Money as Spirit
As I mentioned previouly, in the gospels of Mark and Luke, Christ refers to money as a spirit named Mammon. The word mammon is still in use today as a term for money in Finnish, Hebrew, Dutch, Czech, and German. The characterization of money as a spiritual entity is a good one, and an important one for sorcerers to understand. Though I do not believe that money is a literal spirit, it does share many of the characteristics of a spirit, as surely as a demon in a medieval grimoire does.
Money, like a spirit, is intangible and invisible. The cash and symbols that represent money are similar to sigils and talismans. Despite its intangible nature, money can create very concrete effects in people’s lives by its presence or absence. More importantly, money requires certain offerings and has certain protocols for handling it if you want it to remain friendly. If money is mistreated, it will leave as surely as an offended guest. If you become too invested in it, it can possess you as though you were Linda Blair.1
Whether money acts as an angelic or demonic spirit largely depends on how you handle it. This is where Christ’s advice about Mammon comes in: “You cannot serve both God and Mammon.” This doesn’t mean that money is in and of itself evil, but that you cannot serve money. It must serve you. This is no different from the ceremonial magician’s evocation of demons. When evoking a demon, you bind it to oaths and make it submit to your will, which is aligned to the divine will. It must serve you, not the other way around. You are in fact fulfilling the natural order of the universe by commanding the demon in the name of divine will, and thus exposing it to the divine light. Money is no different: tame it and make it serve you or you will end up its servant—or worse, its victim.
As an example, I know a hedge fund manager who is quite rich. However, I would not call him wealthy because he is a slave to his money. Working 80 or 90 hours a week will make you a lot of money in the right profession, but working so much that you have no time to enjoy your money, outside of drinking yourself into oblivion every weekend, is not what I would call wealth. This person is not mastering money; money is mastering him.
On the other end of the spectrum is a friend who is not able to handle money at all. He doesn’t know how to get it, and even when he gets some, he can’t hang on to it. No matter how much he makes, he always seems to live hand to mouth. Different dynamic, but also a case in which money is the master.
It’s important that you develop a healthy and balanced relationship with money. Many people involved in spiritual paths tend to be so anti-materialist that they develop unhealthy relationships with money. If you really want to walk the anti-materialist path there is nothing wrong with that, but as I mentioned already, really doing it requires being a monk or a nun or a homeless wanderer. Working a 40-hour-a-week job that you claim not to care about does not constitute a non-materialist path.
If you cannot serve money, and you do not wish to avoid money, the only alternative is to master money. If you want money to work for you, you need to learn about it, just as you would a spirit. Spirits have very specific likes and . Hsdislikes, and so does money. Certain protocols and attitudes attract certain spirits, and it is the same with money. Here, then, are the various qualities of the “spirit” of money.
Money likes to be valued. It likes to be liked. On the surface this sounds silly; I mean, who doesn’t like money? When you get past that surface reaction, though, a lot of people realize that they do not actually value money; rather, they have a distrust of those who have money, and generally see money as a necessary evil rather than a potential force for good.
When people think about love and relationships, it is common to hear, “I don’t care how much money he or she makes”—yet the number-one cause of divorce is money troubles. We have already discussed how, when people get involved in magic or spirituality, there is a tendency to see money as material and unspiritual—yet one of the biggest problems that magical and pagan groups encounter is funding the projects they have. Those who dedicate all their time to being leaders and teachers in pagan and magical communities, without giving much consideration to money, are often rewarded with poverty in their golden years.
The distrust of money is especially prevalent in young adults. Certainly, when I was in my 20s, I mistrusted money and thought the problems of the world were caused by those who possessed money. The Occupy Wall Street protests are a great if exaggerated example of this mindset. I am sure that you have seen the “I am one of the 99 percent” slogan—meaning the 99 percent that controls less of the country’s wealth than the remaining 1 percent of the super rich. Looking around at the problems of the world it is easy to see why people would distrust or even hate money.
The difficulty is that most problems require money to fix. And for every affluent person screwing up the world, there is another quietly donating millions to charity. Sometimes it’s the same person! Money is not the problem; people are the problem. Solutions to the world’s problems will not be thought of by people who hate money, nor will they be thought of by people who are dominated by money: They will be thought of by people who honor money and its role in the world. They will be enacted by people who have the money to make them work.
You can protest until you are blue in the face that corporations should not be greedy, but it will do no good. Corporations exist to make money, and if they are public, they are accountable to their shareholders; it is literally illegal for them not move in ways that make profit for the shareholders. However, if people work to make doing the right thing profitable, corporations and affluent people will follow.
So, if you want to improve your finances, it is important to like money. You don’t need to obsess over it or make it the center of your life. You need to like it enough to learn about it. Like it enough to honor its place in your life and in the world.
Many people think of money as a stationary thing that one possesses; like the coins in Scrooge McDuck’s vault, it is just sort of there in a big pile. But the truth is that money likes to move. Money never stays still. You are always either making money or losing money. This is the root of the old cliché that you have to spend money to make money. Money circulates. It is traded for goods and services, exchanged in markets, gambled in casinos or derivatives markets, entrusted to banks to invest for you, and is generally in a constant state of motion. If you are the type of person who stuffs money into the mattress, it is time to get it in motion.
What this means for the sorcerer is that rather than e wrather doing simple spells for drawing in sums of money, the focus should be on managing the flow of money through your life. Everyone has a pile of money coming in and a pile of money going out. If the pile coming in is bigger than the pile going out you will build wealth. If the pile of money going out is bigger than the pile of money coming in you will build debt. It’s that simple. The amount of money in the piles has almost nothing to do with the process. There are people who make six or seven figures and can’t make ends meet, and people near the poverty line who manage to save a tidy bundle for retirement.
