Poverty is “the worst form of violence.”
- Gandhi
See A Conversation About Non-Violence and Poverty

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar.
It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
See A Conversation About Non-Violence and Poverty

An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Common Themes, East & West:

Money, Wealth & Treasure

2 October 2009
Medieval Feast of the Guardian Angels

Author's Introduction
[Note: this is either a blog or a webpage.  I can't decide, which means it's both.]

Money:  It's the root of all evil. It doesn't grow on trees (actually, it does -- ask the giant corporations who are clear-cutting the world's dwindling forests). Money talks. It makes the world go round. It lets you live on Easy Street. It burns a hole in your pocket. It comes from a cash cow, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or the Midas touch. You can't take it with you. Time is money.  Those who have it are filthy rich, and on and on -- the cliches and folk sayings are endless. [For more of these,  see: Cliche Site and World of Quotes.]

When I was teaching  a graduate course on "Folklore & Fairytales" in the mid-90's, I looked up "greed" in the Aarne-Thompson motif index and was startled to find that there wasn't a single reference to folktales concerning greed and money. Instead, they were about letting others starve while hoarding food. I found that a powerful and useful insight into how earlier ages viewed wealth. Today of course, without money, there's no food, no housing, no clothing, no warmth, no water, and not much of anything else.

I will turn seventy early in the coming year.  That's hardly "old" -- I think it's considered the new fifty. But these days, I'm on a low, fixed income except for occasional freelance work and subbing (winsome, great kids, one-on-one, but otherwise it's like herding feral cats).  It's been challenging.  Recently, in looking back over a lifetime of issues involving "cash flow" and "revenue-streams," I'm struck by the dismal frequency with which many of my major decisions have been shaped by the absence of money.  Again and again, denied other options for one reason or another, I've taken long-running, deadend jobs that left me too drained to manifest a more creative lifeforce.  Yes, there have been some intermittent and merciful respites from the deadends:  running lights in a college theatre for traveling ballet and theatre companies was a joy; also nine years of teaching crosscultural mythology and sacred traditions in a graduate school; facilitating pastlife regressions and dream work; researching and writing encyclopedia entries on mythology for a UK publishing house; and consultant work on a splendid Wild Divine video game.  But for the most part, it's been unsettling to face the fact that I've lived most of this lifetime feeling like a racehorse hitched to a plow, a Sisyphus going nowhere, a violin-maker assigned to sand floors. And now, once more, I'm caught in more deadends.

Nor am I the slightest bit unique in this.  Multiply me millions of times over and then gauge how wastefully our human abilities have been squandered by worldwide societies run by the corrupt and wealthy few.

Most of us resist such a fate in whatever way we can.  As a last resort, when ingenuity, grit, patience, strenuous efforts, and constant networking repeatedly fail, many turn to "magic," including relying upon prosperity-hucksters and/or gurus teaching "secrets" (by the way, there's at least one benefit to having limited funds: it's a great safeguard against scams, no matter how well-meaning some of these guys might be).

For some people, such things work -- or maybe it's just that the timing was right and the lucky break would have come regardless.  For others, such practices may give a brief spurt of hope (which does have genuine, even biochemical, value in dark times), but that's about it.

Despite knowing the odds, I too have tried endless "remedies": tithing; visualizing/feeling what prosperity would look/feel like; and focusing on positive thinking (instead of weariness).  Here's a list of some of my other attempts:

* I wrote large "8's" on index cards all over my house (I forget why it was the number "8" but a very intelligent and dear friend, assured me it had had amazing results in her life, even suddenly manifesting a valuable long-lost ring -- the "8's" did nothing for me, however, and after a year or two, I took them down).

* With a Magic Marker, I added zeros to a dollar bill so that it looked like $100,000 and then taped it over my desk for a few years where, according to some guru, it would remain in constant view and attract wealth. (I finally spent the darn thing last summer -- no one paid any attention to the phony zeros, maybe because the guru's book/DVD are well known and there are probably hundreds of thousands of disappointed followers' Magic Marked bills currently in circulation).

* I placed special coins in a wine-red drawstring-bag and hung it in a sunny window (Note: in some traditions, a vibrant red is considered the color of prosperity; in others, it's gold, silver, or green).

* I put a mixture of herbs and coins on a piece of forest-green silk, knotted the ends with silver and gold threads, and hung it under the wide-spreading wings of a wooden Indonesian dragon (she's red and green, with highlights of gold).

* I chanted to the Buddhist Tara-s, asking for "right livelihood" guidance (I've long done this chant, however, and continue to do so, not necessarily to ask for anything but simply because it has deep meaning for me).

* I asked Jesus' help -- in his day, he did at least notice money issues, like the widow's mite, or searching for the lost coin.  I reminded him that we're supposed to have "life more abundantly" and that he said a laborer was worth her/his hire (and I suggested that he forget the part about the poor being always with us -- in a global economy, it's really time for the world to change).

* I reminded harvest-goddess Demeter, her wealthy Underworld daughter Persephone, and hearth-guardian Hestia that I had loyally, lovingly served them in earlier lives and would greatly appreciate any help they might now be willing to provide in my current life (out of friendship, not as a quid pro quo).

* I reminded Celestial Queen Juno that coinage was actually minted in her ancient temple in Rome and thus I knew that she would have both the monetary savvy and the right "juice" to send more kindly revenue-streams my way, if she would be willing to help.

* I put special coins in a lovely mint-green dragon fountain on one of my altars and carefully tended the fresh water running over them.

* I positioned coins under little metal frogs facing east (thereby, in theory, being activated by each sunrise to summon wealth my way).

* For a decade or more, I performed an annual New Year's Eve coin ritual at the stroke of midnight which, I was assured by my friend and colleague Dianne Skafte (with whom I did the first of these rituals one New Year's Eve), would ensure a prosperous year.

* I lit candles for prosperity in auspicious areas of my house (and avoided lighting them in inauspicious places:  after a few years of non-responsiveness on the part of these Feng Shui energies, I now light candles for whatever purpose wherever I please).

All these, and many other arcane practices I have since forgotten, I patiently, hopefully, performed over the decades.

Practical, "real world" results of any of these?  None, nada, zilch.

...Well, no, that's not entirely true. In fairness to the Ancient Ones, the Holy Ones, as well as to some very special friends, there have indeed been rainbow-bright, wondrous, unexpected blips on my financial radar screen from time to time, for which I am always immensely grateful. Those blips help to keep my spirit buoyed, enough to "keep on keeping on."  Yet the overall racehorse-hitched-to-plow dynamic remains unchanged, as it does for most people.

I wonder how many of us personally know people who actually enjoy and feel nurtured by their jobs? -- how many live in societies where they have truly been able to find the kind of work that the Buddha called "right livelihood," work that's meaningful, where workers, their ideas, concerns are respected, where there's camaraderie instead of an oppressive management, where management, if need be, pennypinches at its own level instead of at its workers'.  I suspect the number would be very low -- which, in what by now should be the "enlightened" 21st century, is simply appalling.

I should mention, by the way, that I have no negative hangups about money.  I don't find it evil or filthy, nor do I feel that I'm unworthy to have it in abundance.  I'm a Capricorn, after all. We tend to have a healthy respect for money.  We also tend to have an innate sense that having an abundance of it is part of our birthright -- as is the pleasure of spreading it around to others.  I've mislaid my Thornton Wilder's Matchmaker script (I played Ermengarde once), so this is from memory but I love the line where Dolly Levi tells tightfisted old Horace Vandergelder,  "Horace, money's like manure -- it's not worth shit unless it's S-P-R-E-A-D around, helping young things grow."

Poverty, then, would seem to come down to one cause: karma. That's why "magic" can't help us escape it.  It would seem that all we can do is accept the burden of being racehorses hitched to plows and survive the best we can.  Maybe we'll be "paying it forward" and have better circumstances in our next incarnation.  Maybe not.  Regardless, for specific but ruthlessly hidden reasons, it seems the majority of us are constrained by money's lack because we're here to learn (or un-learn) something significant to our spiritual path.  Personally, however, I loudly, often, and, yes, furiously plan to continue questioning the wisdom of Whoever/Whatever decided all this. On this money-driven planet, we're less likely to learn deeper values and more likely to break or turn rabid from lack of "right livelihoods."  Besides, those of us without much money are generally far nicer than those with far too much money, so who's here to learn what?!  Do dead white Capitalists run the Other Side too?  ::sigh::

...Novelist Elizabeth Cunningham, author of The Maeve Chronicles (a gorgeous series of novels on Mary Magdalen and Jesus -- see my Bookstore Annex page), began a blog a few months ago. Her September 8, 2009 entry especially caught my attention:  Reclaiming the Power of Oracular Speech.  Describing a recent annual Fellows meeting of The Black Earth Institute, she begins:

We have all heard the saying: Money talks. In a pending case, Citizens United vs the Federal Election Commission, the United States Supreme Court will rule on whether or not money is speech. If money is so defined, then there will no longer be limits on donations to political campaigns lest those who choose money as their language have their freedom of speech curtailed. "Who" includes corporations. There is a precedent dating to the 1880s that defines corporations as legal persons. If money is ruled to be speech, John Dough, as I call this corporate entity, may be the only one whose voice is heard.
If I were to argue the upcoming case (which as I have never before even written a political blog it's as well I am not) I would ask the justices to consider these questions: if money is speech, what is poverty? If money is speech, are those who don't have any consigned to silence, and is that not a form of censorship? If money is speech, what about it is free and how can its freedom be defended? ....
...Poets, prophets, oracles, griots in a wide variety of cultures once had a responsibility to call the powers that be to account. Their speech was potent. There are stories of druids who could blister the skin of a king with their verses. Our contemporary culture tends to celebrate only celebrity, to reward a few with extraordinary wealth while the vast majority of writers and other artists remain obscure and underpaid.
Falling into this latter category myself, I found it heartening and inspiring to meet with a community of people who are concerned with more than making their own voices heard. Many among us are true oracles speaking not only human truth but the truth of the wolves, the truth of the soil, the truth of the water, and the complex truth of interconnection between all life forms and the elements that sustain us. I feel challenged and encouraged to learn from my fellow fellows, to break out of the isolation of despair, to join with other voices to make a fierce and joyful noise, to reclaim the power of oracular speech....
...I have long resisted the blogosphere and twitterland. But my recent forays have made me reconsider. It could be argued that we are all just talking to ourselves, parallel speech, so to speak. But I see evidence that people are talking to each other--and listening!--exchanging not only ideas and information, but humor, comfort, and camaraderie. And however new this form of speech is, it is free to anyone with access to a computer. (Bless the public libraries.) Money does not speak here. Human beings do.
Elizabeth's words struck a deep chord in me, especially these: if money is speech, what is poverty? If money is speech, are those who don't have any consigned to silence, and is that not a form of censorship? Those words connect directly to another topic of immense significance: the global redistribution of wealth.  I'm not a revolutionary, just an ethicist and crosscultural mythologist. As such, however, observing this world crossculturally, I cannot see how we're going to survive unless equitable ways of redistributing the world's wealth are put into place.

I now know that the redistribution of wealth is a concept that keeps reappearing over the centuries, but I never heard of it until 1988 when I was one of nine teaching assistants for "Voices of the Stranger," a huge undergrad course taught by the late Professor Walter Capps (chair of my doctoral committee) at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  One of the assigned texts was A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr..  In 1968, twenty years before that class began, Dr. King had been murdered. He had, in a sense, faded into history. When I thought of him, I thought of his powerful "I have a dream" speech, the tragedy of his death, the courage of his long struggle for civil rights, and his passionate commitment to nonviolence.  Beyond that barest of outlines, I knew almost nothing about him.

The book's compilation of King's work is enormous -- it has a total of 676 pages. For the college course, however, only a few of his writings were assigned because we had to cover quite a few other texts, other "Voices of the Stranger." When I read, I tend to make constant, time-consuming connections, risking a fall off a precipice with the start of each new sentence. This meant I really didn't have time to read beyond the assigned minimum.  Yet I was captivated by the clarity, grace, and audacity of Dr. King's writing.  He was certainly no stranger to what Elizabeth Cunningham calls "the power of oracular speech." Despite time-issues, I found myself drawn in more and more deeply.

