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Pagans and Money

b2ap3_thumbnail_money2.jpgThe love of money is the root of all evil. 

It’s enough to live the simple life. 

It is better to give than to receive. 

You need money to make money. 

Money isn’t that important. 


Most of us grew up with these sayings, especially if we grew up in a Christian household. Christianity has some interesting ideas about money that includes the idea that rich people are less likely to be good people. And in the ancient world, perhaps that was more likely to be true. It was more difficult to become wealthy then, and wealth was far more likely to be acquired or destroyed by violence than it is now. Religion was tied up in well-being. The gods of the conquerors were assumed to be in the right because they were stronger, which certainly left the conquered people the poorer. That being said, there is nothing in Paganism that suggests that money itself is evil.

Money is a mutually agreed upon medium of exchange. Many things have been used as money.

  • ·     Red ochre
  • ·     Barley
  • ·     Shells
  • ·     Salt
  • ·     Copper
  • ·     Wheat
  • ·     Clay tablets
  • ·     Silver
  • ·     Gold

There is a persistent idea that  if some people have money, that then that leaves less for everyone else. And if there is a limited supply of the things listed above, then one could technically make an argument for that being true.  A king can impoverish his subjects by taking all the gold/silver/wheat for himself, leaving no medium of exchange and thus no way to fulfill needs beyond barter – which is a clunky way to get needs fulfilled. But in our modern world of money, this is not at all accurate. Not only do we now possess the mathematics to use money we don’t own to create wealth, we have access to global markets. We are not limited to trading with our neighbors, fellow towns folk, or even countrymen as were our ancestors. 


I see far too many of my fellow Pagans complaining about the rich. This is not only not useful, it is counter productive. If Pagans are to be able to influence the wider culture, we need to be rich ourselves. What would a Pagan hospital look like? A Pagan school? What could individual Pagans do with money and influence? 

What if we could buy up land that we wanted to remain undeveloped?

What if we could fund ships that would collect plastic in the ocean?

What if we could fund theatres, and libraries, and museums?

What if we could buy solar panels for our neighbors? 
What if we could ….


All the things many of us learned about money are outdated and do not serve us either in our personal lives, or our spiritual lives. Having money means understanding how it works. But learning the mechanics of money is no more difficult than learning anything else that we don’t know. It just has to be something we want. And for that, we have to let go of the idea that it is bad. 


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Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.


  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy Sunday, 12 August 2018

    I agree self-defeating attitudes are very common & counter-productive among Pagans. I think the "it's good/more virtuous" to be poor concept is less emphasized in the overall history of Christianity however. Most of the time, various churches have supported the wealthy with their theology & policies and while preaching voluntary charity, still telling the masses to be happy with simplicity & obedience. There's a Prosperity Gospel shared by both Christianity & New Age philosophy, which has a great deal influence on Paganism, while Pagans also identify with & embody the starving artist/hippie or bohemian egregore. So its complicated.

  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin Tuesday, 14 August 2018

    I think your point about Pagan's identifying with starving artists is a fair assessment. I have little familiarity with churches that supported wealth theology. I was likely exposed to more of the voluntary simplicity side of Christianity than most, as my babysitter from early childhood on was a Mennonite and interacted extensively with her church, family and community.

    But there was also a long period where Christians were not allowed by the church to deal with money lending, leaving it for the Jews to handle, for which they got a very bad name.

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