I've noted before that I am devoting the money I save during the Pagan savings challenge to buying and installing a fireplace insert. This week, my family was reminded that this is a really good idea.
We've had all manner of severe winter weather throughout the United States this season, including a cold snap and foot or more of snow in my area. It was during the cold and dark of that heavy snowfall that my wife realized our heat was no longer on. We tried hitting the reset button, but no dice. We called our amazing heating guys, who talked me through several other troubleshooting steps, all which failed to solve or diagnose the problem. He agreed to come out as soon as he confirmed that the parking lot of his shop had been plowed so he could get the work truck.
I'm a bit of a currency naturalist: I round bills up, mark them, and release them back into the wild. That even goes for two dollar bills, which many Americans believe are no longer made (they are; in fact, series 2013 is in print now). Because the two is in such low circulation, if you ask for them at the bank like I do, you will see some very old, very well-preserved currency.
Only on a two did I have much of a chance of finding this story. Everything I know for a fact comes from that very bill, which I have pictured here. A two from series 1976, in fairly crisp condition, with a note scrawled across it in black ink. The handwriting crosses over dark portions of the bill's design, there's at least one word crossed out, and it's not very legible in the first place, but this is what I think it reads:
This week I received an unpleasant surprise in the mail: a parking ticket. Apparently I had failed to hit the meter quickly enough one time while waiting for the Maetreum of Cybele's day in court, but the ticket itself didn't manifest until four months later. What would have been a $65.00 fine (outrageous in its own right) has now been hiked to $115.00, plus the usual warnings about me never being able to park in this town again.
Honestly, the things we go through for our work . . .
As 2013 was winding down, I put out a call for indebted Pagans who would be willing to be interviewed as I began exploring our relationship with debt. One brave Heathen, Melanie Swaim, was willing to do so, and the post I wrote after we talked blew the doors off the Witches and Pagans Facebook page, garnering (at last count) 1,137 likes and 162 comments. I'm told it was, to date, the most liked post on the page for this site. That deserves some serious unpacking.
First things first: I took one idea from the many which came out of my conversation with Ms Swaim, and ran with it: that she had to seek out guidance and support for her financial challenges in a religious community other than her own, because hers does not have that type of infrastructure. To be clear, I interpreted this is simply an observable fact, not an incrimination of Heathens in any way. Most, if not all, Pagan religions have a fierce independent streak running through them. Anecdotally, it seems that individual responsibility is a more important value across Paganism than even community.
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.
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.