What especially galvanized me was his conviction that a guaranteed annual income is a national necessity. It's such a humane, just, ethical, logical concept! -- a no-brainer, really.  I've never let go of that idea. For the past 20-some years, I've returned to the topic again and again, haunted both by the seeming impossibility of ever achieving it as well as by my utter certainty that Martin Luther King, Jr. was absolutely correct about the urgent necessity for this.

I thought I had written about all this recently, quoting from Dr. King's work at some length.  I even found relevant areas in the book marked with sticky-squares and dated 4 March 2006.  Yet I found nothing when I searched my Microsoft Word files for March/April 2006.  I also came up empty when I searched my webpages, both the published and the few unpublished pages-in-progress. I even scoured my Netscape 7.2 "Sent" files without any success.

I'm only a 2-finger typist so I really, really dreaded the thought of having to retype long passages from the book.  I delayed for days, hoping for a sudden flash that would tell me where I might have stowed away my earlier work on this.  It never came.  At last, I retyped the material -- more of it, actually, than I would have done in 2006 (assuming any work from 2006 actually existed).  All the retyped passages are now on a separate webpage, an ATTACHMENT..to this one, but here are a few excerpts that, hopefully, will attract your interest.......

First, Dr. King on one of the major sources inspiring his work:

...In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote in Progress and Poverty:
The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature, and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves, driven to their task either by the lash of a master or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who perform it for their own sake, and not that they may get more to eat or drink, or wear, or display. In a state of society where want is abolished, work of this sort could be enormously increased.
The implications of this passage are enormous for culture, education, the arts, and innovation in all fields.  But work which "extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature, and elevates thought" takes a great deal of think-time, as one of my Theatre Arts professors used to call it.  In other words, to fully germinate, such work requires worry-free leisure.  Even getting an idea demands, first of all, abundant time in which to putter, daydream, doodle, probe, experiment, and consider alternatives before finally committing to something awesome, exciting and new.  These things can't be done in a few spare moments before rushing off to work or on a coffee break. And forget weekends -- most people are too tired by then for anything other than doing catch-up work from the preceding week.

With a guaranteed annual income, the majority of people would probably still prefer to work a regular job, something they can take pride in and identify with, but many others would elect to stay home, living happily off that income to nurture and improve their talents, follow their dreams -- and maybe even create wonders to delight us all.  Even those who'd simply goof off for a few years shouldn't be scorned -- who knows what marvels such apparent "laziness" might eventually catalyze?

One of our early American astronauts (Buzz Aldren?) once said that a childhood spent watching old Flash Gordon movies on Saturday mornings is what inspired him to become an astronaut.  At the time those movies were made, there were no spaceships -- they were pure science fiction. But those Flash Gordon writers (and others before them) helped pave the way and now we have spaceships.  Similarly, Star Trek's "Beam me up, Scotty" technology is currently science fiction -- but provide enough worry-free leisure to lovely, clever geeks and maybe that technology could also become reality. Think what that would mean in terms of encouraging a humane "One World" mentality by drastically reducing travel costs, pollution, and global warming. [Note to the geeks: please include a 100% fail-safe device to prevent the transport of all armed military troops, regardless of origin point. Do this for your own good, if not for the sake of humanity and other life forms. Otherwise, karmically, you'll become helpless victims of your technology in future lives. /////  No, on second thought, please completely avoid this technology until we first develop a reliable means of controlling all the corrupted politicians and powerful sociopaths who are behind the world's military/industrial complex. Otherwise, they'll find a way to weaponize your technology (and/or isolate it for their own use), no matter how you try to prevent it. Find something neat but innocuous to invent instead.]

Here is another of Dr. King's major sources:

...John Kenneth Galbraith said that a guaranteed annual income could be done for about twenty billion dollars a year. And I say to you today, that if our nation can spend thirty-five billion dollars a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam, and twenty billion dollars to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God's children on their own two feet right here on earth....
More on Dr. King's reasoning:
 This proposal is not a "civil rights" program, in the sense that that term is currently used. The program would benefit all the poor, including the two-thirds of them who are white. I hope that both Negro and white will act in coalition to effect this change, because their combined strength will be necessary to overcome the fierce opposition we must realistically anticipate.

Our nation's adjustment to a new mode of thinking will be facilitated if we realize that for nearly forty years two groups in our society have already been enjoying a guaranteed income. Indeed, it is a symptom of our confused social values that these two groups turn out to be the richest and the poorest. The wealthy who own securities have always had an assured income; and their polar opposite, the relief client, has been guaranteed an income, however miniscule, through welfare benefits....

The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.... The time has come for us to civilize outselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

The devil's in the details, of course, and forty years ago Dr. King had only explored a few of the most important of these details, such as the necessity for "pegging" the guaranteed annual income --
...to the median income of society, not at the lowest levels of income. To guarantee an income at the floor would simply perpetuate welfare standards and freeze into the society poverty conditions.
Had he lived longer, he would surely have developed his ideas much further.  That's now been left to us as our own task.

[For those interested in reading more of Dr. King's groundbreaking work on this topic, please see my Martin Luther King, Jr. Attachment Page.]


Postscript  [12 October 2009]: there was a chilling BBC News report tonight about the Commonwealth Games being held in Delhi, India in 2010. Outsiders in charge of the games are increasingly concerned that Delhi won't be able to produce as spectacular an event as the two preceding venues in Manchester and Melbourne. Delhi insists it will be prepared.  It plans to demolish shacks, herd beggars elsewhere, and erect screens to conceal depressing slums.  For a sporting event? -- a fortune will be spent to showcase athletes while the poor are driven away like vermin?!  And this is supposed to show the world how modern and advanced India is?  It might as well be the Dark Ages. This is insane. Can anyone doubt how seriously we need to take demands to redistribute the world's wealth?

One More Postscript [5 December 2009]: continuing with these themes is a brilliant, troubling essay by Eric Stoner, A Conversation About Nonviolence and Poverty.  Here's one section:

...Whether we’re talking about Gandhi and Martin Luther King, about the nonviolent movements that brought down dictators or repressive governments in South Africa, Poland and many other countries, or about the recent “color revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine, the stories are actually far more complicated than we often admit.

While these nonviolent campaigns were undeniably successful at kicking the British out of India, gaining civil rights for blacks in the United States, and installing governments that were, at least on the surface, more democratic, we tend to overlook the economic effects of these victories.  The sad truth is that when it comes to fundamentally changing the distribution of resources or wealth in a society, these nonviolent movements were less successful. In each of these cases, the economic elite that controlled the country before the nonviolent movement gained power continued to do so afterwards, and the plight of those at the bottom was in many cases exacerbated.

Both Gandhi and King sincerely fought for radical economic change, but their lives were cut short before their full vision could be realized....

[Note: the essay is also available at: http://www.truthout.org/1119095.]

Sacred Source: reproduction of  an ancient work from Gaul: the horned Celtic god Cernunnos, flanked by Apollo (left) and Mercury (right).  Note the flow of gold or grain coming from Cernunnos' pouch.  See below under Mythology for more comments and a photo of the original work (damaged and somewhat difficult to decipher fully, which is why I've provided the reproduction first).
...Continuing with a new topic, 7 October 2009:  On 7 September 2002, I found an ivy-clad house, built c. 1910, in a small southwest Michigan town some 20-30 minutes inland from Lake Michigan. I was immediately attracted to the house because of the ivy's flowing intimacy with it.  The house was held, visibly, for all to see, in the numinous embrace of the "Green World" (a theme with which I've worked for many years, even creating an oracle based on sacred trees and plants of the world).

Once inside the house, the latticed windows, lovely old woodwork, graceful stairway, and light-filled space (three times bigger than the 600 square feet of my California apartment) totally captivated me.  I had an immediate sense of walking tall and serene through those same rooms when I'm in my nineties.  It reminded me of lines from a poem by Ben Jonson (1573-1637):

She is Venus when she smiles;
but she's Juno when she walks,
and Minerva when she talks.
That's how I felt that day, sensing the span of time over the next few decades, like Juno when she walks.  In the years since, which have often been discouraging, sometimes I will suddenly recall that moment, those words, take a deep breath, and reach back/forward into that memory once more.  Janus, who also looks forward and backward through time, is the masculine form of the more ancient goddess, Jana (Juno is a variant), the original "hinge of the year," facing backward and forward.  January, my birth month, is named for these, so I resonate deeply with the connection.

The day I first saw my house, September 7th, happens to be the Celtic feastday of the horned, Pan-like deity, Cernunnos -- who, along with other forest deities, is a model for the later medieval Green Man (another compelling theme with which I have worked for many years [see my Green Man page]).  I immediately knew that if I could manage to buy it, I would name this wondrous house "Green Man Abbey."

A month later, after signing endless papers at the closing on 7 October 2002, Green Man Abbey became mine.  Today, 7 October 2009, marks the seventh anniversary of that event.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with "Money, Wealth and Treasure," but bear with me.......

I had purchased the above Cernunnos reproduction perhaps twenty years earlier.  I wanted to hang it in a special place because of first seeing my new house on that horned god's feastday.  Since the basement is a house's root-chakra, its place of origin, its groundedness, I felt that's where it should be.  In fact, painting the basement floor a lovely dark forest green was my first task in the few days following the closing, after which I then flew back to California to teach in a new quarter.

When I took up fulltime residence here in late April 2003 (which was several years earlier than I had planned but circumstances took that decision out of my hands), I unpacked the Cernunnos wall plaque and hung it above a bookcase at the bottom of the basement stairs.  Since the nearby furnace is my house's only "hearth," I hung a plaque of hearth-guardian Hestia on the wall opposite Cernunnos.  Hestia is not a sociable goddess -- she's a serene, quiet, virginal, stay-at-home deity who neither requires nor seems to enjoy the company of her peers (for example, she happily gave up her seat on Mount Olympus to young Dionysos). Cernunnos was far enough away, however, that I did not feel she would view him as intrusive.  I might have been wrong. Or not.

Regardless, during this exceptionally rainy summer of 2009, I had to dismantle the bookcase and rearrange parts of the basement because mold was getting into the book bindings.  Directly above the basement stairs area, I also happened to be cleaning and reorganizing my first floor entry hall, which meant a steady shuttling between basement and hall.  Unconsciously, that kept both of them on my mind, subtly blurring their boundaries.

As I have already mentioned, I named my house Green Man Abbey.  In addition to Cernunnos, I have many other Green Men (and a few Green Women) -- Hawthorn, Oak, Ivy, Acanthus, Holly, and others, most of them hanging (or standing) just off the entry hall in my Music Room, where an upright piano lives with lots of smaller instruments (which include Buddhist bowl-gongs and wooden tocsins I got in Hue in 1961; a pottery Miriam drum I got in Jerusalem's Old City; Native American gourd-rattles from Flagstaff; and a guitar I rescued from a neighbor's dumpster a few years ago). Why are they in my Music Room? -- because medieval Green Men were frequently found carved in church choir stalls due to their connection with singing (out of their mouths they sing leaves, however, not musical notes); Pan is famous for his panpipes; and the harpist Orpheus has many Green World/music associations.

In the entry hall itself, however, I had only two Green Man objects: a large stone-like planter depicting Leonardo da Vinci's elegant, drooping-mustached Green Man (repeated on all four sides) and a somber, modern Acanthus Man plaque, who looks carved of grey, weathered stone.

It was in this context that late one night I stood looking down the hall and realized that, surely, the main entrance to my house needed more Green Men in it!  I soon added a bronze Green Man "Welcome" plaque and a large Tolkienesque "Treebeard" holding a thick pillar candle.  Yes, I thought, this is starting to look more appropriate now.

Days later, I was about to hang the Cernunnos plaque in another area of the basement when I took a good look at his pouch and noticed the stream of gold and/or grain pouring from it.  I had completely forgotten that he was holding all that wealth!  I was aware of it when I originally placed him in the basement but that memory had long since faded.  Yet there he was, the "founding patron" of my discovery of this house -- and he's pouring out a stream of gold / procreative seeds!

Well, thought I, where else should he be but in the entry hall! So he's there now, along with my fervent hope that his presence in this new location will prove financially auspicious. Yes, magic, again <smile>.

Postscript:  meanwhile, down in the basement, I think Hestia is more than happy to be the sole guardian, "holding the center," at the core of the house <smile>.
More recently, last week, in fact, I was pondering financial issues as usual and wondering why they still seem so "stuck." I began searching my memories for other deities besides Cernunnos with money/prosperity connections.

