KEYNOTE SPEECH NYC PAGAN PRIDE - 1/24
Happy Mabon, I am honored to be the speaker here at the 10th NYC Pagan Pride day. Given that we are now at the beginning of the Harvest season and that the whole economy seems to be going to Hades in a hand basket, I thought I would talk a little about the intersection of prosperity and Pagan Spirituality.
Strangely enough I want to start this Pagan Pride address with a quote from the Bible. Specifically the book of Matthew where Christ says "you cannot serve both God and Mammon", mammon being a word implying money as a demon. Of course like many quotes from the Bible it has effected attitudes and culture far beyond Christianity. It is in fact a sentiment that I tend to agree with. You cannot SERVE mammon and Spirit. If you serve Money you tend to become a slave to money, which tends to run counter to the aims of spirituality. Money can corrupt those who serve it as sure as any demon, and I think it is fair to say that a lot of the problems facing our nation today are caused by people obsessed with money.
So how do you avoid serving money? One way that people avoid serving Mammon is by avoiding him entirely. This is the approach was quite popular amidst the counter culture movements of the 60's and 70's, a time that was also the beginning of Paganisms surface and increasing popularity that obviously continues all the way to the present day. It is a noble tactic and one that really works if you do it wholeheartedly.
My observation is that if you are going to avoid money and finance as a part of your spirituality, than you really need to do it! So with that in mind there are really only two ways that this has been a successful approach - become a Monk/Nun OR become a homeless wandering mystic.
For those wishing to become Monks or Nuns I have a list of contact info for Buddhist and Catholic Monasteries that you can apply to. I also have the number of Tom Browns Survival training down in the Pine Barrens. Spend a few weeks with him and you can walk into the woods and be self sufficient for life with just a good knife and the clothes on your back.
Ok so if we are not going to become Monks and or wandering homeless Mystics, we are not going to avoid Money with much success. Since we cannot serve money or avoid money, that leaves only one choice: we need to Master it and bring it on the spiritual path.
Neo-Paganism has been a huge blessing for those looking for a spiritual path that possesses the deepest and most ancient mysteries religion has to offer, yet is consistent with the developments and values of a modern and free society. Many things that other religions consider sinful, the Pagan considers sacred.
Paganism has taken sex and made it a healthy part of the spiritual path.
Paganism has taken radical freedom of expression, the right to be gay, kinky, and straight up freaky and made it part of the spiritual path
Most important for me Paganism has taken Magic Sorcery and Witchcraft and make it part of the spiritual path.
It is for this reason that Paganism is the ideal platform to take financial wisdom and join it to spiritual wisdom. To marry fiscal responsibility with environmental responsibility and make the financial craft a part of the Witches Craft
It has been said that the love of money is the root of all evil, but after traveling to 19 countries and having lived in one of the poorest places on earth, I can tell you for sure that the LACK of money is the root of way more harm. We need to be able to produce prosperity in ways that are in line with our values and objectives.
So how do we start? We start by realizing that Christ was not far off when he referred to money as a spirit. Money is a lot like a spirit. It is:
Intangible yet able to effect real events.
Represented by sigils, ie: cash, that get used as a means of contact.
Has its own nature and ways it likes to be handled
Like a spirit from an old Grimoire, if it is mishandled, it can corrupt and obsess the noblest among us.
So what than are the qualities of the Spirit of Money? What is the craft that we as Pagans can use to master it as part of the spiritual path?
First thing we need is perspective. You cannot start a successful journey without first having a clear idea of where you already are. With this in mind, let me ask you a question: How many of you are Rich? I don't mean rich in spirit or in friendship of anything like that. I mean monetary income. How many of you are rich?
Not many hands raised.
I think that we can all agree that we live in a one world Economy today right? Nothing happens anywhere without effecting economics the world over right? Let me share some numbers with you:
If you make over 40k a year, you are in the top 1% income earners on planet earth. If you make over 25 you are in the top 10% . 50% of the people on planet earth make less than 800 a year! If you think that can't possibly be right, I can tell you that in Nepal, when I lived there, the median income was $280 a year - and the lifestyle of the common person reflected it.
Now, am I saying we need to be happy with what we have? NO!. If you want to bathe in champagne every night than I hope that you can. I want that for you. Its kinda gross but if that is what you want, I want you to have it. I want you to have it because money is not a zero sum game. You do not put people out of work by making more money. IF you do it right when you make money, the community around you makes money and things get better, not worse for everyone.
Also, it is important magically to know where you stand. If you summon Jupiter and ask him to make you rich - he is probably going to look at you funny since you are already in the top 1%. If however you ask him to help you double your income by blessing your new web-based venture, he can probably work with that.
After we get some perspective we need knowledge. Unfortunately real knowledge about how finances work is not taught in schools. It should be but it isn't. If it was we would all be able to read balance sheets and income statements, and the small print in the Wall Street Journal. Instead of that financial education we were offered a deal.
They teach us how to be mediocre and not make too much of a fuss
How to get a good job with good security
How to show up on time, and clock in and out until you are 65
In exchange we get enough money to make us comfortable enough that we won't start asking too many questions, or do a re-run of the French Revolution.
