Dirty Money: Transactional Pagan Writings

Exploring Pagans and their relationship with that earthiest of earth symbols, money.

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Terence P Ward

Terence P Ward

Terence P Ward is a business writer and journalist who blogs under the rather cumbersome moniker of True Pagan Warrior.  He can generally be found at home, tending to his gardens and the many demands of his cats; in the alternative, follow TPW on Facebook

Pagan savings challenge, week four:  praying over money

Not every Pagan prays, but I do, so I have included it in my own practice of the Pagan savings challenge.  Each week I recite this original prayer:

Xaire, Poseidon Asphaleios,
guide the tides around me
so that my efforts here
will secure my future.

As pictured here, I wrote the verse on the envelope where I'm storing the money; I may add additional prayers if I'm so inspired.

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Marketing Pagan spiritual services

There has been some excellent online dialog recently around the question, "Should I charge for Pagan spiritual services?"  Most of the posts I've seen have been in support of money changing hands, but the comments usually show strong feelings on both sides.  Answering her question of, "Money is Bad, Right?" Shauna Aura Knight posited that the reason for this division is that, "Pagans (and people, for that matter) have a really unhealthy relationship with money."

As tantalizing that quote is to me, I have to lay it down for now.  Observant readers will already be wondering who the woman in the picture is, because it is clearly not Ms. Knight.

In fact, I'm not even going to jump into the debate about whether or not oracles, priests, shamans, spellworkers, dowsers, and whoever else I missed should be charging money or not.  It's already going on, so I'd rather focus on how to apply business practices to these esoteric services.  The opinion I have formed is that a lot of Pagan businesses (as opposed to businesses owned by Pagans) could benefit from better marketing.

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Pagan savings challenge, week three: flow

When it came time to make the weekly donation to my Pagan savings challenge envelope, instead of just adding the money, I also replaced the cash that was already in there.  I've been reading The Soul of Money, particularly a very thoughtful passage on the flow of money, so I decided to incorporate that into my weekly offering to help me explore the idea.  I will replace the entire amount each time I add the weekly allotment.

This week, the growing pile of cash is pictured on my shrine to Hestia, for the hearth is going to get an upgrade with the assistance of this money.  Fireplace insert, here we come.

My week three savings:  $6.00, half of which I put there today.

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Financial support in the Pagan community

There has been some wonderful online discourse about the role of institutions in modern Paganism.  There are those who believe the price -- of leaving behind our counterculture roots -- would be too high.  Others believe that this is the only path to a mature religious movement, and still others propose solutions that include both.  I believe it's important to include the idea of financial institutions in this dialogue.

I'm not necessarily talking about banks and credit unions, although nothing is off the table.  While Pagans are frequently loving, giving people, our community lacks any institutional ways to support one another financially.  A credit union would certainly fit part of that bill, but not every problem can be solved with a loan.  Each of us face challenges and opportunities that could look very different with a bit more money:  wardrobe for a new job, affordable day care, credit counseling, even basic money management skills.  These challenges are quite effectively addressed by some religious communities.  Should they be in ours?

"There's a certain amount of self-reliance expected by Pagans," I was told by Melanie Swaim, a Heathen who accumulated a large helping of medical debt that she's trying to pay off.  "I had to go to another religion to get help with my finances."

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  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Once again you have explained my feelings in a more eloquent way than I could have. I agree with this wholeheartedly. "Instituti
Pagan savings challenge, week two: challenges

This morning, when I went to set aside this week's allotment for the Pagan savings challenge, I was faced with another sort of challenge:  I couldn't find the envelope with the money in it.  I was being practical, I thought, by not leaving it out in plain sight; even if robbers don't break into my home, out of sight is out of mind, so I will be less likely to spend it.

Note to self:  there's a very fine line between out of sight and out of sight.  It does me no good to not know where the money is in the first place!

