So this post is a bit rare for me. I don’t normally do stuff like this, but all afternoon, I’ve felt strongly that this is something I need to write, and write now, and post it, because I can’t keep it to myself. This needs to be shared. Whether anyone agrees, I don’t know, but I’m putting this out here anyway, even if only I end up caring about it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about stuff. Our paganisms, and our polytheisms, are religions of stuff. Pick any book about how to do a paganism and it will invariably have a chapter on all the stuff you need. Tools, statuary, robes, books, whatever. You can also search for witchy room tours on youtube to see just how much stuch we like to hoard away. And there is nothing wrong with stuff! Many of us find them useful for our practice, and I don’t think we should abandon our stuff if it helps us do our religions well.
Of course, getting said tools isn’t always cheap, and sometimes, you can’t just get any tool, you need to have the right one. Some of these things, like libation bowls or dishes or candles or other stuff, can be found in ordinary thrift shops, or bought cheap elsewhere, but some things, like statuary, are harder to substitute, particularly if you don’t have the money for them. Australian pagans might understand how hard it is to not spend a lot of money on deity statues; if I can find one for under AU$100 with shipping, I consider it a bargain.
Many of our paganisms and polytheisms have some sort of earth-centric or nature-based focus; not all of us are, and that’s fine too, but a lot of what we say when we talk about our Paganisms is that we are nature-based religions. Wicca and Druidry are probably the biggest groups that adhere to this, but there are others out there as well who have this commitment to putting the Earth at the centre of their religions. In an era of climate change and a need to rethink how we deal with stuff, these Paganisms are valuable.
And while there’s often a lot talked about recycling your waste or thrift shopping or growing your own food or giving time to environmental causes, I don’t think there’s enough discussion on what we do with our stuff once we don’t need it anymore, particularly for those of us who are solitary, or isolated, or don’t want to just leave it to someone in their will for them to deal with once they die.
Not everything can nor should it be thrifted, nor would I dare suggest that is the ideal for the stuff we no longer need. Some tools or other items are better destroyed than given away. But there are things we do get rid of, from time to time, for a variety of reasons. Tarot cards, oracle decks, statues, crystals, incense burners, books, candles, ritual tools, bells, all these things either end up given away to friends, donated to thrift shops to deal with, or occasionally sold online.
Just speaking for myself, I have a box of deity statues packed away in the bottom of the linen cupboard because they’re not relevant to my practice anymore, but I don’t know what else to do with them, other than stash them away, ~just in case~. I’ve also cleaned out a lot of my supplies over the years, and got rid of books, bowls, candles, oracle decks, and a set of runes, magazines, candle holders, incense burners, and even incense.
But this isn’t just about having too much stuff. This is also about accessing stuff that might otherwise be too expensive, or out of reach, or otherwise inaccessible, particularly to those of us who don’t have a lot of money. Sure, books you can sometimes find cheap online, but that is also conditional on you being able to buy things online, and being able to get them sent to you.
And we can’t overlook the New Age markup. There’s a particular New Age shop a few suburbs away from me that has lot of the Greek and Roman bronze coloured resin statues for sale, and the cheapest is, iirc, about AU$130. The Hestia I have was going for AU$200, last time I checked. Not every New Age shop is quite that bad with their statuary prices here in Australia, but it’s not unusual, either.
Mind you, this is Australia, and everything is fucking expensive here, even our books. AU$35 for Cunningham’s Book of Magical Herbs (or whatever it’s called?) is not even unusual, and the rarity of finding any Pagan books in a bricks and mortar store is shown in the price you pay for them here. Which is why most of mine have been bought online, because it’s far, far easier to find the books I want. The only exception I can currently think of is my hardcover copy of Wilkinson’s The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, which I bought from the state museum for about AU$90, because it was there, and at the time, I wasn’t sure I’d find it anywhere else. If I’d had my time again, I’d have waited and bought it online for, well. A bit less than AU$90.
But I feel like there’s a better way to deal with our stuff, and the stuff we don’t need that might otherwise clog up our working spaces. I don’t know of anything like this currently exists, but for me, having a Pagan thrift shop, run by Pagans who understand what you’re bringing in and how to cleanse and treat it and price it fairly and affordably, this feels like a better way. To know it’s going back to other Pagans, and that, like all thrift shops, the money is used for other purposes, such as donations to Pagan charities, or to other causes where needed.
And if I knew I could pick up a second-hand statue of Herne from my local shop just for the Yule feast that’s coming up in a few weeks, and then donate it back afterwards, rather than spend $100+ on buying one permanently, I think that would be a good thing. Good for how we relate to our things, to our stuff, and that we can make these things circulate around the place where they’re needed. And, in many ways, to build community.
A lot of what’s driven this is that I’ve been volunteering two days a week in an op shop/thrift shop for the past fourteen months or so. It’s a little shop, in part of a suburb where the posh bit meets the not-so-posh bit. Our shop isn’t just for those who have money and don’t need the things we sell. It’s also for the pensioners, and the homeless, and those who don’t have as much money, or who need things they couldn’t afford to buy new. We have a lot of regulars, and some who come by just for a chat.
And I think that sort of thing, replicated around Pagan communities and our stuff, could be really valuable. Not everyone might be able or interested in ritual meet-ups, or even to meet a large group of strangers, but going to a thrift shop, that might be easier. It might be all the community someone needs, or as a way to tap into other networks they might not have known by meeting other people there. Meeting people who can offer advice, or to find something you might not be able to buy new, or to find a bargain you’ve been searching a long time for. Even just to stop by and see what’s new, or to be in a Pagan space where you’re accepted for who you are, and what you do, and there’s all the stuff of your religion around you, and it’s okay.
Maybe this is daft, and far too utopian, and perhaps that’s accurate, I don’t know. But this thought hit me hard on the way home from my shop today, and I really felt like I needed to write something down tonight, to not just talk about it as a dream, or as a thing that might be nice, but as something we need. We need to handle our stuff better, and make things more accessible. Because being Pagan, and getting all the stuff we need, can be really expensive if you live in the wrong place (*waves from Australia*), and I don’t think it needs to be like that. Sure, our religions aren’t always for everyone, but I don’t think these things should be out of reach. We need to make these connections within our communities. All these things need to happen. Whether they do happen, well, I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone else thinks this is as important as I do. But I’m putting these thoughts out now, and if nothing comes of it, well. So be it. But I hope this at least stirs some thoughts in others about these things.