Husband and I have lived in our house for four months. Boxes still line the hallways and piles of things have taken near-permanent corner encampment. Our guest room is still empty. We did set an altar in our main room, but most of my personal Magick stuff stayed packed away. It started to feel like the email you know needs answering, but the longer you wait, the worse you feel about answering it. Will the recipient be angry? After all this time, is it just too late? Maybe if you keep ignoring it, you’ll make all new friends and will never have to answer that email.
I was feeling that way about my Magickal items, too. I kept finding more and more reasons to not unpack the altar boxes. I was tired. It was late. I would do it the next day–I swore it.
Of course, I wondered why my Magickal life felt empty.
For years, I preached the importance of throwing out the rules and tools. But when my things were boxed (and for the two months we lived in an interim apartment, all flames and incense were strictly forbidden), I struggled with what to do with myself. I took to the backyard, channeling Magick into a sickly tree in need. But even in our own home where we certainly can burn things and drill holes in walls to set up shelf-altars, I resisted unpacking.
Today, I started a multi-day cleansing. While meditating, I rehashed decades-old arguments in which I swallowed an insult as truth and carried it. Spirit then told me to unpack the boxes.
“Just put out the stuff,” Spirit said. “Pour Them a beer and tell Them you’re sorry.”
I unpacked my personal altar box, first. As soon as I lifted the flaps, I felt angry. How many times had I cried in front of that altar, frustrated with leadership and expectations? How many nights had I sat at that altar and felt nothing? I re-felt anger with myself and others. I re-heard arguments with former Coveners, resentful at my departure. I felt my own angry words, defending my choices. I re-felt older words from former students, friends, and combinations thereof that all said, “You didn’t give me enough of what I wanted.” No matter how many times colleagues and Spirit Kin told me that it wasn’t all my fault, it still hurt. I knew why I hadn’t unpacked that box. I wasn’t ready to revisit it.
Before I set anything on my altar, I held each statue, each tool, each offering, and asked if it really belonged on my “new” altar. Some things said “yes.” Others, “no.” I felt guilty placing some things back in the box, but I know there will be a new purpose for them. My old altar was lovingly packed with every trinket with meaning in the last chapter of my Spiritual life. But overtime, it did feel heavy. My new altar is spacious, even though it’s on the same box that it was before.
Next, I unpacked my Ancestor Altar. The tears fell. It’s not as though I haven’t seen the faces in the pictures in a while. Yes, it’s been four months, but they sat on the altar in our former living room. But taking them out was the reminder that they are no longer in the flesh. I see their faces and wish I’d made more coffee dates with them when they were healthy, that I’d visited them more when they were sick, that I’d made their lives a bit easier in the end. Lastly, I put Lily’s clay paw print on the altar. She’s finally among my Beloved Dead. It made me miss her more.
As Spirit suggested, I poured a beer for each Altar and apologized, but then felt that the apology wasn’t necessary. It was clear to me and certainly to my Spirits why I had waited. I wasn’t ready to revisit the anger. I wasn’t ready to feel the losses again.
Some things take time. Unpacking is one of the harder parts of change.