Along with putting away all of the holiday decorations I found myself sorting through my magical “stuff”. I’ve had several occasions to pull out my spiritual tools. You know, those symbols, the nick-knacks that for whatever reason have a spiritual connection. Theoretically I have “stuff” to redecorate the house every 6 weeks (Samhein, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon). I have plenty of “stuff.”
The “stuff” in the photo, an altar I set up for myself, is a collection of things that fit into my little medicine bag. They are pieces I’ve picked up over the years that mark particular points in my spiritual journey. And they are also convenient to carry when I’m traveling.
This “stuff” is important to me. It carries meaning both in symbology and also from the history where I picked up the trinkets along the way. Some of it carries a very potent charge making it easy to return to the feelings I had when I got it. Some of it carries it’s own symbology, like the rune or the chinese birth year tag, or even the particular stones. But most of this “stuff” only comes out on special occasions. When I’m taking a retreat or doing very deep personal work.
A lot of my “stuff” only gets pulled out when I’m looking to make a point in a public setting. I brought some of that with me when I did my workshop in October. I set up a little altar and decorated it with symbols that might be recognizable or meaningful to the people who attended. It’s all “stuff” I like. It’s all “stuff” I’ve used for various purposes, some more than others. Some of it carries fond emotional memories. Some of it I choose for particular attributes and associations. But it’s not my every day “stuff.”
I continue to acquire “stuff”. Anytime I go to an event there is usually some “stuff” to bring home. Either a special name badge or a token from a ritual or a magical marker to help sort the crowd into smaller groups. Sometimes I think I’d like to keep this “stuff” as a memory or a tool to reconnect to the energies of the event. Sometimes I think this “stuff” is just clutter and needs to be disposed of appropriately.
That’s really the problem with all this “stuff”. When things carry a special charge, magical or meaningful, it makes it very difficult to just throw them in the trash. Candles can be burned or remade, as can many of the crafted items (like my vision board from 10 years ago). Some things break (chalices, bowls, lamps) and can then be disposed of as household items. But what do I do with a magical blade that I no longer use? What do I do with the rattles? What do I do with the chalices, bowls and lamps that are still perfectly useful?
This issue becomes even trickier for a teacher. I have several “collections of stuff” that I pull out for specific classes. The variety allows students to compare and contrast a variety of tools that could be used for the same purpose. I have specific items that only come out in particular rituals, rites of passage that don’t come up on an annual basis.
It’s definitely time to clean out my “stuff”. I am hoping some of it will be useful enough to donate to either the programs supporting servicemen practicing their religions on foreign soil or to prison programs supporting Pagan prisoners.
What is your favorite or most useful spiritual “stuff”?
Thanksgiving – the expression of gratitude. Those of us who run in spiritual circles hear a lot about gratitude. There are numerous books in the market on the topic. It’s become almost a buzzword. But there is a huge difference between saying thank you and feeling grateful from the tips of your toes.
Gratitude in an emotional context feels both humble and bounteous. Gratitude comes with an upwelling of joy and love. It is a giving back, thanks in love returned for gifts received. There is a Norse tradition expressed in the rune Gifu. Acceptance of a gift obligates, a gift for a gift. But when gifts are exchanged in gratitude that obligation becomes joyful and burden-less.
The holiday this week brings gratitude, thankfulness, into our cultural awareness. Many of us find ourselves fulfilling family obligations, and often with more trepidation than joy. Is this a holiday of food and football? Is this a celebration of white privilege, colonial expansion and manifest destiny? Even staying in the moment can be difficult as many of us use the day to scan the ads and plan our black Friday shopping expeditions.
In an effort to stay present in the moment and to experience the week in gratitude I have written a short mediation, a prayer if you will, that I would like to share with you here. If you like it I would ask you to please share my blog, pass it on.
I breathe deeply, in and out.
I can be grateful for my breath in and out.
I breathe in and fill my body with gratitude.
I breathe out and release that which does not serve my greater purpose.
I am grateful for my breath.
I breath into my body. My chest moves as I breath. My belly moves as I breath.
I can be grateful for my body as it contains my breath.
I breathe in and fill my body with gratitude.
My body moves in gratitude.
My body carries gratitude into the world.
I am grateful for my body.
I live in my body, moved by my breath in each moment of my life.
I can be grateful for my life.
My life is lived in gratitude.
My life is filled with gifts and opportunities for giving.
I am grateful for my life.