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Exploring Pagans and their relationship with that earthiest of earth symbols, money.

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Power of pocket change

Spare change is one of my favorite forms of money, because it's just so obviously pulsing with energy, the elemental energy of earth.  Coins are often shiny, they have a weight that conveys value, and there is power in the jingling of money.  It's solid enough to decorate a bathroom, but it's also liquid enough to imagine swimming in it.

And pocket change seems linked to its own pocket universe, too.  Who hasn't searched the couch cushions for some?  A good cushion-hunt can mean clean laundry or a week's worth of ramen dinners for a college student.  On the other hand, coins can definitely burn a hole in your pocket; research shows that we don't like to spend big bills, and coins are the other end of the spectrum.

I don't like carrying change, but I don't spend it, either.  I walk with the Fellowship of the Change Jar.  My pockets are emptied for stealth and speed, and my hoard grows nightly.  Our nemeses, the Clan of the Exact Change, take a sadistic pleasure in getting in front of me at the checkout counter and saying, "Oh, I have the eighty-seven cents at the bottom of my purse!"

To be fair, the Clankin celebrate the efficiency of a job well done, and understand that money, while it is a store of value, is effectively worthless until the moment it's spent.  It would not be unreasonable for them to point out that my jar of coins loses value each year, eroded by the inexorable inflation of the currency.  We of the Fellowship simply walk a different path.

Yes, it's true that the change in my jars, even in coin jars that do the counting for you, isn't doing me any good while it sits there.  In fact, even as it loses value on the street, it's taking up space and subtly straining the integrity of my house.  But this is found money to me -- as far as I'm concerned, when I broke that single, I spent the whole thing; the coins I get back might as well have popped out of nowhere.  Sure, I could choose to pay attention to those coins and always pay with exact change, but somehow my way ends up with coins in a jar, and just as many candy bars in my belly as the exact-changers enjoy.

No matter how it's used, pocket change is the quintessence of slow magic.  Small amounts of change can change the world, whether through the intentional spending of the Clan of the Exact Change or the weighty hoarding of the Fellowship of the Change Jar, and the folks who just like to raid the couch cushions from time to time.

I wonder who the god of change lost in couch cushions is?

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Terence P Ward is a business writer and journalist who blogs under the rather cumbersome moniker of True Pagan Warrior.  He can generally be found at home, tending to his gardens and the many demands of his cats; in the alternative, follow TPW on Facebook. 


  • Jamie
    Jamie Wednesday, 06 November 2013

    Mr. Ward,

    Thanks for posting this! As a Yankee skinflint, I have a jar of pennies I've accumulated over the past 25 years from sidewalks and parking lots.

    Sure, as you've pointed out, those pennies were worth more when Reagan was President. No matter. They make nice counters for my home-made version of Ludus Latrunculorum.

    True story. Last winter, I pulled over my car to the side of the road, on the way home from work, because I saw a greenback blown by the wind. It was a 20 dollar bill! Personally, I always thank Hermes the Luck-bringer for boons great and small of this nature.

    I think that the biggest, most well-intentioned lie we are taught as children is that 'everybody wins'. Sometimes that's true, but mostly our good fortune comes at someone else's expense.

  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward Thursday, 21 November 2013

    Jamie, your last thought reminded me of this: my wife is a teacher, and one of her continuing frustrations is the idea that children are taught that they can be anything they want to be. Not everyone can be President, because we've only got one at a time!

    On another note, I found a dollar in the street the other day, and as soon as I got home I offered it to Hermes Eriounios, the luck-bringer. And early next month I am celebrating what I think would be called a Hermaia Agoraia, a festival of the opening of the marketplace for the holiday season. I have a post coming up on my personal blog about soon.

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