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.
While it makes logical sense that money was primarily created to simplify the cumbersome practice of barter and trading goods, historian Glyn Davies disagrees. In his classic work, A History of Money, he suggests that, “Money originated very largely from non-economic causes: from tribute as well as from trade, from blood-money and bride-money as well as from barter, from ceremonial and religious rites as well as from commerce, from ostentatious ornamentation as well as from acting as the common drudge between economic men.”
For instance, many societies had laws requiring compensation in some form for crimes of violence, instead of the less enlightened Middle Eastern practice of ‘an eye for an eye.’ Davies explains that the word to ‘pay’ is derived from the Latin ‘pacare’ meaning to pacify, appease, or make peace with – through a unit of value acceptable to both sides.
A similarly widespread custom was payment for brides, in order to compensate the head of the family for the loss of a daughter’s services.
Dowry display at Thai wedding
And since very ancient times, rulers have imposed taxes on or exacted tribute from their subjects. Sometimes this was paid in the form of trade goods, but money made keeping track much easier. Religious obligations might also entail payment of tribute or sacrifices of some kind.
Thus, in many societies there was a requirement for a means of payment for blood money, bride-money, tax or tribute. This gave a great impetus to the spread of money.
But it also gave money a more conflicted energy. Right from the beginning, it was representative, not only of the exchange of goods and services. It was also the means by which the powerful wielded penance and domination.
If you are a magical sort of person (and I would think that most reading this every day are!), you know that the tools we use in our rituals and practices are incredibly important. We make sure that our Tarot cards, our wands and athames, crystals, and those magical tools disguised as mundane objects (like kitchen utensils, computers, and our broom substitute – the family car) always have clear, shiny energy.
Consider, then, the energy that is held in that very powerful magical tool we all use every day: money. From its earliest creation, it has held both the pleasure of plentitude and the pain of taxation, tribute, revenge and loss.
More about this tomorrow.