But there are some interesting lessons here.  I did find that envelope, but if I had not, it would have meant the loss of one dollar.  The same error in six months' time would have meant coming up with $351, a much larger chunk of change.  Money compounds over time, but it starts out slowly, like an avalanche, a wave, or the movement of a continent.

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  • Vintah Montoya
    Vintah Montoya says #
    I decided to do this challenge this year, as well. I've always been good at saving up for something when I have the proper motivat
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    This is the spirit with which I was hoping people might adopt this challenge. Thank you.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    This is a good idea, especially for people who have never learned how to divert part of their income into saving and investment.

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Driving my debt

With a mix of emotions both rich and deep, I spent the waning hours of 2013 acquiring a new automobile.  It's been ten years since I have bought a car, and I still think that 179,794 miles is only a fraction of what my Civic Hybrid is capable of driving, bought the deed is done, and now I can savor the many feelings it has evoked.

  • A few days in, the overwhelming winner is joy.  My new bug is just three years old, handles like a dream, and makes me feel safer and more confident on the road.
  • Sadness that I am parting company with a machine that has been with me for longer than any other comes a close second.
  • Then there's relief that I got out of the negotiation and credit process intact.  It's still possible to buy a car without credit, but it's becoming less and less common.
  • Let's not forget the angst over getting a vehicle that gets slightly worse gas mileage.
  • Countering that is the happiness that comes from giving my old car to a loved one, improving his life and keeping it out of the landfill.
  • And of course, there's apprehension over this $12,000 of debt I have brought into my life.
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Pagan savings challenge, week one:  Q&A

My Pagan savings challenge post generated a lot of discussion on the Witches & Pagans Facebook page.  I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the questions and comments, in the form of a Q&A.

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Pagan Savings Challenge

My posts in 2014 are finally going to start focusing on one of the most important money topics, debt.  However, before we talk about what we owe, I'd like readers to join me in expanding what we save.  I'm laying down the gauntlet:  can you raise as much energy as I?

Fans of the internet may be familiar with this post's graphic, which I believe originates here.  This is a simple, elegant way to save money, and one that should work well for Pagans.  If you're the sort that includes magic as part of, or in conjunction with, your worship, then as I said, it's simply raising energy so you can work your spell.  If your Pagan path has no truck with that sort of thing, pick an appropriate deity, force, or cause, and make this an offering.  I will continue to refer to it as raising energy, because you can just as easily use this energy for an offering as for magical work.

This is going to require discipline.  Money is quite tangible energy, and the bigger the pile, the more tempting it will be to use some of it.  Depending on your money boundaries, you may need to set up systems to ensure that you put the money away, as well as hold onto it throughout the year.  Here are some suggestions.

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  • Jan Nerone
    Jan Nerone says #
    I'm with you! 2014 is going to be a breakout year for me, personally, professionally and financially. Making an actual savings pla
  • Jason Hatter
    Jason Hatter says #
    I have started doing this, though I started with the most expensive savings first; this year I worked a bunch of holiday days at w
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    You are not the only one using a different savings model, and I welcome that diversity, Mr Hatter! I hope you will check in as th

To His Holiness Francis, Pope of the Roman Catholic Church,

As major media outlets mark Christmas by reflecting upon your actions since assuming your duties as Pope nearly a year ago.  As a former member of your church, and a present blogger on the role of money in my religious community, I have followed your statements on Christian belief with interest.  Your desire to refocus on Biblical teachings such as caring for the poor has caused many ripples of excitement and interest the world over, and I'm as hopeful as anyone.

I fear, however, that your message of love is falling on some deaf ears in the Pagan community, particularly because you have suggested that failed Christians are Pagan by default.  Respectfully, such a sentiment expresses a level of ignorance about the diverse faiths frequently lumped together in the Pagan label, and ignorance is not something I'm used to associating with your thoughtful, compassionate words.

