How many times have I thought about how little room I have for all my books?  Almost constantly to tell the truth, I’m a book buyer/reader/keeper.  I love the written text.  This last week I cataloged a gift of books that came to the students – 265 books on the craft.  What a windfall!  But then the challenge; where do they go?  I don’t have a book shelf at the moment. I thought this was an easy issue, I just need to get a bookshelf and after talking with the Chapel staff that is not a problem.  And then I had a conversation with an individual that made me think long and hard about what I considered “an issue”.

What if you could only have 20 books?  My husband and I were visiting an inmate, Frank, at Collins Correctional Facility in Collins, New York.  We had brought him a book and left it with the guards to be checked through the appropriate mail/package room.  It would be delivered to him later for his personal library.  In our conversation of the day I told him the gift of books that had been received and explained that I would send him a list the titles. It was my thought that if there was something he was interested in I could simply mail him the book. It was at that point that he explained that he was limited to owning 20 books.  I asked if we sent him one “on loan” to be mailed back would that be okay.  It is. Now, it isn’t that I’m advocating for an increase in the amount of books that inmates are allowed to own; that isn’t my point.  My point is, what if I could only own 20 books, which 20 would I keep?

I think just about every pagan I know has an extensive library.  We keep our 101 books, our favorite books, our not so favorite books, our books of shadows, our journals, our pages and pages of print outs, and anything else we can get our hands on.  I myself am as guilty as the next person and so, I now look at my books a little differently.  Which would be the ones that I would need to keep forever and which ones would become the transient possession that I pass on in order to make room for new information and perspective?  Would Scott Cunningham be among those kept?  How about the Frosts or Farrars?  Would I keep only those that are of a craft nature or would I expand and place other religious texts, mythology, or fiction on the shelf?  I can honestly say I don’t know what I had to do if this were the case.  And so I sit and think… again, which ones.

Franz Bardon would be among my permanent collection; Blacksun would be as well. My shelf would include one beginner book, a tarot book, a book on the Kabbalah, a book of the myths and stories, my own book of shadows and then what?  The rest would be transient.  I can’t emphasis enough the importance of continually educating the self, to explore new and different ideas.  You never know what you may learn.  So I think it would come down to making sure I always stay connected to the beginnings of my path so that I can teach those that come behind me while still exploring my own spirituality and expanding my own knowledge and skill.  By connecting the past with the future we move forward without forgetting who and what we are.

So tell me, what would you keep?  Do you know?