I want to start this post with a disclaimer or two, especially for those who are new to Paganism.
First, you absolutely do not ever have to pay anyone anything to be Pagan or to practice Paganism. Eventually, you’ll probably want to get some supplies, but not neccessarily. And as frustrating as it can be if you feel you want/need supplies for your particualr path (believe me, I know!), they can usually be dispensed with or aquired very cheaply.
Second, while most of the organizations, etc., that are Pagan in nature and charge that I’ve personally come across are ethical and charge reasonable fees. There are also plenty of Pagan groups, probably most of them, that don’t charge a blessed thing. But I’m sure there are unethical groups around that are just out to effectively rob people. So if you do decide to join a group, order, class, or event that charges, do your homework. Make sure they’re on the level. Ask around if they have a good reputation. Ask yourself if the fees they are charging sound reasonable. You can never be too careful.
All that being said, I want to write about my families recent experiences with paying for Paganism. Or, rather, with paying to participate how we want to in our particular paths of Paganism. I don’t intend this post to bitch or gripe, in fact I’m super happy about it. These are all things that we really, really want to do, and there were times in our life when we didn’t have the money. So here goes:
I’m super, super happy and excited!
Last Autumn, I believe was when I joined Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA). It took me several months to gather all the supplies I needed for the Initiation Ritual (which I really can’t talk about beyond that. It’s not exactly oathbound, information, I don’t think, but it essentially is). Then it took me several more months to gather the time and energy neccessary to do the ritual, and I still kind of bungled it, though I don’t think sufficiently enough for it not to count. AODA has a lifetime membership fee for each Degree. So you only pay each time you move up a level. It seems kind of hefty to me, only because we live well below the poverty line and currently all three of us have a fixed income (though that may be changing soon). But aside from that influences how it seems, the fees really are not that hefty. Futhermore, they’re entirely reasonable, especially considering that their fee for each Degree is for life. So while most of what I’ve been doing with Paganism lately has to do with AODA, I haven ‘t actually spent any money in the Order lately. While I believe it’s coming close to the anniversary of my first year with them, I’m nowhere near where I need to be to complete my candidate year and move on to the next degree — though I’m working on changing that.
BUT, I also just renewed my membership to Ár nDraíocht Féin! I apparently joined on September 7th of last year and I renewed a few days early this year. And, this year I was also able to subsribe to their magazine, Oak Leaves. Last year I definitely couldn’t afford that and this year, I could. I’m also glad because, prior to this, I only subscribed to one Pagan magazine, and only that for a year or so. One of the things I want to do this year, and/or for however many years it takes, is to increase the number of Pagan and writing magazines I subscribe to. So far, I’m succeeding! Earlier in the year, I renewed my membership to the other Pagan magazine I subscribe to, and this month, I added Oak Leaves when I renewed my ADF membership.
ADF membership is a lot cheaper than AODA membership, principally because they’re membership is annual, as opposed to Degree based. There are also Groves (local groups of ADF) and different types of groups within ADF, some of which charge a modest membership fee. But you don’t have to join them, and, again, they aren’t pricey.
So I’m incredibly happy and I’m so relieved that we did, in fact, have money for me to not only renew my membership but to subscribe to the magazine, as well. But that still means that ADF put me out fifty bucks so far that year. If I join my local Grove, which I want to do, even though it’ll be a pill to get to most of their events, that’ll be another twenty-five dollars, making a grand total of seventy-five dollars spent on ADF this year. I still haven’t bought any of the three books (at least) that I need to get to complete my Dedicant Path studies. I also want a copy of a book that helps guide you through your Dedicant Path in more depth, though the book isn’t strictly speaking required and it has a bunch of other books that are reccommended reading if you follow that book instead of just doing what’s required for the Dedicant Path.
I’m at least as excited, because my husband, Phire, finally joined the Grey School of Wizardy, which is something he’s been wanting to do for years, most of a decade, in fact, I think. This year, we finally had enough money for him to enroll. Enrollment is ten dollars a month, or ninety-five dollars a year, the latter of which gives you a slight discount. Unfortunately, we don’t have the cash to pay ninety-five dollars a year outright right now, so ten bucks a month it is. There is also an ascending fee as you go up levels. The first one is five dollars and they double from there. I had him put aside twenty dollars this month, that if all goes well, we’ll just keep rolling over and adding to each month, so he’ll always have the money to advance a level when he can and wants to. There are also at least two books that are required for the school. Buying the cheapest copies of both of them, plus shipping, cost me about twelve dollars if memory serves. So that’s about forty-two dollars allocated to the Grey School of Wizardry this month.
A few months ago, my partner, Star Jelly (who I’ll probably usually just call SJ or Star), was ordained by the Universal Life Church. That is not the Unitarian Universalist Church, the two are often confused, and the latter has far more stringent ordination requirements. Becoming ordained by the ULC is free, in fact, all it requires is for you to sign up. I should note that the ULC isn’t specifically Pagan, nor is it explicity Christian, nor any other religion. A former friend of mine was an atheist and he was ordained by them. However, I’m sure there are Pagans ordained by them, and Star is predominantely Pagan, with other influences as well, like Phire and I have. However, there are things you can order that help you be able to actually do things as an ordained individual, instead of getting laughed out of town. He’d like to have at least one of them, and I like him to have a few more. This includes a certificate of ordination, a ULC wallet liscense, and a letter of good standing, at least to start with. There may be other resources he might want later, such as books or other resources. But even with those three, that’ll be approximately forty dollars when we can afford it, which is not this month. It was something he really wanted to do, it makes sense for him, and I’m thrilled about it!
So, all told, I believe that’s one hundred and seventeen dollars spent on religious organizations this month, and hopefully, it’ll be at least another forty before the end of the year, for Star Jelly, for a grand total of one hundred and fifty-seven dollars this year! That doesn’t sound nearly as scary written down as it can to us in the moment. That said, it doesn’t sound scary right now either. Sure it doesn’t factor in Phire’s upcoming months of higher levels or other religious supplies — my books for AODA or ADF, or ritual items like candles and inscence, or the possibly that I may finish may Candidate Year next year and need to shell out one hundred dollars to AODA, but considering that it’s three seperate religious organizations for three seprate people, that’s not bad at all. Most Christians tithe for multiple times that. And even though we have less financially than most people in first world nations, that still doesn’t even approach a tenth of our income.
Like I said, I am so happy, and so excited. While we don’t have a ton of money, we have more than we did in past years, we manage it better than we used to, and our expenses have mostly gone done. We may not have a lot of financial resources, but in every other respect we are not remotely poor. We are, in fact, rich!
Thank you for reading, and I hope you are as happy as I am! I wish you well. 🙂
Links to the religious orders, organizations, schools, and churches I mentioned in this post:
Ancient Order of Druids in America — http://www.aoda.org
Ár nDraíocht Féin: https://www.adf.org
Grey School of Wizardry: http://www.greyschool.com
Universal Life Church: http://www.ulc.org
Note: Since I already published a post today, and because I may yet publish more posts relating to contests I am taking part in tonight, I am setting this post to go off tomorrow. It’s currently 8:17 PM EST on September 6th and I’m going to set this post to publish at some point tomorrow on the seventh.
Huh. I set this to auto-post, but it didn’t do it, so I’m posting it today: 9/8/14.