AskAngus15: Hipster Hoarders

Stuff and Nonsense: Why are so many pagans hoarders, with altars covered in stuff from bygone days? Isn’t it supposed to be about a Spiritual Connection – letting go of the material world?

Dear Stuff,

Having a crowded altar is the sign of a full life, a life of verbs, a life well-seized. There is certainly a time for a bare board and a single, white candle – but that’s spellwork. Your altar is a long-term schematic diagram of your life up to that point – if it’s bare, then you need to get out more.

Letting go of material things? Not here!

Now this can be taken to extremes (something Pagans know nothing about [cough]) and some folks end up with these Teetering Towers of Doom altars – sky-high parfaits of leaves, trinkets, feathers, pictures, rocks, melted wax, shells, knives, unopened mail, dust, calcified corn dollies, unidentified compost filler, ribbons from Pantheacon and a broken pestle with a missing mortar.

This – this is not helping.

Altars should be able to breathe. I find that changing (read: cleaning) mine every Quarter or so is ideal. Clear the whole sodden, dessicated mass off, bury the spells that are still ‘in play’, dust everything thoroughly, and then put some (most) of it away for awhile, to recharge. Put out some things that are seasonally appropriate – and leave plenty of room for Growth.

Messy. And Perfect.

Finally, Stuff, if you want to see a TRULY mind-bending altar, a beautiful, holy pigsty of a playing board for Spiritual Connection – head to any forest. Walk slowly through a grove of trees; what you will see is a flippin’ MESS: Nature is absolutely untidy and completely uncaring about Her appearance. Forests often look like bombs just went off in them. Stuff is just piled and strewn everywhere.

And you know what? It’s supposed to be just like that. It’s perfect. It’s all serving its masters; each deep drift of duff, branches, insects, ivy, and poison oak doing exactly what it should be doing. And it all gets used, over and over and over again. In Time.

Just like us. Nature = hoarder, just like we pagans. But if your altar is choked with detritus, then maybe its time for a little cleansing brushfire. (“wink”)

TooHipGottaGo: Can you be a hipster and a pagan? I’ve never seen one. I thought they might explode if that combo came together. Thoughts??

Dear THGG,

Come to think of it, I’ve never seem an Instragram-filtered photo of a skinny pentacle wearing a porkpie hat either. But I don’t see a problem with the concept. In my tent you can be a pagan and be almost anything else in addition – it’s not even something you need to hyphen about.

Five points of the Irony Pentacle.

So, Hipster-Pagan? Sure. Why not? Hipsters are often well-educated, progressive leaning, weirdly-haired, anti-mainstream, ardent feminists who are fine with same sex lifestyles and multiple partner relationships. True, they don’t often have the reputation for Nature Worship – but that’s probably just because Chuck Taylors aren’t the best hiking shoes.

~Ask Angus

Angus McMahan


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Pics from the WheelofMagic – on Facebook (Jon Snow), (Hip Greenman, and Zazzle (“Pagan”). All other photos from the Author.

About Angus McMahan

Me? I'm just the drummer. Oh, I guess I write funny stuff now and then. When I am not scratching my head at the oddball questions that show up here I am penning witticisms over at

  • Amanda

    “Can you be a hipster and a pagan? I’ve never seen one.” lmao! Just throw a rock at any given specialty coffee shop, independent bookstore, or Whole Foods! I know a whole lot of hipster Pagans, but you’ve probably never heard of them…

    • kenofken

      NO! I draw the line at hipsters! The Pagan umbrella is vast enough to contain the newbies, and drama queens and “fluffy” practitioners and even the occasional serial killer looking for a way to game the prison system, but not hipsters!

      Hipsters are not just artsy or hip young folk. They are evil personified! They are so smarmy and self-absorbed that even the Dalai Lama feels an overwhelming impulse to strike them about the head and face! Mr. Rogers, the man who was tolerance itself, would not have suffered a hipster in The Neighborhood. He’d have kicked the offender’s ass around the block twice with his Oxfords, and once in his sneakers and THEN extradited him to King Friday, who would have gone Henry VIII on him…

      Hipsters can be New Age, but never Pagan!

  • JasonMankey

    Yay! You’re back!!! The pictures you found for this one are fantastic! I know what you are getting for Yule this year.

    • Angus McMahan

      Ooooh! You’re wrapping up John Snow for me?!?

  • kenofken

    The hoarding thing is an interesting dimension of pagan culture. I have hoarding tendencies, but, Brigid be Praised, I also have a fair degree of OCD, which hates clutter and drives me to organize and purge very thoroughly at intervals. I also try to look at most possessions in the same way I do the natural world. I am not their owner, but a benefactor of them and a caretaker to them. Things come into your life for a reason, and you may or may not be meant to be their final destination. Sometimes I am compelled to buy a certain book or artifact, or a gag gift comes to me that I absolutely abhor, but feel some reason to retain. In almost all cases, I discover I was just the intermediary. They get called away as gifts to the right person who needs or appreciates them more than I did. When it comes to altar space, everything on there should be intentional, and directly relevant to ceremony or workings that are current or long-term.

    • Angus McMahan

      What Ken Said. :-)