I’ve spent the better part of the weekend moving furniture around in my apartment. It’s Isaac‘s fault.
A few years back I set up a home entertainment system with 7.1 surround sound. The demands of excess consumerism were met, but it was hard to sit in the "sweet spot" where you could have the TV in front of you and get the full audio effect.
About a year ago, I shoved around my sofa so I could put my armchair in the sweet spot. All well and good for media consumption, but the sofa was in an awkward place in the room. It made it difficult to access a large living-room bookcase on which I kept my Wiccan ritual gear. I figured that one day I’d have to move the sofa away from the bookcase, take out all the books and photos and games and gear from the case, move the case to a new position, move the sofa to where the bookcase is now, then put all the books and stuff back in place.
It would be a lot of work. Somehow, I never got around to it.
Part of my Wiccan gear is a cup I use for rituals. I keep it on my altar. Make that two cups: one for Wiccan rituals, the other for Hermes Council rituals. One day, a student of mine asked if she could keep her ritual cup at my place. I agreed, and put it in my kitchen cabinet. After another ritual or two, after my students cleaned up, I found all three cups on my altar.
Wiccan altars, like most physical objects in the universe, are finite in size. Three big cups made it hard to keep all the stuff on the top of the small case I use for an altar. I squeezed things together as best I could.
After the last ritual at my place, I found four cups on my altar: another student had decided to keep his cup there. Items that I’d formerly kept on the altar were scattered on top of the bookcase, since the other students couldn’t find any other space as they cleaned up.
Of course, this wasn’t a major problem in my life; we should all have problems that are no worse. It was just something I kept in the back of my mind.
About a week ago, I’m helping Phaedra Bonewits, Isaac’s widow, pack up her belongings as she moves out of the apartment she’d shared with Isaac. She’s getting rid of a lot of stuff; they’d accumulated the usual detritus of an acquisitive life, but she couldn’t take it all with her to North Carolina.
Among the items she’d put in the "give to Goodwill" pile was a small wall shelf, a pretty little thing painted with a night-sky motif. I asked her if I could have it, and she agreed. It was just the right size to hold all the cups on my altar.
I get home with the shelf, and look around for a spot on my wall big enough to put it. There isn’t any room. The ideal place to put it is blocked by the bookcase.
All right. It’s time.
I’d postponed moving the furniture around, using the excuse that I’d need someone else to help me. Excuses are a wonderful thing, but pathetic in retrospect: I found I could do it all myself. In the process, I found a few things I’d lost (dropped behind the bookcase), many other things I could throw away (birthday cards from five years ago), and things I could put away in a closet where they wouldn’t be in the way (Collector’s Editions of World of Warcraft.)
I also identified a couple of items of furniture that were inadequate or useless: another bookshelf composed of old wine crates that was more rickety than functional; an old day bed that no guest had ever used. By getting rid of them, I could make room for more of that most precious item of sacred furniture: more bookshelves. I went to Ikea, picked up a few, assembled a couple; I’ll assemble the rest when I get rid of the day bed.
Finally, after a third of my apartment has been shoved around, unpacked, packed, dusted, re-dusted, vacuumed, re-vacuumed, arranged, re-arranged, and otherwise subjected to obsessive-compulsive behavior, I put up the shelf that I got from Isaac’s home. The four ritual cups are set atop it.
If anyone wants a day bed, a small bookcase made of wine crates, or a couple of wooden chairs, speak up now!