Most of us have at least one place in their home reserved for things that have no other place. A kitchen drawer, an upstairs closet, even an entire room if you’re particularly lucky or particularly disorganized. That one drawer in the kitchen, right next to the drawers of neatly stacked flatware or big spoons and spatulas. It might hold scratch pads and thumbtacks and spare keys whose locks are long gone, packets of ketchup and soy sauce left over from takeout meals, a screwdriver with a broken handle, pencils sharpened to a third of their original size, and dust, always a bit of dust.
Things not good enough to belong in the ordered part of the house but too good to discard, things that might be useful someday and certainly will if you throw them out, things you didn’t feel like finding a better spot for at the time.
If you’ve been pagan for a few years, or a few decades, you probably have a similar place reserved for old altar implements and ritual items you no longer use, either often or perhaps at all.
Sometimes these items are put aside because of an upgrade–I have a number of statues that are now in a cabinet because I found one I liked better to represent a particular deity. (Aphrodite has her own altar so all her statues are on it except the one that’s on the Big Greek Altar, but generally this is not an option.) I have three Hekate figures that I tried before I found the one I use now; those are stored away but I have no intention of getting rid of them. (I wouldn’t mind a dedicated Hekate shrine someday but now is not the time for it.)
Sometimes it’s because a path has taken a new direction. For example, I started out 20-some years ago on a Wiccan-inspired neopagan path; thus I have a lovely wand I made, years ago, from apple wood and amethyst, and while I have no use for it at present, I still value it and intend to keep it–just not on any of my current shrines or altars.
Sometimes it’s because there are things you’re just not using right now but will again soon, or maybe not soon, but sometime, and you need to be able to find them. For example, I am not, at this particular moment in time, dealing with color spirits–but I will, again, and I will need the tools I use, the stones and colored candles and words to focus on. Right now, they are in the drawer, waiting for me.
Sometimes it’s because there are some things that just accumulate–candle holders, tea lights, incense and matches, little offering bowls, tiny bottles and boxes and bags, stray herbs in unmarked jars–and they have to live somewhere.
In any case, here is this catch-all, this pagan junk drawer, and it is full of things, important things, less important things, unimportant things, and who can tell the difference?
I know that some folks will “decommission” items they are no longer using, particularly items that have been charged or are otherwise things of power. (This issue has not really arisen for me, given my general lack of woo or energy-awareness, but if I were to feel the need to do this I imagine I would bury it in salt for a while and hope for the best because I certainly couldn’t tell if it had worked.)
Another option is to gift someone else with something that is perhaps wonderful but is not for you.
I am not comfortable with the notion of simply throwing away something that has spent a fair amount of time on an altar or shrine. Then again I am a bit of a packrat so I am not all that comfortable with the notion of simply throwing anything away!
So finally there’s the option I have taken–put them away, store them, keep them safe. Because just in case. Because you never know. Because you’ll know what to do with them when the time comes to do it. Or because your descendants deserve a surprise or three when they are sorting through your stuff!