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Pie and Poverty

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on May 10, 2010 | Comments (7)

A few months ago I was talking to a person involved with publishing books on magick. He wanted to know why so many people claiming to be great magickians were so very poor. I was reminded of this conversation this morning when I received an email from a friend who was joining a magickal order and worried because many of the members were out of work and didn’t have their own places to live. She wondered if, by joining the group, she was bringing poverty into her life. She wondered why so many occultists who claimed to be magicians were broke. I pointed out that this was true among ceremonial magickians and Pagans.

Some magickal people respond by saying, “I’ve got more important and valuable spiritual things to do than perform magick for money.” However, as I’ve pointed out many times in the past, it’s hard to be spiritual when you’re wondering if your family is going to have a place to live or if you’ll have enough money to get food to eat.

Personally, I think the problem goes to a very deep psychological level. It goes all the way to feeling guilty over eating pie.


Well, I think most people think everyone has a share of the world’s riches. If you were to make a pie chart it might look like this:

Pie 1

In actuality, some people have pieces of the pie that are larger and others have pieces that are smaller, but everyone gets a piece of the pie. Now here’s the problem. Many people think that in order for you to get more you must extend the sides of your piece of pie and someone else must get less. Here’s an image of what that idea looks like showing how if A gets more, B gets less:


As you can see, if A increases the size of his piece of pie, B suffers. If you do magick to get more, someone else will get less. Besides, you don’t deserve any more and certainly nobody deserves any less. Therefore, you can’t do magick to help yourself because you’ll harm B who will unfairly get a smaller piece of the pie. This is one of the basic concepts behind poverty thinking. It would be very valid if it were real, but it’s not the true situation at all. It’s just poverty thinking. The actual situation is more like this:


To get a larger piece of the pie, you have to make the pie bigger (as illustrated by the dotted edge of the larger pie). Your piece, labeled “A,” doesn’t increase in size by moving to the sides and forcing others, including “B,” to become smaller. Rather, your piece becomes larger by extending the outside of the pie making everyone’s piece bigger. If you, as “A,” earn more, so does everyone else in the pie, including “B.” This is a basis of abundance thinking. The more you make the more everyone can make.

Are you involved in abundance thinking or poverty thinking?

More of the New Cover for Modern Magick

Below is some more of the cover for the new revised and expanded third edition of Modern Magick that will be available soon. The new edition will have scores of new pieces of art and about 40% new material, including an entire new chapter. This is going to be big! In fact, it’s so big, the format of the book is increasing from 6 x 9 inches to an amazing 8.5 x 11 inches while still having over 600 pages. Over 150,000 people and groups have used Modern Magick to guide their magickal training. When the new edition comes out, I think the numbers of people becoming magickians is going to grow by leaps and bounds.

Here is the bottom of the new cover:


I love the spherical incense burners, the pentacle in the background and the chalice with the wand resting on top of it. The pentagram being drawn in the air is amazing. You can even see the reflection of the ritualist in the shiny floor. This is going to be major!

Reader Comments

Written By Ali
on May 10th, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

This “abundance thinking” is an intriguing notion, and I have had similar thoughts of my own. When doing prosperity magic years ago, I used the chant “stability, prosperity, generosity” as a way of inviting all of these things into my life and also increasing my ability to share these things with others, since I believe they are all mutually supportive.

On the other hand, such a view only really works if it takes into consideration both material and nonmaterial “wealth” – otherwise, if economic/material wealth alone is the only factor at play, inflation comes into play, rendering the bigger “slice” irrelevant. I remember some studies recently (though, sadly, I can’t find the source to link to) that have shown that the perception of one’s relative poverty (and the resulting stress and sometimes even physical health problems) plays a much larger role than one’s actual wealth or lack thereof. Even though middle-class Americans generally fall within the top five percent of the world population in terms of material wealth, many suffer from acute anxieties about not measuring up to the perceived wealth of the richest 1%.

On the other hand, I live below the poverty line, in a cute, affordable little apartment, and I do without “luxuries” like television and a car so that I can eat healthy food and take regular hikes in the local park. It’s a rich life, even though I’m poorer than almost everyone I know.

Written By Kyle
on May 11th, 2010 @ 8:30 am

As Ali has shown, some people simply do not want financial wealth and are happy to make do with less money. I’ve known quite a few people who have turned down very lucrative careers to do public interest work because they find it fulfilling. I disagree that inflation, though, renders the bigger slice irrelevant. Inflation in March of this year in the US was calculated at 2.31% (annual). If you use magick or abundance theory to get a larger slice of the pie (outwards, not by cutting into someone else’s pie), then you just need to ensure you are aiming for a 5% or 10% or 25% or 80% increase in salary.
Also, I think there’s a difference between living within your modest means, and not making ends meet. Someone at $30k a year could be managing just fine while someone at $60k a year is genuinely struggling with student loans, rent, taxes, etc. I think Don’s point stands, though, that many magickians, in contrast to Ali, are making below the poverty line (or even above) *but* do not have the rich (in other ways) life he does.

Written By Astara
on May 11th, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

I think the ‘pie model’ is an excellent example of how people approach prosperity magick. Also, I’d agree that the idea of ‘poverty thinking’ is deep rooted and psychological — which of course, can piss off people if you tell them they are poor because of their ‘issues’!

But, it is true, and I’d say unless you were born of a very wealthy family, you probably have some fear, anger, or mistrust of money that you learned from your family and society.

I have presented courses on attainment and wealth before so I have some thoughts I would add. I believe magickal basics are especially relevant to prosperity – you must have the will to do it, you must want or need the outcome to occur, and you must believe that your magick will work to obtain that which you seek!