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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I think you're probably right about whether the leader of a major Christian sect would give a hoot about my views, but I emailed h
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, I was raised as a Protestant in a mostly-Catholic community, and attended a Catholic school for a couple of years. I ac
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I think you're probably right about whether the leader of a major Christian sect would give a hoot about my views, but I emailed h

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Poseidon, god of the economy

I took an unscheduled blogbatical as we moved into the darkest time of the year, but I have emerged excited that I missed celebrating perhaps the most important historical festival for my patron deity.

Today is when the festival honoring Poseidon, called Poseidea or Poseidonia, was celebrated in antiquity.  It's a reconstructionist's nightmare, because virtually no record of what went on has been discovered, but the good folk of Elaion put together a Poseidonia ritual based on their understanding of what festivals were usually like.  I didn't see the announcement until just after the agreed-upon time to practice apart together, and I was already late for Quaker meeting, so I had Poseidon close to mind as I joined my local Friends in worship.  (I am not a Quaker, although I attend meeting for worship; I have pondered how Quakers and polytheists fit together for awhile now.)

When I sit in the silence like that, it is an opportunity to complete the conversation.  Maybe I'm too busy with orthopraxy, or I can't multitask well, but I don't often get messages when I make offerings to my gods.  To put it simply, ritual is the way I talk and meeting is when I listen.  Today I listened, and pondered how important Poseidon was to the ancient Hellenes.  The sea was vital, not only as a food source but as the primary medium of commerce.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, That Canadian $20 bill is wicked cool. Wonderful image, and so appropriate to the discussion.
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I was thrilled to discover that image -- I feel it was created just for me!
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Brilliant post. I'd honestly never thought of Poseidon's role with regard to the totality of human economies. It's so t

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Running on empty

Time is money, so they say, and I seem to be more on the "money" side of the equation this month.  Money to buy gifts for loved ones and strangers, but the act of earning it has left me very short of time for the other important things, like wrapping gifts and writing blog posts.  So here's a few quick ideas about using time or money to prepare for Giftmas in all its forms, since few of us have both:

That's it for now, and two of my paid jobs and several people who want me to take on additional volunteer obligations are all awaiting my attention.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Great ideas! Especially the quitting smoking part: Everybody dies, but who wants to die slowly and painfully? I wish I

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'Tis the season to move money around

The beginning of shopping season may be blurry, particularly for those whose traditions include portmanteau neologisms, but it's safe to say that it's in full swing as I write this on December 2.  The convergence of the gifting culture and the end of the tax year in many locales also makes this the time when many charities make their year-end pitches.  Likewise, this is when tax-free gifts to family members are often delivered, stocks bought and sold to maximize profit or minimize taxable gains, and people who participate in pre-tax health savings accounts and the like are making sure that they've spent everything they're required to.

So there's a lot of money on the move right now, a lot of energy flowing.  I'd go so far as to say that December is to money what October is to the spirits of the dead:  if you want to work with money, this is one of the best times to do so.  Spells and prayers for abundance and prosperity, as well as workings and offerings which are released through the movement of money, are worth incorporating into one's practice at this time of year, when the secular cycles are so strong that they reveal the unseen powers which shape them.

When I read about holiday shopping madness, I liken it to someone who draws down a deity without training or preparation, insofar as the damage comes from a lack of respect for, and comprehension of, the powers involved.  We presume that, because we invented money, that we understand and control it.  Perhaps if we approached the "holiday season" with the same deference and study that some Wiccans apply to preparing for ritual possession, we'd all have a healthier relationship with the stuff.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as well as the links! Some of the suggestions were just great.

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Seeing the Maetreum of Cybele win its tax fight was satisfying:  justice prevailed, a small Pagan congregation gets treated with respect, the separation between church and state is preserved (if not strengthened) by a decision that basically said that local governments don't get to decide what religions look like.

The underlying principle -- that religious institutions don't get taxed -- is being upheld in a fair and consistent manner.  But in the belief that a good idea bears up under examination, all this hubbub inspired me to ask whether or not it's a good idea not to tax churches in the first place.

