Money, Money, Money … Money!

Price Tag

Recently I had occasion to read Occult Psychology by Alta J. LaDage. A friend brought it to my attention because I am writing my own treatise on Magic & Psychology and LaDage covers some of the same material I plan to cover. LaDage focuses on the relationship and correspondence between Jungian psychology and the Qabalah, which is notable in and of it self. But buried within her discussion of life force was a short piece on money.

She is discussing the differences between Western and Eastern psychology, in terms of their respective symbolism associated with energy. She was deepening the discussion by illustrating how Jung had taken Freud’s limited concept of libido as simply sexual energy, and expanded it to become in the West the equivalent of Kundalini or life force in the East. After a few paragraphs illuminating how we in the West have a limited view of life force energy, she suddenly launched into a polemic on money.

Where psychology is concerned, however, Western man responds best to something he is paying for. That is one reason why modern psychology works best for him.

This statement is startling enough, in as much as she is saying that because of our Western predisposition, we respond best to psychological or occult teachings when we pay. But then she follows up with the most amazing confession.

I have been on both sides of this fence and as a result I am convinced that the teacher or psychologist who does not charge money for his services, serves best. When we have to take into consideration the patient’s ability to pay, we find ourselves in the position of a house divided against itself.

Okay. So for Western minds, paying for psychological help is what works best, but she refuses payment because it is too hard for her to navigate? Is it just me, or can anyone else smell “ISSUES” swimming around underneath this statement? I would have stopped right then and there, but she goes on to say some pretty profound statements about money in spite of, and some might say because of, her challenges in this area.

… in the West money is our magic talisman … Money is, in fact, libido crystallized ... That is, through working at a job, we transform some of our energy (physical, mental, emotional) into green paper, which we then trade for goods (the product of someone else’s energy).

She then launches into all the other ways a person can receive payment, such as barter, exchange, and, get this, payment of “pure love alone, which is what the good Hindu teacher prizes above all else.” She even calls the AA vow to give comparable service to another, i.e. the 12th step, as a form of payment. I do not disagree with any of these types of payments and I personally have accepted all of them at some point. But it is her next statement that throws me.

By refusing all of these other forms of payment, of dedication if you will, orthodox psychiatry has limited its clientele to one particular kind of patient: the person with money, and the person who values money-that is, who has a money psychology.

So Western psychological treatment works best if it is paid for, but anyone who only accepts patients or students who can pay with money is limiting their clientele to those with a “money psychology”. She doesn’t explain this type of psychology any further, and she then admits that limiting your patient/student in such a way is not a bad thing. Because even “Alcoholics Anonymous limits its clientele to those with alcohol problems.”

Okay. So according to LaDage, it is okay to require payment in cold hard cash, as long as I only intend to teach and/or treat those with a “money psychology”, whatever that is. We westerners apparently also have a money psychology when we pay for our food, housing, health care and education too. But then isn’t this similar to what she just said earlier about Western psychology in general? So is she saying that money psychology is the same as Western psychology? And if Western psychology is a money psychology, whom are we treating or teaching when we do not charge money? Hmmm? Do they cease to have a money psychology simply because they get it for free?

I know I am having a little fun at LaDage’s expense. Because while at the same time as she is incredibly insightful in this area, she continually contradicts herself. And to be fair, she is conflicted over money just like so many of us who are occult and spiritual practitioners here in the West. It is a difficult area to navigate on one’s own. She agrees with this point and provides some evidence of the madness.

“We are psychologically conditioned to believe that if it is for free it isn’t any good, and at the same time we are always looking for something for nothing! This schizoid -attitude toward money must be very confusing to an outsider looking at our culture. The trouble is that we have a long list of well-defined items which are either free or to be paid for. For example, it is not proper (in some locales not legal) to give a person a free ride. Rides must be paid for, in taxis or buses or trains. A hitchhiker (one who has the audacity to ask for a free ride) is a low form of life. But sex is supposed to be for free. A person who tries to charge for sex is a criminal. If a woman suggests to a man that he should pay first in case of fire, he is horrified; she should be "immoral" for nothing! It is all very confusing. The minister who comes to your house to comfort you after a death in the family is supposed to do this service freely, for love of God and you, but the psychiatrist, who provides the exact same comfort, must be paid. It makes no sense at all.”

And to this I say, bingo. Here she finally defines the Western psychology as a money psychology, and schizoid one at that. And I agree with her on all the points she raises. Interestingly enough, I have also read several Jungians who also note this issue, within our Western psyche and within psychology as a profession. But I will quote them at another time; we need to finish with our exploration of LaDage first.