Juno immediately came to mind because, as I've already mentioned, coinage was minted in her temple in Rome.  For several years I diligently invoked her help (in conjunction with my own efforts, of course: I'm careful to hold up my end in this process).  In September 2003, as a retirement gift, one of my graduate students gave me a pottery candlestick depicting a stunning, long-haired, laurel-crowned, double-faced Juno, one face looking ahead, the other behind.  For three or four years, she stood on the stairway banister in my entry hall and I lit many candles in her honor.  But, although I still honor her for other reasons, she either cannot or will not help with "coinage" issues.  I moved her to a special place below three latticed northern windows in the Music Room last spring.

Lady Brigid also came to mind as having a connection to money but I've decided it's probably only by virtue of her association with metalsmithing -- i.e., process, not product.  This past Imbolc, February 1st, for example, I invoked her help late on a cold, bone-chilling afternoon.  In my side yard, standing in deep snow under a tall, graceful, triple-trunk birch (which is especially sacred to her, both as birch and as triple-form), I intertwined a length of yarn -- a lovely bright red (her color) -- with long strands of my own greying hair and then tied it to a branch of the tree.  For days afterwards, I felt a deep emotional connection to goddess, tree, and "ribbon." According to instructions for this simple ritual, positive results could be expected to manifest between Imbolc and Ostara.  Instead, a much hoped-for grant to research and script an educational video game on ancient and medieval Afghanistan fell through and my circumstances turned more dismal than ever.  I continue to honor Lady Brigid for other reasons -- but, as with Juno, she either cannot or will not help with "cash flow/revenue streams."

I have also created dragon rituals, for in many myths dragons actually have charge of treasure [See my page on Dragons].  Thus, in finance-related rituals over the years, my dragon sacra have included a large colorful Indonesian dragon; several smaller flying dragons; a small dragon-grotto fountain; a dragon holding a triple-candelabrum; and a gorgeous faux-medieval mirror flanked by a pair of candle-holding dragons.  Apparently, however, dragons don't "do" money either, at least not for me.

Now you may ask why I would keep persisting in rituals that seem to produce the same imperceptible results -- isn't that one of many definitions of insanity?  But, you see, despite my grumbling, I do love such things.  Despite the outcome, there is life, beauty, wonder, solace in the process.  Further, I experience a genuine connection with other dimensions, which may be differently wired than mine, and therefore unable to interface with mine in the way I hope, yet real nonetheless.  Jung writes that even an incorrect dream analysis is still to be valued because it will ultimately lead one to the next step.  So too with rituals that seem not to work.  I trust that somehow they do lead to the next step, and the next, and the next.  The alternative would be to walk through my world embittered and despairing.  That's not something I'm willing to do.

Thus, with this as an introduction, what follows is an examination of "Money, Wealth and Treasure" in folklore, fairytales, mythology, and history........


The Brothers Grimm

German Stamp illustrating
"The Star Money"

This is "The Star Money" (or "The Star Talers").  I found a number of translations online but the best comes from D. L. Ashliman, a retired professor (many of whose pages are also linked elsewhere on Myth*ing Links).  About "talers," he writes:
A taler (also spelled thaler) is any of various German silver coins minted between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. The word is a cognate with dollar. The title "Die Sterntaler" is translated variously as "The Star Talers," "The Star Dollars," "Star Coins," or "The Star Money."
This is a troubling tale from the Brothers Grimm in which a homeless, "good and pious" orphan-girl, forsaken by her cold-hearted neighbors, yet "trusting in the good God," gives away, piece by piece,  what little she has -- a slice of bread, her hood, her jacket, her dress, and finally, in a cold, dark forest, her last item of clothing -- a shift:
...At length she made her way into a forest and it was already dark. Then there came yet another child, and asked for a shift, and the pious girl thought to herself, "It is a dark night and no one can see you. You can very well give your shift away," and she took it off, and gave it away as well.

And thus she stood there, with nothing left at all, when suddenly some stars fell down from heaven, and they were nothing else but hard shining talers, and although she had just given her shift away, she was now wearing a new one which was of the very finest linen. Then she gathered together the money into it, and was rich all the days of her life.

I'm no fan of the moralistic Brothers Grimm. They took too much pleasure in racheting up levels of violence and brutality in the stories they collected.  They inflicted truly vicious punishment on those they deemed bad and endless sufferings on the good (especially if they were young and female).  Thus, "Star Money" is pointlessly cruel in reducing the little girl to nakedness once she reaches the forest (a haunted, dark, dangerous place in German folklore, which is in contrast to the presumably more humane and civilized world of farm, village, and town).

Without clothing, this "good and pious" child will soon freeze to death.  Strangely, despite the trust she has in her "good God," only some distant stars take pity on her, falling down through the skies and turning themselves into sparkling coins, like droplets of water being turned into snow.  Somehow the stars also bring along a fine linen shift for the child (something warmer might have been more practical, but at least they tried).

This is a pernicious message: assume that the world will ignore you.  Expect to become destitute. Then trust God and give away what little you might still have left.  Maybe God or the watching stars will finally intervene.  Maybe not.  It's ok. You'll be blessed in heaven regardless.

Whatever else is going on here, this tale reveals a very skewed attitude towards money, societal responsibility and basic human compassion as held by two well-educated, Christian, successful, white, early nineteenth century German gentlemen.  But now compare this tale with the attitude in 2009 of conservative politicians in the United States, who continue to oppose urgently needed health care reform.  As Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, an advocate of reform, sums up the conservatives' position: "Don't get sick.  But if you do get sick -- DIE QUICKLY!"  Across the country, opponents of reform have callously advised the ill to seek help, not from the government, but from their family and friends, sometimes even suggesting that the ill should sell their homes and all their goods in order to raise enough money to pay for their operations or medications (one wonders where they're supposed to live if they survive -- under bridges, like trolls?).

Whatever else is going on here, this too reveals a very skewed attitude towards money, societal responsibility and basic human compassion as held by many well-educated, Christian, successful, white, early twenty-first century American gentlemen.  Two centuries apart and these powerful men still inhabit the same very dark, voyeuristic fantasy world.

Greed, Poverty,
&Two Stories from India

Folk Art from India
Village Women in Bangladesh
[From the lengthy, sobering webpage at the above link]:  ...After the take over of Bengal by the British East India Company in 1770 about 10 million Bengali, about one third of the population died due to famine as a result of revenue collection. The Permanent Settlement law was imposed in Bengal in 1793 by the British East India Company to collect the revenue. The architects of this settlement were not only to secure a higher revenue but also to facilitate the flow of agricultural products for the British industries. The permanent settlement law altered agrarian Bengal from a traditional self-contained, motionless, egalitarian society to a new class of landlords....
This is "The Farmer and the Money-Lender," from Indian Fairy Tales, collected and edited by Joseph Jacobs.  It shows how hard and painful it can be to outwit the cunning of some money-lenders.  Here is how it begins:
There was once a farmer who suffered much at the hands of a money-lender. Good harvests, or bad, the farmer was always poor, the money-lender rich. At the last, when he hadn’t a farthing left, farmer went to the money-lender’s house, and said, “You can’t squeeze water from a stone, and as you have nothing to get by me now, you might tell me the secret of becoming rich.”

“My friend,” returned the money-lender, piously, “riches come from [the god] Ram –ask him.”

“Thank you, I will!” replied the simple farmer; so he prepared three girdle-cakes to last him on the journey, and set out to find Ram....

You'll have to go to the site to see what happens next. As a tale about money, this is a fine one.
This is "The Gold-Giving Serpent," another tale from Indian Fairy Tales. This time, after a promising and gentle beginning, the focus turns to greed, which leads to death, grief, loss, and then more greed, all directly related to gifts of gold from a kindly serpent.  Here is how it opens:
Now in a certain place there lived a Brahman named Haridatta. He was a farmer, but poor was the return his labour brought him. One day, at the end of the hot hours, the Brahman, overcome by the heat, lay down under the shadow of a tree to have a doze. Suddenly he saw a great hooded snake creeping out of an ant-hill near at hand. So he thought to himself, “Sure this is the guardian deity of the field, and I have not ever worshipped it. That’s why my farming is in vain. I will at once go and pay my respects to it.”

When he had made up his mind, he got some milk, poured it into a bowl, and went to the ant-hill, and said aloud: “O Guardian of this Field! all this while I did not know that you dwelt here. That is why I have not yet paid my respects to you; pray forgive me.” And he laid the milk down and went to his house. Next morning he came and looked, and he saw a gold denar in the bowl, and from that time onward every day the same thing occurred he gave milk to the serpent and found a gold denar....

Again, you'll have to go to the site to see what happens next.

Hans Christian Andersen

Origin of Piggy Banks

This is a 2.5 page pdf file of Hans Christian Andersen's tale, "The Money Box" (we would call it a "piggy bank").  Andersen, who had known his share of poverty, uses this mild social satire to show the vanity as well as the total uselessness of the self-satisfied rich:
...The moneypig was stuffed so full that it could no longer rattle, which is the highest state of perfection to which a money-pig can attain. There he stood upon the cupboard, high and lofty, looking down upon everything else in the room. He knew very well that he had enough inside him to buy up all the other toys, and this gave him a very good opinion of his own value....

..."Each has its own value," said the wagon; "we cannot all be noblemen; "there must be some to do the work."....

One night, the other toys decide to put on a play to entertain themselves.  From his lofty perch, the moneypig agrees to be their audience and actually finds himself enjoying their little presentation.
...[T]he moneypig declared he must do something for one of the players, as they had all pleased him so much. So he made up his mind to remember one of them in his will, as the one to be buried with him in the family vault, whenever that event should happen....

All the while, each one thought most of himself, or of what the money-pig could be thinking.  His thoughts were on, as he supposed, a very distant time -- of making his will, and of his burial, and of when it might all come to pass....

Unexpectedly, his end comes only moments later as he somehow slips off the cupboard ledge, crashes to the floor below, and breaks into many pieces.  Freed, all his coins roll away and hide.  Shortly afterwards, a servant arrives and, without further ado:
...The pieces of the money-pig were thrown into the dust-bin....
The old moneypig is replaced the very next day by a new moneypig, who also cannot rattle -- but not because he's stuffed so full of coins, as the old one was.  Instead -- with fitting irony -- it's because, without any coins, he's so completely empty.

"The Little Match Girl"
Artist: Amy Dibben

A far more serious work from Hans Christian Andersen is "The Little Match Girl." In creating this fairy tale, Andersen is known to have been inspired by the Grimm's "The Star Money" (see Wikipedia entry) but Andersen takes it in an entirely different and far deeper direction. For many of us, raised on this story, the haunting experience is unforgettable:
Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening– the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.

One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing....

...In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it....

She will see four visions on that New Year's Eve as she lights one match after another.  First, a warm stove:
...The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too; but–the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.

She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room....

She sees an elegant dining room in a wealthy home -- there is even a roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums:
...when–the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted another match....

"The Little Match Girl"
Artist: Anne Andersen, 1934
From: SurLaLune Fairy Tales

In the third vision, she is sitting under a huge, magnificent Christmas tree, covered with thousands of lights:
... The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when–the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.

“Someone is just dead!” said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.

She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.

“Grandmother!” cried the little one. “Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!” And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety–they were with God.

"In the cold morning light the little girl sat there."
(This is the death-scene by Tasha Tudor.
Since other artists avoid the issue, it's the only one I've found.)
Scanned from Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen.

But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall–frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. “She wanted to warm herself,” people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

Here, the deeper spiritual dimension, in the person of her loving grandmother, has reached out, tangibly, and rescued the child, since help had come from no one else. Why are such tales passed down? Clearly, they offer solace to the desperate poor, perhaps allowing them the hope that the Other World will treat them more kindly than their own.  Indigenous peoples, uncontaminated by colonialism, generally knew how to protect their own. The seemingly hopeless disparity between wealth and poverty is a disease limited to "civilized" peoples.  From this perspective, Andersen's underlying message, although one of hope, is nevertheless a damning indictment of the societies that allow such suffering and injustice.

