Is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up really a book about energy healing? As Marie Kondo publishes her follow-up, Spark Joy, stylist-turned-shaman Colleen McCann gets kosmic with her possessions purge…
As the founder of Style Rituals, a biz that celebrates our closets as gateways to the cosmos, I was well attuned to the connections between the mystical and material world. And a recent move from Brooklyn to Venice Beach and back, means I am also very familiar with the process of packing and unpacking.
For my latest move back to NYC, I had gotten a personal ping from the Universe that I needed to ‘go light’ this time. Accordingly, I picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s now infamous The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and got to work. Overnight, this went from a cross-country move to a total life enema! But I figured if anyone could lead me through the jungle of my beloved belongings to minimalistic bliss, it was Kondo.
I had barely made it to page four when I realized that this wasn’t just a guidebook for spatial cleanliness, but was also an under-the-radar handbook in energy healing. Marie’s discussions about holding items close and thanking them for their existence was directly connected to the Shamanistic belief that every object carries an energy or vibration. Perhaps, I thought, Ms. Kondo is a secret Shaman.
Inspired by this discovery, I combined Kondo’s teachings with my energy healing know-how to bring you this guide to navigating the spiritual wilds of your own material treasures …
NUMBER 1 // There Is a Universal Method to the Madness, aka Memento Meltdown
The Closet Cleanse: According to Ms. Kondo, one must sort possessions in the following order—clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and, lastly, mementos.
The Secret Shamanism: Shamans believe that working with fire allows release. When I do closet cleanses with clients, sometimes, we literally build a bonfire of emotionally-charged items and let it burn. While Kondo-ing my own closet, I discovered that Marie’s method was perfectly constructed to inspire a similar emotional release. With a background in fashion, I assumed clothing would be the most challenging step for me and wondered why she’d put it first. But I soon understood why mementos went last. I started reading old love letters from boyfriends, thumbing through my high school yearbook, and doodling with coloring pencils from my college fashion illustration class. I eventually found myself on the floor cry-laughing in ‘someone’s’ sweatshirt that I had un-accidentally kept after a weekend rendezvous. I couldn’t believe how many memories had been holding space in my abode that just weren’t part of my life anymore. Time to go!
NUMBER 2 // Sartorial Reiki, aka Thank Your Lucky Clothes
The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you hold each item in your hands and thank it for how it has served you in life.
The Secret Shamanism: Is Kondo also a secret Reiki Practitioner and Psychometrist? Psychometry, aka Token-Object Reading, is a form of extrasensory perception that allows us to “read” the energetic blueprint of objects, even if we know nothing about their origins. Similarly, Reiki infuses universal energy into people and items. Kondo’s approach fully acknowledges the spirit present in objects, and the necessity of honoring this energy. As I blended her recommendations with my intuitive skills, it became quite emotional. I remembered sights, sounds, and smells associated with each piece and channeled this energy to facilitate release.
NUMBER 3 // The Art of War with Yourself, aka Plunge into the Pile
The Closet Cleanse: When purging your closet, Kondo commands you to throw everything in a giant heap in the middle of the room.
The Secret Shamanism: Sun Tzu’s teachings in the The Art of War state that “in the midst of chaos, there is also an opportunity.” For this neat and tidy (perhaps OCD spectrum) Virgo, creating a messy clothing monument was a Xanax-worthy endeavor (Céline and Chloe definitely didn’t want to be wrinkled, snagged, dirty, or stepped on). Yet my chaotic heap allowed me to push my personal limits. As I split my clothing commune into two smaller tribes of “keep” and “discard,” I excommunicated parts of my past life that no longer fit my current lifestyle. And, surprisingly, throwing things about and jumping into the pile of clothes made me feel like a kid again.
NUMBER 4 // Everything Changes (Even Joy), aka Swapping Fashion School for Fortune Telling
The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you ask yourself if an item truly brings you joy BEFORE deciding to keep or discard it. Do not try it on or even think about how often you use it. Just hold it in your hands and ask this simple question.
The Secret Shamanism: Guess what I realized? Joy evolves. And the things I wanted to keep were energetic fortunetellers of the life I wanted to lead right now. My transition from the fashion world to the healing world was anything but seamless and I was still in the throes of figuring it all out (going from styling, designing, and brand consulting to seeing ghosts and hearing voices was never gonna be comfortable). While sorting, I realized I was casting aside old items from the fashion world in favor of mystical mementos that fit my current and future vision of myself even better.
NUMBER 5 // Come Back to the Present Moment, aka Boyfriend Jeans are Real!
The Closet Cleanse: Kondo states that people are unable to let go of certain items because they are either attached to the past, fearful of the future, or unwilling to live in the present.
