“When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. . . . It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time.” –Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit.
How does an object become sacred?
The Skin Horse is correct; time and love can do it, and children are especially gifted at infusing their most cherished objects with sacredness in this way. Every parent who tires of searching when such an object gets lost and tries to give up by saying, “It’s OK. We’ll buy you a new one,” quickly discovers what a profoundly unacceptable idea that is. Reluctantly, most of them join the community of parents the world over who are forced to cultivate the strangely intuitive ability to find lost objects!
We never really outgrow our attachment to sacred objects. They become the things we would grab first if we were forced to evacuate our homes. Invariably there are the photographs, since our weak reproductive memories need help remembering our lives and our ancestors. Next might be some important papers, but if there is time, our heirlooms will also be saved.
These are the pieces that keep our memories of special people, places, and events alive. They seem to radiate a special energy that makes them stand out from all the other objects on the shelf or in the drawer. We can even spot them in each other’s homes and, if we ask about them, we often receive the gift of stories from their owner revealing what has made them special.
While most of what we own is replaceable, these special pieces are not, and we would grieve their loss. Looked at this way, we can now sympathize more deeply with the two greatest laments of Indigenous Peoples who have been forcibly uprooted from their homes.
Their first lament is that they no longer live on the land of their birth and of their ancestor’s remains. We have already learned to appreciate what that means to them. But their second lament is the tragedy of having no pieces—no vessels, necklaces, cloth, carvings, tools that their ancestors had imbued with their essences. They, too, had lost their heirlooms.
Sacred objects can also be infused with increasing energy by being used ceremonially. You may be creating them without realizing it, whether it is a piece of jewelry or a hat that gets worn for special occasions or an object that you still use in family traditions, a star for the top of the tree, or the best dishes that are brought out for special guests.
The more they are used, the more precious they become. You may find yourself physically drawn to them, actually sensing their energy. Some refer to this as felt sensing. With practice, you can refine your capacity to sense the energy in these special objects.
You might even want to gather a few trusted friends or family members together and create a mini-showing of those cherished pieces that can best represent you. Listening to each other tell your stories can be a powerful way to connect more fully with one another.
Every fall, seniors in the psychology program at Naropa University would be assigned to small senior-project groups designed to support each other in their work. This activity of sharing important pieces quickly became a cherished tradition, helping them deepen their connections with one another as they began their journey together.
While frequent use of special objects can increase their energetic properties, you may have discovered, without realizing it, that this energy can gradually fade over time as well. If you have ever been faced with the daunting task of handling the estate of a deceased friend or well-loved family member, you may have found it overwhelming to simply clear out their possessions. While others who weren’t as close to the person or couldn’t feel the energy in objects could do this, you might have had to release the possessions more gradually, almost in layers.
The first items to go were those with no charge. Then came the ones that seemed to slowly lose that charge. What remained became the “keepers” that would become tomorrow’s pieces, special objects to pass on to others, to hand down through the family, or to keep for yourself.
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