Yep, I’m poor. I live right at the poverty line, and it has taught me quite a bit about my own Paganism over the years I’ve lived here (I moved here in 1999).
It’s taught me to make my own tools and vestments instead of purchasing them.These items as I’ve said before, feel more ‘real’ than a mass-marketed item, and the clothing fits me both physically and my personality, and the locally grown and found additions to these tools and more really give me roots here.
To appreciate the fact that I have FOOD, and to work with what I have. It isn’t the best, but it is delicious, and some of the recipes I’ve gleaned from farmer’s wives and two rancher wives, some dating back to 1901!
It’s taught me to look local, since it’s hard to afford the gas to drive very far. There is an entire ecosystem to watch, be awestruck by, and to learn from. I have books of local botany, and I’ve been learning more and more as I venture out in walks and just get to know the land around me – thinking smaller has been a huge boon for me.
It’s taught me to be resourceful, to look at what others threw out and see what re-purposing it could hold – to recycle even down to the last scrap, and to reduce how much I pitch myself.
How to make more things by local means – and the power of trading with neighbors and colleagues.
And, I am beginning to understand why people shop for their needs. It’s what they know – and they have the ability to do it. Hell, it’s a shit-ton easier than walking 1/2 mile to the nearest crossroads, hiking to find herbs and other things, or scraping the bark off to reveal the next tool underneath.
So it’s a matter of privilege. You have the ability to eat vegan, vegetarian, and to go to the store(s) and get what you need or want. Being poor – it’s a different story. I work my ass off to make ends meet as many other Pagans that I’m coming to know – and they’re learning these things too.
But remember in the past, many Pagans were dirt poor. Hell, Pagan originally meant “country dweller,” from what I’ve ascertained though in our modern times this term has it’s own unique meaning from the country to the 40th floor condo. They lived far beyond the comfort of the cities, and in today’s time some of the cities have become ‘concrete jungles,’ of their own.
I’m not going to say shopping is evil anymore – the Hubs pointed out that I window shop, and if I had more money – I’d be elbow deep in Amazon right about now. So it isn’t fair to sneer or snub my nose at them. I hang my head because…. I can’t be trusted with a credit card in a book store.
It has taught me to play my own music, rather than purchase any of it – and the value of a thunder-storm power outage, with my violin and my Hubs’ acoustic guitar playing into the evening.
It’s also the catalyst for some of the quirks that we have. We sit on the floor, yes we have sofas, but we sit on the floor on the same level, and it does (for us) render a deep sense of equality in it – and those who’ve joined us have noted the same thing. The Celts also sat on the floor – just food for thought.
And, it’s also taught me the value of just listening – we take books and read to one another, both of us practice our own form of epic story-telling, and just the pure act of listening instead of simply hearing – something we didn’t realize we had lost until we started doing it!
Also, the smaller pleasures that make the large issues endurable. The sun lighting up the room, some quiet at the end of the day, a cold glass of iced lemonade, some freezer chilled rum on the rocks, playing tug of war with the dog, delicious BBQ, reading a good book in peace, working with the spirits, and… There’s a shit-ton more. Small things, in which the go-go-go lifestyle isn’t affordable for us, so it placed us in a position to really take stock of the little things.
So, being poor isn’t all that bad, and it’s definitely a lesson in and of itself if you just take a moment and look at it. Just my thoughts as I sit with a fresh bowl of tobacco in my pipe – watching the birds dance their rituals in flight.