Make the top shelf of the bookcase your personal shrine - Storing your things to make your life shine

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014

Make the top shelf of the bookcase your personal shrine
Storing your things to make your life shine

I once worked as a Shinto shrine maiden for five years. I have loved shrines since I was in grade school and would often drop by our community shrine to pay my respects to the local deity. Even people who don’t love shrines as I do still have protective talismans and good-luck charms in their homes. I have found countless charms from shrines all over Japan, such as Izumo Taisha, in my clients’ homes. The people I meet not only work hard to refine both body and mind but also remember to ask the gods for extra luck. While this is commendable, my clients have more than enough charms to spare.

Please keep in mind that charms are not something you buy but something with which you are entrusted. They are effective only for one year after you receive them, so those that are past their expiration dates should be returned as soon as possible. You do not need to take a charm back to the same place you bought it, but do remember that Shinto charms should be taken to a shrine and Buddhist charms to a temple.

What should be done with charms and talismans that are still effective? They are actually intended to be carried on your person, by attaching them to your key ring, putting them in your purse, or clipping them to the metal rings if you use a refillable date book. But there is a limit to how many you can carry like this, and if you visit several temples and shrines a year, you may have quite a collection. To carry them all around with you is pretentious, and having too many will not inspire joy in anyone. One of my clients was a thirty-one-year-old woman who worked for a foreign consulting firm. Like many other Japanese women, she enjoyed having her fortune told and visiting power spots. Her house was filled with charms she had collected over the years. They emerged from such places as a box kept deep in a desk drawer and from between the pages of her books. Altogether we found thirty-four charms, including one given to her by her grandmother for success in her studies and several talismans from shrines famous for romance. Many had expired. In addition, she had a mini Buddha from India, a mini Virgin Mary from Europe, and various crystals and other power stones.

In cases like this, I recommend that my clients make a personal altar in a corner of their house. Although I use the word “altar,” there is no need to worry about the direction it faces or the design. Just make a corner that is shrine-like. I recommend the top shelf in a bookcase because locating it above eye level makes it more shrine-like. One theme underlying my method of tidying is transforming the home into a sacred space, a power spot filled with pure energy. A comfortable environment, a space that feels good to be in, a place where you can relax—these are the traits that make a home a power spot. Would you rather live in a home like this or in one that resembles a storage shed? The answer, I hope, is obvious.