NBC shared an important article about Americans being the unhappiest they have have been in 50 years. This comes as no surprise to me. The more things we possess in life the more money it comes to maintaining them, upgrading new items to replace them, or spending more money to get more of those items. We are living in 3 times more space than we have in the 1950’s.
I was in the US Army starting my junior year of high school by finishing basic training and had to finish AIT (Advanced Individual Training) for my MOS after I graduated from school. I did this with the split op program that was running at the time in 2005. The Army has taught me a great value in life that I found to be somewhat of a remedy to this unhappiness.
I must note that my opinion is not speaking for everyone, but merely my personal experience.
The military way of life has never left me since I was honorably discharged. It actually brought much joy to my life. It has shown the value of using the things that are useful in daily life, extending usage of what things you own, keeping things organized, and not having excess in materials.
This has been in conflict with the notion that being an occultist is very expensive. I think this can be true, but it does not have to be so. I should say that there is a fine line between getting magical items because they appeal to an aesthetic or trend and getting items because they will be useful to your practice. The former constitutes the aesthetic that the market wants us to perceive. The occult has evolved into unnecessary consumerism, especially with crystals, herbs, and other materials. Sadly, this consumerism is even pushing some plants, trees, and herbs into extinction. Rosewood is a primary example of this idea.
I do believe that there has to be a better way to use our resources to help the environment (which should be the goal of every person), but instead we are ravaging the earth doing the opposite of this end goal. I have seen people who purchase these items innocently who claim to be activists for the environment, yet the market they bought that item from is contradictory.
As an occultist I just keep what I need and will use. I very rarely use things one time. I always ask about where crystals or herbs come from in the world. I think all this is important. It is not a perfect solution, but it is something to say the least.
The problem in my opinion is materialism. We purchase things to fill an emotional gap. People get excited over the newest phones, computers, games, technology, bigger spaces to live in, luxuries that they will never use, smaller items that are only for decoration, and etc.
I have reduced 90% of my library to digital formats. It was harder to read for me in the beginning, but I am pretty well used to it now. I reduced the number of books because of the trees that were used to make those books. Some of the works I read are manuscripts now, which are in scans on the internet. The tools I have are a part of my occult system. I can more easily navigate digital books on my laptop or find different topics via word search. I do understand that some books are not found digitally, but my particular path has books that public domain and older.
Although tarot is no longer practiced on my end, I had one deck I used for an entire decade. It was the Hermetic Tarot. But at least I used that deck everyday. That deck had some usage and had real value rather than collecting dust. I believed it was unnecessary to have more than one deck.
I love to write, I have one or two journals I write in by hand. The other notebook I would consider a general grimoire. However, most of my notes are now digital. I make use of my laptop and phone, forcing them to be a part of my regular production. Purchasing expensive journals is no longer an option. Although it feels less personal to type, i can certainly type faster than any writing. In my life it is the most responsible thing I can for the environment too. The goal is bigger than “self.”
My tools are made and I do not seek to get more or make more, unless it is a talisman of sorts. I can keep talismans and get them out when I need them. Although there is consumption there, it is consumption that is not being wasted.
I have gotten more out of simply using my items and knowing they will not be sitting around. Some of my friends in the past have books they will never read, magical items they will never use, and have things that are aesthetically pleasing. I am not saying they were wrong or bad, but I am saying that we must consider taking responsibility to be more mindful of the world around us. I think this is important overall. I am no saint in the task, but I cannot express how much it has changed my life.
Being less concerned with the market demands of the consumer in this busy world sets the mind free a great deal. I am not anti-capitalism, but I do think we should slow things down in order be at peace in the world. I will have what I need to live to be happy, free, healthy, and more aware. It is important not to be anti-consumption, but to consume what you will use. If we are to learn about taking control of our bodies and minds then it starts with compulsory consumption. When we can control our impulses, including those with spending and materialism then I think we will find true happiness.
Be in the world, but not of the world.