Let me preface by saying, I'm not some sort of physical item ascetic. My house is pretty close to 2,000 square feet, and there is stuff in every room. For the past couple years, I've become borderline obsessed with moving things along, especially in my Craft practice. I think some of you heard about my unloading of Craft books, oils and incenses, and other things. I've gifted away large amounts of Craft tools and the like.
Now I'm down to the most difficult part of the weeding--notes.
After almost 20 years of Craft study, I don't have a BOS. I have boxes of BOSs. I've got binders upon binders crammed with written notes, formularies, spells, diaries, magical journals...you name it, I've got it scrawled on a piece of paper, photocopied, printed on a printer, and yes, even mimeographed.
And in 20 years, you better believe that my path has changed considerably. I very seriously doubt that the photocopied pages I have from the plastic shaman-type book by Sun Bear will ever have relevance to my personal practices again. (And if it did, I certainly could afford to buy the book in its "glorious" print form.)
In an article I saw a while back, it was mentioned that people keep items for one of two reasons: Sentimental attachment or Fear (i.e., what happens if I get rid of that thing and need it someday!). I think with Craft stuff, things fall into both of those categories to some extent or another. But now I'm at a sticky wicket....
In my big purge mode, I'd just toss all this stuff (sorting and keeping the handful of things that still do have value to me)... but am I just being reactionary? How do you know when material has served its purpose in your life and it is time to move on?
How do you handle something as personal as notes when you find they no longer serve your spirit?
There are many things you can do with it. Is is oathbound material? If it is, you can give it to initiates of your tradition, whose who have the right to see it. Or, you can donate to a local pagan shop to distribute to your local pagans who do not have those years of experience packed up in boxes. I wouldn't throw them away. They are to valuable. Like Duir said, you can scan them (though I imagine if the size is as immense as you say that could take hours) and give them to the OPC at large. But, personally, I would never throw them away, because those experiences and information is way to valuable to be trash.
Not oathbound material, no....mostly things clipped from the internet or scanned or jotted down from books, plus a half dozen binders of notes that I took at various workshops and classes over the years. Knowing the local shop folks around here, they're not going to want cases upon cases of loose paper in the hopes that someone will take it out of their store for free. (And I can't blame them on that!) Maybe an option is to just put up a listing on Freecycle...20 years of disorganized pagan notes, free to a good home? ;)
I'm inclined to agree with the folks that are suggesting a digital backup before any disposition of the material. I'm sure that, with a little digging, you could find someone willing to take the physical copies off your hands. Come to think of it, you could combine the two if you found somebody willing to digitize the material in exchange for possession of the originals.
Given how long it has taken me to digitize some of the material, if I put in 3-4 hours a day, it would take me a couple years to get everything scanned. Anyone want to put in that kind of time pro bono for stuff that you could easily Google these days? :P
ETA: As I go through the stuff, if I find anything really interesting, I will probably put it up on this site or find it online and give a link to it, so have no fear...nothing good will be lost!
Well there is still the option of giving it to local pagans, im sure you know some who do not that those years and experience under their belts who would love to have some of your work. Even if some of it is copied off the net
I would toss anything that is a duplicate, or something you know you could easily Google, or you already own in a printed book. Keep and personal accounts or revelations that are unresolved or still hold value to you, or anything you have developed yourself, and either scan it into a computer or compile one binder or that information.
Purging will feel great, let go of your fear, and keep a few peices just for the sentimental value.. because remembering and reflecting on where we "were" helps us know where we might be headed! tossed my middle school and high school journals just this year- EEK! Yeah, my stomach turned a litle when I did... but I have plenty of photos, and saved a few drawings and poems to remember back, that I don't need a daily record of every insignificant musing had back then. And once they were gone.. it was kind of refreshing, like a mini "rebirth" were I was free of a few burdens that were lingering around.
I keep a few categories of things. (And one of the projects for my winter is going through the training material I received back when, and doing something similar.)
- Is this necessary for passing on the tradition as I learned it? (Yes, keep.)
- Is it something that was important for my own learning, and that I have not seen in at least 2 other reasonably available sources? (If yes, keep.) So, copies of text widely available elsewhere can go. Notes from a class with some material I've never seen elsewhere, I really consider keeping.
- Is it general material I can find elsewhere? (Get rid of)
- Does it have personal notes that are useful to me for some reason, even just as a marker of what I was thinking when I learned it? (If yes, think hard about keeping, or at least transcribing the relevant bits.)
One thing to think about instead of scanning is that taking a clear digital photo of an item can be a lot faster. There are services (including some free ones) where you can email the photo and then they'll attempt OCR on the text. Taking a photo is often a lot faster than actual scanning, so it might be a good compromise for material you're not sure about.
Higher megapixel numbers are better here: you'll get better clarity if you have to enlarge the image to read it. But these days, an iPhone or related camera's good enough to give you enough info.
I also do the "put it in a box, leave it there for X period of time, if I don't need anything from the box in that time, the box goes away to trash/recycling/whatever." thing, which is a good solution for stuff I'm not sure about.
Your situation sounds alot like when I went through all my Mom's recipes... So many types of medium; papers, binders and cards. Finally I scanned the ones that I thought I could use, the handwritten ones are put aside to mail to my cousin (with whom I was brought up like a sister) and the newspaper clippings were put in the recycling bin.
At some point, you have to realize that clutter in your life will weigh you down and also weigh down your moral. I have found every time that I clean out a part of the appartment, I feel so much better!