The Secret Shamanism: This is for all the girls out there who are still holding onto college sweatshirts, worn-in t-shirts, or anything else that belonged to “the X.” Wonder why a former lover still lingers in your head? Because you’re still sleeping, lounging, and working out while wearing those memories on your sleeve, literally. During my Kondo-ing, I was going through a major breakup and the practice of purging catapulted me from the past to the present. I realized that it wasn’t about “him,” it was about me. I needed to be proactive about doing everything I could to move forward, and holding onto his belongings was definitely not helping.
NUMBER 6 // Say Yes to Your Life Right Now, aka Magic Rocks Are Heavy but Old Memories Are Heavier
The Closet Cleanse: When you look at an object and say “I might use this one day,” remember Kondo’s warning that “someday” means “never.” You don’t have room in the house-of-me for “perhaps one day.”
The Secret Shamanism: I carry around lots of heavy crystals in my bag of tricks, but the energy of old memories that no longer served me was WAY heavier. Why was I keeping mementos of people and things that weren’t aligned with my happy-place? As I bid adieu to objects associated with energy vampires from my former life, I severed the cord so that both parties could move forward.
NUMBER 7 // Repurpose with Your Love Language, aka Mermaids for my Roomie
The Closet Cleanse: While Kondo warns against unloading your purged belongings onto unwilling participants, finding new homes for past treasures can be an act of love.
The Secret Shamanism: In Shamanism, when we receive a physical or emotional gift we refer to it as “receiving medicine.” You are getting the “medicine” that you need at exactly that moment, no matter what form it comes in or where it comes from. Mid-purge, I started leafing through Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, and remembered that my love language was gifting. The result? A friend got all my old-life high-heels. One of my favorite adventure buddies is now enhancing her metaphysical talents using the giant crystal I moved from my alter to hers. And my former roommate discovered her passion for sea spirits through my houseplant decorated with a collection of plastic mermaids. Show love and pay it forward.
NUMBER 8 // Spiritual Smoke, aka Burn, Baby, Burn!
The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests removing discarded possessions from your apartment as soon as humanly possible.
The Secret Shamanism: After following Kondo’s practices on how to sort, I decided to insert some of my own Shamanic practices to release any dense energy that can quickly adhere to people, places, and things. Sage what you decide to keep—with the windows open or in an open area outside. As I burn my bundle of herbs, I like to say out loud: “Any energy that is not mine or of my highest and greatest good, get the f*** out … with love, but seriously, it’s time to go.” Even though the purge scared the hell out of me, as I moved the energy I felt like the shackles had been taken off my ankles—I was light and free!
NUMBER 9 // That Elusive Equilibrium, aka Stilettos & Sage
The Closet Cleanse: Après cleanse, I was NYC bound with two suitcases of clothing, and one small suitcase filled with the contents of my Shamanic practice (crystals, feathers, tarot cards, sweet notes from clients, sage, sound bowl, etc.).
The Secret Shamanism: Marie Kondo always asks what brings us joy. I’d recently experienced a full moment of joy when I was hired by a former fashion client to speak about the power of rituals and manifestation. As I waved a sage stick around a room full of execs while wearing fake eyelashes and stilettos, I was so joyful I could have cried. Fittingly, while purging, I realized I had to make a conscious choice to let my worlds collide. I wasn’t willing to give up all my high heels or my signature pink nail polish, but I did need to make space to bring back a bit of California in the form of a stack of yoga pants and a massive collection of crystals. To be in my “joy,” I needed to marry the sparkle, fun, and creativity of the fashion world to my personal promise to recharge in nature often, keep a devout meditation practice, and embrace a newfound love for juice.
NUMBER 1O // The Transformation Cycle, aka Meeting Kali in the Closet
Did I mention that this was also one of the most traumatic weeks of my life? Within five days, I had ended a relationship with someone I truly love, my beloved aunt died and, oh yeah, the cross-country move was in full swing. In Shamanism we speak about embodying the energy of an archetype. Post-purge, I felt like the Goddess Kali had hung me by my ankles and shook all of the change loose from my skinny-jean pockets.
In other words, f***ing great and completely naked at the same time. With three suitcases to my name, I was a full-on gypsy. I was light, free, mobile, and personified. And while I know that I’ll need to shape shift again and again, as of today I’m bouncily nimbly between New York and L.A. with only my most joyful possessions. All I’d needed to do was step through that closet door.
Colleen McCann is a fashion stylist turned Shamanic Practitioner with practices in NYC & LA. She realigns the energetic with the visual through Intuitive Crystal Readings, Shamanic Hands-On-Healing, and Feng Shui Space Balancing. Make sure to follow her on Instagram, and pick up one of her new Energy Healing Kits and Medicine Bags on Goop to jumpstart your cleanse!