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    The Magic of Moving

    By Kara Valkyrie (the Witch formerly known as Loam)

    Let's be frank. Moving is one huge pain in the ass. First, there is the sheer mass of stuff, the element Earth mocking us for all our sentimentalism and attachment.

    Earth: Kara Valkyrie, do you really need to hold onto that IUD you had removed five years ago?

    Kara Valkyrie: No way, Earth! This is a symbol of two years of hassle-free, juicily joyous sex, unparalleled by anything before or since.

    Earth: Let it go, girl, let it go.

    And then there is the exhaustive process of finding an affordable means of moving the remaining earthly items:

    • installing car hitch: $270
    • 4' x 8' trailer for 6 days, 1700 miles: $234
    • Utility dolly rental: $10
    • Gas for trip: $220.36
    • Climbing the Sierras at fifteen miles per hour with a duct-taped bike rack attached to the trunk while holding your breath because the water bottle of the hamster sitting next to you in its cage has been dripping for the last 300 miles, resulting in a growing odor that can only be classified as fecally woodchiperrous: Priceless.

    It is easy to get distracted by the details of the process. There are too many things to pack, too many loose ends to tie up, too many goodbyes, too many unanticipated costs. You might find yourself indulging in fantasies of slinking out quietly, leaving all your belongings behind in the middle of the night, no forwarding address. Screw the return of your rental deposit, it would be money well spent to not have to deal with the mess of moving.

    But as usual, here is where the work lies, an opportunity to take one of life's seemingly mundane events and turn it into something magical. Moving gives us the opportunity to release the stuff (both physical and spiritual) we don't need anymore and to test our connection to our center while being temporarily without a hearth. Maybe you're one of those couch-surfing, nomadic witches. But not me. I don't feel right unless I have a safe place with a few of my favorite material possessions around, where I can feel a personal energetic history surrounding me. So over the years, through countless cross-country and cross-Bay moves, I've discovered a few ways to move with more intention, to honor the process instead of dreading it:

    Set up a Moving Altar. This can be done even before you have a new place. Include a list of the qualities you seek, an image of Hestia, guardian of Hearth and Home, or a copy of your current rental agreement. The moving altar should be the last thing packed from your old place, and the first thing unpacked in your next. Keep it up in your new home until you feel grounded and safe.

    Those "We've moved!" postcards aren't just for the living. Tell your ancestors, spirit guides, or any other deities that you are moving. Yes, they probably already know, but it certainly won't hurt to give them directions to the new place. When my friend Colleen found her last apartment, she visited the new space before moving in, inviting her Ancestors to hang out there. She then did a purification and cast the formal circle before actually moving in, taking the time to connect with the spirits of the land and buildings in the new place, honoring them and making offerings. If you can't physically visit your new place before moving in, spend some time visualizing it, asking that the cool, strange energy of your new home begins to match the soft, warm energy of your current home.

    In addition to asking friends to help pack, load or unload your belongings, get someone to hold space for you while you do these things. Moving is by nature a very chaotic process. Even the most methodical Virgo (ahem) will find herself acting uncharacteristically slapdash, abandoning half-packed boxes to run to the Post Office to fill out one of those mail forwarding forms. Two of my friends literally kept me grounded during my last move. Shana sat beside me, reading to me while I sorted and organized files, while Colleen sat in the center of my apartment holding a grounding cord for the move. Seeing her sitting in the same place while I tromped up and down three flights of stairs kept me grounded when all else about me was in motion. Expanding the definition of 'helping someone move,' be it by holding space or offering prayers, is a great way for non-physical people or those at a distance to help in the process. The non-traditional ways in which folks can help are endless: supporting you while you negotiate with movers, adopting beloved items you can't keep but don't want to give to Goodwill, sitting with you while you pack, or doing ritual with you to focus the intention of your move.

    Release the things you no longer need. Be real. If space is tight, do you really need to take that medicine cabinet full of eighteen different kinds of decongestants? Prioritize. What is most important to you? I would rather leave furniture behind than to get rid of my books. Another friend of mine refuses to leave behind cleaning supplies. Think about how you are getting rid of things you no longer need. In the process of moving, it is tempting to just toss stuff you don't want into the garbage. Is there someone else who could use it? Can you donate it? Remember that releasing the physical can also open up space in our hearts and spirits.

    Remember that your stuff will carry the energy of how you have left a place. Perhaps you had no choice but to get out quickly, throwing everything into pillowcases at the last moment. Make sure to take a moment when you get to your next place to cleanse your belongings as you unpack. Make unpacking a slower, more intentional practice.

    Use the actual transportation of all your stuff to weave a spell. Has a flock of friends descended with pickup trucks? Then weave a spell of community around yourself and your belongings. Are you using a professional moving company for the first time? Then honor yourself for knowing your physical limitations and for wisely using your resources. Perhaps you are putting all your stuff into storage while you search for something more permanent. Use this time to connect with all the possibilities involved in not being tied to rent, mortgage, phone lines, and pet ownership. Part of the reason I chose to leave the Bay Area for Nebraska was to return to a slower pace of life. But when I first started pulling my rented U-haul trailer behind my low horsepower car, I had a tough time letting go of my "need for speed." Most of the time I could go no faster than 45 mph. Since the move was about slowing down in general, the process of getting there was an opportunity to meditate upon what slowing down felt like.

    When cleaning out the place you are leaving, take some time to pull back the energetic forces you want to take with you and to cleanse away the things that didn't work for you in this space. Nobody likes to clean out a place they are leaving. But all that puttying, scrubbing and wall-washing is a chance to gather the love and work you have put into your house and to let go of the stuff you won't need anymore. A few years ago I left an apartment I had lived in for five years. I loved the place, but had always had miscommunication problems with the landlord. While scrubbing the walls, I chanted: Love and laughter, come with me; miscommunication, let it be. Children playing, come with me; heartache and resentment, let it be, etc. I asked that the next tenant have good communication with the landlord.

    Be aware of "moving patterns." A friend of mine found herself to be out of integrity in her sexual relationships during a big move. So she asked her circle of moving friends not to let her sleep with any of them, no matter how right it might seem in the moment - because she recognized the pattern and saw that connecting with folks sexually was the way in which she tried to maintain balance and connection when everything else was up in the air and she was feeling completely freaked-out.

    Take reminders of the place you are leaving. These can be permanent or temporary. I have a "dirts of the world" jar, containing dirt from all of the people I love in the Bay Area. When I arrived in Nebraska, I sprinkled some of this on my family's land, and added some of my native soil to my collection.

    Moving is messy. I'd love to be able to say I always follow each of the above suggestions, resulting in a serene and graceful move each and every time. But I don't. For me, moving always involves a significant chunk of time when I am not present in my body, when I cannot bear to feel the various emotions associated with leaving not just an apartment behind, but a whole geographical area. Sometimes a witch just needs some chaos in her life, whether she wants it or not. Says Ariel Gore, my favorite Hip Mama, in her book The Mother Trip, "Chaos is good news. It's movement. It's change. It's revolution. It's scary. But like intuition, I think we can trust it."

    If you can't do anything else in your next move, trust that chaos.

    Kara Valkyrie recently moved to her home state of Nebraska. The material for this article is excerpted from her book-in-progress: "The Witch's Guide to Finding Home."

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