Spring cleaning for the soul

With the flowers all coming out at the same time, the birdsong increasing in quantity and volume, the warmer air and longer days settling in, it really does seem that spring is on the way.  It feels like it has been a long winter this year, even though we’ve had, overall, quite mild temperatures!  A brief week of snow was very welcome, if only to brighten the dullness of British winter days.  Though the long dark hours of night are quite nice to have, time to regroup, rethink and dream it all up again for the coming year, the return of the light is always welcome, even though that change may mean we have to rouse ourselves from our cozy winter’s slumber and face the world once again.

And what better way to shake off the winter’s drowsiness than a good dose of spring cleaning?  It’s good for your body, mind, soul and your house.  Every autumn and spring I give the whole house a good scrub down from top to bottom – preparing it for the season ahead.  This weekend I really went for it – clearing all clutter from workspaces and tables, removing all unnecessary decorations – items that weren’t loved – even the closets!  It’s quite difficult, especially when an item is a gift from someone – you don’t feel as though you can give it away as someone went to all the effort and expense to get it for you. But if you don’t need it, and don’t use it, it is clutter.

So, living with a husband who hoards, I was quite surprised when each item I presented to him was met with very little resistance – do you use this? Do you love this? If the answer was no, then away it went, with very little hassle.  One wrench was a set of glass candles (the kind where you pour oil into them and place the wick inside) – these had lost the wicks.  They were, essentially, useless. Yes, we could go out and buy wicks for them, but we knew we never would – we have plenty of other candles that we use.  It was the fact that he had had them for so long that made it difficult to let go, and yet, in the end, he decided that yes, they should be recycled. It just makes sense.

How much do we do this in our own lives? How much do we hang onto things simply because they’ve been a part of our lives for so long? If, as Druids and pagans, we try to live with honourable relationship to the world around us, then we know that life works in cycles – we see it in nature around us.  Things begin, and things end, and things begin again.  The trick is in the letting go when things have come to their natural ending.  We’re taught to hold on as long as we can, and sometimes that can be a good thing, or even an instinctual thing – survival.  But in other areas, it can cause quite a lot of pain – the euthanasia debate still rages on.  We are allowed to put our pets “to sleep” because they are in extreme pain and their quality of life is so diminished, but we are not allowed that same grace for our relatives.  However, that is an entirely other discussion!

It isn’t only material things we hang on to – emotions, memories, feelings are quite often riding our shoulders, weighing us down, not allowing us the freedom to move ahead.  We have to learn to not attach to these feelings – they have come and gone, the initial reaction realised.  We feel our sadness, our rage, our joy, our pride – we shouldn’t suppress our feelings. However, we should not cling to them – we find a space to express them honourably, to feel them – whether it’s creating sacred space and time to allow the feelings to be felt, through ritual, or art, poetry, storytelling, dance, etc.  Then we let them go.

Like painting, or sculpting, or playing music – the trick is to know when to stop.

This letting go isn’t a one-time deal, sadly.  We must learn to let go, again and again in our lives, for our human need and craving for safety and security challenges the idea of letting go.  But, like the candlesticks, if it no longer provides us with any nourishment, or happiness, then it is time to let it go. Space is made, either to remain as free and empty space where energy can roam, or space is made for something we really do care about and that we can nurture and sustain as it does for us.

So go on, give your house a good spring cleaning. Reflect that in your body, mind and soul as well.  You’ll feel so much better.

6 thoughts on “Spring cleaning for the soul

  1. The timing is everything, with what to keep, and what to let go of. Letting go for the wrong reasons can be just as hampering as keeping for the sake of it. Scaling down to live on the boat really made me focus on what I need, what I use. In the end I got rid of a lot of furniture, but put old thestrical costumes into storage. Not much practical stuff there for when I end up in a house again, but I have a piano, and a wild boar head-dress, and a lot of books….

    • Yes indeed – things you absolutely love, that have meaning and that nourish your soul – by all means, these should be kept and cherished! Did you feel lighter, less encumbered, and do you still, living on the boat with fewer material things? Do you miss anything that you gave up?

  2. Great post, Jo. My winter has been all about letting go. As the year turns again, I am continually surprised to find that the letting go continues. More and more I am learning that life seems to be a constant process of letting go even in the growing an storing times, even it it is moment to moment, breath to breath. We let the past moment go in order to live fully in the next, exhale in order to be empty for the following breath.

  3. I do try to declutter every now and then, but then I find more stuff! or have another idea or creative surge! my New years resolution was not to buy any wool, untill all the projects i had on the go are completed and all wool in my possesion ear marked for things, but its difficult when i have so much “just in case” wool, and that does come in useful, mind you one blanket finished yesterday, so thats a gap! i would love to declutter for Spring, books are the worst things to sort out, they sit there for years, and then just when you think, “thats is they’re going” you read one page and you have to hold onto them. or do you??????

    fabulous blog Joanna!

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