My grandfather was a hoarder.

Not as bad as what you see on TV, but several areas of his home were filled with boxes and piles of stuff. The basement was the worst. I always got the heeby-jeebies going down there, which I attributed to standard basement creepiness. Recently, however, I realized how much more I was picking up on.

My grandfather survived the Bolshevik Revolution. I’ve heard horror stories about what he experienced as a child, which included being separated from his parents and witnessing the deaths of a family member and a friend. All of this before living through The Great Depression and the second world war. Significant trauma went unprocessed. Hence, the hoarding. It strikes me that those boxes and piles of stuff were symbolic of the burdens he’d been carrying his entire life.

You may not be a hoarder, but I bet you have some piles of stuff around your house. Though they may not be the result of unprocessed trauma, they’re likely to be burdening you.

As a culture, we tend to amass way more things than we need.

Are you an emotional shopper? (ie, do you enjoy “retail therapy”?)

Do you hang onto things you think you might need or want eventually even if you don’t need or want them now?

Do you emotionally attach to things? Do you have a bunch of sentimental stuff you can’t get rid of?

Do you like to stay on top of trends with the latest versions of things?

Do you have lots of hobbies and interests and do any of those require you to amass material items?

I’m a thrift store junkie and an emotional shopper so I buy lots of cheap stuff, sometimes just because it seems like a good deal in the moment. I’m also creative and see potential in things like broken appliances, old books and magazines, toys, etc. so I hold onto random crap thinking I might make art out of it one day (I never do). I also sentimentally attach to books and other things and I worry about waste so I try to reuse stuff. Which means my physical space gets cluttered.

I’m extremely affected by my surroundings and easily overwhelmed in general, and I live with boys who aren’t very tidy. This all amounts to a big pile of stress. Literally.

The Hermetic Principle of Correspondence posits, “as within, so without; as without, so within.” Meaning that external circumstances affect your internal experience and vise versa. In this way, decluttering your space serves to increase peace of mind and sorting through mental chatter helps inspire motivation to clear physical space. When done mindfully with intention, decluttering, cleaning, and organizing become spiritual practices.

The convergence of the practical and magical brings balance.

I’m not going to suggest that you stop shopping when you’re sad or that you get rid of your most cherished possessions. If these things provide genuine comfort, then they serve a purpose. But I will suggest exploring your motivations and investigating whether or not the comfort you achieve feels authentic or worthwhile. I will recommend examining the underlying emotions and seeking tools and resources for processing those.

I’ll also offer that the simple act of clearing space can provide solace for your soul.

What follows are ritual suggestions to help you turn this into spiritual practice:

  • Select an area to clear—this could be your kitchen pantry, your desk, a closet, etc.
  • If there’s a window in the space, open it (if not, don’t worry about it).
  • Wash your hands and/or face.
  • Open sacred space: burn some cedar; take a deep, cleansing inhale/exhale while focusing on your 3rd eye/ajna; then say these words: “I welcome benevolent spirits of the four sacred directions to this sacred space. With gratitude and love I call in the energy of our great earth mother and celestial father to support the healing and cleansing of the outer and inner realms. Help me release and let go of what no longer serves, to replenish and renew for my growth and the greatest good.”
  • Clear clutter, organize and clean. Best to use non-toxic, earth friendly cleaning supplies. Moon water or distilled water infused with essential oils such as Bergamot, Peppermint or Frankincense is a beautiful way to complete the physical cleanse.
  • Enjoy the sound of silence, or hum or chant while you’re working. Avoid chatting or listening to popular music. Practice mindful presence by attuning to your senses—notice smells, sounds, sights and sensations.
  • When you’re done working, step back and take another deep inhale/exhale while focusing on your third eye. Then say these words: “Thank you benevolent spirits of the four sacred directions for supporting this sacred space. Thank you to the energies of the Earth and the stars for assisting me in this practice of release and renewal. It is done.”

Enjoy the peace and ease you just created by tending to your physical space!

With Love & Compassion,

Adina Arden Cooper

I'm a lover, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.