Money is a Fire

Fiscal responsibility is one of those earthly virtues, no doubt, but when it comes to understanding our present moment in history, we have to grasp that money is a fire. While we have inherited a tradition of tarot interpretation that joins money as coins to the suit of earth, money in late- to crumbling capitalism belongs to wands, to passion, to control. While money can, well-used, provide the means for acquiring and cultivating our patch of earth, the fire is always in the roots and capable of flaring up to consume our homes, both in the literal and extended senses of the term.

Think about this when you bring money to the graveyard. You are bringing fire with you, you are heating up the dead, summoning them forth to take form in the crux of your desires. Do this often, do this in a place where you do not have roots, and what are you doing but stoking the flames that will consume you life? Without fire we will surely die, but without caution fire will destroy us and all that for which we care.

This is the painful dimension of our historical moment, because the fire of money has encompassed the world. Precious few of us escape negotiating with it for our daily bread. When we turn to prayer, to magic, we need to be especially careful. Each time we fall back on what we can buy rather than what we can give shape through our hands, our prayers, our humble work, we are bringing fire to our spiritual stores. We should look about our house and worry if we find too many books, too much homework, too many magical talismans bought from another’s hand.

All that we pay for passes through the fire. Where that fire rests upon an earth of communal connection and affection, fellow feeling and intimacy, the fire’s dangers are ameliorated. Where the fire is the medium of the transmission, where money is the primary connection between what we give and what we receive, then its dangers are exacerbated. We must take great care that we possess the vessel into which it can be passed and nourished when we buy such things. Or, alternately, we must be ready to douse the fire.

The future will not be easier in this regard, only harder. Many will become increasingly desperate for money, for the means to feed and house themselves and those they love. In the midst of this struggle, though, we need to do what we can to preserve a sense of there being earth, too, of concrete places and resources upon which any true manifestation of will depends. The future beyond this present moment depend on our coming to terms with that as best we can, of making whatever tenuous links we can between our present life in the fire and a possible future upon the earth.

Fire and air have a natural sympathy with each other, in much the same way as earth and water. With fire comes a flurry of images and ideas, wondrous for the sense of possibility that they promise, but for all the pleasure they bring, they are the fire’s children. One more image, one more way of seeing things, one more book, one more class, isn’t going to be a fix for our problems. It will be a symptom of the problem unless it is rooted and cultivated in the earth and water.

The earth is unforgiving. It does not permit everything to become manifest. The movement toward a life upon the earth is a movement away from a world of endless images and ever-expanding knowledge toward a world of dense presence and deepening intimacy. It is a world that demands we sacrifice all that we hope to be for what we can manage to be. Well done, it preserves a channel to the wind and the fire, preserves a channel to desire and possibility, but it contains and constrains them. The head and the throat are small compared to the rest of the body and while the youthful fronds crown the palm tree, the crown depends upon the trunk and roots for its life.

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