Two Russian Tales

Silver Hoof
Artist: Kozlov of Fedoskino
Courtesy of Russian Sunbirds

[Added 5-8 December 2009]:  I have read a number of variants of "Silver Hoof" on websites that unfortunately no longer offer the story.  Sometimes Silver Hoof is a magical goat sought for many years by an old man.  But far more often, Silver Hoof is a magical stag.  For over a decade, I have enjoyed exploring online Russian lacquer art and I've probably seen over a hundred boxes featuring the "Silver Hoof" story.  In all that time, only a handful of times did I ever see the central character depicted as a goat. [Here's one of the few]:  The goat appears in literature (see Pavel Bazhov's 1939 Malachite Casket: Tales from the Urals, where his "Silver Hoof" is more literary than magical), but only rarely is the goat found in lacquer folk art.  This suggests that the deer is the original animal, especially since the relationship between deer and northern peoples is very ancient.

"Silver Hoof" is a wonderful story about gifts from mystical realms. The fairytale begins with an old man and his young granddaughter. They work hard and life may not always be easy, but they have a sturdy cottage, warm clothes, they look well fed, and each loves the other deeply.  One winter night, the two are awakened by a strange noise on the roof.  When they run outside to investigate, they find a magical deer, Silver Hoof, pawing the roof.  Wherever the deer's hooves strike, sparks fly, leaving precious jewels in their wake.  Overwhelmed with gratitude and joy, the two gather up the jewels....and live happily ever after.

Silver Hoof on the roof and the young maiden with all the gifted jewels
Artist: "Chibsih"
Courtesy of Tradestone International
Unlike the Little Match Girl and the child in "Star Money," who are desperately poor, this Russian tale isn't about poverty -- it's more about wonder.  As the artwork indicates, Silver Hoof draws forth treasure from other dimensions -- his footwork opens pathways, allowing the veils between the realms to thin, becoming diaphanous, shimmering with light (someone should create a ballet about that footwork!).  Although very different in tone, there are nevertheless echoes here of another hooved creature who reveals gifts from realms of wonder: the winged horse, Pegasus, alighting, not on a rooftop but on a mountain, his hooves churning up the sacred springs from which the Muses would drink and be inspired to create all the arts of the ancient Greek world [see my Medusa page].

If one wants a more esoteric interpretation, I would say that whether represented as a rooftop or a mountain, these stories are about our crown chakras -- i.e., our connection to vast treasures of spiritual insight. Saints use the gifts of that realm in one way, artists in another. We aren't told how the old man and his granddaughter will use them -- the one's life nears its end, the other's has barely begun. Yet for both, the implications of Silver Hoof's gifts from beyond, yet lying all around them, are profound.

The Malachite Goddess giving a casket of jewels to Katya
Russian lacquer box in the author's collection

Myth*ing Links' "The Stone Flower"
This is my own re-telling of the 1946 film, The Stone Flower, based upon a tale from Pavel Bazhov's 1939 Malachite Casket: Tales from the Urals.  Again, the tale has to do with Other Worldly realms of treasure intersecting with human dimensions of creativity and love.
Spinning Gold

[Negativized/re-colored version of "Lantern"
from now-defunct Russian Sunbirds site.
See my Bookstore Annex for original version.]

Myth*ing Links Rumpelstiltskin Page/Part I: [12/4/09: tba -- still in progress; 12/16/09: Part I done; Part II is tba]
[Added 13 October 2009 / Re-done c. 4:30am, 4 December 2009]: When I think of "money," I almost immediately think of one of my favorite childhood stories, Rumpelstiltskin, who could spin straw into gold. The boring Miller's Daughter wasn't my concern as a child:  it was the magical dwarf who captivated me (and with whom I would later, as a writer, come to identify, as I suspect quite a few of us do).

For this new "Money, Wealth & Treasure" page, once I started exploring Rumpelstiltskin, the many interweaving themes became so complex and lengthy that I eventually had to create a new page for it in my European Fairytales section (where, without all the baggage of already-completed Money sections, it was much easier to work with).  Yet I continued to keep Part I on this Money page because I didn't know where I really wanted the material.  If Part II should turn out to be very brief, for example, I preferred to keep the material right here.  Part II, however, continued growing and growing, finally veering off into the depths of Teutonic/Norse myth when I realized who/what the Miller's Daughter was.  At that point, I knew with certainty that the subject needed its own page. If/when it's ever finished  [::sigh::], the above link will take you there. [As of 12/16/09, Part I is done; Part II is tba]

Wizard of Oz

The Emerald City from the film, The Wizard of Oz
Forbidden Planet Int'l: AFI Names Top Ten Genre Movies

[Added 4 December 2009]:  I first saw The Wizard of Oz in the late-1940s in my gradeschool auditorium.  The presentation was a special event scheduled for Thanksgiving break and the entire student body attended, excited to see what was billed as a technicolor musical (in those days, except for Disney, most films were in black and white, so technicolor was a really big deal). I can still remember where I was sitting in the auditorium: middle section, about half way down, a few seats away from the lefthand end of the row. And I can still feel my fury over being cheated when the film opened, not in color, but in sepia and white -- how dare they count sepia as technicolor!  I was outraged. We had been tricked, I realized, treated like fools and stupid-idiots. If I had been sitting in the seat right next to the aisle, I would have walked out immediately.  Instead, I sat there seething, mentally figuring out how to stand up and make as unobtrusive an exit as possible while stumbling over the feet of the few students in my way and then hurrying up the long aisle to the rear.  I could hardly wait to escape. But I was a shy child. I loathed calling attention to myself. Walking out would be noticed. The very fact that I knew I had to get out shows how deeply upsetting the scam was for me.

  In my emotional turmoil, I only vaguely saw the girl on the screen, her dog, the mean old woman on the bike, and other characters. I was too far gone to pay any attention to the storyline. I barely noticed the chaotic storm starting to whip everything wildly around the girl. The roaring tornado held no interest for me until I suddenly realized that everyone else seemed totally caught up in the drama -- it would be a perfect time to make my escape unnoticed.

I was cautiously getting to my feet, keeping my head low so as not to disturb the view of those behind me, when a sudden silence fell.  The roaring winds ceased, the house landed, the shaken girl was opening a door ------ and -----and ----- everything outside was in miraculous color!

I was mesmerized, disbelieving, completely awed.  I sank back down without even realizing what I was doing. Over a lifetime of being nurtured by cinema, that was the single most intense moment a film has ever catalyzed in me.

I went on to collect all 13.5 Oz books (Baum had died midway through the writing of the 14th book so I never finished the second half out of respect and, to be honest, a child's scorn for anyone arrogant enough to think they could possibly continue Baum's work).  In all the years since, even in teaching a "Folklore and Fairytales" course in which I touched on Baum and the Oz film, I never looked at critical, academic approaches to the work. Why would I?  I focused on the magical themes, motifs, symbols in their own right, using just what the storyline itself provided.  I have great respect for academic approaches and frequently indulge in them myself, but their tendency towards aridity doesn't suit, well, magical realms.

Then a few months ago someone on one of many academic lists I'm on mentioned the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation as a possible source of funding for women.  I took a look and was surprised to see that the home page had an Oz link on it. Oz?  The incongruity was too much to resist. That's how I discovered that Matilda Joslyn Gage was L. Frank Baum's mother-in-law. An early women's rights activist, it seems she encouraged Baum in his writing and was in many ways responsible for his awareness of the social and economic issues in the Oz books.  Social and economic issues in Oz? Who would have thunk it! What an unexpected dimension of Baum's work! I mean, yes, an Emerald City certainly suggests an abundance of wealth, but I never took that in any crass, literal sense. Instead, it was crystalline beauty, the emerald-green of fairytale forests, tiny lanterns of firefly light, the glowing heart chakra. So this discovery left me flabbergasted and needing to know more.

The above link's material on Matilda Joslyn Gage feels, well, romanticized, so I'm not recommending anything other than a quick look, but I nevertheless greatly appreciate that link for getting me started on this new Oz adventure, which now continues below....

Dorothy and the Munchkins

[Added 4 December 2009]: In resuming work on this page today and googling for "L. Frank Baum + money + social issues," I found this fine, lengthy 1998 academic article, "Utopian Tension in L. Frank Baum's Oz" by Andrew Karp, Ph.D.  I'm going to include a handful of passages of relevance to economics and social issues. Hopefully, these will suffice to lure you to the page itself.  Karp opens with this:
Numerous scholars have noted utopian aspects of the society depicted in the fourteen Oz books written by L. Frank Baum between 1900 and 1920.(1) These aspects include, among others, a communal sharing of food, the elimination of money and poverty, a dearth of punishment, an absence of greed reminiscent of Sir Thomas More, and the virtual elimination of death or disease. The Tin Woodman, for example, declares in The Road to Oz, "We have no rich, and no poor; for what one wishes the others all try to give him, in order to make him happy, and no one in all Oz cares to have more than he can use" (165)....

...According to Baum, the society of Oz--and, by implication, the society of the United States--might be able to function harmoniously if individuals could possess a spirit of tolerance and an open-minded, unprejudiced respect for individuals and minorities....

...Morris, Baum, and Bellamy all, "dispensed with money in their never-never lands, supplying society's needs from public warehouses," and "for all, the hours of labor are short; life is easy, free of compulsions, and conducive to happiness" (Baum and MacFall 202)....

...Reacting against the submergence of the individual within the impersonal industrial corporation and the loss of independence and distinctness affecting wage earners in the United States (see Sandel 204ff.), Baum populates the Land of Oz with a plethora of distinct and unique characters and has a number of these characters (as well as his narrators) praise individualism and eccentricity....

...If Oz is an egalitarian society of distinct individuals, who or what will bind them together? As Robert Bellah notes, "if the entire social world is made up of individuals, each endowed with the right to be free of others' demands, it becomes hard to forge bonds of attachment to, or cooperation with, other people, since such bonds would imply obligations that necessarily impinge on one's freedom" (Bellah 1985, 23). Baum's answer is twofold. On the one hand, he asserts that Ozites possess an innate loving and considerate nature that draws them together. In Oz, unlike the U.S.A., individuals rarely use their power to harm or exploit others; in fact, they spend much of their time helping each other....[T]hey display the republican virtues which some of the framers of the Constitution may have prized and expected of all citizens....

That Oz is a monarchy suggests Baum's awareness of the tension between unrestrained individualism and equalitarian democracy and his lack of confidence--like John Adams and the Federalists--in each American's ability to be "self-regulatory" (Takaki 10). In Baum's view, a country ruled by a strong, benevolent monarch who controls all the land and functions as a loving mother to all her people would surely be more harmonious than a country potentially ravaged by competitive democracy or uncontrollable passions and instinctual urges...

Baum's decision to create a strong central government in Oz might also be explained by a desire to parallel political developments at the turn of the century. Just as Ozma is compelled to use her power to crack down on the unauthorized use of magic whose growing strength threatens to choke and enslave the entire population of Oz, so the federal government and the executive branch in turn-of-the-century America had to grow larger and stronger in order to contain the corporations whose use of technological magic posed a threat to the U.S. economy and its workers.

L. Frank Baum, however, is equally aware of the dangers of a top-down, restrictive system. Not everyone in Oz is happy with the limitations of freedom and the enforcement of cooperative civilization....[Consider what] fate befalls the Winged Monkeys who, "Once ... were a free people, living happily in the great forest, flying from tree to tree, eating nuts and fruits, and doing just as ... [they] pleased without calling anybody master" (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 96)(10.)....

By the way, footnote (10) at the end of that passage caught my attention because of the unexpected but immediately recognizable insight concerning Native Americans:

Wicked Witch of the West watching her flying minions

(10.) Littlefield (55), in his famous article on Oz as a "Parable on Populism," draws a parallel between the exploitation of the Winged Monkeys and that of the American Plains Indians in the 19th century. Littlefield is one of the few scholars to note the irony in Baum's portrait of Oz and, by parallel, Baum's allegorical critiques of the United States.
Returning now to Karp's paper:
These confrontations reveal another, more serious danger of individualism: it can promote arrogance and conflict if individuals have contempt for those who are different from themselves or try to impose their own unique views or forms on others. Numerous characters including Dorothy--in a stance quite reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's Alice--display such initial arrogance. The effort by individuals to impose themselves on others causes conflict in Oz. As Marius Bewley notes, in pointing out the importance of selfless love in Oz, "... the ultimate meaning of Oz history [is that] the aggrandizement of the individual and private self at the expense of others is the root of all evil" (Bewley 19, developing a point from Nye 10). The young inhabitants of the very young land of Oz, like the citizens of the very young United States, assume that their own idiosyncratic patterns of behavior are and should be universally applicable. Such behavior results in discrimination against those who are different in species, color, race, eating habits, etc....