Many people talk of how they would like a million dollars.. or want to open a store, quit their job, etc., but when its time to work on the magickal endeavor for their dream, they start editing down their ideas because, as they talk and plan, they either start feeling that the dream is too impossible or overwhelming to achieve. Then, what usually occurs is that they get down to what is really *really* needed right now.. what absolutely *must* happen – for example: **I must pay the rent this week**. And presto, THAT spell works nicely, but the bigger dream falls to the wayside, again, because it was not a ‘Need’.

Regarding ‘belief’ – I think it benefits people to see a glimmer of how the dream can potentially come to fruition, to bolster their ability to magick it. Everyone has limits to what they honestly think they can achieve, and frankly not a lot of people really believe they will win megabucks or will get a million dollar book deal tomorrow.

Turning dreams into needs, and believing you can obtain them is definition of magician – uncovering your true will, and obtaining the discipline to achieve it!

That said, not every pagan aspires to be a magician, and I think are just happy working within their comfort zone, rather than reaching for more — which can bring up all of these issues of mental discipline, overcoming psychological barriers, and pinning down what exactly they want out of life!

So.. no.. not an easy subject, even for those who practice magick in other areas for other needs that are frankly, probably easier for them to attain.

Written By Aaron Leitch
on May 12th, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

First I want to say “bravo!” to Don for making this distinction between poverty thinking and abundance thinking. I also love that he has busted the concept that “if I gain more, than someone else loses out.” That’s total BS!! Corporate CEOs- who run their companies into the ground (costing thousands of working people their livelihoods)- get millions of dollars in bonuses on their way out the door. The US government- claiming they have no money to help the poor- gives hundreds of billions of dollars to major corporations just because they ask for it. Let’s face it, there is PLENTY of money to go around.

However, I also feel that others here have added important points. First, wealth is not judged merely by money. You can be dirt poor money-wise, but have such a community of support around you that the lack of money becomes irrelevant. Your wealth is your family and community. (This is why Shakespeare wrote, in Romeo and Juliet: “Banishment! They utter that word in hell!”)

Second, true wealth is not money at all. Wealth is about land, assets, investments, a good job (income), etc. The little green pieces of paper are only a symptom of real wealth. So folks who focus on “money magick” are missing the point entirely. Even if I successfully perform a spell for a million dollars, that money will drain away as quickly as it came in – because there is no REAL wealth to back it up. On the other hand, if I do magick to get a house, I have something that will stay with me forever.

Third, I must point out that most of us reading this blog – regardless of how poor we think we are – are already richer than 90% of the humans on this planet. How silly, then, must we look to the Gods and Spirits when we contact them and claim we are poor.

And finally, I completely agree with Kyle when he points out that some people have accepted personal poverty. (We’re not talking about destitution here, just being broke.) I know this doesn’t compute for many Americans – but the fact is that not everyone feels like a failure because they have less little green pieces of paper than another person – or a less expensive car, or smaller house, etc. To have wealth, you have to *maintain* wealth – and some folks (thank the Gods!) have other things to do than be a slave to their own money. Hard as it may be to believe, there ARE benefits to being money-poor. It is why monks and hermits and shamans and gurus throughout history have traditionally accepted poverty.

Written By Kyle
on May 13th, 2010 @ 9:31 am

Really excellent post, Astara. And you are correct that many people fear money. I’ve heard many people say, “I am uncomfortable around money” and we’ve all seen either people in our lives or famous people hit it big, but then psychologically fall apart. Money brings limitations, but it also brings a lot of freedom (and many people are fearful of freedom – looking at the Bible, when the Jews were released from bondage in Egypt, they more than once said, “let’s go back to be slaves in Egypt. at least we had food and certainty”). Many “good” things in life we ask for, but often when presented with them, we get frightened of the change and retreat into our comfort zone and what we are familiar with. Now when you talk about “belief,” are you suggesting that if someone wants to get a lot of money, but they are doubting they could do it, handle the extra work (presuming it comes with extra work), etc., they start “small” ($1k here…$5k there) until they discover that they *can* get money and they *can* manage it? Can that/should that be used for any type of change? Or any magickally induced change? Thoughts?

Written By Astara
on May 19th, 2010 @ 12:43 am

Thanks Kyle! When I spoke of belief, I was talking about creating a mental path to the end goal. For instance, if you want to bring in money for bills, isn’t it easier, magically speaking, to do spell work for a new job with that salary rather than to do spell work to win megabucks —- is it more believable that a new job is more attainable than megabucks, in other words. That’s my suggestion, that the more ‘unbelievable’ (to YOU) the magick is, the harder it is to hold true belief, and the more difficult it is to magick the outcome.
I’d add that I think the ‘pie’ idea is also relevant to people’s internal belief of balanced abundance. Can we have ‘everything’, or must some internal part suffer while another part is successful? I agree with you and Ali & Aaron that wealth is more encompassing of all of life’s riches than just money and cash. But, I think this idea is used as an excuse when we’re aching for material abundance and can’t achieve it.
That said, keeping a forward focused, goal oriented, non-monetary intent in mind, I think, is a better way to approach prosperity magick. ‘Money magick’ just seems counterintuitive to paganism as a whole, I think it inspires a feeling of spiritual prostitution – an idea of ‘selling out’ or losing some other part of yourself to gain.
As a good friend pointed out, why fight to reclaim that which is generally despised? Why try to make ‘money magick’ a good thing? Why not reshape it into something agreeable and healthy.. so perhaps let’s call it abundance magick and work on filling up reservoirs in all areas – health, love, career/the great work, education, giving back to the community. And, let the universe decide if someone is going to pay us more cash to obtain our goals or if we can find a way to barter or find that things/resources are given to us. Maybe that’s a better way to approach it..


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