Some people are cunning enough to make money simply by moving it around or betting on how it will move around. Forex traders, derivative investors, day traders, and the like produce nothing; they simply bet on the motion of money. That is not something that can be taught in a book like this, but it is done every day. I know of one coven of witches whose primary work outside of honoring the god and goddess is using divination on the stock market. So far they have done quite well for themselves.
Part of honoring money is not wasting it. We all have different ideas about how money should be spent. What might seem like a waste to one person is a great pleasure to another. For the purposes of this book what I am calling waste is spending that causes debt or takes away from important things and that does not bring very much enjoyment considering the cost.
When I give classes on financial sorcery I often ask how many people know someone who is perpetually in debt and has trouble making ends meet. Everyone knows someone like this. I then ask how many of those people have enormous DVD collections. There are always a lot of chuckles from the crowd because, again, most people know someone like that. They can’t pay their rent, but they buy every DVD they think they might ever want to see, even though they will probably only watch it once, if at all. Worse yet, they usually buy it the day it is released for twice as much as it will cost two months later. This is money that should be spent elsewhere and that doesn’t bring much enjoyment. This is a waste.
If the same DVD collection existed in the house of someone who had no trouble making ends meet, had a solid financial life plan, and was generally comfortable, the money spent on it is not a waste. It may not bring a lot of enjoyment either, but it’s not pure waste.
In everyone’s life there are some things that you just get too much enjoyment out of to cut, even if you are in debt. My sin is Starbucks. Even when I could be putting those three bucks toward something else, I just enjoy it so much that I get my Americano anyway. There are some financial writers whose message seems to be nothing but austerity and cutting expenses—this is not my view. Life is for living, and cutting out all of life’s small enjoyments is no way to get ahead.
Gambling is another prime example of how people can waste money. I am not talking about those who can afford to blow some money on games of chance once in a while. I am talking about those who have a compulsion, or who honestly think that it is the path to wealth. At least a few times a year people write me wanting to purchase a gambling charm because they need to win enough to feed their family or pay their bills. They never write back when I tell them the first thing they need to do is stop gambling.
Most of us know when we spend money we shouldn’t. We usually do it more out of habit than out of genuine enjoyment. Identify where you waste money and cut it out. (More on this in a later chapter.)
Do you know someone who tithes to his or her churcmeoor her h? A tithe is a gift of 10 percent of your income to your church or spiritual institution. Far from a hardship, everyone I know who does this reports back that they experience a financial benefit from the giving in the form of opened opportunities and increased flow of money into their lives.
Money likes to be given away. It likes to be donated. If you understand money’s mobility, you will understand that giving money will open up an opportunity for the universe to give back. It is said that gripping money too tightly will mean that your hand will never be open enough to receive.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” Almost all wealthy people give a significant amount of money to charity. They do not do it just because society expects them to; they do it because they understand the nature of money and because it is part of what makes their own lives worthwhile.
The power of giving in relation to creating wealth is so obvious to anyone who does it that its mysterious power is often mentioned in finance books that have no other spiritual or magical components at all. Larry Winget, in his book You’re Broke Because You Want to Be, notes, “When you share what you have earned with others, then it magically comes back to you. I don’t know why it works, but it works.”
Money is linked to time, and if you want to build wealth, you need to understand the relationship between the two. If you have ever worked at a company and were paid by the hour, chances are you worked for people who were paid a straight salary, and even though their paycheck was bigger than yours, they complained that when you really look at it, they make less. This is because in terms of relative income, they did make less. By working salary they probably put in a lot of overtime that they did not get paid extra for, and thus when you divide their salary by hours worked, they make less per hour.
This concept of time and money can be even more important when you own your own business. For many the entrepreneurial American dream turns out to be a trap that keeps them working almost nonstop. Even when you’re not directly putting in hours, a business you own can occupy your thoughts in ways that truly make it a 24-hour job.
When planning a new career or business venture, you need to be careful and plot out time as well as money. Your career might very well give you a huge income, but if you spend 90 hours a week working, is that really what you want? Money and time need to be in balance.
The last quality that I want to share about the spirit of money is that money is linked to people. The people you know and surround yourself with can help open up opportunities for increasing your prosperity—or they can hold you back.
As you embark on the path of financial sorcery, you should take a second look at the people in your life and how they affect you. Make no mistake: Everyone in your life affects you both in terms of what happens around you and your own psychological makeup. You will find that some people in your life will be threatened by the idea of you making more money. Some will interpret any attempt to better yourself as a betrayal of working-class roots or a rejection of your heritage. You will find some friends accusing you of thinking that you are better than them or of acting “high and mighty.”
When people know you as one thing, it is natural for them to act strangely when you become another. This goes not only for improving finances, but also for losing weight, as well as any other change in your life. People who are comforted by having a poor, fat friend (who makes them feel good by comparison) can eapy ison) csily be threatened by a rich, healthy friend.
On the other hand, having people in your life who know about money and investing and who have connections, can open up doorways to newer and greater experiences. About 70 percent of all jobs in America are filled through interpersonal connections, and most knowledge that people possess comes from other people. Investments, funds, jobs, negotiations—pretty much everything revolves around interpersonal relations. The ability to work with people, to influence, to befriend, and to help runs through everything that affects money.
These are the essential qualities of money as I see them. Are they the actual qualities of a living spirit, or is that just a fancy way of explaining the qualities of money? The truth is, I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter: Money behaves like a spirit that has these special qualities. That is all that matters. And knowing these qualities, we can now work on our skills.