I can feel it coming.
Here in the mid-Atlantic, we’ve had our first False Fall – a regional hiccup as the growing season winds down when we’re given a sudden glimpse of the weather to come. The first False Fall is a few days to a week and is immediately followed by temperatures in the high 80’s, of course, but once you’ve felt it, you know the season is turning. It’s starting to be cool enough in the mornings that I have returned to running rather than walking my dog. Autumn is coming.
And I am HERE for it. Actual footage of me during late summer.
Over the past few days, I’ve found myself eyeing the rooms of my home in a specific way. “That goes, that goes, that stays, that definitely goes.” I’m mentally labeling the objects I’ve accumulated with red and green stickers. I’m looking at the dust bunnies and, at my house, dust buffaloes, and planning their immanent demise. I’m preparing to purge.
I fully and wholeheartedly lay the blame for this seasonal tic at my mother’s feet. When I was growing up, there were two big cleanups/purges a year – spring and fall. Well out of grade school and long the master of my own living space, these patterns continue in me. Some of their presence is pure practicality – we will shift from tank tops and shorts to long sleeves and jackets. The tools and toys we need will change. Laying the groundwork for that transition makes a lot of practical sense. However, there’s a spiritual resonance here as well, and I suspect it is what keeps this seasonal tradition alive and well in my own home.
So much of spiritual life involves the creation of space. We must choose to work on our connection to the gods, ancestors, and spirits. To do so means to choose not to do other things. As with all aspects of life, this translates to choices on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. It’s easier to connect with spirituality in a space specifically curated to support spiritual practice. When we are realigning ourselves to our spirituality, or preparing for a different phase of it, making changes on a physical level is part of that process.
“When we cast a spell as witches, the first thing we do is create a sacred space to work within. An old metaphysical trick to receiving manifestation is clearing out physical space within your life for the manifestation to anchor into physical reality. If all physical objects have an etheric field, it would only make sense that by clearing excess physical clutter we are allowing a space for a new etheric manifestation to develop as there are fewer etheric fields in the way.”
– Mat Auryn
Psychic Witch: A Metaphysical Guide To Meditation, Magick, and Manifestation
As an adult witch, my Autumn Purge is not just about cleaning up the detritus of summer. It’s about creating the space for the coming shift in my spiritual practice. Literally cleaning, donating items I do not use, look at or wear, and throwing away things I have loved unto shreds corresponds to my spiritual state. I am taking stock. I am looking at the lessons and patterns of summer. I am releasing the ones that are no longer applicable, that I have outgrown, that are slowing me down and cluttering my energy. I am opening the windows and letting the breeze blow the dust and cobwebs out. I am reorganizing myself for the inward spiral.
My pets are less helpful than this, though.
For me, it feels good to let things go. In the open space that remains, there’s a shining new peace and clarity. There’s freedom from distraction and guilt. My home feels good when all is in order, when there’s plenty of open visual space, when only the things I love and use are the things I surround myself with.
If you have not purged before, or struggle with cleaning, I can tell you the pattern I use. It’s the one my mother taught me and I continue the pattern to this day. Start with a single room of the house and choose a corner in which to begin. I like to purge deosil, so I generally start in a left-hand corner of the room and work my way rightward. Put on some awesome music – something that pumps you up and gets you moving. I have a not-so-secret love of trashy dance music, so that’s what I play. When I was a little girl, the music we listened to were two specific CDs: ‘Opera Goes to Hell’ and ‘Opera Goes to War.’ They were collections of some of the loudest classical music you can lay hands on – the operatic equivalent of an Amon Amarth concert.
Have a trash bag and all your cleaning supplies to hand. Put a box or sturdy bag in the center of the room. Clean sky to root (top to bottom) starting in that corner. When you find something you want to donate (or are considering donating – you can make this decision later), put it in the box in the center of the room. When you find something that does not belong in this room and needs to be returned to its home (or is awaiting the finding of a home), start a pile next to the box and place those items there. Do not put them back right away – it will derail you and you’ll end up doing that thing where you clean in 40 different places and somehow end up making more of a mess than you had at the beginning.
Clean your way around the room until you return to the corner you started in. If there’s anything in the center to clean, do so. Either stop cleaning here or move on to the next room. Once you’ve cleaned all the areas you planned to, visit the piles at the center of the room. Put the objects that need to be returned to other parts of your home away. Make choices about objects that need permanent homes. Go through the ‘donation’ box and make final decisions about items you were on the fence about. Decide what gets donated and what gets thrown away.* Bag or box up your donations and take them out to the car.
If you still have the energy for it, smolder some incense or purifying herbs and waft the smoke throughout the cleaned areas. You can also sprinkle/asperge with holy water and trace sigils on the walls and doorways. If I’ve done a lot of cleaning, sometimes this step happens the next day.
Then, sit down and enjoy your work. Light some candles, grab a glass of your preferred beverage, put on a peaceful playlist, and just sit. Notice what emotions surface within you. Lean in to the peace, to the satisfaction, to the joy and comfort. Consider what you are making space for in your life and know that now there’s ample room for those dreams to manifest. Enjoy your space. Connect to the egregore of your home and check in, or simply express gratitude.
And then? Live, my love. You’ve created the space. Now fill it with your dreams.
Are you feeling the pull? When are you planning to purge this year? Also, do you have a system for purging that works best for you? Hit me up in the comments.
*protip about donations. Items you are donating should still be useable and in pretty good shape. When you donate something that is too battered, stained or worn, or that definitely will not be purchased by anyone for other reasons, you waste the time and resources of the charity you are donating to. They will ultimately end up throwing that donation away, but it will pass through a few different hands on the way there. Charities, especially now, are struggling. Please don’t make their jobs more difficult. It’s okay to throw things away when they have outlived their usefulness. If you experience guilt about throwing things away, try to let that emotion become fuel for making better decisions about purchases in the future.
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