But what has this to do with Western occult teachers, one may ask. An example could be the minister of a parish: he cannot serve his parishioners full time and still work eight hours a day to earn his own living. This exemplifies the position of any occult or Hindu teacher, too. And there is the matter of scholarship also. We understand why an attorney or a medical man may charge for what he has given many years and a great deal of money to learn. …

She starts off strong again, but she ends this statement with another contradiction.

… But beyond scholarship and time, servants of the spirit cannot be expected to serve well if they are concerned about payment. "Where your attention is, there will your heart be also."

It seems on the issue of money, LaDage gives with one hand what she of necessity must remove with the other. According to LaDage, we cannot be concerned with payments, though she accepts that it may be necessary for us to receive them. What?

So we have established that LaDage is herself a little schizoid about money, but then she delivers the piece de resistance that makes me forgive all her earlier ambiguity. She brings up the issue of money within a discussion of life force and now reveals why it is an important element of occult psychology. (The emphasis is mine.)

To try to resolve some of our attitudes toward money is to ferret out some of our feelings toward sex, spiritual values, and toward life in general. Money is the semen of the society, the symbol of its energy concentrated into a tangible object, the medium whereby energy is transmitted one to another and from generation to generation. … Money is therefore central in any discussion of Kundalini, representing as it does the root, the source of power. Our attitudes toward money are carried with us onto the path, and influence how we treat each other and ourselves.

Wow! Now this makes perfect sense to me. Money as crystallized life force does represent the Western libido in ways nothing else can. It is the way we suffuse our environment, our culture, even our spiritual path with meaning and value. And to struggle with money and what it represents would seem to be paramount to any seeker on the path within the Western world. So why do so many occult teachers avoid the struggle by opting out? Even LaDage is clear that this is an area we must all face on our path.

But, as mentioned before, at the same time that we are looking for something for nothing, we are convinced that anything that is for free isn’t any good. A wise teacher who hopes to be of real service to his pupils, must fit himself somewhere between these two stools. If he gives his time and the benefit of his scholarship without charge, neither his time nor his teachings will help the student. If he charges for his time and his scholarship, he will be classified with the commercial movements that serve spirituality in the West.

And so LaDage is issuing a challenge of sorts to all of us, to find a new synthesis within the “money psychology” of the Western world, to find a way out of the maddening cycle of wanting something for nothing while believing that if it is free it is no good.

And so after reading her book online for free, I went to Amazon and bought a copy. And in my own way, I hope I can face this challenge head on. I will be writing more about money, sex and power over the coming months. I hope to stimulate dialogue about the discomfort, confusion and frankly discordant messages circulating within our communities around these powerful yet mysterious subject areas.

Blessings to you and yours,
©2005 Katrina Messenger

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Sat, 12/31/2005 - 8:44pm.

Eridanus (not verified) | Sat, 12/31/2005 - 10:33pm


You do make sense.

I must contemplate.


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Recent comments

  • Nephthys (not verified)

    I've been with Firefly for a number of years, I recently left my position at The Firefly Community to pursue other dreams but to be clear how much I was involved before I address the statements made, I was a teacher, Priestess, member of the Inner Circle of the Council of Elders, Course Contributor, Clergy, Delegate and Divination reader so I was quite involved with Firefly on many levels.

    I am offended by your statement that Firefly is cultish. Given my involvement as listed above I can safely say that Firefly members are not cultish in behaviour nor is Firefly cultish in of itself. I am no longer involved with Firefly in any strong capacity other than that of a student so I can also safely say this is not coming from a blind faith position. I will be the first to admit that part of the reason I left Firefly was because I did not agree with some of the changes Lady Iris intended to make, that being said, I don't support the idea that abuse should be turned into a political statement.

    I don't know Sean and I am not close to Lady Iris (I live in a different country) and have not commented on the situation with her marriage but some of his behaviours are reprehensible. If a President did this he would be impeached and booted so I fail to see why it should be ignored and relegated to 'personal marital issues' when behaviour like this is indicative of larger psychological issues. If Sean Bennett is allowed to use and abuse women in this fashion, eventually he would work his way through the single ladies in the OHF and what would you be left with?

    2 years 2 weeks ago
  • Virginia Carper (not verified)

    I for one have been pondering this question. Iris did highlight a valuable point - how are checks and balances established to prevent potential abuse and to air concerns. These are hard lessons that groups need to learn.

    Without denying people their agency, how do you set up a system that will prevent abuse by other members? How far does a group go to ensure the mental and emotional safety of the adult members?

