Monday, September 6, 2010

Quick Question: What is an acceptable pagan income?

Occasionally, after a particular article or podcast goes up in some internet venue, I get a flood of emails telling me how wrong I am to pretend that pagans or witches can be middle-class, upper-middle-class or beyond. After my article this week on Witch Vox, the pattern is repeating itself.

I got a strongly worded email from a reader of the article who told me the following:

Hahahahaha, farking hillarious! Middle class suburban Pagans. These are women that never grew out of the farce of rich college girls casting spells (booga, booga) in their dorm rooms at night, waiting to graduate and marry the right man, picked out by their parents, who will show them the road to and keep them on the path to the Good Christian Corporete Life. If someone is living the cookie cutter, glass house suburban life, they're no Pagan or witch. A pagan or witch woud change their life, no matter what it takes, to something meaningfull to them.and healthy for those dependent upon them. Me thinks you be a bullsh*t artist young Sir. Please don't cast a spell (booga, booga) on me. I just have spent too much time with the Goddess to put up with nonsense like that. May you and those who listen to you find your way...Blessed be..DD PS Illinois...No wonder!

Yes, that would be the email in its entirety, and no, I didn't alter anything. It really is that condescending and poorly spelled.

So, before I give my rebuttal, I was curious as to what you - the Rioters - had to say about this. Is there a particular level of income a pagan has to have in order to be legitimately pagan? Is having a stable, lucrative career a no-no if you also want to be a dirt-worshipping wand-waver? Was the point of my article lost, and did I unintentionally say that living a cookie cutter existence was favorable? (I thought I took care of that by the 5th sentence.) Is living a middle-class life unhealthy for those that depend on you?

And, I suppose most importantly, how much time does one have to spend with the Goddess before one is a complete jackass?

Leave me your comments in the form of an email, including anything else you think fits. I'd like to use this as a forum for discussion on the matter until later in the week.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

23 comments:

  1. Because obviously all working people that live in the suburbs have meaningless, unfulfilled, worthless lives that they hate and therefore aren't "Real Witches"(tm) because they haven't changed it to fit this dude's idea of what a Real Witch (tm) is! They do things like go to work! And have backyards and maybe even cookouts! And raise their kids as best they can! How terminally un-witchy...

    My bullshit detector is flashing. Wonder what this person had happen to them where they so vehemently hate such a huge portion of people - many of whom are hard working.

    Though I do wonder if perhaps by "Middle Class" this person means things like "Real Housewives of New Jersey" or something - pretty far removed from actual middle class working life, in my experience.

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  2. (adding, since I went back and re-read your article... I don't wonder if he thinks he might be agreeing with you? You make a couple of points about how you don't need to buy every book or own every tool or whatnot - that you can't buy a spiritual experience. Since he seems to think that Middle Class Life is all about purchasing an experience, maybe he thinks he's writing an agreeable email, having a conspiratorial chuckle with you about those Middle Class Pagans?)

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  3. Gee, I guess I can't be a Pagan anymore because I have a Master's and make a decent living. :P

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  4. Greetings Fire Lyte!
    Before I respond, I must say - I haven't listened to your podcast (gasp - bad rioter I am! lol), regardless, I dont see how one can judge a Wiccan on the level of their income. If someone makes millions and wants to spend that fortune on buying things that makes them feel closer to the Goddess then so be it. In my mind, that certainly doesn't make them any less Pagan/Wiccan than I.

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  5. omg I just about fell over laughing! I'm a poor college student and I keep thinking about how nice it will be when I graduate have a real job get a HOUSE and have a freaking backyard so I can grow my own herbs! If you can't be a rich pagan because in being rich you can't "alter your life" then I propose you sure as hell can't be a poor one either! There is too much cool stuff to buy ;)

    No, I think just because you are successful in your life, got a good job and moved up in the world (monetarily) doesn't mean you aren't a witch if anything you should be commended for being able to set goals and strive for them and be successful, I'd say that makes you a damn good witch! I would respond that a damn good witch thinks to his or her self, in order to live the life I want, the healthy pagan life (organic food is EXPENSIVE) I need to make $x.

    I know I need a house with a garden so I can grow my own herbs, I need a green house to grow more of my own veggies, and I need to make more money so I can switch to farm fresh produce and grass fed beef! I don't need to be rich to live the life I want, but I need to make more then I am now! :-p

    I can't wait to hear how you respond! :)

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  6. I love how this person has such a narrow minded view of what a middle class person is like.

    I cannot think of any aspect of most modern pagan religions (and even more so, ancient ones) that are somehow exclusive to class. A god is a god no matter how many university degrees you have and how well your lawn is kept. I'm pretty sure being a couple of notches up the pay bracket dosn't make us look any less like ants to them.