For the sake of clarity, I'm following the IRS usage of the word "church" in this post -- it's a broadly-defined term that includes all manner of organized religious activity, including circles, covens, temples, and other terms that Pagans use to describe how they worship together.  It's similar to how the God on money is secular, so at least the government is being consistent.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for your article. I had no idea that in 1875, President U.S. Grant tried to abolish the tax-free status of churc

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PALENVILLE, NEW YORK -- The Maetreum of Cybele got to the end of its seven-year property-tax fight with the Town of Catskill today, when a three-judge panel of Appellate Court judges ruled that they do, indeed, deserve the same tax exemptions that other churches do.  While the town still has one more chance to appeal at the state's highest court, Reverend Cathryn Platine feels that the decision's wording makes that unlikely.  A portion provided by Platine reads as follows:

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  • J'Karrah
    J'Karrah says #
    Congratulations!
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thank Cybele, praise be to all the Goddesses and Gods, that this decision was in the Maetreum's favor. Catskill was wr

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Haiyan:  how to help

The Pagan community is stepping up to help in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan's landfall in the Philippines.

  • To assist the small Pagan community directly, Pagan Federation International is making an appeal for donations.  Donors are being thanked directly on the PFI Philippines Facebook page.
  • In its own round-up of stories about the storm, The Wild Hunt reports that Peter Dybing is challenging Pagans to give in this time of extreme crisis, and even suggests a few organizations he thinks will do a good job at it.
  • Pandora's Kharis, the charity circle of Hellenic polytheists, is rising to that challenge, although I say so more poetically than literally.  Yes, it is likely the group's next round of donations will focus on Haiyan relief, but no, I don't think that decision was motivated specifically by Dybing's call.
  • Circle Sanctuary is echoing that call (is that less poetic?), asking for donations to the Philippines Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, which also happen to be Dybing's recommendations.  They are also calling for the sending of healing energy to the survivors.

The devastation from this storm is, I'm sure, nearly incomprehensible to those of us who only see pictures and video from the scene.  The logistics of getting around and communicating on this nation of countless islands is always complex, and trying to reach all of these places with roads and communications destroyed is incredibly difficult.  No government designed, no preparedness plan written, no technology built by humans hands is quite enough to make the aftermath of an event like this any easier.  

The hard work of moving rubble, finding the living and the dead, and giving them the care and supplies they need is only just beginning.  The storm made landfall on November 7, and a major relief effort from the United States only just reached there yesterday.  Over a week without shelter, clean water, sanitary facilities, medical care, or a way to deal with the dead.  There will be a lot of need.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for sharing this!
In God We Trust, but only as a secular symbol

On this day of remembrance of those fallen in war, it seems appropriate to ponder one of the ways in which war has impacted our money, the addition of the motto, "In God We Trust."  The phrase was first included on US coins in 1864, perhaps to show that God sided with the North in the Civil War.  Paper currency was given the message in 1957, after Congress made it the official motto of the country, to set us apart from godless Communism.

In short, the motto was born of, and fed by, war.

What's perhaps more interesting are the battles which have been fought over the phrase since.  These have been in the courts of law and public opinion, and put followers of this deity in a peculiar position:  to keep God on money, God must be secular.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, I agree in principle with the substance of your argument. It's probably for the best, though, if Pagan fingerprints wer
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    We certainly don't want Pagans to be the poster children, which is why I think a coalition is best. Atheists are more numerous, m
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, You're right. Thoughtful Christians in positions of power are probably quite aware that secularizing the word 'God', or

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Power of pocket change

Spare change is one of my favorite forms of money, because it's just so obviously pulsing with energy, the elemental energy of earth.  Coins are often shiny, they have a weight that conveys value, and there is power in the jingling of money.  It's solid enough to decorate a bathroom, but it's also liquid enough to imagine swimming in it.

