Mercury, Sun enter Taurus: Financial Literacy and the Question of Values. Where Time Meets Money.

Knowing how to use an ATM is not financial literacy. Photo by Eric Francis.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Mercury and the Sun entered Taurus together Sunday and Monday, which seemed to hint at a message. I am taking this to be about a topic you never hear much about: financial literacy. Taurus addresses many of the most significant issues of incarnated life, and I plan to stick with the topic in the next few essays (I already began the discussion on last Friday’s Planet Waves FM, focusing on Alice A. Bailey’s intriguing thoughts about Taurus.)

In much of Western culture, money has become God and marketing has become Jesus. We are taught that money is all-important, and then take part in a society that is largely driven by retail sales, including of financial products. This makes most people slaves to what Bailey calls “the world glamour,” which is a growing problem with both Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius.

These are huge topics, and my intent today is to sketch out some issues in broad terms, so that we may see where they exist. This is a discussion that needs to happen, and astrology can help. Just the arrangement of the houses describes a way of mapping out matters of finances, shared finances, and the use of resources.

A Practical Matter

Money is rarely thought of as what it is: a practical matter. Instead, it is imbued with all kinds of mysticism, mystery, mystique and agony. Concepts like luck enter into the picture. Money is thought to grant magical powers, and in a sense, it does.

In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, there’s a famous song called, If I Were a Rich Man. And in that song, Tevye says he wants to be so rich that the most important men in town to come to him for advice.

And he adds:

And it won’t make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong.
When you’re rich, they think you really know!

Particularly in American society, having money is thought to vindicate everything. (Steal a little and they throw you in jail; steal a lot and they make you king.) I once went to see the film Enron back when I was living in Brussels, and my date was impressed how much Jeffrey Skilling and Kenny Lay got away with.

She was also disappointed they got caught, no matter how many people they ripped off. This is all that matters to some people. (That was our last encounter.)

This sad state of affairs leaves most people clueless about how to handle their finances. They may be able to use the bank’s app on their phone, but that does not give any credit toward literacy. Money is a complex set of issues, and these are topics not generally taught in school, that I know of. I don’t hear parents mention it as part of what they teach their children. Most of what gets passed down the generations is anxiety and insecurity.

This is the sizeable Maloney family of Newtown, Waterford. This isn’t the photo that Mr. Maloney liked best of the ones taken Monday, Feb. 5, 1906.

Families Complicate Things

I am one of those people who was told by one of my parents I could never make a living as a writer. Fortunately I did not believe it, and it would not have mattered to me anyway. But it has still been a tremendous challenge to overcome.

There is something crucial — we all know this — about doing things for their own sake. But this terrifies people who project most of their anxiety onto money, or worse, their need for control, and this is often projected onto money.

In these ways, profound complications are imparted by family, and it’s little wonder why so many people’s personal economic lives are a mess. This is an outgrowth of family issues that financial issues are so often laced with.

It’s often for this reason that parents do not teach their children about money: they are unclear themselves, and to get clear would involve unraveling their own legacy.

Yet this issue — which I define as a matter of literacy — is built on top of a deeper matter fundamental to Taurus, and that is values. Here, the family issues run even deeper. You can see this almost any time an inheritance comes up. This usually comes along with a control drama and the exposition of profound emotional issues.

We could take this from a therapy standpoint, though I think it would be useful to simply teach practical skills. These alone would help people cut through the emotional brambles.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Basic Needs for Financial Literacy

We need to get a grip on the basics. Here’s a rough outline for a book I want to write, called Money for Artists. I would include the following topics:

What are the different kinds of bank accounts?

What is the difference between cash and credit?

Antique ledger, for accounts receivable.

What are accounts payable and receivable?

What are the different kinds of interest structures, for example, how interest is calculated for a credit card versus how it’s calculated for a loan?

What is “self-employment”?

What are the different kinds of company structures, i.e., sole proprietorship, LLC, type S and C corporations, non-profit corporations, and others?

What is a business plan?

What are the basics about taxes?

What are the basics about contracts and contract law?

What are the different kinds of assets?

What is bookkeeping? How do you do it, and who should do it?

What are the different kinds of financial professionals and how do you work with them?

What are the different kinds of insurance? We hear a lot about “health insurance,” but there are about a dozen others that people need to know about.

What happens to your money and property when you get married?

Almost all the time, these issues are either not addressed at all, or “left to professionals” without any clue what these professionals actually do. You would think that a society based on money would educate people about this stuff. However, our culture is not based so much on money as it is on extracting it from people. To that end, the less they know, the better for those doing the extracting.

Photo by Eric Francis

The Intersection of Money and Values

Here, we are deep into Taurus territory. Matters of this sign involve one’s personal wealth, and then the lesser noticed and more significant matter, one’s personal constitution. That’s also known as values.

How one makes one’s money can be in or out of alignment with one’s values. However, our society (by which I mean messaging from families, television, movies and other sources of glamour) consistently teach people to value money over what is personally important to them. This is a formula for the kind of misery that we so often see manifest.

Working with people as their astrologer, I have heard countless times, in countless forms: I wanted to do this, but my family said they would not pay for college unless I majored in business. Then they are in their 50s or 60s talking to me about how to recover and reclaim their time and creativity, to devote themselves to what they actually care about and want to do every day.

This leads to the question of time as it relates to money. We think of money as being a finite commodity, but really, time deserves that qualification. Money can exist in infinite abundance; time cannot.

The chart for the Sun’s ingress into Taurus calls attention to matters of time and its use. This shows up in the form of asteroids Klotho and Atropos, the fates of the length of life, and the cutting off of life.

And here we come to a bottom line distinction: is existence about what you do, or what you’re paid? For many, this is a question that would open up issues they might not want to address. However, it is time.

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