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Why Buying Spirituality Will Only Get You So Far

Ten years ago, I wanted to be a witch. I researched the history and practice and connected with Wicca’s state of balance and harmony across all paths of my life. And, of course, I can’t deny the allure of such a rich history, one that’s still being explored, dramatized, and sought after by the masses in life and in mainstream media. So ten years ago, I set out to stock up my small bedroom at my mom’s house with all the essentials.

I have tarot card – two decks, actually. Spell books. Wiccan dictionaries. I have sage and a smudging bowl. I have candles. I have essential oils and black tourmaline stones. I bought all of it because I wanted to be this witch I was reading about, one who had a strong connection with her roots; the Earth. I sought a serene sanctuary where I was the master of my emotions and my world. I believed Wicca would provide this. But before this could happen, I needed to go shopping.

I studied other practices as well: yoga, meditation, Buddhism, veganism. This is cognitive consistency – the idea that our beliefs retain strength and power if they are consistent in behaviour. I was on the right path. Though less so, I bought yoga gear, music, and cookbooks, but despite counting my pennies and dimes, I never really considered myself a witch. Or a yogi. Or a Buddhist. Or a vegan… Well, I’m vegetarian now… And I still practice yoga and hold Buddhist beliefs. I still adore Wicca and its opulent past (and present), but I know where I went wrong: I thought that if I bought all the things that a witch required, I would be a witch. Easy as pie, right?

Chakras

With that mindset, if I buy paint, am I a painter? If I buy notebooks, am I writer? Why does it seem so obvious to me now, that it’s the usage of these tools that make you who you’re meant to be? If you don’t do it, is it meant for you?

The idea of buying spirituality is relatively new to me. My mother is probably the top consumer of spiritual goods that I know. Books and cards and photos and words upon words of products aimed at healing, helping, and re-charging our bodies, minds, and souls occupy every shelf in her home. When I embarked on my Wiccan journey ten years ago, she was wholly supportive and interested, and it’s no surprise to me anymore if she were to show up at my apartment today with a book (or 2, or 3) for me to read on witchcraft or healing.

What made this path wholly beneficial was when I began to ditch the consumer goods associated with Wicca and Buddhism and substitute them for the knowledge I’d gained about both practices.  Instead of shopping for something that would make me a Buddhist or a witch, I practiced internal love and awareness. I meditated in my bedroom. I took time to connect with the Earth. I motivated myself to be a healer and a teacher. And I didn’t need a milieu of tools or tricks. I just needed to believe that I could be this person; that I am this person.

Witches-of-East-End-Darkness-Is-Rising

So here I am, ten years later, watching Witches of East End, a show about a mother and her two daughters living as witches in present day Long Island. Despite it’s corny pilot and it’s ridiculously sculpted cast, the spiritual movement is still a very powerful system. Whether it’s within the Wiccan framework, aligning with New Age spirituality, or otherwise, we are constantly being encouraged to acquire this or that in order to validate our beliefs. We’ve built a consumerist culture that not only wants us to believe but – more so – to invest in our beliefs. But belief isn’t dependent on investment – unless we’re talking investment of time and energy.

It’s important to identify with whatever practice or belief you connect with. You don’t need to acquire material goods to prove this to yourself or others. I find the most powerful and progressive way for me to practice is actually practicing. Without identifying as a spiritual consumer, I am still spiritual. I meditate. I take care of my body. I take time to connect with myself, the Earth, and those around me. I found the serene sanctuary and am able to reflect on my emotions and take charge of my world. All of this I learned from my initial journey into Wicca and Buddhism acquired for free at the library and online. At the base is knowledge. Everything else is extra.

Now I just have to convince my mom to read this article.

mindless_consumerism

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