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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