And pocket change seems linked to its own pocket universe, too.  Who hasn't searched the couch cushions for some?  A good cushion-hunt can mean clean laundry or a week's worth of ramen dinners for a college student.  On the other hand, coins can definitely burn a hole in your pocket; research shows that we don't like to spend big bills, and coins are the other end of the spectrum.

I don't like carrying change, but I don't spend it, either.  I walk with the Fellowship of the Change Jar.  My pockets are emptied for stealth and speed, and my hoard grows nightly.  Our nemeses, the Clan of the Exact Change, take a sadistic pleasure in getting in front of me at the checkout counter and saying, "Oh, I have the eighty-seven cents at the bottom of my purse!"

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for posting this! As a Yankee skinflint, I have a jar of pennies I've accumulated over the past 25 years from si
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Jamie, your last thought reminded me of this: my wife is a teacher, and one of her continuing frustrations is the idea that child
Money magic: is money the means or the goal?

There's been a lot of talk about money in the Pagan blogosphere in the past week, so much so that I wonder if it would be a service simply to round up those links once in awhile.  I'm barely making my self-imposed "money Monday" deadline this week as it is -- missed it, in some time zones -- so I won't be giving that idea another moment's thought quite yet.

One of the posts that really caught my eye comes from my fellow blogger here, Carl Neal, who cajoled readers to contribute to your favorite Pagan efforts.  One of Neal's personal favorites is the Wild Hunt blog, which is presently running its annual fund drive.  With four weeks left in the campaign, 108% of the needed funds to pay for servers, columnists, and administration have been raised.  In an early thank-you note, Jason Pitzl-Waters remarks, "Fundraising is a spell."  I agree, but I'm not sure it's the kind of spell most people might think it is.

There are many money spells.  Spells to draw wealth, build business, protect the money we already have from thieves and spendthrifts.  Spells to hunt money and spells to protect it from swindlers.  The one common thread that runs through virtually all money magic is that money is the target:  bring it, multiply it, protect it, find it, hide it.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, I frequently read the "Zero Hedge" website. Whilst it has its share of ideologues and cranks, both the articles and the
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Off to check out this website for myself!

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Charity as religious community

Some time before I started this blog, I began asking myself the question:  where are the Pagan charities?  Doing good deeds is good PR, and generally Pagans are good people, so didn't it follow that there was a place for Pagan charities to help that along?

The real problem is that I was asking the wrong question.  What I should have asked was, "To what causes do Pagans donate?"  Charitable donations can be a good thing, but as Elani Temperance wisely pointed out, there is value to Pagans giving publicly, too.  Our disparate community doesn't have any meaningful charities of its own, so how can we maximize the value of public giving?

One of the readers of the aforelinked Baring the Aegis suggested a way that the Hellenic polytheist community can do so, an idea which has quickly been formed into Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle that will make a monthly donation to a cause of the group's democratic choosing.  

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  • Jay Logan
    Jay Logan says #
    My coven Chalice Hart - ATC started what we call the Healing Hearts Fund seven years ago, the monies of which go towards helping t
  • Jay Logan
    Jay Logan says #
    \ Shameless plug. lol
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for sharing this with us!

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Forgiving metaphysical debts

One of the things that troubles me about money magic is that all the spells are focused on getting some more of it in my pocket.  That may be reflective of how most people approach money (something which must be acquired to achieve security or happiness), but it falls far short of what this medium of exchange is capable of in spellcraft.

This weekend I had the pleasure of leading a group of people through a magical ritual designed to help them forgive those who have wronged them, and I used money as the method for gathering and releasing that energy.  It worked as I expected it would, but there were also some educational surprises along the way.  Some results were immediately felt, while others may take some time to manifest.

Such is the way of magic.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your ritual with us. I had never before considered a parallel between transact
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I learn more about you with every comment -- your specific path was news to me!

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