#paganvalues: Misplaced values

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 31:  A volunteer light...
BERLIN, GERMANY – MARCH 31: A volunteer lights one of 5000 blue and green candles in an eight-meter shape of Planet Earth in front of the Brandenburg Gate during Earth Hour 2012 on March 31, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. According to organizers, Earth Hour 2012 has participants including individuals, companies and landmarks in 147 countries and territories and over 5,000 cities agreeing to switch off their lights for one hour. The Brandenburg Gate, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben Clock Tower in London, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and the Empire State Building in New York are among the monuments whose operators have agreed to participate in the demonstration. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Wiccan lottery winner Bunky Bartlett learned a few things the tough way when he actually hit the lotto. 5 years after his 2007 jackpot, he was down a few million but hadn’t lost everything. As he summarizes offering help and getting blamed for failure, he concludes “One of the mistakes I made was giving money to help other people realize their dreams instead of my own. “

This has become my mantra while navigating a Pagan world that wants me more now that I’m nearing 40, and navigating a professional life that is beginning to bear some carefully guarded fruit.

Put your own dreams first.

Because, really, we’re told story after story about how it’s good, and virtuous, and important to put the dreams of others first. Certainly kindness, sharing, and helping community members out are all good and virtuous things – but when we are sacrificing our entire good to help another person out (who may or may not be in a position to pay forward or return the kindness) we aren’t strengthening the Pagan community. We aren’t strengthening ourselves, improving our family’s lives, or making the world safer for Pagans.

We’re weakening it.

Some of the misleading ideology rife among us  traces back to Christianized thinking – the tale of the widow’s mite stayed with me for many, many years into my Wiccan practice. Only in recent years did it occur to me that there is no follow-up to that tale of her giving her last two coins: it very likely ended VERY poorly for her. Jesus might have been pleased, but he also didn’t make any definite moves to protect her from starving to death or being thrown in debtors’ prison. Someone thinking well of you does not keep you well, although it can contribute if it’s a relationship you’ve built up over years. But for one hit scenarios where you never see the person again? That good opinion does very little. If you’ve ever seen a Presbyterian parking lot in Indiana, you know that not all Christians interpret this parable as literally as I did.

I’m part of the generation where conversion to Paganism usually came from an active life in another religion – and like most US Americans, it was conversion from some denomination of Christianity. Re-acculturating how I share resources and which I keep for myself is something I’ve never thought through as well as I should.  For example, signing over your entire social security check to keep a Pagan resource center afloat  may seem like a grand gesture, but it’s actually the worst kind of martyrdom (and martyrdom is A BAD THING.) You’re cheating yourself of much-needed resources that, managed well, ensure your future and your ability to live day to day. Yes, the Pagan movement needs some infrastructure, but you don’t build that infrastructure by ripping pieces off the foundation of your own house.

For those following my work with Money Drunk, Money Sober you already know it’s been a long road with lots of mistakes, and lots of childhood conditioning to overcome.  While most Pagan traditions usually speak to a period of “stabilizing” or “Earth element work,” there is a tremendous amount of defeating crap, much of it rooted in a misunderstanding of money and its place, still woven into the Pagan acculturation process.  What’s worse, is most of the absolute defeating crap is upheld as a value or a virtue. That’s as insidious as a bad thing can get.

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