...For Baum, human suffering results from narrow-mindedness or prejudice, the inability to recognize that one's own world view is not universally true or universally applicable to others. And the worst crime is trying to impose one's own paternalistic or idiosyncratic views on others....

Here is Karp's lucid and thought-provoking conclusion:
Thus, despite the preeminence of individualism in Oz, the society functions only when citizens learn to squelch their pride and arrogance and learn to act cooperatively, for the welfare of the group or the country as whole, rather than in their own self-interest.... Most of the Oz stories are examples of the effectiveness of cooperative action in overcoming fear and danger, or in satisfying social and unselfish desires, and the Ozites' cooperative action suggests the "importance of cooperation to individualism" stressed by Populist thinkers such as Henry George and Laurence Gronlund (in his 1884 work The Cooperative Commonwealth) (Lustig 72-73).

Although Baum's questions are ultimately more probing than his answers, he provides a fascinating framework for social harmony by creating a world that attempts to eliminate prejudice and to replace that prejudice with cooperation and respect not just between human beings but between human beings and the world around them, a world that includes animals, vegetables, minerals, and machines, the artificial products of human craft. In a world of clones and genetic engineering, of virtual reality and artificial intelligence, where the boundaries between life and death and between biological and mechanical are becoming more and more blurred, are we not in need now, more than ever, of finding a way to learn from Baum's cooperative vision?

Dorothy first glimpses Oz through the askew doorway of her Kansas home
[Added 4 December 2009]: This is "Money and Politics in the Land of Oz" by Quentin P. Taylor, Ph.D., another great academic paper, this time from 2005. Here is Taylor's brief abstract:
L. Frank Baum claimed to have written The Wonderful Wizard of Oz “solely to pleasure the children” of his day, but scholars have found enough parallels between Dorothy’s yellow-brick odyssey and the politics of 1890s Populism to suggest otherwise. Did Baum intend to pen a subtle political satire on monetary reform or merely an entertaining fantasy?
Then he sets out to explore the answer.  Note: in Baum's book, unlike the movie, Dorothy has silver shoes, not red -- the difference is significant. Here are some excerpts:
Is Oz, however, merely a children’s story, as its author claimed? For a quarter of a century after its film debut, no one seemed to think otherwise. This view would change completely when an obscure high school teacher published an essay in American Quarterly claiming that Baum’s charming tale concealed a clever allegory on the Populist movement, the agrarian revolt that swept across the Midwest in the 1890s. In an ingenuous act of imaginative scholarship, Henry M. Littlefield linked the characters and the story line of the Oz tale to the political landscape of the Mauve Decade. The discovery was little less than astonishing: Baum’s children’s story was in fact a full-blown “parable on populism,” a “vibrant and ironic portrait” of America on the eve of the new century (Littlefield 1964, 50).

In supporting this thesis, Littlefield drew on Baum’s experience as a journalist before he wrote Oz. As editor of a small newspaper in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Baum had written on politics and current events in the late 1880s and early 1890s, a period that coincided with the formation of the Populist Party. Littlefield also indicated that Baum was sympathetic to the Populist movement, supported William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896, and, though not an activist, consistently voted for Democratic candidates....

..The contention that Oz is a cleverly crafted political parable reached its apogee in the erudite pages of the Journal of Political Economy. In an article entitled “The ‘Wizard of Oz’ as a Monetary Allegory” (1990), Hugh Rockoff examined the analogies between Baum’s use of imagery and the monetary politics of the Populist era. In the book version of Oz, Dorothy treads the Yellow Brick Road in silver shoes, not in ruby slippers. Silver shoes on a golden road? A key plank in the Populist platform was a demand for “free silver”-that is, the “free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold” at a fixed ratio of sixteen to one. Populists and other free-silver proponents advocated unlimited coinage of the white metal in order to inflate the money supply, thus making it easier for cash-strapped farmers and small businessmen to borrow money and pay off debts. At the Democratic National Convention in 1896, the assembled delegates nominated William Jennings Bryan, an avid supporter of free silver, for president. The Bryan nomination created a split in the Democratic Party, as gold-standard delegates bolted the convention. When the Populists convened two weeks later, they decided to endorse Bryan, putting all their reformist eggs in the free-silver basket. When Bryan was roundly defeated by the “sound money” Republican William McKinley, the Populist Party, which had considerable strength in the Midwest and South, fell into rapid decline. By 1900, when Bryan was again defeated by McKinley, Populism already had one foot in the political grave.

According to Rockoff, the monetary politics of the 1896 campaign, which divided the electorate into “silverites” and “goldbugs,” supplied the central backdrop for Baum’s allegorical adaptation. Incorporating the analogies developed by Littlefield and others, and adding a few of his own, Rockoff provided a detailed and sustained analysis of the political and economic issues symbolically refracted in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz....

...Dorothy lives in Kansas, where virtually everything-the treeless prairie, the sun-beaten grass, the paint-stripped house, even Aunt Em and Uncle Henry-is a dull, drab, lifeless gray. This grim depiction reflects the forlorn condition of Kansas in the late 1880s and early 1890s, when a combination of scorching droughts, severe winters, and an invasion of grasshoppers reduced the prairie to an uninhabitable wasteland. The result for farmers and all who depended on agriculture for their livelihood was devastating. Many ascribed their misfortune to the natural elements, called it quits, and moved on. Others blamed the hard times on bankers, the railroads, and various middlemen who seemed to profit at the farmers’ expense. Angry victims of the Kansas calamity also took aim at the politicians, who often appeared indifferent to their plight. Around these economic and political grievances, the Populist movement coalesced.

In the late 1880s and early 1890s, Populism spread rapidly throughout the Midwest and into the South, but Kansas was always the site of its most popular and radical elements. In 1890, Populist candidates began winning seats in state legislatures and Congress, and two years later Populists in Kansas gained control of the lower house of the state assembly, elected a Populist governor, and sent a Populist to the U.S. Senate. The twister that carries Dorothy to Oz symbolizes the Populist cyclone that swept across Kansas in the early 1890s. Baum was not the first to use the metaphor. Mary E. Lease, a fire-breathing Populist orator, was often referred to as the “Kansas Cyclone,” and the free-silver movement was often likened to a political whirlwind that had taken the nation by storm....

...[The dead Wicked Witch of the East] represents eastern financial-industrial interests and their gold-standard political allies, the main targets of Populist venom. Midwestern farmers often blamed their woes on the nefarious practices of Wall Street bankers and the captains of industry, whom they believed were engaged in a conspiracy to “enslave” the “little people,” just as the Witch of the East had enslaved the Munchkins. Populists viewed establishment politicians, including presidents, as helpless pawns or willing accomplices. Had not President Cleveland bowed to eastern bankers by repealing the Silver Purchase Act in 1893, thus further restricting much-needed credit? Had not McKinley (prompted by the wealthy industrialist Mark Hanna) made the gold standard the centerpiece of his campaign against Bryan and free silver?
I know almost nothing about that period of American history so it's an eerie, unsettling experience to be reading in late 2009 about the fierce resentment people felt in the 1890s towards "the nefarious practices of Wall Street bankers and the captains of industry" and political actions "further restricting much-needed credit." How much has really changed?
It is apt, then, that Dorothy acquires the Witch of the East’s silver shoes at the behest of the good Witch of the North, who stands for the electorate of the upper Midwest, where Populism gained considerable support....

After Dorothy and her companions reach Emerald City, the Wizard sends them to kill the wicked Witch of the West. This Witch is also a cruel enslaver, and she appears to represent a composite of the malign forces of nature that plagued farmers in the Midwest and the power brokers of that region. The former menace is mirrored in the Witch’s dominion, which recalls the parched plains of western Kansas, and by the ferocious wolves, ravenous crows, and venomous bees that she sends to destroy Dorothy and her friends. Each predator is summoned by blowing on a silver whistle, another example of a malicious use of the white metal. When the Witch’s minions are themselves destroyed, she calls on the Winged Monkeys through the magic of a golden cap. The cap had already been used twice, once to enslave the Winkies and again to drive the Wizard out of the West, patent injustices committed through the power of gold. Yet in summoning the Monkeys, the Witch exhausts the cap’s charm, and the flying simians (who had been forced to assist in her evil deeds) are liberated. The power of gold proves finite and illusory, and it requires the coexistence of silver (bimetalism) to sustain its power. No wonder the wicked Witch is so keen to possess Dorothy’s silver shoes.

The malign manipulation of gold and silver by the wicked Witch represents the other half of the western menace: the self-interested juggling of metal currency by the western nabobs....

  Proceeding down the road, the duo encounter the Tin Woodman. Once healthy and productive, the Woodman was cursed by the wicked Witch of the East, lost his dexterity, and accidentally hacked off his limbs. Each lost appendage was replaced with tin until the Woodman was made entirely of metal. In essence, the Witch of the East (big business) reduced the Woodman to a machine, a dehumanized worker who no longer feels, who has no heart. As such, the Tin Man represents the nation’s workers, in particular the industrial workers with whom the Populists hoped to make common cause. His rusted condition parallels the prostrated condition of labor during the depression of 1890s; like many workers of that period, the Tin Man is unemployed....

The Winged Monkeys, the unwilling minions of the Witch of the West, add a further dimension to the Oz allegory. These creatures represent the Plains Indians. As the Monkeys’ leader relates, “we were a free people, living happily in the great forest flying from tree to tree, eating nuts and fruit, and doing just as we pleased without calling anybody master.”...

...The journey to Emerald City corresponds to the Populist effort to acquire power in Washington, and the travelers recall the “industrial armies” who marched on the capital during the depression of 1893-97. The most famous of these, “Coxey’s Army,” was led by a successful businessman who urged the government to fund public-works programs (most notably a “good roads bill”) to alleviate unemployment. Coxey, who hoped to meet with President Cleveland, was arrested for trespassing, and his proposals were ignored....

..The Wizard, who “can take on any form he wishes,” represents the protean politicians of the era, especially the presidents of the Gilded Age. Given the even division of Democrats and Republicans, and the razor-thin majorities of most presidential elections, candidates rarely took clear stands on the issues. As a result, voters often had difficulty in determining what the candidates stood for. The Wizard fits this description, for “who the real Oz is,” Dorothy is informed, “no living person can tell.” Indeed, when the foursome enter the throne room, the Wizard appears to each in a different form. Like many politicians, he is unwillingly to help them without a quid pro quo: “I never grant favors without some return.”

Politicians are also infamous for failing to keep promises, and the great Oz is no different. When Dorothy’s party returns after killing the Witch of the West, the Wizard keeps them waiting, then puts them off. By accident, the all-powerful Wizard is exposed and his true identify revealed. Far from a mighty magician, “Oz, the Terrible” is merely a “humbug,” a wizened old man whose “power” is achieved through elaborate acts of deception. The Wizard is simply a manipulative politician who appears to the people in one form, but works behind the scenes to achieve his true ends. Such figures are terrified at being exposed; the Wizard cautions Dorothy to lower her voice lest he be discovered and “ruined.”...

...The word oz itself is the abbreviation for an ounce of gold or silver....

Finally, here is a passage from Taylor's beautifully nuanced conclusion:
Critics of the allegorical reading of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz have made much of the discovery that L. Frank Baum was not a Democrat or a Bryan supporter. In itself, however, this discovery proves nothing. At most, it suggests that Oz is not a pro-Populist parable, something quite different from the claim that there is “no evidence that Baum’s story is in any way a Populist allegory,” as Hearn (1992) argued. The originator of the allegorical interpretation characterized Oz as a “critique” of Populism, not a defense. The assertion that there is “no evidence” of an allegorical subtext is simply myopic in the extreme. As the foregoing reconstruction shows, the evidence from the text is overwhelming, and, in light of Baum’s political background, trickster personality, and subsequent work, it is all but conclusive: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a deliberate work of political symbolism.

Again, this conclusion does not require that each correspondence I have cited was intended allegorically or represents Baum’s precise intention. Nor does it imply that each symbolic reference has a specific correlate; often the metaphors and analogies are merely suggestive. Conversely, the presence of “inconsistencies” and the absence of an obvious moral in no way diminish the reality of the symbolism....

