It is Thanksgiving week here in the US and I feel the tension between the materialism of Black Friday, and the spiritual considerations of gratitude and benevolence. I would, considering I own a retail store dedicated to all things spiritual. I basically live in the crossroads of this tension.
Right on cue, I had what some would call a crises of faith regarding my own material needs. I’m walking the tight rope between a need to pay for the necessities of life and my sacred mission of service. In short, I think about money, or the lack thereof, a lot. Some might think that isn’t enlightened enough to admit publicly. I beg to differ.
My witchcraft is about a healthy balance between all the five elements of life: physical, emotional, mental, will, and spirit. You know, the equal interweaving of the 5 points of the pentacle. None of that “denial of the flesh,” or “vow of poverty” bull around this witch’s cottage. Nope, we aim to “drink the good wine to the old gods” here. Especially so when we feast in thanksgiving. Well, that feast comes with a price tag, so a required part of my praxis is the hard work spent manifesting the resources we need to not just survive, but thrive.
A Transmutation of Tens
Let us not forget that the tarot deck, the bread and butter of a witches’ tool box, has an entire suit devoted to the lessons of our survival through good health and enough wealth; the job that puts food on the table and pays the doctor’s bills. In some decks that is the suit of coins, or pentacles; in my beloved Thoth Tarot deck it is the suit of disks.
During my soul searching these past weeks, I found wise guidance through the tens cards of my tarot deck. I recognized that the last few years of my life flowed through these lessons…like a transmutation, a change from something base to something precious. A pattern in my life emerged that can be illustrated by the cards of Wealth, Oppression, Ruin and Satiety.
10 of Disks: Wealth
When I chose to take that wild and unexpected left turn onto the crooked path, and leave the security of my broken marriage and mundane profession behind, I did so knowing that if I served Spirit to the best of my ability, that everything would work out for the best. Down in my guts, I trusted that as long as I did The Work, my needs would be met. However, up here in my brains I had no idea how. I still don’t. Nevertheless, after my mother passed away and I inherited that unexpected life-insurance payment, I eventually struck out on my own, invested every dime I had in this crazy dream, and opened my shop, The Sojourner.
The shop part was the means to the end…the end goal was to take up the work of publicly teaching witchcraft, serving as a priestess and building up my local pagan community in Eastern, North Carolina. As just about anyone in this business will tell you, there is very little income to be had from this work, even less when many of your tiny potential customer pool are still locked tightly in their broom closets, which is a pervasive form of oppression.
10 of Wands: Oppression
Truth is, I’m almost 7 years down that road and I “worry over money” more than I should. That tends to happen when you don’t have enough of it; especially when there are families depending on you. I also know that worry is a waste of energy into the fear side of the equation. Worry is pointless.
Mind you, I don’t need a big income to be happy; been there and done that. That came with a lack of freedom. I was owned by a system that did not hold the same values I hold. It was oppressive, so I let all that go. I took responsibility for my path and was freed from a great many limitations.
Part of my Samhain Work this year focused on the element of water and her receptive qualities of acceptance. Among other things, I am accepting that my life is a precious gift that should be responsibly maintained. That is some good witchcraft too often ignored in pagandom.
I will admit that attending to “meat-suit management” is one of my least favorite parts of living here in the material world because it is so damned expensive. On this point, I can be a petulant brat, and up until a few years ago, I let my fear of medical bills I cannot afford stop me from taking proactive care of myself.
Recently, I’ve come to accept many post-40 health concerns. Those things need more than a chiropractor, hot herbal tea and Reiki. So, I’ve spent the Samhain season at various medical offices pissing in cups, bleeding out, spreading wide, breathing deep, and baring it all.