The problem is that the deal we were educated for is NO LONGER THE DEAL.
Right now, here is the situation:
No Job security - Everyone talks about the unemployment rate being 10 percent. Let me tell you folks, that means NOTHING. In 1984 it was 14 percent. It can be 50% and everything can be ok as long as there are jobs for all those people top move into. The number that matters is the emplotyment offering rate. Right now if we filled every open job in America only one in 6 unemployed people currently collecting unemployment would have a job.
No Living wage - Chances are that the job you had and got laid off from will either not be there or will be paying half of what you were making before. If you managed to avoid a lay off, you might have had to take a pay cut.
No Pensions - These have been gone for a long time. Even your 401k matching contributions are going by by. If you ever get to old or sick to work, you are on your own folks.
This is the NEW ECONOMY and it is the result of what happens when Money becomes the master of its handlers rather than the other way round.
That's the bad News. Here is the GOOD NEWS: We are living in a time of unprecedented opportunity for building prosperity by throwing off the old deal and making our own. Once you have knowledge , you need the willingness and daring to stop acting like unthinking cogs in a machine and re-engaging your genius and your creativity to do something radical.
To use a business cliché, it takes "thinking outside the box" - and folks looking out into the gathering here today one thing is clear: PAGANS KNOW HOW TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! We have creativity and genius and strength of spirit. There is no longer a well trod path for living a prosperous and happy like in America. Today we must make our own, and we are GOOD at making our own path.
If you have a job, it is time to unleash the Pagan genius and creativity and make yourself the linchpin of your organization. All it takes is overcoming your fear and acting on that one thing that you KNOW would make things run smoother, faster and better but that you have been silent about because you are afraid of making waves.
If you don't have a job, maybe it is time for you to make one for yourself rather than finding one on Career Builder.With the advent of the Internet, you can come up with an idea, test market it, open a store, and sell your product for just a couple hundred dollars. If it fails, you close it up and try it again with no great loss.
Even if you do have a job, I am a big believer in multiple sources of income. With today's technology, you can work the 9 to 5, AND operate a website drop shipping specialty candy AND market your Astrology for Computer Programmers DVD AND still have time for the family and kids. Investors tell you to diversify your investments to prevent yourself from loosing it all from one bad deal. I am telling you to do the same with your income. When the fit hits the shan it is really good to have money coming in from multiple places.
Better than all the above is that many pagans, not all but many, know and use practical magic. The craft of the witchcraft. This is your ace in the hole, and since we have covered Know, Will, and Dare, this is the part that you want to be silent about. Don't broadcast your spells to everyone. This is your own little unfair advantage. Some people are born with good family connections, others with natural charm, everyone has their special tool that they use: magic can be yours.
Even if you are "out" as a pagan, I urge you to keep your magical activities quiet. It is one thing for your co-workers to accept and understand your religion. It is quite another for them to think that you are summoning unseen forces that they do not have access to and which will help you get ahead.
Now, in my classes I teach a variety of spells, but what is even more important than magical technique is the application. Some say that magic should only be used in emergencies when all else fails. Folks, I respect your view, but I gotta tell you that you are wrong on that one. By the time you have reached the emergency point, it is probably too late for magic to do much for you except damage control.
Worse yet, if all you are doing is emergency magic, you are simply keeping yourself trapped in the same situation: often a crappy job that you don't even like all that much. Sometimes it is better to let it all fall down and start building on fresh soil.
I am an advocate for smart strategic sorcery applied proactively. Use it to kill debt, to increase income, to manage investments, attain assets, and do it all in accordance with your spiritual view.
The last thing I want to talk about is another quality of the spirit of money. Money likes to move. Mercury has just as much to do with money as Jupiter Does. Jupiter is your savings account, but Mercury is your checking account. Which one do you use more often?
How you spend money is just as important as how you make it. You can start by supporting your community by purchasing things from pagan bookstores and businesses. You can spend it in ways that support the earth and the values that you hold as a Pagan.
Apart from supporting community through wise commerce that I will tell you one other thing that Christians have got right: the concept of tithing. This is not only a secret of spending money in a spiritual way, but is actually a secret of building prosperity for yourself as well. I know a lot of Christians that Tithe and I can tell you that all of them claim that they receive those blessings back many times over.
This is Harvest time, time to gather your fruits and Thank the Gods for the blessing you have, which I hope we have established are considerable. It is also time to plan your strategy for dealing with the long winter ahead, which economically speaking is going to be tougher than normal, but which with knowledge, will, daring and a little magic, may offer the greatest opportunities of your life.
I will close with a Mabon Prayer from a new Book called the Auguris by my friend Jospeph Merlin Nichter. He is the first California State recognized Minority Faith Chaplain for the California Corrections system and spends a large amount of his time ministering to those in need and doing Pagan outreach in the prison system. Not only is this book a good example of a Pagan building an Asset for himself in the form of intellectual property that will generate residuals, but also a shining example of community building and charitable works.
(closed with the Mabon prayer from the Auguris)
Thank you again. Happy equinox and Pagan Pride Day.