This is an exceptionally rich and fascinating analysis. Again and again, the connections to the current issues of Baum's day -- and, sadly, of ours -- are both sobering and instructive.


Cosmic Gold

The Hiranyagarbha, or Golden Egg
Artist: Peter Lloyd in National Geographic's
Picture Atlas of OUR UNIVERSE,
by Roy A. Gallant, 1980,  p.11.

7 October 2009
Author's Note:
There's gold and then there's Gold.  Cosmic Gold is quintessentially procreative, for in patriarchal cultures it's the divine male seed that engenders life.  In one of many Hindu Creation myths, for example, the god Brahma creates primal waters as a womb for a small seed.  This seed, his, then grows into a Golden Egg.  Brahma splits it open, making the heavens from one half and Earth and all her creatures from the other. This primary Gold from which earth is formed offers a clear statement about how precious all of creation is.  In the Old Testament, the Word, or logos also functions as a procreative "seed," making the message of the story of Creation in Genesis akin to that of Brahma's golden seed-egg.  Different divine Players -- same procreative seed-power.

This is a brief but well done piece on Brahma from Britannica.com, excerpted from my Creation II page from 2001:

...[Brahma:] in the late Vedic period of India, one of the major gods of Hinduism; with the rise of sectarian worship, he was gradually eclipsed by Vishnu and Siva....Brahma is said to have been born from a golden egg and in turn to have created the Earth and all things on it....
This procreative stream of life is also depicted in a Greek myth when Zeus falls as a shower of gold into the prison-tower of Princess Danae.  It should be noted that Zeus fathered countless children by countless means -- as far as I know, however, this is the only instance of his use of a procreative shower of gold, which tonight (13 December 2009) made me start wondering why. One mineral led to another -- and this is the result:

The child whom Danae will conceive is Perseus, slayer-to-be of the much maligned Medusa [see my Medusa page]. The more a goddess is maligned, of course, the more powerful we can assume she must once have been.  Medusa's very blood, after all, gave her power over life and death.  That she also had sovereignty over the mineral world is shown by her ability to turn men into stone with a single glance.

When cosmic, immaterial Gold is stepped-down into physical reality, it takes the form of a mineral.  Perhaps underlying Perseus' unique conception was a plot crafted by Zeus to dismantle Medusa's ancient power.  By giving Danae's Gold-engendered son the ability to trump Medusa's sovereignty over minerals, Perseus alone would be able to slay her.

We will explore other mythic connections between gods, gold, and money below.......

Deities Connected to Money

The Reims Stela
Cernunnos, flanked by Apollo (left) and Mercury (right)
From  Ceisiwr Serith  (larger version is on his site):

"Perhaps the most impressive depiction comes from Reims. This relief shows a balding and bearded cross-legged man, sitting in front of what appears to be a Roman-style temple. On his head are the broken stubs of antlers. On the bottom of the pediment above his head are the remains of the tips of their tines, four to each antler; on the pediment itself is a rat. Cernunnos wears a torc around his neck and an arm ring on his right arm. Over his left arm is a bag from which he is pouring out what are most likely coins, which stream down to pass between a bull and a stag...."
[Added 11 October 2009]:  Because of my own Cernunnos connection (described [above] a few days ago on 10/7/09), I have a reproduction of this Reims stela hanging in my entry hall.  I like the prosperity theme but have also been mystified by it. Where did it come from? I think of Cernunnos as a Celtic Pan, a forest deity, a Master of Animals, a Green Man variant. Where had the gold coins come from? Was that a "Roman thing," or what?

Today, I finally went looking for answers and found a webpage from author/psychologist "Ceisiwr Serith." His essay, "Cernunnos: Looking a Different Way," is a carefully argued, referenced, and illustrated exploration of who Cernunnos really is. The author points out that this antlered Celtic deity, about whom we have no surviving myths, is indeed usually considered a "Lord of the Animals," despite overlooked details and discrepancies in the few pieces of art that have survived.  Then, following a labyrinthine trail through art and etymologies, and noting odd connections with Mercury/Hermes, Serith argues that both Cernunnos and Mercury are gods of "material prosperity" by virtue of their primary role as enigmatic mediators between-the-realms. Some relevant passages:

...There are as well several images in which Mercury is accompanied by a ram-headed serpent (Bober, p. 26). We have seen that this serpent is not unique to Cernunnos, and a connection with it could have been suggested by the snakes on Mercury's caduceus; nonetheless, the connection is highly suggestive.

The connections between Cernunnos and Mercury go the other way as well. We have already seen that although the torc remains particular associated with Cernunnos (even on the heavily Romanized Lyons cup), it is accompanied or replaced by the purse of Mercury in a number of images.

It is clear, then, that Cernunnos and Mercury were seen by the Gallo-Romans as overlapping, either as identified with or accompanying each other. This raises the question of why. There is a connection with wealth in both cases, but Pluto is also connected with that, and he is barely connected with Cernunnos.

The explanation may come through a suggestion made by Calvert Watkins (1970b) of the possibility of an Indo-European god of exchange and reciprocity. He describes this god as one of bidirectionality, of ensuring the distribution of wealth, and of communicating between the worlds of the gods and of humanity. The specific deities he links with these are Hermes, Pan, and the Vedic Pushan, with the inclusion of Mercury stated but not specifically dealt with in detail. Of these, it is likely that the least familiar will be Pushan, so I will discuss him in greater detail than the others.

Pushan is a god of merchants, those who travel to and fro. Originally, though, he was a god of domestic animals, flocks, creatures which are neither wild nor tame, and are kept on the outskirts of inhabited territory, on land neither wild nor tame....

Pushan is thus a god of go-betweens, of liminal states, of wealth, and of the journey of the soul.

If we now turn back to the classical world, the first deity to draw our attentions is the Greek Pan, whose name is likely linguistically cognate with "Pushan" (Polomé, 1997, p. 415).... With his horns and cloven hooves, he partakes in himself of both the animal and the human. He is not himself connected with wealth (except insofar as domestic animals are wealth), but his father Hermes [Mercury] most certainly is. Hermes is himself a god of the borders, with his cairns or herms marking the edges of properties. And we have already seen that Mercury, the Roman equivalent of Hermes, is the most common deity depicted with Cernunnos....

I really like the way Serith's mind works -- if there are flaws in his argument, they aren't evident to me. His conclusion is especially satisfying:
In summary, then, although... Cernunnos was considered a god of material prosperity, he was so by means of his nature as a god of the in-between, of bi-directionality, of the reconciliation of opposites. He was both wild and tame, god of healing and god of death, of the hunter and the hunted, of nature and of culture, and in his very person human and animal. Under this interpretation, his iconography seems ambiguous because it was meant to be. He is an ambiguous god, and always was. Ambiguity does not conceal his nature; it reveals it.

Charon removing an obol-coin from Psyche's mouth:
"Charon and Psyche" (1883)
John Roddam Spencer Stanhope
Wikipeda page: "Charon's Obol"

[Added 7 & 14 December 2009]: Once in awhile I find Wikipedia quite useful but I generally dislike it.  I like to know something about the authors I read.  Anonymity makes me cranky and suspicious.  This piece on "Charon's Obol," for example, is intriguing, scholarly, thorough, well illustrated, and comprehensively footnoted.  I would like to give credit to the scholar(s) who wrote this, but I can't.

Early in October, when I first began goggling for material for this page, I already knew many of the themes with which I wished to work.  All had to do with the world of the living. The enormous amounts of wealth expended on lavish ancient funerals belong more properly on an archaeology page.  However, among the first "money" links that caught my eye was this one -- about the dead.  Charon, of course!  How could I have forgotten that enigmatic boatman who demands a coin, or obol, as payment for ferrying souls across the river of the dead?  It's just a small, low-denomination coin that came into being only after coinage was invented, but as part of mythic history, Charon's coins definitely belong here.  [For a more in-depth introduction to Charon himself, see my new 16 December 2009 Ancient Greece: Charon page.]

Here are selected excerpts from the Wikipedia article:

Charon's obol is an allusive term for the coin placed in or on the mouth [1] of a dead person before burial. The custom is primarily associated with the ancient Greeks and Romans, but examples are found also in the Near East, and later in Western Europe, particularly in the regions inhabited by Celts of the Gallo-Roman, Hispano-Roman and Romano-British cultures and among Germanic peoples of late antiquity....

In Latin, Charon's obol is sometimes called a viaticum, or "sustenance for the journey"; the placement of the coin on the mouth also has been explained as a seal to protect the deceased's soul or to prevent it from returning....

The Church's 4th century conflation of coin and consecrated bread, which we find in the next passage, is peculiar.  In the world of the living, food is money and money is food -- if you have one, you can get the other.  In the Classical world of the dead, however, Charon took the coin from the corpse's mouth, so it can't be considered a substitute for food.  But the Eucharist is clearly spiritual food and, in fact, performed the active Charon-role in "guiding" the soul to the Other Side.  Thus, the coin/Eucharist correspondence doesn't fit at all.  Of course it's possible that the 4th century Church Fathers no longer fully understood the Classical world's context for viaticum.  Or perhaps logic was trumped by the simple human desire to give solace to a departed loved one by following a time-honored tradition of placing something in her/his mouth as "provision for the journey." Thus:
Drawing on this metaphorical sense of “provision for the journey into death,” ecclesiastical Latin borrowed the term viaticum for the form of Eucharist that is placed in the mouth of the believer at the point of death as provision for the soul’s passage to eternal life.[15] The earliest literary evidence of this Christian usage for viaticum appears in Paulinus’s account of the death of St. Ambrose in 397 A.D.[16] ....
More on coins and Charon:
...Often, [an author]uses the low value of the coin to emphasize that death makes no distinction between rich and poor; all must pay the same because all must die, and a rich person can take no greater amount into death:[26]....

...Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood has shown that in 5th-century BC depictions of Charon, as on funerary lekythoi, he is a non-threatening, even reassuring presence who guides women, adolescents, and children to the afterlife.[28]....

Coins are found in Greek burials by the 5th century B.C., as soon as Greece was monetized, and appear throughout the Roman empire into the 5th century A.D., with examples conforming to the Charon’s obol type as far west as the Iberian Peninsula, north into Britain, and east to the Vistula river in Poland.[31] The jawbones of skulls found in certain burials in Roman Britain are stained greenish from contact with a copper coin....

Silver tetradrachm issued by Athens, ca. 450s BC
Reverse: owl, olive spray and crescent moon
Wikipedia page: "Charon's Obol"

As the next passage points out, the obol didn't have to be an actual coin.  It could be an image impressed upon a malleable surface. At first I thought this implied that if someone were too poor to provide his dead with a coin, a mere imprint from a borrowed coin would suffice. But the examples below mention only gold foil, not clay or some other soft substance.  Surely gold foil would be of greater value than the coin itself.  Perhaps less costly examples also were used, however:
So-called “ghost coins” also appear with the dead. These are impressions of an actual coin or numismatic icon struck into a small piece of gold foil.[68] In a 5th- or 4th-century B.C. grave at Syracuse, Sicily, a small rectangular gold leaf stamped with a dual-faced figure, possibly Demeter/Kore, was found in the skeleton’s mouth. In a marble cremation box from the mid-2nd century B.C., the "Charon's piece" took the form of a bit of gold foil stamped with an owl; in addition to the charred bone fragments, the box also contained gold leaves from a wreath of the type sometimes associated with the mystery religions.[69] Within an Athenian family burial plot of the 2nd century B.C., a thin gold disk similarly stamped with the owl of Athens had been placed in the mouth of each male.[70]....
 ...It might go without saying that only when coinage comes into common use is the idea of payment introduced,[97] but coins were placed in graves before the appearance of the Charon myth in literature.[98]

Because of the diversity of religious beliefs in the Greco-Roman world, and because the mystery religions that were most concerned with the afterlife and soteriology placed a high value on secrecy and arcane knowledge, no single theology[99] has been reconstructed that would account for Charon’s obol. Franz Cumont regarded the numerous examples found in Roman tombs as “evidence of no more than a traditional rite which men performed without attaching a definite meaning to it.”[100] The use of a coin for the rite seems to depend not just on the myth of Charon, but also on other religious and mythic traditions associating wealth and the underworld.[101]....

