So, in Sicily, my brain was completely clogged with salami, seafood, veal, cheese, pasta, blood orange mimosas, arancini, cannoli and wine. We were surrounded by the gorgeous sea and because there’s a volcano there that still erupts periodically, the whole island is positively fecund with wild olive trees, wild pomegranate trees, poppies, wild oleander, jasmine, almond trees, chamomile, orange trees, lemons. Like, by the side of the highways, randomly growing in archeology sites. Palermo is like an explosion of Etsy fever dreams – herb gardens and succulents on every balcony and coverable piece of sidewalk.
So you can imagine that despite the fact that I am absolutely shamefully horrible with any language that’s not English, I desperately wanted to stay. I mean, 65% of women in SIcily are unemployed, but dude that is right on track to have the life that Ali Wong always dreams about, that I want too! (“I DON’T WANT TO LEAN IN! I WANT TO LIE DOWN!) But blahblahblah you have a husband or something and a “career” and a stupid business and another book to write and the crushing oppression of your life back in Gilead/America to deal with. Because yes, in SIcily you can get a literal bunch of asparagus or a beautifully laminated Saint prayer card from a vending machine for a Euro, but the fact remains that they would be having none of my proud freak shenanigans there which would eventually get old. Eventually.
So before I took twenty hours and three connecting flights home (yes, [gender neutral] girl. For real.), I tried to map how my life would be when I got back. I read the Hyyge book and immediately had filthy American thoughts about the process (tl;dr – YOU CANNOT JUST BUY SWEATERS AND CANDLES AND BE HYYGE, AMERICANS!!!!!! FUCK YOU, YEAH WE CAN!) plus it’s getting warm here for once.
So I also read half of KonMarie’s book. If you know anything about her process and what a weird little kid she clearly once was, you understand that anything said past this point is going to be against everything she holds dear. Like. This is some garbage animal rendition of what she has spent a life time achieving.
Before I had my book out for a while, I would have pearl clutched too about not following my process precisely because goddamnit, do it right! But now with enough time, space, Campari, calamari and life, I feel very. . . fuck it. If you read half my book and learned half a thing, that’s more than you had when you started. Bon chance!
KonMarie is unlikely to ever be about that life, just so we’re clear. I will finish her book, but I was ready to start the process. I’m a garbage animal – as an author, as a consumer, as a reader, as a life choice.
So, I started mentally going through my closet when I couldn’t sleep and figured out what could be gifted to my sister, The Divine Ms. M and what could be gifted to the Canadian Amazon Collective. I knew if I wanted to wear all those lovely silk things April2 had given me that have been shamefully wrinkling in a bag for quite some time (I have a steamer and winter is very cold, relax), I needed to really let go. So I started there. Jow watched with the same mixture of horror and admiration he usually has for this kind of thing. At first I had zero intention of refolding everything so it could be happy, but as I started weeding through my drawers, I realized I was feeling an energetic shift in my belongings.
Let’s pause again here. If you know me or have read me for any length of time, you know that I’m not the fun kind of Witch generally who often talks about seeing past the veil, magical omens, clear examples of successful magic blahblahblah. Which is interesting because I get called “self help ish” periodically (bitch, wtf you doing magic if not to help yourself?) but self help generally requires breathy testimonials or dick waving claims of absolute triumph, which everyone still seems to want. “I don’t know? Can’t hurt, might help?” isn’t really a book seller per se. You want clear, definite results. Even in magic. Like so much of life is known for producing.
I used to wear back seamed stockings to everything. Every. Thing. My nephew/godson’s baptism. Events held at Country Clubs. Dates. Events. Business dinners. My mother is secretly a big rebel herself and also due to her generation (post beginning Mad Men era) found it to be badass and classy which spurred me on. For the first year or two back in corporate, I did not lose my zeal for stockings. I didn’t often wear them to work, but where ever else possible, I did. Somewhere in there, the discomfort of the position made it so I slowly lost my taste for wearing stockings. I have a stockpile of Dita Von Teese garter belts, one of which is actual silk. They laid in a dormant tangle along with my stockings. When I really started culling and folding my stockings according to KonMarie, I felt a bit of that old glamour rush back to me. More than that . . .and this sounds ridiculous to me even as I type it, I felt them start to wake up again. Like silken creatures.
I never thought of myself as an animist particularly. I’m not one who is much for any of the Witch in the Woods kind of business. I will camp now but only in places where it resembles more college dorm life than the wilderness. I can only identify a small handful of plants. I don’t know which animal is which past very broad words like “bird” or “bug”. I am pro climate control. And if we’re talking what the roots of my Witchy self look like, it’s all about bikini babes and spa life as recent as 4 AD.
I was so shocked to be having what seemed to be some sort of animist revelation in my closet that I immediately looked it up. Because, trufax, when I think animism, I think Disney Pocahontas (don’t throw rocks at me! We’re having real talk!).
1.the attribution of a soul to plants (sure why not), inanimate objects (like stockings and copy machines), and natural phenomena (like the ocean).
2.the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe (like that bitch The Universe).
Jow: So is that your label now?
Me: No. I don’t . . .settle on a label that specific. Too much pressure, too much expectation, too little space to change.
Jow: That’s how you get to keep evaluating your systems and making decisions based on your findings!
So, my clothing got to get happy and to live their best lives either with me or continuing their journeys elsewhere and I put a pin in animism, at least how it appears to apply to my life.
This brings us to the scary part of the story. So, I’ve been a practicing Pagan for twenty + years now, so needless to say I’ve acquired a lot of stuff in that direction. At first, Jow and I worked on the easier aspects of decluttering our dragon stash of occulty goodness – the drawers under the altars, the cabinet that holds more often used items. We admired how neatly labeled and organized everything was. We continued to declutter – better organizing the books on our bookcases and making them more visible. We went through old greeting cards, choosing what to keep and what to let go, including cards to each other as we are fairly prolific in that area.
Finally, we could avoid it no longer. It was time to deal with the altar. What to do with the goddesses who were no longer much worked with? It felt like a sticky dread. What would befall us when we broke up with beings much bigger than ourselves? Most people tended to avoid that subject for as long as humanly possible because no one wants ill wishes to fall upon their house.
So what happens? It turns out . . .
In our case at least. We didn’t do any kind of ritual really. You can’t really break up if the other person/goddess had long since left the building. You’re not holding onto idols at that point and tossing them down laughing merrily daring the goddesses to do something about it. You’re holding onto relationship memento that’s yours to do what you want with. And when you think about it, it makes a certain kind of sense. If your relationship with a goddess has trailed off, you think she’s sticking around for the very rare half ass candle? No way. She’s got other fish to fry and tastier, better offerings to devour than your pale leavings. In most cases, who do you think is going to get bored and move on first?
So now, after many years and some thoughtful changes, our altar is much more reflective of our actual practice. Sometimes, I thought I wanted to break up with a few still on my altar but it turned out to be a different issue like, their offering cup is unwieldy and not well located. When you move things and touch things, it gives you an opportunity to explore and examine your space. I don’t know that KonMari had a heathen altar in mind when she made that rule, but it’s a very good and very useful rule for Witches nonetheless.
I don’t know if I’m all in on the if your house is the way you want it to be, your life will be the way you want it to be. It’s a little . . .abundance ish for me (which is also often annoying correct for one reason or another which is also why I’m working on embracing my basic bitchness, for ease of life if nothing else) but I do know that I would rather be crying on a clean floor bemoaning my life in a decluttered environment rather than being even more miserable due to clutter.
So that’s something.