finances

Pagan Theology

August, 2009

Pagan Theology Short:  Pagan Finances

Past surveys of Pagans say that we work mostly in the computer, education, and “helping” professions.  Thus the economy may not be impacting us as much as it is others.  However the question of how our religion relates to the economy, and economic difficulties, is an interesting one.  The Christian religion has it relatively easy, the manual they were given from the Jewish tribe has a lot of passages that repute to tell them how to build wealth, and go about asking their god for wealth.  We are in a slightly different situation, with little or no guidance about practical matters in any historical document, unless cattle raids count.  We have to rely on our own ability to think things through.

So what role does the Pagan religion have to say about our personal finances [1]?

Based on my past ramblings I’d say that we should look to three elements of our religion for inspiration and assistance in matters of money:  community, the Gods and Goddesses, and magical practices.

It is important to realize that I’m talking about only a religious perspective on finances.  There are serious, concrete, things you can do to affect your financial situation, and you should be doing those first [2].  All the magic in the world will not get you a job if you don’t look, and feeling better about your relationship with the Gods and Goddesses won’t stop a foreclosure.  In fact if you find yourself in trouble, or don’t want to get in trouble in the first place, I’d suggest checking out the financial advice of someone who has a practical, no nonsense, approach to personal money management.  A guy who says stuff that makes sense to me is Dave Ramsey [3].

Using the three concepts of community, deity, and magic, we can construct some things to do as Pagans if we find ourselves without a job, or facing financial hardship.

Stay in your circle.  One of the most important things religion provides is the support and spiritual nourishment that comes from community.  Note that I said “spiritual” nourishment: the best way to lose friends and alienate people just when you need them most is to exploit your circle relationships for money or financial support.  Instead look to your circle for the emotional and spiritual support that you need, that you would need in any time of trouble.  Ritual gives you a chance to bring your troubles into the sacred space and speak them to the community.  The collective support of the community, and the Gods and Goddesses, in circle can give you spiritual hope and strength.  Use that as a way to refresh the well of your spirit that is most certainly being drained by the worries and needs of everyday life.    Circle is a refuge, a refuge you need now more than ever.

Remember the circle.  As Pagans we celebrate the eternal cycle of seasons, creation and death, warmth and cold, abundance and depravation.  We know that the Goddess gives and takes depending on the season of the year, as well as the season of our lives.  If you are in trouble, it is the time of winter and the Lady has taken what is hers.  But you also know that life is a wheel, and it will turn eventually.  What seems bleakest now will be the source of rebirth in the future.  Of course this does not mean that you should sit back and wait, on the contrary, it means you should work hard tilling the ground and planting the seeds, with the confidence that eventually the spring will arrive and reward your hard work.

Read the stories.  We have few texts that provide us with direct guidance, we wouldn’t really be Pagans if we did.  What we do have are stories that have come down to us about the Gods and Goddesses, their challenges, and how they overcame them.  Whether through bravery, or trickery (if you’re Irish), the stories describe how the ancients thought about things like initiative, honor, and taking care of business.   In addition to providing inspiration, they are free [4], and in reading them you are learning more about your religion (and taking your mind off of your troubles).

Go to the well.  Wells connect the world of the living with the world of the Gods and Goddesses.  The Lady of the well provides water, water that nourishes, soothes, and refreshes.   Leaving small offerings at holy wells is a way of giving our attention and love back to the Lady.  Drawing waters from the Lord and Lady, through ritual, meditation, or merely being out and about in the natural world, are a way of drawing their love back into us.  The power of the Lord and Lady to sooth, calm, and center us should not be underestimated. When we are worried, upset, or concerned their power is a tool that can be used to remind ourselves of our place in the world, and the beauty of that place.  The Lord and Lady are greater that what we are now, as we too are greater than what we are now.  Knowing that you are more than your circumstances can help when you are only worried about what is going on right now.

Do the right magic.  Ah, I suspect that most people’s first inclination when confronted with financial difficulties is to do some sort of wealth or money spell.  Silly rabbit.   Direct wealth spells are like playing the lottery, maybe something random will happen and deposit a large sum in your lap, but maybe not.  More like maybe not.  Instead of playing the lottery another way of getting wealth is to work for it.  Do things to improve yourself, reposition yourself in the market, and work to create something that others might want to have (like your labor).  In those cases spells can be much more effective in framing the problem, and in helping your change yourself in ways that might attract wealth.

Creating a spell that will have a practical effect on your current situation is, in itself, a useful exercise.  First you have to understand exactly what “your current situation” is.  Are you unemployed?  Are you simply unhappy in your job?  Don’t have enough income coming in to meet the bills?  Are you over extended on credit?  Specifying exactly what is wrong, what you want to focus on, is a first start at actually thinking through your problems. The second step is to think through your objectives, assets, and options with respect to the problem.

If you need a job, what is the best way to find one?  Not what you are doing now, but the absolute best way?  What do you need to start down that path?  Perhaps increasing your network would be the best way to find that job, so how might you do that?  Find other people with similar skills?  Where do they hang out?  How might you approach them?  Do you need courage and some social skills to help you when you do meet them?

As you go through the process of thinking about your problem, what your objectives for that problem are, and how you might break down the process of achieving those objectives, you will discover things that you need, opportunities that have to happen, or traits that you lack or require reinforcing.   At that point you have found the focus for your magical working.  The courage to meet and befriend new people?  That is something that a magical working can help with.  Need a new skill or to refine existing skills?  A magical working to clarify how you do that, or to give you confidence to start working on your skills, would be very likely to work.

Of course following up on the problem, working as hard to make your task happen in the real world as you expect the spell to be working in the spiritual world, is essential.  Spells only help on the margins, they only make it easier for you, they don’t do it for you.

Even if the magic fails, as it often does, thinking through the problem, and working hard to make it happen, most likely will make whatever you are doing work out anyway.

If you find yourself in financial trouble nothing magical or religious can fix the simple equation of what you take in must exceed what you spend.  Nor can it make money out of nothing.  But what our religion can do is give you comfort, help you become stronger, and provide you with a community of caring fellow Pagans so you don’t have to face trouble alone.  And, maybe, with the right magic, some careful thought, and some hard work, the circle will turn sooner rather than later and your spring will be as joyous as the winter has been hard.

[1]  I am not a financial adviser, I am not giving you specific financial advice here, if you do something I suggest and it does not work out you have only yourself to blame for not finding someone who knows what they’re talking about and doing what they say instead of what I say.  Again, I am not a financial advisor or giving financial advice so if you are really in trouble seek help from a trained, licensed, financial advisor.

[2] Things like getting your income up, paying off debts, behaving responsibly in your personal relationships and saving money are simple things that will do a heck of a lot more for your bottom line than anything I’m going to say about religion.

[3]  http://www.daveramsey.com He comes at it from a Christian perspective. But if you ignore that you will find his basic advice about getting rid of debt and behaving responsibly is about the best path to building wealth there is for regular schlubs.

[4]  There are lots of translations available on the Internets, just look around.