Souls aren't something you're just given by nature of walking this world. Souls are a thing to be collected and accumulated, something to be earned over time, and they aren't a thing that belongs exclusively to humans and animals.
I'm writing this at my mother's house. I grew up here. I remember waking up and getting ready for school here every morning, watching cartoons and eating blueberry waffles, and dancing around the living room to Livin' La Vida Loca. I remember my family being very different then. This house has earned its soul over years of people living in it.
There were carpets, then, and there aren't now. It was cleaner. All the furniture was different. The house has grown as much as we have, and the love this family shares is woven in the walls and in the spirit of this place. Anything can be like that, earning a soul, through wear, through use, through being loved.
People joke that humans will bond with anything, but there's a lot of truth to that. I'm the kind of person that will wear a pair of shoes until they fall apart, but I think there's power in that too. I've been wearing my boots for seven years. I got them around the same time I got my partner, and they have literally carried me through this entire phase of my life to date.
A pair of shoes are not just footwear they are every journey you take in them. They are a thing to be respected.
A home is a safe harbor, and a place to laugh and love, not simply a place to spend your time.
A bed holds your dreams and gives you respite.
There are different ways to respect your things, but it's so important to do that. Respect the things you see every day, respect the places you go every day, and take care of them so they learn to take care of you. Treat them poorly at your peril.
They develop those souls a step at a time, and the soul of an object is often a direct reflection of its owner. You can feel the difference if you pick up something new, and something very old that has been loved for a long time. My partner and I both have stuffed animals that we slept with as small children, and of course mine would give me comfort; it's a nostalgic item. I have a bond with it. There's no reason for me to get that feeling from his.
I do, though. I can feel how much he loves his Puppy. It gives me so much warmth to know how much his Puppy loves him back.
There's this stigma against hand-me-downs and pre-owned items and I think that's a dreadful shame. Because an object that already has a good soul is twice the gift for that. It already wants to do what it does best, after all.
In Japan, it's common practice to get rid of certain items after you've had them for so long because it's believed that things like brooms can develop too much of a soul if you use them long enough and that this can become a problem for the family. I find this interesting; western witchcraft is almost the exact opposite. I know families that pass the same broom down from hand to hand for years and keep it long after its bristles have gone soft. It's kept for spellcraft and protection, but I suppose part of that difference is in how we view these items.
A broom that is only seen as an object for cleaning, for sweeping out the dust, will develop a very different soul than a broom that is seen as a family guardian.
Once upon a time it was believed that the first body buried in a cemetery will remain there and become the spirit guardian of that place, and no one wanted to condemn a human soul to that so they would often bury a dog instead. That dog would be referred to as a 'church grim'.
I've found dogs have beautiful souls. I really feel like they're the only creatures in this world that love their people more than they love themselves. I'd love to know how they got this way. I've read a lot about familiars, about how they choose you and come to you, as if they already are the moment you meet them. I look at it a little bit differently.
When you really love an animal you start to share pieces of yourself with them. I would gladly trade parts of my soul with my dog any day. I think we could all stand to be a little more like them. I think loving her has helped me earn a part of my soul, too.
That's why it's so important to love yourself, you know, even when it feels like no one else does. Especially when it feels like no one else does. Because every moment you live and breathe you are earning your soul, and it really does manifest what you put into it.
It's never too late to start nurturing yourself. It's never too late to be nurturing to others. Respect for the objects you interact with every day is a good place to start. For me, that's through repeated use. Cleaning my tools is ritualistic for me; shutting my laptop down and cleaning the screen and keyboard is ritualistic. I don't do it as often as I should.
I pray before meals, in a sense. Not to my gods, they get my attention in other ways, but I take a moment of quiet to acknowledge the plants and animals that went into that sustenance, and thank them for it. These things are necessary to keep my body running, that's some circle of life stuff that I'm not gonna get too far into, but to me, that acknowledgement and respect is important.
I'm not sure what any of this looks like for other people. I've got this notion in my head that when the opportunities arise, I'd love to ask. Personally, I feel like since I've started acknowledging these things, I can feel the improvement in my life. I'm still where I was before I started, but it's like wiping the grime off the lens and giving myself some much needed clarity.
Right now, the world needs a lot more kindness in it. Sometimes, I worry about all the hate that goes into people in this age. And I've come to the conclusion that simply railing against everything that's wrong isn't enough anymore. Being a shield isn't enough anymore. It's important to stamp out that stuff, the injustice, the wickedness. It's important to stand in the way when wrong is being done. It's just as important to replace that hate with love and caring.
It's good for your soul.
Megan R. Miller