Maybe it’s the continual snow, the light dose of cabin fever. Maybe it’s the longing for spring.
Whatever the reason, I’m celebrating the year of living with my sweetie by throwing things out.
It’s the start of the annual decluttering. There are good, sound, metaphysical reasons for doing it. It’s part of my spiritual path and life’s work, for those very reasons. As Pagans, we believe that everything is part of one vibrating, energetic whole. Some Pagans I know even use the term “energy work” in place of “magick.”
And there certainly is a potent domestic magic in clearing away that which no longer serves. We make room for new growth in our lives by clearing away the things we no longer use, just as we make room for new growth in our gardens by clearing away last year’s crop.
I’ve started with the pantry. Specifically, with the drawers we use to store food wrap and food storage containers.
When my sweetie and I moved in together last year, I knew we had too many. And I knew I’d never use the ancient plastic containers he insisted on saving. Some were 20 or more years old, relics of the time he lived on microwaved dinners and takeout. Bachelor Chow. And yes, if that Futurama bag of kibble existed, he’d probably have eaten that, too.
I did toss many as I helped him pack, but had to stop when he protested. When I cleared the drawers this time to make room for the Pyrex bowls and BPA-free plastic we’d bought, he didn’t say a word. Nor did he seem to notice that most of what I kept had been my own BPA free containers. I left a few of his to head off protest. They’re in a lower drawer and I don’t think he’s looked for them once. Any fears he had that this arrangement might not work out and he’d need every one of those dishes seems to have disappeared in the daily work of living, the long talks of a shared future.
As with all things, there is a time and a season to clutter clearing. We have to be ready to let things go. We have to believe in abundance, even if we can’t quite see it yet.
This is a good time to go through our closets and drawers and shelves. We recently passed into the season of Pisces, the season of the willing sacrifice. It’s the season to cast aside that which no longer serves, to let go of that which we no longer need. To pare down to the essentials of our lives. To dare to release, trusting that what we need will flow to us, just as high tide follows low.
In the not too distant past of our species, we too would be at the end of our stores in this season. The empty bowls I wash and arrange neatly in drawers would be a sign of hunger, not of suburban contentment. I would pray to the Goddess of my tribe for spring, for the green shoots and returning herds that might feed my family.
This ancient fear of being without lurks in all of us. That fear is more present for some, keeping them hanging on to things that are broken or worn. I had a roommate who had been through tough financial times as a child. She had a stack of five microwave ovens in her basement storage room. She added the fifth when I moved in with my microwave. Hers hadn’t been working well for months.
I asked why she kept it, and the others. She explained that if a microwave were to completely stop working and she couldn’t afford a new one, she could pick a semi-working one from the stack. Because one that kind of worked would be better than one that didn’t work at all.
I thought that was one of the strangest and saddest things I had heard. It’s the message of the Four of Pentacles, the king living like a pauper, hugging his gold tight as his castle walls keep love and life away from him.
That’s no way to live. And the Five isn’t much better, with its beggars in the snow. And yet, if they would but look up, there is the lighted window, the sanctuary. Beyond is the Six, generosity given and gratitude returned. The high tide of abundance after the low
I probably still have kept more storage bowls than we need. It’s a difficult thing, knowing exactly how much to keep and how much to let go. Knowing when it’s safe to open our arms and pour out our gifts, knowing what we need will return to us. Letting go. Trusting. Opening our arms to give, and our hands to receive.