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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I loved reading the tarot so much I carried six decks with me at all times. I gave readings in restaurants, in class, outside Starbucks, at parties, in the park, over the phone, even by instant messenger. Reading tarot connected me with Spirit. It was sacred to me, even if most of the people I read simply found it entertaining.
How could I charge for readings when giving them brought me so much pleasure? Could I really refuse someone a reading because they didn’t have the $20 I felt bad about charging? Should I read some people for free even while charging others? Were free readings worth less than paid ones?