Unlike any other business, religious, or spiritual group, pagans and the craft have a love-hate relationship with money. While we definitely need it to survive in the modern world, we seem to have an aversion to it in our practices. There are certainly plenty who have no problem in charging for various services and especially goods, but still there are many more who feel that there should be no exchange of financial currency at all. In tarot, the suit of pentacles is symbolic of money, we use coins in many hoodoo and other workings, we certainly have plenty of fairs and festivals with tents filled with lovely items for sale, yet when we talk of the old ways and getting paid for our talents we shy away from it and revert to the idea of donations or feel that there should be no charge at all. I have to admit I, myself waiver back and forth on the fence about it as well. It is a tricky thing and money in general has its own kind of energy.
When I was first starting out I remember that my coven mother did a house cleansing for someone that had some nasties inhabiting the space. Her instructions for payment were to place the money in an envelope which was to be given to me. I was to place the envelope on a dish on her altar and it was to be left there for three days before she would even touch it. I asked her about the ritual of the money exchange and her response was that the energy had to settle. This was all she would say on the matter.
Biblically speaking, the concept of tithing is discussed quite a lot. Tithe, meaning “tenth” referred to giving back a tenth of your crops or herd to the lord in gratitude for his blessings of abundance. Interestingly, if for some reason you could not give these things you were to give an additional five percent if it is to be paid in money. This somehow implies that money is not as good as the offerings of crops or herd. There were also provisions laid out for the care and protection of priests or holy people as servants of God as well as women, children, and those who could not care for themselves. This code of conduct is laid out as an old way of honoring the connection of people who are conduits for Spirit as well as those in need.
I have had many conversations with my coven mother over how things have changed over the years from when she was a child and her grandmother was the coven Grandmother. She would tell stories of how she was cared for by her community in Maine, being brought chickens, or other goods for her services and advice. The coven as a whole was often respectfully given things of requirement in life for their role in the community. However, these things are not done currently in my experience in America. It is more of a get what you can get. There are many things offered for free, certainly I also give away much of my time and other witchy ways to help those in need, but it seems that this energy of gratitude has changed over time. I find I barter a lot with those in the pagan community which is fine with me, but I still can’t seem to get the cable company to accept eggs or a reading for a month of HBO movies.
In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Act I, Scene III, Polonius says to his son, Laertes, “Never a borrower nor a lender be,” again referring to the exchange of money and the consequences of its power on friendship and finance. I suspect that this is more about old knowledge of the energies of money and the positions it puts one in than anything else.
Certainly gold coins, which money used to be made of, has very unique properties. Gold is highly conductive and absorbs a tremendous amount of energy and would need to be cleansed daily to really be clear of any negative charges on it.
Copper coins are used in many hoodoo and other workings. Copper in itself is also a quite conductive metal and lends its own energies to the symbolism of the monetary value.
Coins were placed in the mouth or on the closed eyes of the deceased to pay their passage to the underworld and Charon, the ferryman to carry their souls across the river Styx to the other side.
In Russian folklore, money for services or any other reason is never handed directly to a person, but rather placed in an offering dish or some other receptacle. The belief being that money held the energy of the person and that energy especially if it was negative could transfer to the receiver. It was believed that once that person left, the energy tie was broken and the money was then safe to be handled. I find it interesting that in churches, the collection of money is done in very much the same way with offering envelopes and baskets or plates. Perhaps this is for practical reasons, but more likely it harkens back to these old beliefs about energy and money. Before this there were collection boxes at the entrance of churches for much the same reason.
If we explore behaviors of churches, and other religion’s practices we can find the threads of knowledge of energy and how it works or why things are done a certain way. Despite the modernism of the religions these days there is still the old ways deeply embedded into the ceremony, and I think for good reason.
Money gifts at weddings are often collected by the bride, given to her in envelopes and collected in a special “purse.” In Chinese New Year traditions, money in red envelopes is given for a prosperous year. Throughout most cultures there are money rituals that seem to surround the not touching it directly in an exchange. Even picking up pennies on the ground only if they are heads is a superstition about luck and bad energy.
Money in general is the transfer of energy. It is a representation and symbol of a value that is agreed upon by society. So there is a great amount of truth in the ideas of money transferring energy either positive or negative to the receiver from the giver, along with whatever attached intentions that go with it. Phrases like, “Money is the root of all evil,” tend to follow us in our subconscious mind as well as ideas of having a lot makes you greedy. Despite being pagan and part of the pagan community, it is difficult to deny the overwhelming influence of Christian and other religious doctrine in our everyday modern lives. It is everywhere and definitely part of our subconscious thinking whether we chose to acknowledge that path or not. It is intertwined in modern society in so many ways, literature, language, television, movies, all sorts of modern and ancient references as well as many other cultures and their thoughts and beliefs about money.
There are many ideas of spirituality equates vows or lifestyles of poverty. If you are a spiritual person, you should sacrifice and refuse the temptations of greed and financial abundance. However, as pagans, we celebrate many sabbats and esbats about abundance, fertility and gratitude to the God and Goddess or Spirit for the many blessings bestowed upon us. Is this not wealth?
I would say, yes, money has an energy all of it’s own, positive and negative, but like all things in this world, it is up to us to clear that energy, neutralize it and harness the power as a tool to foster our own spiritual growth. We are meant to have abundance and share in it, to accept it with humility and help others with these gifts.
I think that it is fine to charge, barter, or receive some kind of compensation for your services, energies, and talents, but do so in a fair and even manner and give back to your community. Help those who cannot afford to pay, they will return the favor in some way or spirit will. Be open to receiving abundance in all of its many ways. Is not a dozen organic eggs from someone’s farm or urban coop of as much great value as some cash? I do cleanse my money, as a habit of the old ways, but allow all abundance to flow to me. My bank account may not be overflowing, but I am wealthy in ways too numerous to count and I have in many ways been provided for.
2016 copyright by Katie Pifer http://www.witchpetals.wordpress.com