By Paul Waggener
I took my first job at 15, working on a roofing crew in Northern California, one of the only guys at the time on my job-site without a criminal record. I remember 105 degree days on wood shingles, getting burnt by the sun and bit by fire ants. I also remember the feeling of satisfaction at the end of a long day, when the foreman asked me and my buddy Sam, then 17 or 18, to come back the next day- a couple teenagers chosen over grown men for our work ethic and hustle.
For the rest of my life, that work ethic defined me on job-sites all over America. I’ve done concrete, tree work, demolition, log cabin construction, and more- always the most brutal grunt work available, since I never was worth much when it came to carpentry, or any of the more skilled labor jobs. I knew how to work hard, I was pretty strong, and I was reliable- three things that will ensure you a job almost anywhere in the country, but will never make you rich.
It wasn’t until I started playing country music that I first understood that hard, brutal work was not necessarily the best way to make money. It sure made other people money, but usually left me tired, mean, and beat up at the end of a week, with just enough money to pay the bills and party a little, before saddling up and doing it all over again the next Monday. I never had more than a grand or two at any given time. Certainly no savings or “rainy day” money.
As I started to play out more, and I improved as a performer, I started making 150 dollars or so for a show, then sometimes 2 or 300. The idea that in two 3 hour gigs I could make what I made in a whole week of breaking concrete with a heavy jackhammer blew my mind. Thinking of playing music full time was something I’d never even considered as a possibility.
A while later, I was working a few days a week as a bartender, and knocking down three or four gigs a week, and instead of pulling in a few hundred a week, I was making a couple thousand. This transition knocked down some major road-blocks in my mind, and in my approach to wealth and currency, and for the first time in my life, I was making “good money” without breaking my back or bones to do it.
These days, I do pretty well for myself, paying the bills with writing, artwork, consulting, all under the Operation Werewolf banner. Anyone who tells you working for yourself isn’t as hard as manual labor has probably never done it, as it presents its own series of challenges, mostly stemming from the fact that you are 100% reliant on yourself for everything- most people don’t have the ability to be their own taskmaster, or they lack the staying power and relentless nature required to run a business. However, its infinitely more enjoyable at the end of a day to know that the hours you put in were for you and yours, and being mentally exhausted beats the hell out of herniated discs and blown knees.
I get my physical exhaustion these days from weights and martial arts, which I was often too tired to do when putting in 12 or 14 hour days rolling logs up hills.
For some people, though, I think the problem is all in their mindset.
It seems that most of the people I interact with, especially the modern “pagans” or “heathens,” fall into the low to middle class economic bracket, and that this is largely due to an attitude toward money adopted from either a Christian upbringing or sense of inferiority.
Bringing up money or discussing it is commonly seen by these types as impolite or in bad taste, even though many of them eke out a meager living in decidedly undignified positions, supplemented often by some kind of “side-hustle” so popularly seen at gatherings and on social media. Blacksmithing, jewelry, woodburnings, religious trinkets, mead-making, clothing sales and so forth are all commonplace.
Operate outside these quaint “old-world” hobby-trade pursuits, and now instead of being “industrious” you might find yourself become a “money-grubber” or some other insult slung by those people in a position of less success than their betters.
Here’s a secret:
Everyone wants more money.
Sure, there may be a few monks on a mountain somewhere who have transcended the desire for the finer things in life, but for the rest of us, money means access, power and leverage. Eating good quality food, exploring the world, the security of our own home, reliable conveyance, medical treatment when necessary without going into crushing debt, even supporting those within our network through patronage by buying or investing in their endeavors- none of this can be done without wealth.
In the pre-Christian era of Europe, from whence this mishmash of modern “pagan revival” claims to take its cues, wealth was seen as a noble pursuit, one that led to respect, power, and leverage. In Hinduism, they called this pursuit “artha” and it was seen as one of the ways to live a meaningful life, when approached in a virtuous and honest fashion.
A chieftain in pagan Europe was largely successful or unsuccessful due to charisma and open-handedness, that is, his ability to attain enough wealth that he could be generous with it, thereby establishing loyalty and love from his inner circle and soldiers, in order to attain even more of it.