    In addition to this, the people considered to be the founders of modern paganism were for the most part, very far removed from the working classes.

    P.S- I have been a fan of your podcast for some time now, and so I thought it was about time I started following the blog as well!

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  7. At the moment my income is close to nothing as I was laid off in the spring and am going back to school, but before the layoff I was what would be considered middle-class as are the rest of my Pagan friends. Just because we can afford to buy the ingredients and components needed for our spells and rituals does not mean that we are not "Pagan Enough".

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  8. Oh no and I thought all these years I was pagan! Sure hope this person pulls their head out of their ass before they suffocate!
    Love the show Fire Lyte!!

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  9. I think this person needs to go look at Project Pagan Enough, this is exactly what the project is about, tolerance! And this person is not being tolerant and is saying that people with money can't be pagan or Wiccan. It's just like saying that a person that listens to country music and wears Dickies can't be pagan, utter nonsense! Who are this person to judge what is in the hearts of those living in suburbia and practicing paganism. I have always been taught that it is what is in your heart that makes one a witch/pagan/wiccan and not in your pocketbook.

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  10. What brings me closer to deity is not money. It is not buying fancy spellbooks or spending a lot of money on witchy clothes or spell components. There is something to be said for humility. Christian clergy have been using humility to get closer to God for many years. Removal of all worldly possessions to focus completely on deity is one method of worship that works for many.

    It may not be money that brings me closer to spiritualism, but it is also not a lack of money that brings me closer. Humility is not my cup of tea. I find spiritualism in other ways, so I do not need to get it through humility.

    There is a difference between being poor and having humility. Not making a lot of money is not necessarily humility. It’s what you do with the money you have.

    If someone doesn’t have a lot of money, and drives an old beat up car that emits a ton of carbon into the environment, well that doesn’t make a lot of sense for a nature based religion. I may have a newer car, but it emits less emission and uses less gasoline than an older car.

    With more money, individuals are able to purchase local organic fruits and vegetables. Reduced pesticides on the environment on whole foods are better for nature than an over-processed box of macaroni and cheese or a case of ramen that was shipped by a diesel tanker across the ocean.

    People with more money have the disposable income to help their fellow man through charity and give more in taxes to help with roads, schools, police and fire support, etc.

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  11. This arguement is just as ridiculous and, in my opinion, much more offensive than the idea that you can't be Pagan if you dress like a 'normal' human being. Doubting someone's 'pagan-ness' by how much money they have is playing into the idea that money is somehow evil and the root of all problems. This is not true. Money doesn't MAKE you Pagan, any more than it MAKES you thin, successful, popular, or a good person. But you can be all of these things (and many more things) without money. The idea that being able to pay your bills, perhaps afford a little luxury, and even maybe have some left over somehow makes you not a Pagan is absurd. The idea that you're filthy-stinking-rich and somehow that negates your ability to have faith in the God/Goddess/Deity of your choice and find fulfilment in the Pagan path is absurd as well.

    I think the root of the problem is that many Pagans ARE poor, for whatever reason, and that many of them have a deep resentment of people who are NOT poor. If the only way you can make yourself feel better about your own situation in life is to pull the Christian's card of "you have to be just like me or you're not legitimate", I feel no sympathy for you. Your own arrogance and blatent stupidity about the way the world works is going to do nothing but cause you problems.

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  12. I also find it interesting that at the end of this email there is a comment about how it figures you would say this, because you're from Illinois. I'm incredibly disturbed by this. It reinforces in my head even more that this is, in fact, a toothless, broomstick skirt wearing, placenta eating, patchouli smelling, 'pagan' stereotype who lives in a shack in some tiny village in the middle of nowhere that the rest of us are trying so desparetly trying to seperate ourselves from. After all, you can't be Pagan without being all those things, right? You couldn't possibly live in Illinois, or Nebraska, or Massachusetts, or New York City, could you?

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  13. I don't know who this person has been spending their time with, but it most certainly hasn't been the Goddess. Perhaps they've been looking at themselves in a fun-house mirror all this time.

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  14. LOL this person is clueless sure enough. I really think that some people like to say that you can't be a pagan without being "properly poor" or wearing all black, or smelling like dirty socks because they are just too damn lazy to get off their butts and do something. Anything!

    And how about the fact that all these people that say that they are "free" of society and the expectations of it because they are "free spirits" and can't be chained to jobs and all those awful middle class suburb type responsibilities yet they can't pay their electric bill or apparently buy a box of soap? Like, how FREE does that make you because you have snubbed society to the point where you are now suffering BECAUSE you snub society? At that point you are not suffering because society is snubbing you.

