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Economy Depleting Our Pagan Communities

Author: Church of the Blessed Moon
Posted: May 4th. 2008
Times Viewed: 4,454

Yesterday, I had to tell my son to limit his after school snack. Today, I had to tell my husband we wouldn’t be having lunch anymore at work. Tomorrow, I will partake in my community's Beltane weekend, where I can assure you there will be less food at the communal potluck. There will be more carpooling, or just a lack of attendance, due to the price of gas. This weekend I will see Pagans, who a year or two ago, would not have had to save money just to go to a free Beltane celebration. Well, as free as it can get without me having to reimburse their mileage.

I remember the joy in my Pagan community, when my family finally elevated themselves out of poverty into the middle class. We were going to be ok. Now, 8 years later, my family makes more money than ever before, but it means so much less. With the price of gas, we have cut back to one car, and at times, cringe in despair as we pay our heating bill.

Over the winter, myself and other Missouri families, paid well over $500 in energy expenses every month. I was almost hoping for a discount when the recent ice storms took out our power lines for days… but of course not.

Of course, a lot of the aid I may have tapped into when I was poor is not available. It's not available for a lot of people who make "too much money" despite the income limits not rising while the price of food and gas does, and our incomes are not rising to meet the inflated cost.

I have known Pagan families who make the decision to not work or work less, in order to receive free health care for their children, free food for their family, and assistance with energy costs from the government. They tell themselves it will not always be this way, and things will change with time, circumstances will improve.

Lately though, we start to wonder if it is more than a dream. I have 3 children, and I would be lying to say I haven't considered the possibility myself. If it wasn't for my house payment, I just might. I might give up a career I love to ensure my family eats without hitting the overtime constantly. Well, when we are allowed overtime.

Some of us put our hopes of wealth into our homes. Sinking every dime into fixing them up for better home equity. Now, we get to choose between food and the house payment. Or in some cases, we've tapped into our home equity just to keep up with rising costs and rising bills, and now may not make even if we ever sell.

What happens to us when our credit cards are maxed out, our home equity is gone, our savings depleted, and our credit is too screwed to ask for more? Watching Pagan families spiral into debt, just to pay the existing debt, with no hope of recovery, is a hard experience.

There is no real money exchanging hands. We are just signing our lives over in the name of debt, so one day when we run out of room in the rat maze, the debtors get to take what little we have left.

Ah, but back to my fellow Pagans in my community. This year I have watched Pagan run businesses, and even our local Pagan store, close due to the economy.

When our local store closed, I started making an effort to look for Pagan businesses to give my money to when it came to buying some of my extras. Soon though, I found myself in a position where I could not afford my usual extras. A little shop I used to love in Illinois, that I would travel an hour to shop at, no longer receives my business because I can't afford the trip. So, I shop online when I can.

But knowing so many Pagan merchants, who live on little anyway, who now have to make the call to close shop and end the dream to go work for someone else, is saddening. As many of us know, sometimes when the Pagan shop goes, so also goes the heart of our communities who utilize the stores as meeting places and networking opportunities.

Of primary concern for me, as a Priestess in my local Pagan community, is the strain on our families. More people are in need. Although we huddle together for support, that may be all we are capable of doing.

Typically, if a family in my Pagan community were hungry, I would get them food. If they needed clothes for their children, I would get it. If they needed a ride to an event, I would take them. Now, I am lucky to have my own food, to clothe my own kids, and sometimes I need a ride myself. I have even noticed our Pagan charity closet has run dry of donations this past year.

When it comes time for Pagan events or get-togethers, attendance has been a problem. More of our Pagans are working on days they would never have worked before, such as their days off, just to make a little extra to pay the bills. Some are working second jobs, however they can find them. Hardly anyone brings a dish anymore for the potluck, and we are hungry together.

Some of our families, living so far from town, simply have stopped coming. Even some families who are nearby cannot come because they are laid off and are too embarrassed to ask for rides or not being able to bring food.

We have to continually remind ourselves that it is our economy that is keeping us apart, not a lack of love.

So what do we do? I know some have put hope into the presidential elections. I have not. Some have put hope into the tax rebates. Like many families, mine will go to pay bills. Some just hope. Some wait for revolution.

I will keep working to the bone, and choosing to feed my family above all else. I'll keep our local Pagan dreams of community alive, for as long as I have breath.

Copyright: Kendra Reece 5/1/2008


Church of the Blessed Moon

Location: Dallas, Texas


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