Money can be considered to be an important magical tool. To become more intentional in how we call it to us and how we use it, it is important to have a better understanding of what money actually is, where it has come from, and the energy it has carried, for better or worse, for thousands of years.
Money, which is basically a mutually agreed-upon token of exchange, has evolved independently in different parts of the world. Just about the only civilization that functioned without money was that of the Incas. The use of money evolved out of deeply rooted customs, beyond the simple economic impulse of barter and trade. In fact, as I discussed yesterday, history shows that economic necessity was only a minor impetus for the creation of money.
Around 1200 B.C.E., the Chinese were the first to create and use money. Cowry shells became the first tokens that represented the goods being exchanged. If this sounds quaint or primitive to you, consider this: cowry shells have served as money somewhere in the world until as recently as the middle of the 20th century.
About 200 years later, once again in China, someone had the idea to begin producing artificial cowry shells from stone, and later metal. In addition, the Chinese exchanged tools made of metal, like knives and spades. Eventually, the Chinese settled upon base metal coins with holes in them, so they could keep them on a chain. From this form came today’s everyday round coins.
In other parts of the ancient world, precious metals, in weighed quantities, became a common form of money. For many centuries, though, they were more often reserved for use in foreign purchases and in military payments.
Instead, especially in the early Middle Eastern civilizations, written records developed as the mutually agreed-upon medium of exchange that we call money. More about this tomorrow.