In the Baltics, conversion came late and memory of the Old Gods lingered long. Some of Europe's first New Pagan Movements got their start there during the period of national and cultural efflorescence between the First and Second World Wars known as the Baltic Renaissance. Like ourselves, the pagans of Latvia and Lithuania are new pagans, but they have been so for a generation longer than we have, and their experience has much to teach us.
The small (11½ x 8 x 3½ inches) inlaid wooden box shown above, from Latvia, dates to the 1920s. It is a cash box, with interior compartments for coins, banknotes, and bills. The inlaid pattern on the outside lid represents the phases of the Moon.
I've hinted at the mystery of ducks and money in previous posts, but as with any true mystery, words can never fully explain it. This is my primary money duck. It is a mutant duck, largely because its eyeball is located on its cute little neck, rather than in a more convenient location, such as its head.
The duck is tied to a deep prosperity, such that the ordinary sense of the word as relating to money, worldly goods, and abundance simply scratch the surface of the depth of the prosperity the duck enfolds and describes.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Hudson Valley Current, a complementary, labor-backed currency that is being developed in my region. I have been getting paid by one of my clients in currents fairly regularly since, but it wasn't until this week that I finally got around to spending some of them. And wasn't I surprised to discover that I was doing business with another Pagan!
The current marketplace is still small; many of my fellow users aren't yet explicitly advertising their services, so it can be tricky to find something to spend them on. The staff behind the currency is not only working on expanding that market, they are also in the business of keeping the currents flowing by matching up people with a whole pile with others who have services that they could use. Knowing that there's a limit to how many currents I may hold, I have been accepting them to force myself to find ways to use them. I want this currency to succeed, because it will help me understand money all the better to be in on the creation of a new form of it.
I was speaking today with a moneyworker whom I respect a great deal. The conversation largely focused on financial literacy, and the fact that it's not common in our communities. (I think that's more because we are a microcosm of a society in which education about money is sorely lacking, but we spoke more about solutions than causes.) We floated a number of ideas about how we can lift each other up from the self-perpetuating cycles of poverty and money anxiety, and those ideas are certainly going to manifest in our communities, but I want to know what you know, and what you don't, about money.
Given the strong emotional ties made with money, I think a lot more people in our society approach it as animists than they themselves realize. To love money, or to hate it, or fear it, is to imbue it with spirit, or recognize that it has spirit regardless. Why not take the next step, and allow that relationship to be a two-way one?
What have you done for money lately? Do you say prayers, make offerings, keep a shrine? Do you give and take money without thought for the medium itself, but only the necessities and luxuries it can provide for you and your loved ones? Do you use it for magical purposes? Do you thank money for its role in your life, ignore it, avoid it, or curse it?
In a fascinating post that examines the impact of free events on the economic viability of the Pagan community, Sable Aradia uses the tongue-in-cheek subheading of, "Pagans are . . . Thrifty" to drive home a point about one of the ways we struggle with financial issues. What she means is that we're cheap. While I won't take exception with that -- heck, I come from a long line of tight-fists which I could probably trace back to the invention of money itself -- I do wish she would take another look at what the word actually means.
I think she would find that thrift is a sincerely Pagan value.
Discovering what other people are saying about the Pagan savings challenge is a source of joy for me. Case in point: this PaganSpace.net discussion about different savings strategies.
The original poster says, "I'm not going about it the same way he did just because I don't think it would work for me to be putting more than $5 a week away into savings is practical for my low income family." I agree! The level of savings should be challenging, but not impossible. I'm glad e is adapting the challenge to fit eir own circumstances, because any savings is better than no savings, and developing a saving habit will serve you for life.