    Now, back to E.P.L. - or as I call it - A Year of Selfindulgence (with some admittedly funny and inspirational moments thrown in). ;)

    Yes, I do believe it to be priv-lit, if one wanted to use that phrase. I think moreso I just thought of it as a roll my eyes sort of "is this shitzel for real" story when I read it. Kind of like when Oprah told Uma Thurman that she must have helped thousands of women by going on her show and talking about her split from Ethan Hawke. Really? Like I'm sure every trailer living, not working, mom of ten yard rats with a deadbeat husband that cheats on her feels like she just got THE BEST advice from Uma and can so totally relate...

    LOL. Because yes, Gilbert is NOT us. And we (most of us anyway) could never dream to be able to take a full year on someone else's dime (although she WAS working on this trip I guess one could argue) to find ourselves in ANY way, let alone in EVERY way.

    I just could not relate to the story mostly. And I found her irritating. LOL. You know, in that - gods get your head outta your butt, your mind outta your hot exboyfriend's panties, your hand outta the bread basket and your just GET OVER IT - way. ;P

    But, the thing is that I do agree on everything you said in the last part of your article - we ALL deserve to be happy. And no, we don't have to go to Gilbert's lengths to prove that to ourselves - although that is the reason (or one of them) that so many of us are NOT happy. Because happiness can be right there in front of you. Or you can have to search for it elsewhere. But you do have to be open to it and you do have to feel like you deserve it.

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  15. Oh and you KNOW i love you btw! And I for one have not seen enough of Sookie's IBTs but alas, that is a complete other subject...

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  16. I work as a community-college math teacher. It offers the same amount of pay as a K-12 teacher, but with less red tape.

    I have this job, partly because it is more lucrative than burger-flipping, but mostly because I have a passion for helping people reach their potential, for furthering understanding, for making others THINK. If those aren't Pagan ideals, I don't know what is.

    "Middle-class" implies an income of about $25k-150k per annum. I fit quite comfortably into that income bracket. Most middle-class American Pagans--like middle-class Americans in general--are "working-class," earning $25k-50k annually.

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  17. Is money good? Is money bad? Is it this? Is it that?
    I wonder if your (perhaps slightly inebriated?)friend knows that if you can't get your head out of either/or thinking your not much of a Witch.
    But then the depths of some peoples' poverty goes well below the financial.

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  18. This is how I see it...
    Paganism has something to do with my life. Money has something to do with my life. Money does not have anything to do with why I'm a pagan.

    Money is such a grey area. It's like magic in a way. It's what you do with your money that's important.
    I remember, about a year ago on youtube, a fellow pagan was down and out with little money. Youtuber pagans banded together and sent her care packages and money.

    Having this much money or that much money, wearing that much black and that much crushed velvet does not count as a cornerstone for evaluating the level of pagan-ness in a person.
    You measure them buy their compassion, kindness, love, intelligence...y'know those qualities that can't be bought or faked?

    Being a pagan requires no money. So why does it matter?

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  19. Oh they probably just can't make that kind of money. Or don't know how. No big.

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  20. Oh, wait, I know the problem. They just spent all their money on books: http://scarletimprint.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/tarnish/

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  21. What a nice way to defend their lack of income as something to be proud of while taking away the religious identity of others in a higher tax bracket. While I grew up damn poor when I was younger, I do not wish to go that route again. I appreciate the value money has, the security it can provide and the experiences it can afford you. While I am not rich, I am frugal.... regardless, I guess the ancient Romans, Greeks, Etruscans, Mesopotamians and Saxons weren't pagans because they didn't push away wealth! Icky!

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  22. Ridiculous beyond words. One of our elements is the element of earth, and the element of earth is about material goods. So some of us are better at it than others. Big deal.

    I am a professional web designer, graphic designer, and entrepreneur. I enjoy making money, I enjoy having happy clients, and I enjoy doing well in the "real world." I don't think I'd be in a place to develop spiritually very well if I had to scrape for my next meal or worry about paying rent.

    I also work with gods of wealth quite a bit, Jupiter being one of my patrons. Jupiter teaches me how to do good business, how to meet more clients, and how to make my clients happy with an excellent service for an excellent price.

    I don't listen to people who tell me what I am or am not. I am a witch, I am a worker of magic, and I am an entrepreneur. Perhaps instead of criticizing how others live, this commenter should start working on making a better income for herself.

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  23. Wow, that person is interesting and close minded. I am as middle class as you can get, a house in the burbs, 2.3 kids (well, actually, it's more like 3!) a dog, a SUV and "GASP", I am also a cop! Oh the horror! But, mostly I am a dirt worshiping, herb growing, spell casting Pagan.

    -Amber

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