Using Money for Change

Money is congealed energy.

-Joseph Campbell

It’s always interested me that Pagans seem to be afraid of money. I have never seen any studies about the demographics of Pagans, so I’m only going on anecdotal evidence and my own observations when I say this, but I know I’m not alone in this belief. I don’t know if it comes from a resistance to the materialistic culture that is in opposition to a lot of Pagans’ values, or a deeply ingrained belief that money is the root of all evil (I know the quote is about the love of money, but that’s not how our society interprets it), or some combination thereof.

Campbell’s observation that money is just another form of energy articulated an idea that had been in my head for quite some time. The symbol for material goods in the Tarot is the suit of coins or pentacles, which also represents the element of earth. If I use the pentacle as my religious symbol and worship the Earth, what’s wrong with using this earth-form for the Earth’s benefit? Thinking of it as energy divorces money from the values placed upon it by society, and make it more like electricity or magic: something that behaves according to a set of rules, rules which can be understood. It also fits nicely with the observation Einstein allegedly made about compound interest.

I’d like to see more Pagans actively using money to promote their beliefs. Since we’re very independent, individual expressions are easier to pursue than group ones. I’ve come up with some examples:

  1. Boycotts. I haven’t bought gas or other products from Exxon (and since the merger, Mobil) since the company failed to take responsibility for the Exxon Valdez spill. I won’t buy a Toyota because it offends me that one of their SUVs is called the Sequoia. Do your daily buying decisions reflect your values?
  2. Charity. Giving freely of ourselves, and by extension our money, is a powerful way to change the world. Even small donations to charities add up if many people do the same thing. Make a five dollar donation to a local soup kitchen, or the Lady Liberty League, or Big Brothers-Big Sisters of America – or whoever it is that’s doing the good deeds you never find the time to do yourself. Your time is now money, so you have another chance to do good with it. And no matter your ethical system, it’s tough not to find a life of more abundance if you become a more giving person.
  3. Politics. Yes, scary as it sounds, you can give money to a political campaign! If you feel strongly enough that a particular candidate should (or should not) be elected, or that a particular referendum vote is crucial, your congealed energy efforts can make as powerful an impact as a cone of power.
  4. Giving. This is different than charity – no tax deductions, more personal. Overtip waitresses. Give money to homeless people. Feed a teenager.
  5. Invest. There are a tremendous number of socially responsible ways to grow your money while adhering to your own values. Check out the mutual funds from Calvert and Domini Social Investments, for a start. No better way to ease the guilt of having money than to put it go good use.

So those are a few different options off the top of my head. If any of my three readers want me to go more into depth on any of them, I’d be happy to.

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