It is that reference to "other religious and mythic traditions associating wealth and the underworld" that links a whole series of deities: Pluto/Pluton/Hades, Hermes/Mercury, Dis Pater, Saturn, Ops, Angerona, and Cernunnos (as we saw in an earlier section and will see again below):
In cultures that practiced the rite of Charon’s obol, the infernal ferryman who requires payment is one of a number of underworld deities associated with wealth. For the Greeks, Pluto or Pluton, identified with Hades as ruler of the dead, became conflated with Ploutos, wealth personified; Plato points out this ambiguity and interprets it through his interlocutor Socrates in the etymologizing dialogue Cratylus (403a). The god of boundaries, travel, and liminality, Hermes in his role as psychopomp conveys souls across the border that separates the living from the dead, but he was also a god of exchange, commerce, and profit;[102] the name of his Roman counterpart Mercury was thought in antiquity to share its derivation with the Latin word merces, “goods, merchandise.”[103]
The numerous chthonic deities among the Romans were also frequently associated with wealth. In his treatise On the Nature of the Gods, Cicero identifies the Roman god Dis Pater with the Greek Pluton,[104] explaining that riches are hidden in and arise from the earth.[105] Dis Pater is sometimes regarded as a chthonic Saturn, ruler of the Golden Age, whose consort Ops was a goddess of abundance.[106] The obscure goddess Angerona, whose iconography depicted silence and secrecy,[107] and whose festival followed that of Ops, seems to have regulated communications between the realm of the living and the underworld;[108] she may have been a guardian of both arcane knowledge and stored, secret wealth.[109]

The Republican poet Ennius locates the “treasuries of Death” across the Acheron.[110] Romans threw an annual offering of coins into the Lacus Curtius, a pit or chasm in the middle of the Roman forum[111] that was regarded as a mundus or “port of communication” with the underworld.[112]....

Chthonic wealth is sometimes attributed to the Celtic horned god Cernunnos,[113] one of the deities proposed as the divine progenitor of the Gauls that Julius Caesar identified with Dis Pater.[114] On a relief from the Gallic civitas of the Remi,[115] the god holds in his lap a sack or purse, the contents of which — identified by scholars variably as coins or food (grain, small fruits, or nuts)[116] — may be intentionally ambiguous in expressing desired abundance. The antler-horned god appears on coins from Gaul and Britain, in explicit association with wealth.[117] In his best-known representation, on the problematic Gundestrup Cauldron, he is surrounded by animals with mythico-religious significance; taken in the context of an accompanying scene of initiation, the horned god can be interpreted as presiding over the process of metempsychosis, the cycle of death and rebirth,[118] regarded by ancient literary sources as one of the most important tenets of Celtic religion[119] and characteristic also of Pythagoreanism and the Orphic or Dionysiac mysteries.[120]....

This next passage is especially interesting in its focus on wealth as "a form of communal trust bound up in the ties expressed by religion." An ironic echo of this is found in USA currency marked with "In God We Trust." Considering the role of greed and corruption underlying our financial systems, it might be wise for those words to be removed before Someone wearies of the hypocrisy:
From its 7th-century B.C. beginnings in western Anatolia, ancient coinage was viewed not as distinctly secular, but as a form of communal trust bound up in the ties expressed by religion. The earliest known coin-hoard from antiquity was found buried in a pot within the foundations of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, dating to the mid-6th century B.C. The iconography of gods and various divine beings appeared regularly on coins issued by Greek cities and later by Rome.[121] The effect of monetization on religious practice is indicated by notations in Greek calendars of sacrifices pertaining to fees for priests and prices for offerings and victims. One fragmentary text seems to refer to a single obol to be paid by each initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries to the priestess of Demeter, the symbolic value of which is perhaps to be interpreted in light of Charon’s obol as the initiate’s gaining access to knowledge required for successful passage to the afterlife.[122]....
Moving from the often cynical connections between money and death, and money and religion, we can find a measure of relief in this next brief passage, which has to do with what I've been calling "cosmic Gold":
In the view of Richard Seaford, the introduction of coinage to Greece and the theorizing about value it provoked was concomitant with and even contributed to the creation of Greek metaphysics.[124] Plato criticizes common currency as  “polluting”, but also says that the guardians of his ideal republic should have divine gold and silver money from the gods always present in their souls.[125] This Platonic “money in the soul” holds the promise of “divinity, homogeneity, unchanging permanence, self-sufficiency, invisibility.”[126]
Next, we come to new and very interesting insights on the money and food issue, which also brings in Midas (of whom more later):
Attempts to explain the symbolism of the rite also must negotiate the illogical placement of the coin in the mouth. The Latin term viaticum makes sense of Charon’s obol as “sustenance for the journey,” and it has been suggested that coins replaced offerings of food for the dead in Roman tradition.[127]
This dichotomy of food for the living and gold for the dead is a theme in the myth of King Midas, versions of which draw on elements of the Dionysian mysteries. The Phrygian king's famous "golden touch" was a divine gift from Dionysus, but its acceptance separated him from the human world of nourishment and reproduction: both his food and his daughter were transformed by contact with him into immutable, unreciprocal gold. In some versions of the myth, Midas's hard-won insight into the meaning of life and the limitations of earthly wealth is accompanied by conversion to the cult of Dionysus. Having learned his lessons as an initiate into the mysteries, and after ritual immersion in the river Pactolus, Midas forsakes the “bogus eternity” of gold for spiritual rebirth.[128]....

Medusa coin from the Black Sea region, of a type sometimes used as Charon’s obol,
with anchor and crustacean on reverse [Wikipedia: see directly below]

The following passage offers a fascinating insight into using the coin as a "seal" to prevent the soul's return from the dead. In this regard, I would point out that H. J. Rose in his Handbook of Greek Mythology calls this concept too late to be relevant to the Classical world [see pp. 89 and 99, fn.51]. Still, it's most intriguing, especially the Gorgon/speech connection [again, see my Medusa page].

A coin may make a superior seal because of its iconography; in the Thessalian burial of an initiate described above, for instance, the coin on the lips depicted the apotropaic device of the Gorgon’s head. The seal may also serve to regulate the speech of the dead, which was sometimes sought through rituals for its prophetic powers, but also highly regulated as dangerous; mystery religions that offered arcane knowledge of the afterlife prescribed ritual silence.[134] The coin is often found in burials with objects or inscriptions indicative of mystery cult, and Charon’s obol figures in a Latin prose narrative that alludes to initiation ritual, the “Cupid and Psyche” story from the Metamorphoses of Apuleius....

Detail: Charon and the Shades (2007)
Copyright © Bradley Platz (see directly below)

Finally, only in this mention of modern art do we find a rich dead vs impoverished dead theme -- this does not seem to have been an issue in antiquity, where an equality of sorts existed after death:
The contemporary artist Bradley Platz extends the theme of Charon’s obol as a viatical food in his oil-on-canvas work Charon and the Shades (2007), on view online. In this depiction, Charon is a hooded, faceless figure of Death; the transported soul regurgitates a stream of gold coins while the penniless struggle and beg on the shores. The painting was created for a show in which artists were to bring together a mythological figure and a pop-culture icon, chosen randomly. The “soul” in Platz’s reinterpretation is the “celebutante” Nicole Richie “as a general symbol for the modern celebrity and wealth,” notes the artist:  “She is represented dry and emaciated, having little physical beauty left but a wealth of gold” which she purges from her mouth.[184]....
With this, I end my lengthy exploration into Charon, money, and the ancient world (FYI: the page also provides a great deal of archaeological data, which I am not including here since it's somewhat dry and off-topic).  As noted earlier, I have shifted some wonderful material on death rituals (especially the use of leaves and blades of grass as viaticum) to my Rituals of Death and Dying page; also see that page for more from the Wikipedia article on possible two-way trips for initiates of the Mysteries.
The Midas Touch


A shocked Midas turns his beloved daughter to gold
Walter Crane, 1893
(illustration for Nathaniel Hawthorne's re-telling of the myth)
From Wikipedia

From the always reliable Greek scholar, Carlos Parada (links to whose pages appear on many of my own), comes this page on King Midas, including the story of how he got his "golden touch."  Cosmic gold, as we have seen, is divinely procreative: from it comes living, breathing, creative life.  In the hands of humans, however, the power of gold can be competely twisted and perverted.  Midas' story illustrates this.

It begins with the satyr Silenus, the elderly foster father, teacher and friend of Dionysus.  Silenus is one of the oldest woodland deities known as the Sileni (among whom were also numbered the younger races of Fauns and Satyrs).  The parantage of Silenus is unclear -- he has been called, among others, the son of Pan; the son of Hermes and a nymph; the son of Gaia; one account says he was the brother, not the son, of Pan.  He is famed for wisdom, good humor, songs, and for enjoying his wine too much. One day, as Dionysus was leading an army into India, Silenus wandered off, presumably under the influence of wine, and was eventually brought by peasants to King Midas.  (Also see Parada's webpage on Silenus, which details the stories he shared with Midas, including one about a city of Peace and a city of War.)  The king --

...entertained him generously, and gave him a guide to help him find [Dionysus].  Because of this favor, [Dionysus] gave Midas the privilege of asking for whatever he wanted. Midas then asked that whatever he touched should become gold. Having been granted this bizarre wish, he soon discovered that his new faculty prevented him from eating and condemned him to hunger. Therefore, he begged the god to take away the superb gift, and [Dionysus] instructed him to bathe in the Pactolus (a river tributary of the Hermus in Maeonia), [the sands of] which became golden when Midas' body touched it....

...The gold of the river Pactolus is also mentioned by Virgil, Aeneid 10.142....

In some versions, when Midas reaches out lovingly to touch his daughter, she too is turned to gold. It is this that sends the grieving, humbled king to Dionysus to beg for the removal of the gift.  I find it interesting that Brahma creates primal waters to serve as a womb in which his Golden Egg can grow. Here, Dionysus reverses the procreative process by using waters to free Midas from the deadliness of the golden touch.  Gods can bring life from gold. Humans cannot.

It takes Midas only a day or two to learn what a corrosive gift he has been given. Unfortunately, he is unique in the speed of such awareness.  Too many humans yearn for the Midas touch and that longing appears in many forms, both in the financial world and in the arts (see Wikipedia on the Midas theme in popular culture).  Back in the 70s or 80s, I saw a full color ad for a credit card company showing all the landmasses of earth turned to pure gold.  I was stunned.  Whoever had designed that ad had completely failed to understand its deeper implications.  That one image sums up the devastating desire of our leaders, banks, and corporations to squander this planet for their own personal gain. They will not be content until every grain of sand and every expendable human has been turned to gold.  These people are predators and parasites.  They cannot be regulated by our governments because they own most of those governments.  They can make billions in bonuses and yet not one of them is smart enough to connect the dots relating to humanity's own survival.  It boggles the mind.  Only Freud and his concept of humanity's death-wish could even begin to make sense of this.

HISTORY of Money

Timline from PBS: Newshour

From PBS's NOVA comes "The History of Money," a brief but good overview that includes barter:
Barter is the exchange of resources or services for mutual advantage, and may date back to the beginning of humankind. Some would even argue that it's not purely a human activity; plants and animals have been bartering—in symbiotic relationships—for millions of years. In any case, barter among humans certainly pre-dates the use of money....
9,000—6,000 BC: Cattle, which include anything from cows, to sheep, to camels, are the first and oldest form of money....
cowrie shells:
1,200 BC: The first use of cowries, the shell of a mollusc that was widely available in the shallow waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, was in China.... The cowrie is the most widely and longest used currency in history.
first metal money and coins:
1,000 BC: Bronze and Copper cowrie imitations were manufactured by China at the end of the Stone Age and could be considered some of the earliest forms of metal coins.... These early metal monies developed into primitive versions of round coins. Chinese coins were made out of base metals, often containing holes so they could be put together like a chain.
and modern coinage:
500 BC: Outside of China, the first coins developed out of lumps of silver. They soon took the familar round form of today, and were stamped with various gods and emperors to mark their authenticity. These early coins first appeared in Lydia, which is part of present-day Turkey, but the techniques were quickly copied and further refined by the Greek, Persian, Macedonian, and later the Roman empires. Unlike Chinese coins which depended on base metals, these new coins were made from precious metals such as silver, bronze, and gold, which had more inherent value.
Additional topics covered (beyond the scope of this webpage) are leather money, paper currency, potlach, wampum, the Gold Standard's beginning and end, today's currency, and future (electronic) currency.
From PBS's Newshour comes yet another program on the history of money, starting with wampum, skipping coins, and turning to various forms of American paper money. Based on the "Timeline" chart (see above, at the beginning of this "History" section), there's also an interactive version that looks like fun.
For a fascinating and much more in-depth historical look at money, banking, theories, and much more, see this site from Glyn and Roy Davies, based on Glyn Davies' book, A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day (also see below, under Books).

