Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Wiccan Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Article ID: 13787
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,116
Times Read: 2,465
RSS Views: 14,218
Author: Iris Firemoon [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: May 2nd. 2010
Times Viewed: 2,465
In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber’s theory about how the ethics of one group of people feeds into the essence of capitalism is partially based on religious beliefs. It would be reasonable to assume that the beliefs of any religion could be examined to determine whether or not they support the spirit of capitalism. This is important, because the engine of capitalism in a country does not rest on the shoulders of one single set of people. The ethics of many different groups of people flow with capitalistic ideals.
Additionally, there are many groups of people whose ethics do not flow with nature of capitalism. In examining the varying beliefs of different groups of people, and how they may or may not support the spirit of capitalism, we might better understand how the dynamic make up of people around the globe help further or stifle the development of capitalism. Wicca is a minority religion that is up and coming in the world. The ethics of most Wiccans would not put them in alignment with the heart of capitalism. The method used in this paper is to examine the beliefs that are behind the Wiccan work ethic, to summarize the “spirit of capitalism, ” and then to contrast the two concepts.
The spirit of capitalism has foundations in one’s calling to a specific vocation. In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber reasoned that this work ethic developed as a result of many factors, including one seeking salvation or to please the divine. However, Wiccan ethics in the United States drive the way they approach work in a different direction. As a Neo-pagan religion, Wicca emphasizes the care of the Earth, one’s community, and fostering one’s own happiness, as the divine can be found in nature, as well as oneself.
The number of Wiccans in the United States has considerably grown and might have quadrupled in the last ten years. Margot Adler, author of Drawing Down the Moon, estimated there to have been approximately fifty thousand people who referred to themselves as Wiccans in 1985 and that there are quite possibly near four hundred thousand when the most recent edition of her book was published in 2006 (p. 103) . Along with the growing number of Wiccans, there are many other Neo-pagans and people in the general population who could quite possibly share the same ethics and worldview. This growing trend of earth and community centered beliefs could very well have an affect on the product of the spirit of capitalism.
Though the individual beliefs of Wiccans can vary, there are several defining points that are generally regarded as basic Wiccan tenants. When it comes to the divine, Wicca’s view is multi-faceted, because it can see divinity in the universe, in human’s relationship with celestial bodies, in nature, in any number of gods and goddesses from all around the world, and in oneself. When it comes to deities and the divine, Wicca sees a balance of masculine and feminine energy which can be represented in a number of dualities, such as black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, yin and yang, etc. As a result, the universe, nature, and the self are often regarded as sacred, as well as any number of religious rituals and symbols used to commune with the divine.
Due to the fact that nature is considered divine or part of the divine, and because nature is considered sacred, Wiccans often have a deep reverence for the earth. This reverence for the earth may include activism to protect the earth from contamination, destruction, overuse, and lack of appreciation. The “reduce, reuse, recycle” mode of thinking is common among Wiccans in the United States. The nature view can be expressed in the belief that what people put into their bodies should also naturally come from the earth, and not be contaminated with chemicals, derived in labs, or otherwise altered from its original state. Furthermore, this may also be reflected in the understanding of how the various elements are used and the work in our societies, such as water and energy (Starhawk, The Earth Path) .
The ethics of various Wiccans can differ depending on their own personal beliefs; however, Wiccan ethics generally surround their reverence for the earth and balance or a perception of fairness. When it comes to holding Wiccans accountable for their ethical choices, it is generally up to each person to hold himself or herself accountable, as opposed to a group, higher authority, or divine authority. In Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler referred to a comment made that Wicca has a “self policing mechanism to protect ourselves from misunderstanding” (p. 95) . Regardless of who polices them, Wiccan ethics in the United States vary person to person, but this next section serves to summarize common ethics found upon many practitioners that would influence their work ethic.
Wiccans tend to feel that excessive material gain is not necessary and that people should seek to give back to the earth. When lavish or excessive lifestyles exist, these lifestyles tend to be wasteful when it comes to resources. That which is wasteful does damage to the earth through contributing to contamination and overuse of those resources. Though it might seem contradictory to their beliefs, Adler alluded to the fact that most Wiccans live in cities, because most people live in cities (p. 389) .
Even when it comes to technology, Wiccans are fine with the development of it as long as humans can find a way not to harm the earth in the process (Adler, p. 390) . Regardless to whether Wiccans live in the city or in the country, the ethics of not wasting what one has, as well as the notion of giving back to the earth still exist. By giving back to the earth, it is understood that the planet provides humans with food, shelter, and a means to live, so people should do whatever possible to return the favor. In The Earth Path, Starhawk commented, “If we invoke an abstract earth but never have any real dirt under our fingernails, our spiritual, psychic, and physical health becomes devitalized and deeply imbalanced” (p. 6) .
Wicca looks down upon the practice of stepping on others to get oneself ahead, which also applies in the workplace. It is generally held by Wiccans that people should seek to build up those around us, and thus build up ourselves, instead of tearing people down (Cunningham, p.70) . People who are targeted with negativity have families and needs just like everyone else.
Additionally, Wiccan ethics generally hold that people should seek to understand and build up their own communities, the natural community, and the human community (Starhawk, p. 7) . This mantra ties in a collective future with that of the people around us. The focus is placed more on helping the community succeed rather than pursuing personal success. By building up our own communities, Wicca puts a high priority on volunteerism within Wiccan groups as well as in programs that support general community needs, such as food drives, soup kitchens, etc.
