Questions of power, prosperity, philanthropy, and right relationship to money have been swirling in my heart and mind this week. It has been a dreamy, contemplative time. I read several essays about our current culture’s odd, shame-based relationship with money (so often embarrassment and secrecy surround the topic of money–whether a person has wealth unearned or is struggling to get by), and new ideas on these topics were floated around in conversations with friends.
The topics of wealth and poverty, equity and activism even entered my dreams and took me into whirling memories of my past. Old past. I once read that the key to unwrapping one’s complex adult relationship with money is found in our very first memory of it. Well here’s mine . . .
As a child, I enjoyed the mystery and delight of tucking my baby teeth under my pillow and – poof! – in the morning discovering a quarter. I decided that my tooth-fairy quarters were magical, so I decided to keep them all–my very own collection of magic! Well, being 6 or 7, I quickly got confused about which quarters were tooth-fairy quarters and which ones were regular old “normal” quarters, but this didn’t bother me at all; I simply decided to collect all quarters! I figured that by keeping them all mixed together (in a fancy piggy bank that my mom had owned since childhood), the magical ones would sort of rub off on the regular ones, making them all equally powerful.
I loved to admire and count my magic quarters – I was up to $12.75!- and imagine what I would do with them all someday. I decided I would keep saving them, and then I had ethical debates with myself. What could possibly cause me to spend my magic quarters??
I remember that I finally reasoned that if any of my little siblings needed medicine and we needed my $12.75 for it, then I would spend it for sure. But otherwise, I was going to keep saving my quarters forever. Or until something amazing and wonderful happened someday. I had my savings, so I was ready for whatever that might be!
Alas, that particular someday was not to be. CRASH!! THUD!! SPLAT!! One afternoon, my quarter collection met a terrible fate, and it was all my fault. Although I had been told never to climb up on the dresser with the tall shelves (where the piggy bank lived), one day I really wanted a book on the highest shelf, so I crawled up there anyway. I lost my balance and fell off the dresser (while grabbing the unattached shelves for support) and landed flat on my back with the whole shelving unit on top of me! It must have made a horrid-sounding crash because, as soon as I landed, I heard the
thunderous thuds of my parents’ footsteps running down the hall toward my room. They were not amused! I remember them being extremely angry because I had broken the rule and fallen, but looking back I think they were just freaked out by the grizzly scene of their 7-year-old-daughter squashed under the giant piece of fallen furniture!
They pulled the shelves off of me, and although I was not hurt, something terrible had happened: my mother’s special piggy bank had been smashed open and was destroyed. Guilt filled me. The strangest thing about this whole event is that, somehow in the mayhem of it all, my quarters were all lost. I never saw them again.
In the decades that have followed, I have had a tumultuous relationship with money. I have rejected money (and the money system), have overworked myself at crazy jobs, have overextended myself with volunteer projects and nonprofits, have lived lightly (off the land), have surrounded myself with privileged trust-funders choosing poverty out of guilt, have worked at retreat centers and wilderness programs serving the very wealthy, have held middle-class career jobs that left me craving escape, and have even given away my work (offering it by donation). Whew! What I have not experienced much of in my life, until very recently, is an easygoing, comforting, and inspiring relationship with prosperity.
All year and especially this week, I have felt I am ready for a breakthrough in my adult relationship with money. Today was my day! I decided to attempt a shamanic soul retrieval on that broken piggy bank. I felt ready to recover my missing magic quarters, and if I could not recover them, I at least wanted to get to the bottom of their mysterious demise.
With this intention, I joined Quynn Red Mountain’s Sunday morning journey circle, the last in a two-year series at the Institute for the Shamanic Arts. A tender sweetness was felt as we each acknowledged with gratitude what we have received from this regular weekly series of journey circles and looked on in anticipation of the creative turns and expansion that will be coming next. It was the perfect setting for this soul retrieval journey!
As the drumming began, I relaxed into the steady rhythmic beats, and here is where I was led . . . in my dreaming journey mind . . . toward this scene, unrolling before me like a Technicolor dream . . .
I traveled back in time to the moments following my fall and the piggy bank explosion. Broken porcelain piggy shards were everywhere, and I could not find the quarters. There seemed no way to repair it. Finally, as l recognized that this scene from my past could not be altered or recovered, my guides calmly offered me a whole new replacement piggy bank (with magic quarters in it!). Wow, thank you!
And then the scene became very dreamy and wild. I found myself in a childhood bedroom created out of my young imagination, with sunlit yellow walls and a giant window. Suddenly, there appeared giant magic quarters, like stepping-stones leading up and out the window. From there I swirled on a frozen lake on ice skates made of quarters, then flew on a sliver hang glider whooshing over the ocean, and finally landed in a little sailboat made out of a giant quarter! The silvery boat took me swiftly across the ocean to a tropical silver island — an island of wild rainforest vegetation and, yes, quarters! Everything sparkled, from the deep green of the emerald-colored leaves to the sunbeams bouncing off the large coins that decorated everything.
I walked up onto the island and noticed a shiny silver hut and stepped inside. There was an image of George Washington (haha!) and cherry trees in blossom. I followed the cherry trees down around to a subterranean river that carried me, by boat, deep into the earth. Although I was far down in the underworld, sunlight and cherry blossoms created a feeling of spring. Eventually I arrived at a little Zen garden tea house and met an intriguing character, a woman who invited me to join her at her table. All I had with me was my new piggy bank, so I offered her a few quarters as a gift and asked her if she had a message for me.
I reflected and finally said, “I loved discovering, finding, collecting, and knowing I could share them!”
“Well,” she replied, “You never lost that.” And I realized she was right.
As a young child, I may have lost that piggy bank of magic money, but my entire life I have been discovering, finding, collecting, and sharing all sorts of things. . . stories, ideas, inspirations, projects, travels, journeys, jobs, and, yes, even money. The real magic I collected in that childhood piggy bank has been with me all along!
She said farewell and, as she rose to leave, I heard a familiar jingling sound. Then I could see! Her entire skirt was made of sparkling quarters, and I giggled as she gracefully slipped away toward the cherry trees . . . and the drumming carried me back, back, steadily up and along the river, and across the ocean . . . and back to the present moment in our circle . . . back from the dreaming journey world.
Eyes open, now I was awake.
I remembered very clearly that I had exactly 4 quarters in my wallet (I had counted them out earlier this morning, knowing that I would need exactly one dollar in quarters later and noting that my wallet was otherwise empty of change). Well, even thought I knew I only had 4 quarters, I opened my wallet and looked anyway.
Holy cow, there were now 7 quarters!! How amazing! What fun. And so, having discovered and collected the quarters, I then shared them with everyone. . . a token of prosperity and money magic, a bit of unexplainable phenomenon and delight. From the imagination realm of my inner journey world to the physical form of coins that could be shared with others, my soul retrieval wish was now complete! Hoorah!
Readers, may you all experience prosperity and inner-creative-power flow, and may many benefit.
May all beings enjoy prosperity, generosity, and the release of tired old obstacles. And in this modern world of financial bewilderment and conflicting emotions around money, may we each still always take sweet delight in little surprises.