IF I WERE RICH
If I were rich I'd have a dressing
If I were rich I'd have a great big
If I were rich I'd keep a Temple
But alas my friends I am so
In life I struggle daily to
But patriarchy's a swinging
She gives me sisters and songs and
-The word "Money" comes from the name of Moneta, Roman Goddess of abundance.
In ancient times the village shaman, wise-woman, medicine-teacher, healer or priestess was supported by her community. She was housed and fed and cared for, so that she could devote her life to spiritual service. Her people understood that she had been touched and called by numinous powers; a gift from the Goddess to help keep the well-being of the tribe. This made it possible to deepen and perfect her craft, to study, practice and develop her skills full time. She was a person of "limerance," that is, one who dwells on the threshold of alternate consciousness, committed to a lifestyle of ritual seclusion, the better to serve.
Money was not an issue for her, as it is for pagan clergy today. Any person in the tribe could go to her for healing, counsel, ceremony or magical assistance, without worrying about payment. If they had the wherewithal it was customary to bring the bowl of rice, veggies from the garden, or other useful contributions. If not, that was ok too.
Today we are in a patriarchal economic system based on money. The work ethic determines the way we value or de-value the energy and time we give. We prefer our money to come from doing things we don't particularly enjoy; somehow this makes it more legitimate. Ironically, the people with the most money often work the least, accessing their wealth via inheritance, playing the stock market, gambling, controlling the underclasses, and so on. They derive their luxuries from the lower-paid labor of servants and service providers. Those with less money alternately resent the upper classes and dream of someday accessing their astronomical wealth.
Comes the modern day priestess who knows she is called, but in many cases appears with little or no economic backing. She is forced to market and set fees for her work by this alienating system - or divide her time between the work she loves and some form of accepted labor. As a result her gifts remain underdeveloped and she must make do with rituals hurriedly arranged in her "spare" time.
A new class system among pagan clergy arises. Those with good incomes, college education and social clout can afford to be part-time practitioners "for free." Those who achieve college credentials in their field can take other "legitimate" titles like "therapist," or "teacher," and are permitted to charge handsome fees with no redress. Those with less of these privileges are out of luck and must content themselves with occasional bits and pieces of the work they love. The whole community loses out because full-time, fully developed spiritual services are largely unavailable. Everyone assumes that spiritual offerings were never meant to associate with money. An outcry naturally arises, as pagans set themselves against such "corruption."
Attitudes towards money can be very confusing. While we are told that materialism is corrupt and anti-spirit, we are expected to demonstrate material well being - stable income, nice car, big house, etc. The poor are punished and blamed for their poverty, yet money is said to be corrupting. Within this framework we find interestingly varied views. To the wealthy money is power, access, and status. To the businessperson it is a "killing," quarry of the hunt, conquest. To the middle and working classes it is respectability and responsibility. To the poor it is sustenance, survival, life itself.
Few seem to see the magical potential of money to be the abundance of the Goddess' unconditional love.
As a full time low-income priestess, I have found myself caught in the gears of these conflicting forces and ideals. Upper class people are appalled by my difficulties, yet refuse to help, since by their estimation I have "created my own reality" and should go out and "get a job."
along comes the angry mobility mob
I'm workin' so hard!" you try to point out
(From Priestess Wrap by Shekhinah)
Lower class people may be more sympathetic, but may not be able to afford to pay for my offerings, or make donations. Sometimes those with less resent me for my chosen lifestyle, while they continue to labor at boring, underpaid, unfulfilling, high-stress or humiliating jobs.
Meanwhile, mainstream religious groups and churches continue to accumulate resources. The Vatican's basement is stocked with precious artifacts looted in ancient warfare against the indigenous faiths patriarchal interests have conquered and absorbed. Congregations donate generously and churches can offer shelter to the homeless, food to the hungry, beautiful buildings to meet in, and pleasant accommodations to their clergy. I'll never forget the day Jade River drove me around Madison WI several years ago. I was enjoying the splendor of some of the churches we passed, and she quipped, "Do you have church-envy too?"