When it comes to one’s career, the ethics of Wicca lead people to put the pursuit of life-long learning in a place of importance (Adler, p. 97) . Experts in any fields are still very much students of life. Wicca teaches that there is always more to learn and the thought that one has learned all that there is to learn is merely an illusion (Reed, p. 84) .
Wicca teaches that people should be happy today; as to live a sad life full of work that is expected to pay off down the line is not a life worth living. People should be involved in a career that brings one pleasure or contributes to our happiness. Additionally, one’s career should most ideally be one that is in aligned with our own personal beliefs. This is not to say that people should not work hard, as there is not sufficient evidence to determine whether suffering in this life is rewarded in what comes after death. Though we make choices along our chosen path, many Wiccans believe that the divine pushes us in the direction in which we are supposed to be traveling. Therefore, when things do not work out as expected Wiccans feel as if it was fated or as if it was intended by the divine (Cunningham, p.70) .
On the other hand, the essence of the spirit of capitalism is rooted in one’s calling. When a person commits to a career there is a great obligation made and that person has a duty to do his or her best to uphold that obligation. Weber related the duty in fulfilling the calling to one’s moral ethics. Weber refers to a comment made by Benjamin Franklin that “time is money” (Chapter 2) . Should a person make ten dollars per day and not put in a full day of work there is the opportunity to spend some of what has been made. If ten dollars is made and five of that is spent in the time that could have been spent working, then that is just five dollars that was unnecessarily wasted. “Thus the capitalism of to-day, which has come to dominate economic life, educates and selects the economic subjects which it needs through a process of economic survival of the fittest” (Weber, Chapter 2) .
Capitalism also fostered industrialization and that became a method through which people could afford products they previously could not afford. More products were made cheaply. More products were made in countries that allowed less money to be paid to workers. Purchasing items created as a result was not considered leading a lavish lifestyle (Chapter 4) .
In with the spirit of capitalism, Wicca often inspires the feeling of individual paths among its members, which might indicate that they could take that to make their own luck in the realm of the workplace. However, Wiccans see the divine as having a hand in their fate and are actually less likely to work hard to get ahead in the long run. There is this notion of the “calling” in the spirit of capitalism. If Wiccans do feel a calling it is a call to service or a call to a spiritual vocation. However, the vocation that leads to the spirit behind the flourishing of capitalism was a calling to a career path regardless whether or not it was a spiritual vocation.
Anything that could potentially waste resources and harm the earth is looked down upon by Wiccans so the pursuit of more than is necessary to rationally, and happily, get by is not held in high regard. As Weber stated, the spirit of capitalism is similar in that people do not naturally wish to acquire more, but keep the lifestyle to which they are accustomed. However, Weber noted that there was a point in which strict supervision helped to turn peasants who spent time in leisure into laborers (Chapter 2) . He also stated that the ascetic thought of denominations driving the spirit of capitalism are rooted in the idea that faithful labor is pleasing to God, even of that labor is done at a low wage (Chapter 5) . Since the Wiccan view of the divine can be found in the self, it can be contrasted that as long as one is happy with the work that is done, then the divine would surely approve.
Capitalism also seeks to provide more products at a lower cost to people, despite the overall cost to trade and the earth (Weber, Chapter 5) . Personal, household, and food products are more and more created by industrialization or altered with chemicals created laboratories to reduce costs and increase availability. They are increasingly being made with materials that are not naturally found on the planet. These same capitalistic ventures have found themselves in other countries, seeking to find labor cheaper than the laws of the United States will allow in making their products more cost effective. These are not community and earth friendly practices. As a result, Wicca and the spirit of capitalism clash.
In conclusion, the Wiccan work ethic differs from the work ethic that fostered the spirit of capitalism. Wicca emphasizes the care of the Earth, the community, and the happiness of the self over the fulfillment of committing to a career vocation. Though the industrialization brought on by capitalism allowed people to choose a calling and then provide resources for their families without excess, the methods behind this asceticism would not be highly regarded by Wiccans.
The success of this research paper is mixed. In trying to extract the meaning of the “spirit of capitalism’ from Weber’s book, I may have over-simplified it. I knew too much about the subject of Wicca to make heavy research necessary. I knew exactly where to look for the information presented on Wiccan ethics. I may not choose a topic in the future of which I have a great knowledge when writing a research paper for a graduate study program, as the ability to do greater research is why I came to graduate school. However, an expanded version of this research paper that touches on some of the further research topics may end up being submitted to several related journals and online publications.
Opportunities for future research on this topic include how Wiccans and other Neo-pagans have become involved with global earth and community centered programs and practices that have a reverse affect on the spirit of capitalism, such as conservation, green living, fair trade, etc. As to what I eluded in my introduction, future research could also center on different groups of people, examining their ethics, comparing them with the spirit of capitalism, and then using that information to build a composite profile of various groups of people and how they feed into or detract from capitalism. The composite profile could be used to explore the origins of capitalism and forecast future trends.
Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-workshippers and Other Pagans in America. New York: Penguin. 2006. Print.
Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul: Llewellyn. 2000.
Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. New York: Oxford. 1999.
Reed, Ellen Cannon. The Witches Qabala: The Pagan Path and the Tree of Life. Maine: Weiser. 1997.
Starhawk. The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature.. New York: Miriam Simos, 2004. Print.
Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. American Studies at the University of Virginia. Web 18 Oct. 2009.
Copyright: Iris Firemoon
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Author's Profile: To learn more about Iris Firemoon - Click HERE
Other Articles: Iris Firemoon has posted 2 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Iris Firemoon... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2013 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).