that leads down the path of acquiring things just to own them, not because of any genuine need or even a real desire toward using them to honor or serve the gods and goddesses. When I start to find that there are particular items that aren’t getting used regularly, it’s time to rethink whether I really need that item any longer. And many times, I find I don’t.

    ~Jennifer Lawrence

  41. Lupa Bi says:

    I feel a bit as though that early BUY ALL THE THINGS stage is like getting a big chunk of marble, and then over time you whittle it down into something that looks like your practice. I did that, and these days I don’t have that much in the way of specifically pagan “stuff”, but what I do have, even if I don’t use it any more, has strong sentimental value because of the journey we’ve had together. These days I’m more likely to pick up rocks and pine cones while hiking and add them to my place altar or the collection of things I want to use in ecopsych work, and I still have a LOT of books (though I periodically cull the bookshelf). Really, most of what I buy any more is art supplies that will just end up leaving the home again at some point, in the form of finished works. But even my art is tied into my spirituality, so I can at least scratch the spiritual shopping itch by buying things that both pay my bills and don’t stay permanently in my home.

  42. Lynda says:

    I think it has become fashionable these days to be ‘minimalist’ and so many people seem to have bland, cream houses furnished with cushions that match the colours in the solitary picture hanging over the fireplace or a strategically placed vase all alone on the sideboard. Tasteful maybe, boring definitely! To me, warm welcoming home should be filled with beautiful and interesting things; it’s part of our human nature to create and appreciate what others also create. As pagan druids I think we recognise that and realise that possessions are just a reflection of our interests and personalities. If the house was burning down we would still rescue the children and pets first!

  43. I’m a minimalist and dislike clutter. Over the years, I’ve reduced the number of Pagan items I own. I had a large collection of deity statues, tarot decks, books, herbs, crystals…all gone. Today I have one shelf of books, my basic Wiccan tools, just three tarot decks, a few robes, and only a handful of other knick-knacks. When I need items such as bowls, candles, or herbs, I use household stuff or look to nature. To me, this is in line with my Pagan values. Recycling and reusing are great, but reducing is important too. Over-consumption leads to environmental degradation.