I’ve been thinking a lot lately about decluttering.
Not just the kind that has left me, for the first time in my life, with more drawer space than things to put in them. But the kind of decluttering that led me to hold on to some physical objects and all the emotions trailing from them for so long.
And that it’s the season to cut those cords and clear that soul clutter for good.
I can mark phases of my life in terms of boxes filled, boxes moved, boxes emptied. Of bags taken to various charities or dumped hastily in the trash. Of living spaces moved into and out of, so often by another’s choice, not mine.
I look at photographs of my grandparents and think of their lives, rooted to one spot like the oaks and maples that shaded their small farm houses. I think of friends who are still in touch with people they knew from kindergarten onward. I wonder what that would be like.
I barely remember those friends, or my family’s houses we played in. By the time I reached junior high school (7th grade, in my district), I’d attended eight elementary schools. Three of those in second grade alone.
The past decade also has been nomadic. Much of it I was very under-employed, or even unemployed. Money was a constant struggle. I went from small apartments to smaller private spaces within shared apartments or homes. The personal possessions I brought with me were pared once, pared twice, pared more times than I have counted.
Things I wanted to keep were sometimes lost in the hasty shuffle of moving or damaged by inadequate storage areas. My Grandmother’s 1930s mixer and angel-food cake pan, lost when a box was mistakenly put in the “donation” pile instead of the “move” pile. A collection of hundreds of vinyl LPs, some dating from high school, left behind because carrying them around had gotten exhausting. Boxes of books beloved since junior high, including my first copies of “Lord of the Rings,” lost to nest-building mice in a drafty garage.
I think moving so often as a child, along with some other family and ancestral traumas, makes it difficult for me to this day to form close friendships. Why bother, when forces beyond my control may take me out of their lives without warning? Intellectually knowing that is no longer likely doesn’t erase years of conditioning.
As for the years of nomadic poverty—it’s just recently I realized it’s at least partly to blame for the fact that I still haven’t made my current house fully my home. I have lived here since January 2014. And yet, I still haven’t committed to the space sufficiently to hang a single piece of art. I have half-finished painting projects. Boxes yet to be unpacked. Shopping trips to find furniture that end with me paralyzed by indecision. I believe a part of my lizard brain still thinks this haven is impermanent, that I’ll be on the road again whether I wish to be or not.That’s why I’ve developed, and am sharing, a five-part Samhain workshop. I want to uproot this pattern, and I think examining the tangled roots of my life, family and ancestors is a good way to do it. To clear this particular clutter from my inner closet, for good.
For those of you reading this who may be new to the word “Samhain,” it is the old Celtic holiday of honoring one’s ancestors and friends who have died. It is celebrated October 31, the same day as the more secular Halloween. Samhain also is very similar to the Latin American November 31 celebration, Dia de los Muertos. Many people I know use the Samhain solely for commemorating their ancestors. Some also use the time to examine their own lives and ceremonially say good-bye to those pieces which no longer serve them. This five-day workshop takes a bit from both traditions.
Starting the day of the full moon, Tuesday, October 27, I will publish a short piece with instructions and tips for that day. The final piece will be published Saturday, October 31. I’m still working out technical details of how to produce and share audio or video guided meditations to go with some of the pieces. I know that many people prefer that to reading instructions, then trying to remember them as they meditate or journey.
It is my intention that the parts can be done daily leading up to Samhain, or over a longer period. I know that devoting 30 to 60 minutes a day during the week is more than some will be able to do. All our lives are busy. Whichever works best for you is fine.
The pieces will focus on getting in touch with the clutter that is most troubling to us at this time; building an altar or creating a work of art to focus our energies; identifying allies to help us along the way; and finally, performing a ceremony to speak with those people, or parts of ourselves, that most need healing. To do what we can, or must, to sever the cords still tying us to those things or people that hold back our progress in this life. To pack away or bury the un-needed.
And to return, whole and freed.
If you’d like to discuss this challenge today and as it goes forward, please comment here. Or, you can join the discussion at the Gateway Goddess Facebook Page, or the Five Day Decluttering for the Samhain Soul page.