"When moving away from a house, it seems that walking though the rooms, emptied of the familiar spirits, is the decisive ritual of passage. Taking down the pictures, packing the books, moving furniture, and then sweeping the empty room, acknowledge the change of spirits in the home. I imagine the moving trucks filled with family angels making their way to a new habitat. Similarly, we establish our psychic energy in a new home by filling it with our 'things.' These intermediaries, or earth angels, are the means by which we endow the house with psychic energy. They also function as conduits through which the spirits of the house enter the souls of new inhabitants.

"Jewelry and family heirlooms are potent and traditional links between generations. Clothing and bodily ornaments similarly serve to mediate between our inner feelings and the energies of the outside world. Familiar and favored things are especially potent as a means of empowering or comforting their wearers. I hate to give up a well-worn wallet even though I have two new ones waiting to be used. The same applies to an old sweater or shirt. We think exclusively about our attachments to these things, but like our household animals, these things may experience deep connections to us.

"My wife just gave me a new pair of slippers. I said to her, 'I guess this means that it's time to throw the old ones out.' They were moccasins lined with wool. I had worn them for two decades. The soles were sound, but the seams were coming apart. I reluctantly put them in the trash.

"An hour later I went into the kitchen and saw that my wife had taken them out. They were sitting on the floor like old friends. I reflected on how their shape and aging had been formed though daily life with my feet. They served me well for many years. And now at the end of their useful life, they cannot adapt to another person. I am the only one who can fully appreciate their being and their history. They depend upon me for this.

"My wife said, 'I couldn't bear to see them in there with the milk cartons and food scraps.'

" 'I'll find a use for them,' I said.

"This aspect of the earth angel can create clutter in our houses. And there are often conflicting needs in holding on to old things and preparing for the new through open space.

"Value is a quality we attach to things through contact and a mutual history. Those slippers were full of soul because of our long and cozy relationship. They were my house shoes, the ones I wore though cold winters in my domestic temple, and they had a much more personal aura than the shoes I wore outside. I noticed how my relations to people in the neighborhood get more intimate simply because we pass time together in the same place, acknowledge each other on the street, and occasionally speak or help one another with a problem.

"I try to imagine objects and clothing as beings with which I live in an intimate association. Like any good relationship, we need time to cultivate affections for each other. This commitment keeps me from getting spread too thin or overwhelmed in my object life. I generally reflect on what I want, and do not want, to buy. Once the need has been established, I open myself to the impulses of consumerism and the pleasures of buying. The manic lust for more and more things has something to do with the world's material problems, and what we call the gross inequities in the distribution of nature's bounty."