The Value of Money

Had an interesting experience that lead to an interesting thought the other day. I work in a metaphysical shop, whose patron deities are some of the Orisha. Not a pantheon that I work with personally, but certainly one whose energies I’ve come to recognize. The Orisha are very popular in my community so it was kind of hard not to.  I admit that at first I was a little afraid it would be weird lighting their candles and tending their altars at the store regularly. But quickly came to find that polite reverence is a welcomed thing.

One day when I was working a got a particularly odd phone call. The short of it was that someone was wanting me or someone at the store to help them put a curse on someone. It was a person that didn’t seem to understand no and got off the phone saying they would come explain it to me in person. Okay…

Now I was not and am not opposed to telling people that we aren’t that kind of store and send them on their way.  But I was on my own that day and being the general prepardeness kinda gal I realized that it would probably just be all around better if said person didn’t find the time to make it to the store. So I light up some delicious sage, do the rounds, and decide to grid some black & brown tourmaline on doorway. It was in putting those pieces down that I took note of Papa Legba’s altar, sitting there happy as you please.

Due to his immense popularity in my social circles, I’m sure in part to him being the gatekeeper of his people, I’m not completely ignorant of his likes and dislikes. And while some people attract Trickster gods, or storm deities, throughout my life it’s been the Chieftains/King/Father Gods that take a shine to me (and I am not complaining one wit). So the thought of asking Papa for help shielding his store was not uncomfortable to me.  But what to give as an offering?

This is where I have one of those moments of realization that investment in a pack of cigarettes or smoking tobacco to just keep in my purse as emergency offering material  is a brilliant idea. But alas no tobacco, and being at work no alcohol either. Standing there staring at the jovial candle burning I’m hit with the smell of spices. I could easily go to the herbs and find something appropriately spicey and it may very well work as it would be an offering from the store on behalf of the store, yet I’d still like to offer something of my own and I don’t even have a stick of cinnamon gum on me. Meditating on his altar I see the glint of copper and remember. I’d witness many of his followers make offerings of change, and I knew that his number was three. Problem solved I went and dug out three of my shiniest pennies, asked him to watch the store front and asked to set that person on a path elsewhere. Feeling better I went on with my day, and said person never showed up on my shift. I’m fairly certain they didn’t show up at all.

But the whole thing got me thinking about money and offerings.

What a person offers to a Deity, spirit or otherwise is usually dependent on historical precedent, personal experience, and to some extent common sense. It’s fairly easy to know what to give to the Deities that we are familiar with, live with, or worship. Less so to those outside of our sphere. There is historical precedents for leaving money as offerings for most ancient cultures. There is certainly precedents for money as offering for the Orisha, most of the altars that I have seen for them have various amounts of money on them. Everything from high dollar bills to the humble penny.

But I have to admit it was the first time that I had ever given money as an offering. My gods had never asked or shown an interest in money for an offering. In fact the idea kinda tasted sour in my mouth.

 But why? It’s not that there isn’t historical precedence for it. The Celts are generally agreed to have worn their wealth. With Ireland specifically having traded and dealt with specific weights of gold and silver rings or bracelets. The finding of such rings and bracelets in bogs and under standing stones throughout Ireland sets the stage for money being an appropriate offering.

But perhaps the hitch is in the details.  In Ireland gold was relatively abundant, and in Britain and other sectors of the Celtic world money-rings were made of gold, silver, iron, and copper. All metals with power and energies. Metals that we, as human beings have been attracted to since discovering them.

Comparatively money of today, in America seems paltry. Coins are a combination of (VERY SMALL amounts) Copper, Zinc, and Nickel. Coinflation is a website that gives you the melt down value of your coins. It’s kinda eye opening. Then there is paper money, which in of itself is just paper that we as a society have assigned value to. We could make the argument that all money, even gold and other precious metals are assigned their value based on society. But that argument is going to get us no where fast. For me at least the precious metals hold a certain energy that our modern base metals don’t. Just as plastic doesn’t ring energetically for me.

It may be in part that my Gods worship did not follow into modern day as others have. So modern money’s value isn’t apparent, I’d imagine if I were use to gold cache’s as an offering suddenly being presented with a $20 would be confusing. In the same way that I try very hard not to make offerings of processed foods because it just seems to have less spiritual value to them.

I guess it comes down to preference. Whether or not the symbolic value of modern money is important to you and your deities, or if it’s more about the spiritual value of the materials. Overall it was a very interesting thing to think about lol, and I’d love to hear other people’s take on whether or not they find modern money to be a good offering for their deities.

Penny for your thoughts? lol



  1. Great, thoughtful post 🙂 I tend to give money as offerings based on its worth to me, personally. Although my deities and I may not share standard currency reference points, I make sure when I offer it that they know it is an act of personal sacrifice.

    1. That seems to be the heart of the matter. The personal worth and how offerings fit into your personal spiritual world view. It’s one of those things that the different context makes sense of everything. It’s also one of those things that in future I will love finding out about people lol

  2. While I admit to not knowing very much about this sort of thing, I always felt that an offering was more about the fact that you’re willing to sacrifice something of value to you to the deity as opposed to what the offering actually was.

    Such as if you make a food offering from scratch, it’s less about the actual food that is offered and more about the time, effort, energy, and thought that you put into creating it as an offering.

    Although I admit I’m not currently working with any deities much of at all, and I don’t know very much in the first place, but that’s just how it’s always seemed to me.

    1. Oh a completely believe that to be true, and think that’s probably the predominate thought on it.

      But for me there is also an added layer of complexity on top of that. It comes from my belief as an animist, and also from my ability to prepare. Most of my offerings aren’t made in moments of extreme need where things are scarce or time is limited, in those cases the complexity can and is done without in replace of need. But as I live a fairly privileged life in America I have the means, the time, and ability to go that extra mile. In my practice the more organic and from the source the more energy and spiritual worth the items hold. Holding in my hand a Snickers bar and in the other an apple, I can feel the that the apple has more energy, more life. Moreover I know that in culture that my pantheon is from the apple is highly regarded as a symbol of love and magic. Taking that a step further, apples picked on my partner’s family homestead where the tree has been tended lovingly and the land protected by his family for generations hold a greater vibrancy and worth than ones that I choose from the store. I personally feel a greater value for those apples because I can also go to those trees and make offerings to them on behalf of his family and myself for bestowing their gifts to us, thus creating more ties connections and power to any apple offerings I give from those trees.

      Make some kind of sense? lol

      Worth itself is so very dependent on personal world view that it is one of those things that changes from person to person. Which is part of what makes it so interesting to me 😉

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