A Privileged Low-Income/Disabled Pagan’s Thoughts on Money

June 26, 2014 at 1:34 am 4 comments

(90% of this is pretty relevant to non-Pagans)

The whole time I’ve been Pagan, I’ve been low-income- either a student (thus socially OK to be unemployed) unemployed (not so OK) or underemployed. I also have several learning disabilities that have made employment and everyday life harder for me. But I’m also comparatively privileged- I’m considered “white”, college-educated, from a college educated family. Though I’ve had money worries, I haven’t had to go without food, housing or other necessities. I get healthcare thru the state, and my parents who live out of state own a home, so I can live there rent-free and rent out rooms to tenants. My partner has a good job and he helps support me. I also don’t own a car or have children, so those are major expenses I don’t have. I am fortunate to live in a metropolitan area with a fairly decent public transit system, and many Pagan groups. So I have unique view of some of the articles I’ve been reading about the money should play in the Pagan community. I’m not even going to touch on the magical/metaphysical aspects of this, as I’ve never been a practitioner of magic, but I’m linking to articles about magic nonetheless.

I always donate at least a little something to Pagan events I attend. However this is something I’ve been able to do. I’m a fan of sliding scale fees and scholarships to make events more accessible. I’m a fan of carpooling and sharing rooms at conferences- and I will offer to chip in with people who give me rides. (Heck I don’t even mind sleeping on the floor- I’m young and able-bodied, have air mattress, will travel!) I try to volunteer when I can.

I’ve worked on weekends and evenings a lot at my current job, and I don’t think it’s an evil capitalist conspiracy that events are typically scheduled at those times. I’ve had trouble organizing Pagan groups before due to people’s conflicting work schedules. You need to have enough people that have a compatible enough schedules that they can work together. The person with the random, unpredictable work schedule may just have to show up when they are able. It would be great actually to have a coven or grove that specifically met at times compatible for people who work second or third shift. The people doing this would probably have to be less fussy about what specific type of Paganism it entailed, but it can get lonely having a schedule that is the opposite of most of your friends.

Having rituals is homes may be cheaper than renting space, but it often means they are not handicap accessible, or in places not accessible to public transit. It will also mean people will have less control over potential issues like chemical sensitivities, pet allergies etc.

There are people who choose jobs that give them more time than money- in order to focus on spiritual work, arts, family. We need to do more to support these folks.

I’ve also known people-both Pagan and not- whose lives constantly were in a state of chaos, or moving from crisis to crisis. It is true what Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth say in the Patheos comments- chaos and poverty can be a self-perpetuating cycle. The essence of poverty, as I’ve learned is the lack of choices. We need to create environments where people can talk about the issues they face especially before they reach a crisis point. If they don’t feel ashamed, then we may be able to help them get a job (or one that pays better/has benefits/is more compatible for scheduling) or with transitional housing, or foster their dog so they can get a more affordable apartment, navigate social services, legal systems etc.

There are some people, however who do keep making the same Bad Decisions– over and over and over again. And we may try to help them, and realize after we rescue them from several crises, that we are encouraging them. But they are adults. We can’t force them to get mental health help, or treatment for their addictions, or learn to better manage their finances, or dump the abusive partner, or use birth control/condoms,or show up to their court date/case manager meeting/doctor appt/job interview etc.  And I believe in redemption, and second and third chances and trying not to judge people too harshly. But we also need to take care of ourselves, and our communities, and our leaders/clergy who can get overburdened easily. I will also use this opportunity to plug support for funding/volunteering for transitional programs that help people get out of poverty and give support to people who need it (recovering addicts, mentally ill, disabled folks etc) rather than the bare minimum emergency services that are often the only thing left after budget cuts.

(See Rose’s post on Homelessness to better understand the need for transitional services, and the flaws in current shelter policies.)

Blog Posts on Paganism/Magic & Money

Why Free Events Discriminate Against the Pagan Poor by Sable Aradia

I wanted to like this article, I felt there were good intentions behind it but way too much sloppy political and economic thinking.

Ruadhan has a great response here: LOLbertarians & Rampant Classism on Patheos

A Poor Magician is a Poor Magician & Poor Magicians, Good Magicians by John Beckett

No One Will Be Turned Away for Lack of Funds, and Money is Bad, Right? by Pagan Activist

Some views from Atheists/Humanists:

How to Make Organized Atheism More Accessible to the Poor

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Entry filed under: Autism/Asperger's, Class, Ethics. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Are We Misusing the Term Privilege? There are Many Feminisms

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Shauna Aura Knight  |  July 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Thanks for writing this. One of the things that I think you’ve articulated well here is the tradeoffs. Whenever people gripe about things, they are usually looking at one side of the pendulum swing, or, they aren’t looking down the line at the impact a choice will have. For instance you said,

    “Having rituals is homes may be cheaper than renting space, but it often means they are not handicap accessible, or in places not accessible to public transit.”

    Whenever someone goes on a rant with me about events and how I could make them free, I point out that the consequence of the free event is that I’ve actually just made that event inaccessible for folks with disabilities, or for folks who only take public transportation, or any other number of consequences.

    Reply
  • 2. caelesti  |  July 16, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I think anyone who gives you crap over it needs to learn about the value of hospitality- basic to any polytheist or pagan tradition IMO, or any culture in general that wants to survive. Part of hospitality also means being a good guest. If they are complaining about it not being free, what are they bringing to the event that is so awesome, what are they contributing? Typically I notice the people who whine the loudest don’t give much in return (and not just money- but time, talents, help cleaning up- anything!)

    Reply
  • 3. Who’s With Me? | The Lefthander's Path  |  July 17, 2014 at 1:03 am

    […] As I’ve discussed before, I’ve tried to do what I can for my local Pagan community. I’ve served in a couple of leadership positions, I’ve tried started groves that haven’t gotten off the ground due to different scheduling and commitment issues. Other people have planted groves in places I couldn’t get to by bus. I’ve accepted that. I was in a cult-like Celtic group at one point. I moved on from that, and in keep with the subcultures code of silence regarding abuse, I even kept my experiences to myself. (A decision that I am not proud of) […]

    Reply
  • 4. Pagan Blog Project Archive Post | The Lefthander's Path  |  January 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

    […] –  Money June […]

    Reply

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