I have endeavoured, in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. — Their faithful Friend and Servant, C. D. December 1843.
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas
What an unexpected pleasure for this week that kicks off the Solstice/Winter holiday advent season and marks the American observance of Thanksgiving. After last week’s Queen, let us now welcome her mate, the King of Pentacles…
“Come in!” exclaimed the Ghost. “Come in! and know me better, man!”
Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Spirit. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been; and though the Spirit’s eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet them.
“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”
Yes, and I am the King of the Element of Earth. I have much in common with Dickens’ Christmas Ghost.
Welcome me to your festivities this week, and I will ensure that the Earth’s splendor and sumptuousness fill your senses and your belly!
See how my garden is bursting with fertility. Note the clusters of ripe grapes, symbol of the sweetness and intoxication of Life that decorate my gown, and blend into the living vines all around me. Thus I am formed from and held by their lush, earthy energies.
My flowered crown echoes the rose and lily motif, a common theme in the Tarot. They represent the intertwining of passion and purity, and the marriage of the spiritual and the physical. I also wear the laurel wreath of victory and success.
I sit upon a throne that features the carved bulls of Taurus to emphasize my royalty, power, and strength. My armored foot, too, rests upon a carved bull’s head, for although I may relax now in the peace and prosperity I have created, I am always ready to defend my kingdom.
Like my Queen, I meet with you in the outdoors, because the green, living world is far more sacred and beautiful to me than any indoor palace.
I am lord of the divine pleasures of living: the sensuality of our bodies, the satisfaction of meaningful industry, robust good health, delicious food and drink, and skillful enterprise. For my toil, I reap labor’s highest rewards: stability, security, and beauty at every turn.
Gaze upon me and wonder, for in my kingdom, there is no lack. I ensure there is plentifulness for all — from the very stones to the plants, beasts, and humans, too.
My power resides in harmony with the planet, for I know that exploitation and greed create imbalance, war, and death.
You might expect my expression to be as sunny as the solar disk on my scepter, or the bright gold of the Pentacle I hold.
But with great wealth and power come great responsibility, and I accept this willingly. Thus, I am cautious by nature, and I consider carefully the pros and cons of my decisions.
Neither am I an extrovert or given to chit-chat. My thoughts run deep, and stillness is as natural to me as the silent black stone I rest my backside upon.
I have extraordinary patience, understanding that attunement to the cycles of growth and decline are far more sustainable and rewarding than schemes for quick riches.
How Much Is Enough?
I have come to visit you this week, in part, to remind you that, like me, you, too, are a steward of this Earth.
As holiday commerce gears up into overdrive, I would caution that every choice you make with your money impacts our planet and Her inhabitants in some way.
This means that not only is it smart to have a budget, and spend your hard-earned money wisely, but to consider into whose pockets your treasure goes.
From what you serve at your banquet table, to the gifts you buy and from whom you purchase them, to the ways you travel — all have implications for either the survival or degradation of our sacred Mother.
I am the steward of the land who would ask — whose labor went into that item? What wealth is being shared, or withheld from those whose work made it available for you?
What ingredients are in that food, and how do they affect your health, the health of those who grew or prepared it, and the safety and well-being of the source from which it came?
I urge you to care whether the Next Shiny Thing is made in Third World sweat shops. And who owns the businesses you buy from? Are their values in harmony with yours?
Before the shopping frenzy sweeps everyone off their feet, follow my example and do your homework.
Whose toil or suffering permits those “cheap” deals? Behind that stupendous holiday sale sticker, consider the hidden costs — to the Earth, to families, to economic justice, and prosperity for all.
How much is “enough?” With all those who are competing and spending their own fortunes to influence your opinion, to whom will you listen and acquiesce?
Will a tinkling music box and thrilled giggles of little children sell you a new luxury car? Do all those gorgeous, glittering fashion models honestly express what goes into putting jewelry on your neck and hands?
Do the cute, friendly faces and scripts really represent the truth of coal ash, pipelines, and fracking in someone’s back yard? Will a “Black Friday Doorbuster” seduce you away from your family gathering so you can tangle in the frenzied crowds of manufactured desperation?
Who really benefits from this? What sacrifices are being made to keep all those wheels turning?
Sit At My Table and Be Welcome
Such considerations are why you may find me pensive.
But having given these cares of the world their due, let us for now, put them aside. Step into my beautiful garden and let us be of good cheer.
For I am the gracious host that always opens the door to welcome you (as well as the one in the kitchen cooking and doing the dishes, while more brainy or athletic folks discuss sports, movies, and the issues of the day).
Come as you are, and sit you down. Drink deep the wine of this blessed time.
They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker’s. But, they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time; and when they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit’s torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last.
I will tell you one of my great secrets. I have discovered that my needs are simple, but my tastes are refined. The more I appreciate all the bounty before me, the less I fear scarcity.
So let me not put you out of good humor, or dampen the pleasure that I know you long for and, heaven knows, certainly deserve (for who would dare to say otherwise?).
This week, following in the lovely footsteps of my Queen, I call upon you to know that the most precious wealth is not financial. Good health, gratitude, and contentment with time are the dearest treasures of this life. And the sharing of them with one another is the most priceless gift of all.
So from my throne I bless you with this wish — that your holidays may be richly, gently haunted by the bountiful luxury of Life’s present.