Likewise, the great holy festivals and rites of pagan worship throughout the world were largely dedicated to success of some kind- whether in battle or trade, prosperous fields and livestock or conquest in other lands to expand the means and territory of the tribe or people. The Celts and Germans were known to throw gold and silver into sacred lakes in order to receive a like gift in return from their gods, ancestors or the genius loci, showing an undeniable connection between wealth and their religious practices.
They did this because they understood a simple truth:
Money is power.
People don’t really want money simply to buy nice things, although that is one undeniable and pleasant side effect of having money. But at its core, everyone knows that money represents power in this world, and everyone wants to be more powerful.
This is what we have to change our minds about, and our attitudes. We have to stop looking at wealth as a strict currency, some dirty money that exchanges hands in strip clubs and back alleys, or exists as one’s and zero’s in our bank account, some finite, small concept. Instead, we must understand the mystery of :FEHU: as a power source that fires the circuitry of possibility.
That’s what money is: A tool to leverage possibility.
I heard it said somewhere that increased responsibility meant greater power, but that when we are dependent on someone else, we are relinquishing power. This single idea pretty much sums up my entire attitude and philosophy toward money.
I don’t want to relinquish power over myself to anyone else. I want to hold the reins, and I don’t want to spend my life crushed and beaten down by debt, poverty, reduced opportunity, tightly scheduled labor for pay, or seeking the generosity or openhandedness of greater men.
Because in this world, no one is equal.
No one is equal in any way- unless they are.
If I can lift 500 pounds off the ground and you can’t, I am stronger than you at the deadlift.
No if’s, no and’s, no but’s.
If I can’t multiply 12×12 in my head and someone else can, they are smarter, sharper, or more learned than I am.
If I can’t afford to fix my broken down truck and someone else can, it makes them more powerful than me, at least on a temporal level. These things affect everything- how strong we are, how tough, how wealthy, how good-looking, or charismatic. The people that say they don’t matter are the ones who don’t have them, and can only fling slander and jealous barbs at those who do.
The fact is, it all matters. It all dictates our place in the world, our social standing in the world, and in our own in-groups. We’ve evolved to admire those who are capable of thriving, capable and skilled at acquiring. Whether that is acquiring strength or wealth, or “getting girls,” or anything else, we respect those who can ably “do for themselves.” We look down on those who are always looking for hand out, the self-willed weak, or the socially inept. This comparison, these judgements, they happen all the time, every second, every moment.
The reason that wealth and power is the most important of these physical, temporal attributes, is that in this world, it dictates more areas of your life than anything else.
[Note, we are NOT SAYING that wealth is the most important thing there is- only that it is the most important TEMPORAL thing there is- honor, loyalty, virtus, and so on- these things clearly hold more importance to us, and if there must be a choice between them, we will take the eternal and the ideological over the temporal and transient any day.]
To have or to have not.
To go do what you always dreamed of, or to be stuck at home in some shabby apartment watching other people doing what you wanted to do and saying “one day, one day.”
One day is right.
One day you’ll either understand that in order to live lives of legendary excellence, of liberated action, we can’t be dependent on anyone but ourselves- or one day, you’ll die unfulfilled.
The choice is completely up to you how you want to go out, but I can tell you this from personal experience: if you are someone who has big goals, massive dreams, wild, expansive thoughts, creativity, charisma, or whatever else- none of it matters if you’re stuck in the meat grinder of wage slavery.
The pursuit of wealth and power is the game of kings.
It is the high stakes dice roll that harshly marks the line between rulers and ruled, slaves or free men, and make no mistake that this is the true nature of the world whether you like it or not. The concepts and realities of power, wealth and rulership do not require our approval to simple “be.”
Wealth is a storm. A lightning bolt that we can harness to power the entire machinery of our complex goals, plans and network, and allows us to create an empire in the desert.
We can either hold the reins or stay under the whip.
“He who is without wealth amidst unlimited quantities of it, is either a coward, a born slave, or a lunatic.”
– Might is Right