Getting items used but still in good condition is one of the easiest ways to save money. While searching the secondhand market can definitely provide excellent results with simple time and persistence, there is one main concern when getting items meant to be used in a pagan practice. Items you own have a small impression of your energy. The more you use an item and the stronger emotions attached to it the greater the tie. When you buy used you rarely know the history of an item, which is why cleansing is a must.
That being said, unless you’re buying Jack the Ripper’s butcher knife regular cleansing will do the job. The mundane tasks of cleaning, repairing, putting an object in a different place and treating it with respect go a long way to cleansing any old and lingering energies. In this day in age, disinfecting a used item is just good practice, and its easy to turn that into an energy cleanse as well. Simply add a purifying herb or essential oil to the wash, or say a prayer as wiping the object down.
However, if something feels off about something don’t get it no matter how great of a deal it is. Be especially careful with divination tools, including tarot and Oracle decks. If possible do a small reading before bringing the used deck home, or at the very least handle the cards to get a feel for them.
Thrift Stores/Garage sales/Social Media Pages
Many strange items end up on thrift store shelves. The housewares section is especially a goldmine, with interesting dishes, candle holders, and statues galore. Also look at tablecloths and place mats because unique patterns can be found. If you have a little bit of sewing ability, like can at least make a hem, check out large clothing or any of the fabrics to see if any designs catch your fancy that can be cut into an altar cloth. Also take a look at posters and artwork.
Nowadays, beside the traditional garage sales there are social media pages. This will definitely be hit or miss, but worth perusing. Local pages will probably yield better results, and be a good way to find out about any larger events like flea markets.
Now that tarot decks are commonplace and available in a wide variety, one place to look for them is a used book store. Also see if your local metaphysical store has a used section.
Pagan Swap Meets
Pagans move, change traditions, and declutter same like everyone else. Find your local pagan social media pages and see if anyone is posting items they are trying to find a new home, or post what you are looking for. Attend local meetups and see if anyone is organizing a swap meet. Local events may have a swap altar, fundraising sale, or silent auction of donated items. If not, organize a swap event yourself. Besides being a great way to exchange items, it is also a good way to meet people.
Before you proceed on a scavenger hunt, remember to obey all rules and laws, ask for permission from the land spirits, and be respectful. But Paganism is a nature based religion, and way to honor nature and the spirits found within it is to bring items from nature home and give them a place of respect.
If the local land spirits have made it clear they don’t appreciate anything being taken from a specific place (especially if there is a local legend regarding some sort of curse) accept their boundary. When you spot something you would like to give a new home, take a moment to take a few breaths, ask for permission, and take a few breaths more waiting for an answer. If you have any reason to doubt the answer is a yes, leave it. Once you do get permission, remember to leave an offering to the spirit of the place. When I take walks in my local park, several times I stopped to pick up garbage and later found an item I placed on my altar. Water is usually a good and discrete offering.
For mundane issues, parks usually don’t like people plucking flowers, feathers might be protected by law, and don’t go tramping in someone’s yard. Use common sense and only take items that are safe to take. With bird nests remember they are a breeding ground for insects, for example. Wash your hands when you get home, clean anything as necessary, and do not ingest anything you find. There are many lookalike plants out there, and even if it is edible something could have been sprayed on it even in a park.
Even in an urban environment, you might stumble across something someone has left behind. It is amazing what you can find discarded. Keep your eyes open and see what comes your way. There are also plenty of interesting rocks (as long as they aren’t purchased for landscaping). I personally have no idea how to identify stones, but if it evokes the feeling of a place and an appropriate thank you offering is left use your intuition. Traditionally stones with a natural hole in them are considered hag stones and useful for magick.
The more specific you are, the less likely you are to find what you are looking for. Being flexible and patient is the key to bargain hunting used items, as well as realizing a use for something you stumble upon while on a walk. Also listen to any intuition as to where to look. Start searching, put your feelers out, and keep your eyes open. It is amazing what comes your way when you do.