Tools and Trappings
Have you noticed that spirituality, regardless of tradition, offers the opportunity to collect a lot of chatskis? Oops! I meant to say “sacred objects.”
There are books, of course, and inspirational pictures. There is statuary in all forms – saints, deities, faeries – you name it. There are crystals, censors, symbols and altar tools. We have candles, candlesticks and snuffers. Chimes, bells, drums and oils adorn our homes and our bodies. And that’s not even taking into account special items for holidays!
We consider many of these items essential for our spiritual growth and practice. We need our tools. After all, you can’t build a house without a hammer.
I’m a fan of tools, and of chatskis. I like mementos, reminders and pretties. I have a lot of them. And I want more.
In my professional practice I use tarot. That’s a tool, too. Most professionals use tools of one sort or another.
Spiritually, there is a danger in making it be about the tools rather than the spirit.
I remember being asked to consult with a spiritual group – a women’s coven. They were having a hard time finding their focus and their group identity. I was in the High Priestess’s office in her home, which was the covenstead – the place where the group met every month.
Her office was like the most wonderful new age shop you have ever seen. There were cauldrons, statues, magickal tools of all kinds, crystals, candles, censors and much more.
I was agog at her collection, and said so, complimenting her on all her wonderful stuff.
Her answer brought her group’s problem into sharp focus.
“It’s everything to me.”
The priestess has been so focused on the trappings of spirituality that she was unable to lead her group into the true experience of spirituality.
How often do we do this in life? How often do we value the thing more than what the thing represents?
We can create, treasure and enchant our tools, giving them power beyond the inanimate. But that power comes from a greater, living source.
The power of our tools comes from the power of symbol and myth. The power comes from our own energy. The power comes from the power of the living Earth. The power comes from Spirit.
Take the tool away and all that power will still exist.
Take the tool away and all that power will still be accessible to you.
We love our chatskis, and that’s fine. We use our tools, and that is how it should be.
But we need to remember that we are not cartoon superheroes whose strength comes from something we possess. We are not characters in a fantasy adventure in search of a sacred object to set things right in our kingdom.
Our strength and our power will always be with us, regardless of the objects around us.