I can thank the Affordable Care Act for making this new-found medical responsibility possible. Now, I can have good insurance that actually pays for things like yearly physicals – AND – I can still afford to eat. Thank ALL the Gods! For two years now, everything with my BC/BS plan has been great. Until a few nights ago…
I opened the mail and found a denial for part of claim filed for the mammogram I had earlier this month. They covered the regular 2D imaging, but denied a second line item for the new 3D scans my doctor was proudly offering on a new machine. I feared the worst sort of bill was on the way.
Like most everyone else, I am concerned with how I’m going to pay for the regular bills, let alone the unforeseen things. The holidays are coming and I have two children at home. I want to provide them with the wrappings and trappings of Yuletide wonder. While I poured over this letter, I felt like I was in the wicked shadow of the Grinch, and he was sneaking up the chimney with all the wonder.
“This document serves as notice of an adverse benefit determination. We have declined to provide benefits…the member’s policy does not cover investigational services.”
I could have cried. I cursed a blue streak. I went to bed and had nightmares, waking in a heavy mood to get the children off to school. While slathering the peanut butter and jelly in that dark hour before dawn, the shadowy thoughts return. Hello 10 of swords, of ruinous, fearful daggers through my brain, my old nemesis…
10 of Swords: Ruin
I did this to us; I chose this work.
I wasted my college degree. I wasted my father’s investments in my education.
How can I be a sovereign and responsible parent if I can’t provide for my family.
I’ve squandered the inheritance money passed down to me by so many ancestors. How long before my business folds and I lose their investments in these dreams?
All the prudence, service and hard work of my grandparents–soldier, sailor, police officer, state employees–they passed the legacy of good citizenship down to me and what did I do with it? Sell incense and candles? Teach a fringe religion? Write about thealogy?
Am I wasting the prime years of my life tilting at windmills?
These are my shadows…my fears. Some days the sacrifices are too much, and I’m not up to the task. Some days I doubt everything and feel forsaken.
The Universe Speaks
I get the kids to school, then to the altar I go. My prayerful plea: Ok, Universe! Give me a freaking break! If you insist that I do this work, we’re gonna have to figure out a way to pay the damned bills. Please, give me a sign! Show me the way!
10 of Cups: Satiety
I sat right down to get to business. I opened my email, and found a message sent to me through the blog.
Voice of the Universe via young Witchling in South Carolina:
I contact you now to give you a big ol’ thank you for all the things you’ve said and posted…I felt the universe screaming at me to contact you in some way and give thanks for all that you post… Please, please continue your good work! I feel like you truly are doing the work of the divine!
Sending all my Love,
D’awwww! Big squishy feels of happiness!
Then I called my doctor to find out what sort of damage control could be done about that medical bill the insurance wouldn’t cover.
Voice of the Universe via Billing Agent:
Don’t worry, we know that BC/BS doesn’t cover the 3D images, but the doctor feels that they are the best medical care he can provide and he wants that for all of his patients, so he just accepts the loss and does them without any additional charge. You don’t owe anything more on your bill. Happy Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving, indeed. I was momentarily speechless, which for me is saying a lot. I felt the great Cosmic Gong down deep in my bones. I thanked her profusely; my faith restored.
I hung up the phone and cried…no, I sobbed…loudly. So loudly that my sweetheart rushed from the other room to wait patiently for me to explain what was going on through the wracking, crazed laughter.
All ten cups of my heart flowed out all over the kitchen….I laughed and I kicked myself for doubting my sacred mission or the over-flowing abundance of Divine Love and resources at my fingertips. I threw open the blinds of worry and allowed the light of these gracious messages to stream in, into my consciousness, and my home…my blessed home, and my blessed life…and then I got back down to witchery and priestessing and the selling of incense and candles.
Moral of the story: Worry not, and the Universe will provide.
My mother’s birthday would have been November 23rd, and I celebrate all that came from this adventure she and my late grandparents helped me to finance. When I honor my ancestors, I honor them as investors in my business and my dreams. May all the work I do live up to their legacy. Happy Birthday, Mama. Happy Thanksgiving! I am filled with gratitude for you all.