A graceful winged Pegasus
Ancient Greek coin from Corinth
From History for Kids (see directly below)
This well-illustrated site on the "History of Money" is aimed at middle school children but I found it quite interesting for adults as well.  In addition to photos of actual money, I especially enjoyed this wry, common sense passage about ancient coinage:
...The governments that minted these coins figured out that if they didn't have enough money, they could mix the gold with more silver to make it go further, or mix the silver with more bronze. That way they could make more coins with the same amount of metal, and have more money to pay their soldiers with. The Romans did this in the 200's AD.

But of course people soon figured out that these coins weren't really worth what the government said they were worth, and then they didn't want to take those coins in stores. Or they demanded more of the coins, so it would be the same amount of gold or silver as before....

[Added 4 & 15 December 2009]: This informative little essay, "The Lydian Empire: The First Money Producers" by J. Landon, looks at ancient Lydia, which is where ancient Western coinage was first produced.  Some excerpts:
Lydia is an ancient country that was part of Asia Minor that is now known as Turkey.... It was best known for its fertile soil, rich deposits of gold and silver, (which later became part of their coining,) and its magnificent capital, Sardis....

...The most famous Lydian King, King Croesus, Lydia's last ‘great' king and most wealthy king ever of Lydia watched as him empire attained its greatest splendor. In fact, Croesus was so rich, people still say today, "As rich as Croesus."...

Lydia's most famous accomplishment is its coinage of money. A combination of silver and gold, (common resources of the area,) it is considered the first country ever to use coins. These coins were used in the rule of King Croesus who ruled from 560 to 546 BC. The approximate year of use for the coins was 560 BC.

These coins made trading much easier. For example, if there was an artisan who made pottery and he wished to have a sack of barley, he would need to find a farmer who wanted a piece of pottery. With the money system the artisan could sell his pottery to anybody and then use that money for  his sack of barely. It made trade much easier.

This fabulous and innovative new idea was quickly adopted by surrounding nations. This is where the Greeks, Romans, and Persians got their ideas....

Lydian money was very thick, a lot thicker than today's money, about the size of the end part of a person's thumb. The coin, a natural combination of silver and gold called electrum, were all the same weight allowing for a fairer trade between a merchant and a purchaser. Before this time one who was not an expert with a scale or did not possess one would not be able to participate fairly in the market without being cheated. It was stamped official by a picture of a lion's head....

This is "Did You Know? ----" a site with filled with historical trivia about money.  For example, did you know:
That between the Fort Worth Texas and the Washington D.C. facilities, The Bureau of Engraving and Printing uses about 18 tons of ink per day?

That in l943, pennies were only made of copper for a short time?  This was during World War II, and the U.S. needed the copper to make communications equipment for the war.  Because of this, pennies were made of steel.

That the 1943 copper-alloy cent is one of the most sought after items by coin collectors? There are about 40 of these known to be in existence today.

That the way to find out if your 1943 penny is copper, is with a magnet?  If you can't pick it up with the magnet, it's copper, and it could be worth a lot of money to you?

That a 1943 copper cent was auctioned off on December 22,1999, for $112,500?

That the ink and paper used to print money today, is the same as that used to print money during the Civil War?

That the pyramid on the back of the $1 bill represents strength and permanence and it looks unfinished to symbolize the future growth of our country?  The eye represents God and the Latin phrase "Annuit Coeptis"  means, "He has favored our undertakings."  The inscription"Novus Ordo Seclorum" means "New order of the ages.

That before paper money was used,  Americans used buckskins for money?  This is where we get the term "bucks."

It's an interesting, even addictive site.  If you click on "Next" at the bottom, you'll go to another page on money.  There's a third page at the next "Next" -- and perhaps a whole series of other "Nexts" beyond that.  Explore -- and enjoy!


...The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales.  Translated by James Stern, based upon an earlier translation by Margaret Hunt. Introduction by Padraic Colum and Commentary by Joseph Campbell.

...Indian Fairy Tales, collected and edited by Joseph Jacobs, who was active in the late 1800's and had a deep interest in other cultures. See excerpts from two tales in my Folklore & Fairy Tales section (above).

...Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen (illustrated by Tasha Tudor). This is the 1945  collection of selected Hans Christian Andersen stories I had -- and loved -- as a child.  Amazon.com has my upload of its title page and "The Little Match Girl" death-scene (shown here in the tiny thumbnail).

...Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories. This is the full collection of Andersen's fairy tales and stories in a large, excellent edition used as a text in a 1985 German department course on Andersen that I took in grad school at UCSB.  The translator is Erik Christian Haugaard. There is a Foreword by Virginia Haviland.

.and.,..This first link goes to a handful of editions (wide price range) of Pavel Bazhov's 1939 Malachite Casket: Tales from the Urals.  I don't like his "Silver Hoof" version but adore his "The Stone Flower" -- I have a DVD of the gorgeous 1946 Stone Flower Russian film (second link) made from this tale as well as a collection of Russian lacquer boxes depicting this wonderful story [also see my Myth*ing Links re-telling of the Stone Flower tale].

.This is a link to a wide range of DVDs, Blu-ray, and other formats of the movie, The Wizard of Oz.

...The History of Money  by Jack Weatherford is recommended on a number of good sites but has received mixed reviews on amazon.  Perhaps best summing up the dichotomies, reader Phillip C. Mackey writes:

Jack Weatherford's "The History of Money" takes an interesting take on the development of money and man's evolving relationship its various forms. The book is a very good read for the lay person but it might prove a bit trying for those who are well versed in recent economic history....
After a lengthy section in which he outlines various historical errors, both major and minor, he concludes:
...If Weatherford's history is shaky at times, his insight on the social aspects of money makes up for it. His observations on primitive money and its overall development through history are quite excellent as are more contemporary observations on the rich/middle class and the poor use money and the penalities the poor must endure in order perform necessary transactions. He also makes some observations about where money and society may be headed that one may or may not agree on but does make one stop and think a bit.

If you are looking for a good book on money as history, there are better volumes out there but if you interested in money as anthropology, this book will give you an good insight into that realm.

Here is an excerpt from another reader, James R. Mccall:
...Jack Weatherford is an anthropologist, not an economist, so it is not surprising that he lingers over certain details that don't have a lot to do with his ostensible subject. Thus we are treated to the grisly spectacle of an Aztec human sacrifice, and how the Peruvian Indians who mine the silver that enriches others reconcile themselves to their poor and hazardous lives. Yet he does not stray far, and his depiction of the squeezing of the citizens of Rome for more and more taxes by successive emperors (plus their dilution of the currency) that led to the destruction of the free small-holding and business-owning classes, and with them the Empire, is chilling and instructive....
Since I am not an economist and find economic and legal machinations quite maddening, I suspect I would greatly enjoy Weatherford's humane and anthropologically focused work.

...History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day seems like a good companion to the preceding book.  It is by the late Welsh professor/economist, Glyn Davies (see above for a weblink to data from the book by Glyn Davies and his son Roy Davies). While one reader found the book somewhat dry, another praised its "global scope." Yet another writes:

...This history of money is very thorough and detailed. There are good pages on Ancient Greece and Rome which are very interesting and rarely found in similar studies....
From an editorial review comes this:
"This work of monumental proportions is both well conceived and executed . . . Davies writes with a sparkling wit, and his prose is elegant and flowing. This book is a total success. Both undergraduate and graduate students can learn much from this excellent work, which will be useful to economists, political scientists, and even anthropologists." -Choice
Again, I suspect I would enjoy this one <smile>.

...In my opening essay, I mentioned how impressed and moved I was by Dr. King's views on a guaranteed annual income.  Here is the book in which I found those views: A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.(Also see relevant excerpts from this book on my Martin Luther King, Jr. Attachment page.)



Menu of Common Themes, East & West:
[Note: these will always be out of date -- see my home page for latest version]

Animal Guides
Animal Deaths in Europe: Of Cows & Madness
Artists & Muses: The Creative Impulse
Creation Myths I
Creation Myths II
Crones & Sages
Dragons & Serpents
Food: Sacrality & Lore
Land: Sacrality & Lore  (mountains, caves, labyrinths, spiral mounds, crop & stone circles, FengShui)
Earth Day & Environmental Issues
Earth Goddesses & Gods
Air: Sacrality & Lore (air, wind, sky, storms, clouds, weather lore)
Sky Goddesses & Gods
Fire: Sacrality & Lore (fire, northern lights, green-flashes, Elmo's Fire)
Fire Goddesses & Gods
Water: Sacrality & Lore(water, wells, springs, pools, lakes)
Floods & Rainbows: Mythologies & Science
Water Goddesses & Gods
Green Men
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Birthing [forthcoming]
Rituals of Death & Dying
Rituals of Puberty
Rituals of Weather-Working: An experimental, on-going ritual in cyberspace
Sacred Theatre & Dance
Star Lore & Astrology
Symbols, Signs, & Runes
Time(Calendars, Clocks, Natural Temporal Cycles, Attitudes toward Time, & Millennium Issues)
Trees & Plant Lore
Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Wars, Weapns & Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
Weaving Arts & Lore (Cosmic Webs, Spinning, Spindles, Clothing)

Down to Geographical Regions: Africa
To Lunar New Year 5 February 2000 The Year of the Dragon
To Common Themes, East & West: Dragons & Serpents

To Common Themes, East & West: Rituals of Death & Dying

Please note that I cannot help with homework but if you have comments or suggestions,
you'll find my email address at the bottom of my home page.

This page created with Netscape 4.7
Text and Design:
Copyright 2009 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Begun 2 October 2009.
9 October 1009: Martin Luther King, Jr  material became too long so I gave it its own page;
it's "live" on site map but won't be announced officially until this main page is done.
10 October 2009:  inserted sections in the space I'd been saving since 10/2/09
for Elizabeth Cunningham and Martin Luther King, Jr.
11 October 2009: added lengthy Cernunnos section with art and excerpts.
12 October 2009: mostly proofed and expanded opening essay/"blog" all day.
13 October 2009 [Rome's ancient feast of Fontinalia, when holy wells and springs were venerated --
a good day for pondering "cash-flow and revenue-streams"]: began work on the Rumpelstiltskin section,
which turned out to be very "charged," psychologically.
***Long Hiatus to work on Rumpelstiltskin***
3-4 December 2009, 4:45am: I've been so engrossed in Rumpelstiltskin process that I never returned to this page to xx the duplicate early version I'd left on it -- finally transferred it to a "discarded version" page.
(Note to me: I disconnected "Money" link on home page weeks ago, but it remained accessible thru backdoor link on as-yet unnounced MLK, Jr.  page; thus, wanted to remove Rumpel. material,  just in case.)
4 December 2009, 2:30pm-ish: resuming work on this page with Oz section.
5 December 2009: spent day proofing the complex opening essay (deleting some areas, clarifying others);
5- 8 December 2009: finished Silver Hoof --love the direction it took -- wasn't expecting it.
7 & 8 December 2009: more proofing, deleting, expanding.
13 December 2009, 4:15pm: added link to Oz DVDs & upgraded Oz photos. Page is now linked to 2009 Greetings & Lore Winter Solstice page, even though not yet complete (had to finish Solstice page first).
Later  same day: worked from c. 5pm to midnight adding "Stone Flower" section; proofing and cutting parts of Oz; and expanding my thoughts on Medusa, Perseus, and cosmic Gold.
14-15 December, 3am: worked most of day on "Charon's Obol." Shifted parts of it to Rituals of Death & Dying.

15 December 2009: grokked Lydian coinage site and finished obol article.
16 December 2009, 6pm: finally finished "Charon's Obol" section by shifting the Charon-Intro that I wrote 12/14/09 to a new Ancient Greek: Charon page.  Still NN H. J. Rose's Handbook of Greek Mythology link but the page is otherwise complete and will soon be officially announced.
31 December 2009, 4:40pm New Year's Eve: Yikes! forgot to make the Rumpelstiltskin/Part-I link live on 12/16! Did it on my home page but forgot to do it here. :-(   Just caught it -- and corrected it.