What is money? The New Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and banknotes.”
Money is the paper bills that fill, or do not fill, our wallets and purses, the change we use at the laundromat and the numbers that define our bank account. It has a changing worth constantly being re-determined by international government entities using systems the majority of the population does not understand, and this officially assigned worth determines how much is needed to buy tangible things like food and clothing – things whose worth are determined not by people, but by our individual bodies and their need for sustenance, warmth and protection. Some would say these are the determiners of true value.
Money’s transaction, accumulation and spending is something we’ve been involved with our entire lives. As children we watched our parents give money to the cashier and collect change. We took note of their frugality, generosity, hardships, and windfalls, and probably absorbed a lot of their attitudes about money, and which we now express in our own adult lives. We may wonder, where did our parent’s get their attitudes about money? And where did their parents get their attitudes about money? And if we ask this question long enough, we must eventually ask, who invented money, and why? And how did it evolve into what it has become?
Money is probably the closest thing we have in the modern world to magick, and without realizing it, as we swipe our debit cards and buy our Starbucks and deposit our checks and pay the babysitter, we are participating in the largest occult ritual in the world. Not to mention the fact that our very own currency is covered in occult symbols that a majority of the public does not understand.
Money is the single most important thing in modern society. It builds our cities, it pays for our time and grants freedom and mobility in our world. It has been attributed value equal to or greater than the very resources that sustain our lives, from the soil that feeds us to the water we drink. Money, in this world, is a force of power, a currency between both businesses and people, a dream, a status symbol, a statement of intent. But what many of us forget is that money is not real – it is something that has been invented by people, regulated by government, given more worth than the life-sustaining resources it affords (food, shelter, clothing, etc.), and is an illusion sustained by nothing but habit.
As the world exists right now, a farmer grows crops, sells them, uses the money to buy fertilizer, pesticide, his groceries, pay his electrical bill, and all of the things he needs to survive and continue his business. But what if he were to suddenly decide he did not want to use money anymore? Rather than selling his crops, he starts to negotiate with the fertilizer manufacturer for fertilizers in exchange for food, for electricity in exchange for his crop. And of course these companies must oblige if they want to eat.
This is actually how things were before money came along. Commerce was all about people exchanging tangible resources in exchange for tangible resources. Wealth was measured in cattle and crop yield, in silk and oil, even in the attractiveness of a man’s daughters. Money was invented as a commercial lubricator of sorts, making trade easier and allowing for a redistribution of power to happen… However, in the process, a lot of power was taken from everyone by causing us to unconsciously devalue our resources and our wants. Our art is viewed as worthless unless it makes us money. The home we love and nourishes us so deeply has become a horrible investment in this housing market. By that same token, we want something, be it a red sports car, or a vacation to Hawaii, and the obstacle that most often comes up in the quest to attain these things, if we even begin the quest, is lack of funds. Even then, the quest becomes then one to make money. In our minds, it is not the lack of the sports car or Hawaiian vacation that hinders us from having these things, but the lack of money. And we live in a society that trains us from the very beginning of Kindergarten, to work in exchange for money so that we can have the the things we want, rather than, say, learning how to build a sports car, or learning how to fly a plane so that you can get yourself to Hawaii. This is disempowering, and it is a negative facet of the spell that money has cast over our lives.
In the occult, all rituals are performed with symbolic items, movements and sounds. The chalice is not just a chalice, the hand gestures over it are not just hand gestures, and the low gutteral sound the practitioner makes is now the sound of an upset stomach. Like a wedding or a Catholic mass, every bit of wardrobe, dialogue and movement has a symbolic meaning, and is being carried out in a particular fashion in order to create a desired outcome. The difference between weddings, Catholic masses and occult rituals is that most of us are at least semi-literate in the meanings behind the white dress and consumption of the wafer to such an extent that we take all of these rituals for granted.
Money is actually little more than a stand-in for actual resources that we have ascribed value too.
William Greider wrote in Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country that:
“Above all, money [is] a function of faith. It [requires] an implicit and universal social consent that [is] indeed mysterious. To create money and use it, each one must believe, and everyone must believe. Only then [do] the worthless pieces of paper take on value. When a society [loses] faith in money, it [is] implicitly losing faith in itself… The money process… [requires] a deep, unacknowledged act of faith, so mysterious that it could easily be confused with divine powers.”
In addition to being a spell, money in our world has us under a spell. When Nixon revoked the gold standard, so was revoked the concept that our money had any tangible backing. Many of us live and die by financial security, yet money has been reduced to meaningless numbers in a computer – something that only has power because an external entity says it is so. To learn more about this, I recommend this amazing video by Tad Lumpkin.