If we look at the world from an Animist point of view, then we believe that everything has spirit. That includes both the things we value, and those we toss aside without noticing them. That includes the trash we produce everyday. This post wants to give voice to this spirit. And so I will step aside for a moment now, and let it speak to you directly…
I am the voice of Trash.
Trash is a new concept that humanity has created. There did not use to exist such a thing before the rise of your species to prominence in the world.
The way nature deals with its waste and temporary products is by releasing them back to the Source once they have served their function. The protective husk of a chestnut will go back to being earth and nurture the trees and the forest through its next life cycles. It is short-lived, and its identity is part of the tree and the forest that it serves. Its memories are integrated in the whole. Nothing is lost.
Animal waste products serve to fertilize the land. As such they are never really waste, but rather an effective way that nature has designed to make sure that food and proteins and minerals are redistributed evenly among the forest and its creatures.
What you have created is something fundamentally different: you make use of materials that persist eternally, and yet you use them without respect for that life cycle: for you they have no right of existence apart from those few months at best when they are used to contain something. They get no chance to form an identity and be a part of something that transcends themselves.
Yet, be aware that all matter has that impulse to seek connection and to seek a reason for existence. And so they have come to think of themselves as that which you have made them into: they are trash. They are useless, yet they are forced to remain like that for centuries.
Have you ever stopped, for a moment, what impact this has on the world you live in? And now I am not even thinking about pollution and the obvious physical problems caused by trash. No, I am talking about the spiritual side of things. What you are doing is creating a being that consists of non- being, an entity that had as its purpose in life to consume valuable materials and to make them servants of uselessness, of ugliness and of empty consumption.
You, who are reading this blog. Remember that everything has a spirit, and that that spirit is not separate from yours. All spirit interacts and influences each other. If your life often feels empty, and you find it difficult to find direction, then maybe that is because the Spirit of Trash is so pervasive in the world you live in? If you believe in magic, then realize that you have conjured a demon and have supplied it with a body to live in. Is this really what you want?
It is not to late to do something about this. All it needs is a change of will. A change of the way you interact with the entities and spirits that pervade life.
Respect. Love. Empathy.
Live your life by these principles. Never make use of something that you do not give equal right of purpose and meaning as yourself. That purpose can be very humble. A carry bag is perfectly happy to be just that. But allow it to be loved as the perfect bag, and at the end of its life cycle, help it to transition to the next phase of its life. Recycle. Repurpose. If possible, work with materials that are biodegradable. You will be doing much more than simply avoiding pollution. You will be rebuilding spirit.
(This post is the beginning of a series, where I’ll be further exploring trash and our current throw-away culture from an animist point of view. Stay tuned for the next part in a few weeks!)
Beith is a druid who likes to wander through the forest, inviting the trees to be her teachers in life. She also runs a personal blog about her druid journey, that can be found at wandering-the-woods.com. In real life she’s a mathematician, trying to walk the boundary between the rational and the irrational.