I have posted a lot about decluttering recently. I think that itʼs because I am in my late twenties, I have lived on my own for three years, and I am figuring out what I do and do not like in my surroundings. As a young professional, I am also very busy in bursts, and I want my surroundings to be as simple as possible for those hectic times.
Most of the minimalist blogs I read for tips on decluttering and streamlining processes are written by Christians or people who have come out of Christianity and still use it (no matter how secular they seem) as a base frame for their worldview. It never stops me from reading them, but I recognize that on certain types of posts, there are sentiments and opinions that I could never share. For example, right now, the majority of that Feedly folder is talking about eschewing material possessions to get back to the religious roots of Christmas.
And I don’t think that they mean that they’re redirecting funds for a taurobolium-destined bovine creature.
A few days ago, I saw Marie Kondōʼs Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in the OverDrive ebook collection of my local public library, and I read it this week.
Reviews of Marie Kondōʼs book online — ones that I read some time ago that have been percolating in my mind — thought that some elements of her work were a bit weird. They called her attention to objects “animistic” and a little over-the-top because in the nexus of Kondō’s cultural, personal, and religious background, objects and belongings are treated with more respect.
One of her sections, Make the top of your bookshelf your personal shrine, took me by surprise. Kondō’s English translator did not omit this short section about religious artifacts, which in her clients’ homes typically include charms and talismans:
I once worked as a Shintō shrine maiden for five years. I have loved shrines since I was in grade school and would often drop by our community shrine to pay my respects to the local deity. Even people who don’t love shrines as I do still have protective talismans and good-luck charms in their homes (Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, p. 160).
I was really, really excited about this — not because I need to declutter my shrines, but because this was even there in the first place, and it was in a non-Christian context.
Kondō notes at one point that she worked for five years as a Shintō shrine maiden. In the context of Kondō’s background, I do think that the work is deeply religious, just not in a way that most people in the West would recognize. Many of her suggestions for honoring the home can fit smoothly into a Hellenic understanding of household worship.
As I thought more about my reactions to this work, I realized that the very thing that others thought weird and off-putting in her work made me feel happy and included. Most of the minimalist works never talk about private worship spaces and places for household religious objects, and if any do, they never talk about it in the context of polytheism. I have already mentioned on this blog that I think proper acknowledgment of Zeus Ktesios requires a thoughtful and mindful look at spaces. If your home storage areas are sacred to a god, don’t you want the things in his spaces to be useful, usable, and well-placed?
This all circles around, of course, to visibility. I rarely engage in the blog-based fights, but I think that one of the basic points of all of the discussions about polytheism and making space is that space is empowering. It makes people feel heard, valued, and respected. Even if a person doesn’t consciously notice that something is missing, moments like the one above — when you recognize yourself in a space — just feel good.