A lot of pagans don't seem to realize that it costs to put on events, hold classes, publish newsletters. Halls and land sites must be rented, publicity paid for, supplies purchased. And this doesn't even take into account the enormous output of unpaid time and energy. Most presenters are lucky to break even, and many go into a financial hole to put on festivals, workshops, rituals, and other public events. The same people who "can't afford" to pay for such services will often spend as much or more on entertainment, dinner out, or other more "acceptable" professionals. Many resent the fees requested and accuse providers of violating traditional ethics.
Providers are not always all that pure either. Some really are in the field for monetary reasons, prestige, power, or other irrelevant goals. Imitators climb on, proclaim questionable expertese, borrow ideas and creations from the originators, taking credit that should rightly belong to the Goddess or those who came before.
...Then along comes a sister 's maybe read one book
people come in droves, pay well for her class
I am a deeply devoted muse-priestess. My services take the form of music, community ritual, classes, pastoral counsel, myth-enactment, thealagical works, and writing. I am numinously bonded to the Goddess as Aphrodite and the Faery Queen, in their aspects of limerant love, poetic ecstasy, and deep transformation. I am committed to women and the task of restoring our liberties, particularly with regard to spirituality. I have made vows to live full time in service to the Goddess and women
I ask for minimal fees or donations and prefer to live modestly that I may charge less and be accessible to all. I do a lot of giveaway as well, and believe this helps to create abundance. Survival is a daily struggle, though I am rich in many ways.
In the face of these social and economic difficulties it takes great courage to continue on the path. It's hard enough to endure the blind rejection of mainstream culture. Harder still the slings and arrows of my own people who may be the first to abandon me in times of need, or accuse me of unethical behavior.
Despite the hardships I love my life. I feel very lucky to have channeled so much beauty and to be so blessed by my unfailing Muse. I can go at my own pace and live in tune with my sensitive shamanic nature. I can keep my Turtle Woman happy. :0) I can choose where and when to work, and prioritize as the Goddess directs me. Though the price is dear, I am free. And I am supremely blessed by the love and respect of many sisters and brothers around the world.
I'm not writing this, dear reader, to elicit your pity or burden you with guilt- only in hope that in telling my truth I may win your trust. That way if you decide to partake of my offerings, you can feel good about paying and know what you are supporting. Maybe these writings will help you to look at the issues in a new way and reach a better understanding. And I too hope to learn more via your comments. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com and share your responses and wisdom.
A long time ago I learned that money is magical. It is actually a thoughtform, representing the value we give it. This means that we have the power to direct its influence for good or ill, if we can agree to a common interpretation and use of money. I have explored some ideas on creating a better economic system. I dream of a world where each of us is honored and supported to give of our innate gifts, develop our talents and do the work that fulfills us. Where money is an infinite river from which we all can take what we need, as well as contribute to it our overflow for the benefit of others. Perhaps we are creating this world even now, as we wrangle over the issues and communicate our concerns. Perhaps this website will result in my own economic transformation, in which case I will have to rewrite this article and a new poem! LOL
So dear ones, if you are still reading this, I invite you to keep these thoughts in mind when you go to explore the Moonspell offerings, or those of other sincere Goddess workers. Together we can heal the magic and grow a strong movement that is practical as well as solid and lasting.
May the Goddess in her luscious abundant generosity - as Habondia, as Lakshmi, as Gefn, as Fortuna, as Moneta - as Demeter, as Gaiea, as Oshun and Aphrodite - bless us all with balanced prosperity.
So Mote It Be!
Lakshmi, Hindu Goddess of Abundance
P.S. The best feminist work I've found on economics so far is Genevieve Vaughan's concept of the Gift Economy. See her amazing book For Giving.
NOTE: This beautiful leafy
background is from Free Backgrounds, Etc at:
Lakshmi image from http://www.truthstar.com/