    For example, I know with my disability (brain injury), I would deeply resent being told that the group is looking out for my best interests. It would seem to be paternalistic on the group's part to assume that I cannot fend for myself. But because of my disability, I can be easy prey for a con-artist. How do you solve a dilemma like that? Can this be encoded or is this sort of thing too nebulous to pin down?

    2 years 3 weeks ago
  • Virginia Carper (not verified)

    I have a traumatic brain injury.

    That being said, I got caught in the cross-fire in the Firefly Campaign, since I did not get with the program - i.e. Firemoon was abused by a sexual predator, who for the sake of the community had to be removed. I was shocked at how this mantra was repeated over and over everywhere it could be. I was shocked at how the Firefly folks did not identify themselves as they sought to achieve their goals. It left a poor taste about Firefly in my mouth since I started to regard them as "cultish", incapable of independent thought or discussion. Also it disturbed me how the Firefly folks who had nothing to do with DC, carried water in the campaign as well.

    Since I had lot of free time, I researched the consistent posters and everything I could find, and an disturbing picture arose. The one you described of a one-sided campaign to achieve a stated end, without proper identification or perspective.

    As for the brain injury - I got raked over the coals for making light of the issue from an avowed healer, who thought my injury was a ruse. That scared me into thinking that perhaps my impression of the "cultishness" of the Firefly group was true. (I know cult is a loaded word, but I cannot think of the word that would indicate a group of people, emotionally inflamed with one mission in mind, and not allowing any dissent.)

    2 years 3 weeks ago
  • Kali Firemoon (not verified)


    I am so sorry that we have not met yet since it so obvious from your comments that you are a close personal friend of Iris’s and know all there is to know about the situation from a front row seat. I mean, after all, one who has seen a woman four months pregnant, losing weight and physically appearing to not be pregnant would of course understand the emotional, and yes, physical stress she was under. But of course, since you were there I don’t need to remind you of that. So lets move on to the rest of the story, you know where her husband chose to have unprotected sex with someone else, who I am sure was a complete virgin and posed no risk to mother or child, and then husband went home to engage in carnal activities with his wife, confident that his unborn child was never at risk. Yes, I am sure that all of your female students understand why you are firmly in the husband’s court. After all, it’s always the woman’s fault when marriages go bad. Or at least that is what I seem to glean from your article. Yes, I am Firefly, and I was one of the one’s chosen to help this woman after she was victimized by this predator who seems to have persuaded the pagan community that it is acceptable to treat not one, not two but at last count four woman as though they were simply a means to his end. And BTW I know she attempted to alert the community to her situation and apparently no one felt it worth even a cursory investigation. Oh yes, one more example of us not wanting to rock any one’s boat. I will tell you that in response to her story, several other pagan women have come forward with similar stories of abuse reported to the male members of a community met with similar disdain and an obvious desire to hide this type of behavior. Do I believe it happened this time, yes; do I believe that this community is willing, no matter the cost, to hide this type of behavior, yes. No one wants to call attention to the pagan community because we already have an undeserved stigma. But that does not mean we should allow behavior none of us condone simply because we are afraid of controversy. If one of us needs be sanctioned, then we either stand and sanction or accept the stigma so many would place upon us. We need to “police” our own. When four and probably five women come forth and tell the same story of predatory behavior against women we either act or fold the tents and go home. So I suggest you talk to all of them before you post any more pontifications. I also realize you can never post this but we both know you will have read it.

    2 years 3 weeks ago
  • Cara Schulz (not verified)

    Hello Katrina,
    Although we know one another, mostly online but also when we met at Sacred Harvest Festival, for your readers let me note that I'm the Managing Editor of PNC-News and the Co-Editor of PNC-Minnesota. I was the primary author of the PNC-News statement that you are writing about.

    The persons who contacted me asking when PNC would cover this were not Firefly members. Most were not local to DC, but were Pagans and polytheists in other parts of the country who had donated to the Pagan community center in DC and naturally had an interest in it. Why would they contact me? Because I'm the Managing Editor and people often contact me to ask if PNC is covering a story or to request that we cover a story. That's how we get many of our articles - through our readers.

    As for why PNC-News put two different situations in one statement, it's because they are related in nature and both needed to be addressed promptly.

    If anyone has any questions, we encourage them to contact us and ask them.

    2 years 3 weeks ago
  • Kat, Emralde (not verified)

    Thank you for this perspective. I very much appreciate the voice of the elders as I struggle with my own (not-voiced) feelings about this situation and its outcome.

    2 years 5 weeks ago