Exploring Pagans and their relationship with that earthiest of earth symbols, money.
First things first: introducing TPW
This is the first time I have been invited to write for a Pagan site, which is both an honor and a privilege. I'm mostly unknown, so it's only fair to introduce myself, and my topic. The topic's much more interesting, so let's start there: MONEY!
Money has always held a fascination for me, the sort of fascination that comes from growing up in a family that never had enough of it. It wasn't just that I wanted more of the stuff (who didn't?), it was the fact that we never quite went over the brink that amazed me, too. My mother worked magic with those bills and coins, always managing to pay the bills in time to keep creditors away, and still have enough of Dad's paycheck left to feed and clothe us.
I discovered Paganism in college, and soon realized that most of us weren't exactly wealthy. Was it by choice or circumstance? Does it slough off us like dead, useless skin, or do we shy away from it as if it's toxic waste? The answer to that question still eludes me.
After escaping academia, I joined a coven as its resident Jester, even as the still-young internet introduced me to The Motley Fool, an investment advice site which remains one of the best. I climbed out of the debt I created in college, and I climbed the ladder of cubicle success. I accumulated cash, and started to invest. Along the way, I discovered two quotes about money that I hold dear:
- "Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." (attributed to Albert Einstein), and
- "Money is congealed energy." (Joseph Campbell).
With those two ideas guiding me, I have had the opportunity to write about and for a number of businesses and non-profits, all while watching economies collapse both near and far. I've seen money harm and heal, prop up and precipitate disaster. I've researched its origins, its uses, and its alternatives.
Of the relationship between Pagans and money, I have learned far less. I have found very few charities which identify themselves as Pagan, both because we Pagans use a variety of words to describe ourselves, and because many of those words elicit negative reactions in many parts of the USA. Money magic seems to fall into two categories: spells to get more of it in hand and, to a much smaller extent, divination. Some paths, such as the Hellenic polytheism I now practice, have gods who specifically oversee wealth and commerce, but the idea of charity as a virtue isn't as broadly present as it in the Abrahamic faiths.
Off and on, I have been blogging about money and Pagans since 2007, under the moniker True Pagan Warrior. Names have a way of growing on a body. I picked that one because it matched my initials, even if it sounded a tad pretentious. Since I made that choice, I have found myself building relationships with Hermes and Ares, respectively the gods of truth and war. I know, I should be careful what I ask for, but that was way back when I was young and foolish -- as any respected elder can tell you, people under 40 are usually both.
I've decided to call this blog "Dirty Money" to capture what I think is the twofold nature of its relationships to Pagans. First, there's the idea that money is evil or dirty; it may have a Christian origin, but I find a lot of anti-establishment types, including no small number of Pagans, cleave to the sentiment. On the other hand, it's no accident that money, in the form of coins or pentacles, is a suit of the tarot: it is quintessentially earth. More Pagans than not recognize elemental energies, and the need to balance them.
So look at that: I set out to explain the topic of this blog, and along the way I ended up introducing myself, too. But there's more to tell. I live in a community which is relatively liberal, so when the topic of religion comes up, I don't mind talking about my own. If people do look at me askance, it's because most liberals think religion itself is an antiquated idea, not because I devote myself to so many deities. Following a religion which is something like 7,000 years old makes me conservative by definition, so I am also a Republican. I mention this because traditional Republican values, such as not spending money you don't have, were a part of my upbringing and my own relationship with money. It's also a way to help reshape the definition of "religious right."
Please do join me as I make this humble offering to the Pagan community. I sincerely hope that it adds value to your life. It already has to mine.
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