Today’s post is about money. If you’ve been here a while, you know this is a topic I rarely venture into.
But in a recent session with a dear client, I mentioned how the word money actually comes from the name of Roman goddess Moneta, meaning that money once belonged in the realm of the feminine, the realm of relationship.
These days that is difficult to imagine.
Money has taken on a life of its own. The main goal seems to be to make something from nothing, to have money that grows without being tied to anything in the tangible world. That’s the dream we are sold (and I will admit that sometimes it sounds pretty damn good).
But I think it also obscures, if not erases, the relational meaning of money as a form of sacred exchange.
When I think of money, my favorite image that comes to mind is an old marketplace. I imagine the richness of the colors, the sights and the smells and the sounds. Each merchant offering their gifts to the community in exchange for what they themselves need and desire. There are foods and spices, teas and healing balms, beautiful handmade goods and homemade breads.
In this environment, money is symbolic of giving and receiving in relationship.
When I imagine money in this way, it feels deeply meaningful, in ways beyond the necessity of “earning a living”; money is a tie to the sacred web of life, rather than standing apart from it (or in some cases even opposing it).
The first time I encountered this way of relating to money was in Helen Luke’s book The Way of Woman.
She writes, “When autonomous money becomes the stock upon which the life of a man or a society is grafted, the rot begins. We forget the ancient and beautiful image of the marketplace, where fruits of the earth and products of the human hand were exchanged, when we talk of the money markets and stock exchanges of the world. […] Something is to be had for nothing by the clever playing of the markets, and this is the absolute negation of exchange.”
I feel the ancient, sacred feminine nature of money when I pay my coach for her services or purchase goods from an individual at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning. I also feel it when I receive money for a class I have taught or a coaching session I have provided. Money moves through individual hands and there is feeling and meaning attached to it.
I’ll admit it can be harder to tap into this feminine energy of money when we are paid by giant, faceless corporations and when we, rather than compensate an individual for their time, effort, and expertise, shop at super markets, big box stores, and online retailers where the individual people involved in the exchange feel further removed.
It might be more difficult, but it is not impossible. It requires a bit of imagination, feeling, and slowing down. For example, as we browse the produce aisle, we can imagine all the hands and work that went into growing those fruits and vegetables, as well as picking and transporting them to our neighborhood grocer. We might also feel a connection and sense of gratitude for the land that nurtured and sustained that which will now nurture and sustain us.
It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out; it can be as simple as a breath of appreciation that connects handing over our credit card to this greater web of human and other-than-human life.
Because perhaps the more we are able to restore money back to the realm of the goddess from which it originally sprung, the more it can take on a beautiful and rooted meaning in our lives.
Once more, it can become symbolic of the sacred nature of exchange and relationship.
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