Symbolic Meaning of Money
Most of my articles deal with the symbolic language of living things. You know, stuff like flowers, bees, trees, etc. But that doesn't imply I believe inanimate objects aren't any less imbued with symbolic meaning. Quite the contrary.
Consider rocks. On the surface, they seem quite un-alive, but I assure you, stones possess a vibration that resonates with the essence of life, and therefore also resonates with meaning.
In fact, stones were symbols of currency in many civilizations. Take the Yapanese, inhabitants of the small island Yap in the Pacific. They used Rai stones as currency up until the 20th century. These money stones were carved in doughnut shapes and could weigh several tons.
Although primarily on a trade system, the ancient Mayans also used stones for money. Stone beads made of jade or gold were required to purchase more expensive items.
My point is, whether currency is designated by stones, paper or metals, the meaning of money is the same. Symbolic meaning of money deals with value, power and history.
Why history? Because currency passes through many hands, and usually stays in circulation for a long time before it's destroyed. Energy is residual. That means money will store a bit of energetic-history from every person who had it in their possession. Perhaps the Yapanese understood this, because they placed a higher value on their Rai according to its history and lineage of ownership.
There's a lot going on in that last paragraph. As I re-read it, I'm struck with the terms energy and circulation. Interestingly, etymology of currency is Latin, meaning "the condition of flowing".
This underscores the idea that money is energy. The natural law of energy is it cannot be eradicated (removed or destroyed), but it can be transformed. Ancient alchemists understood this, and their work primarily involved transforming energy from one form to another (including transforming emotional/psychological energy) I think this is a vital tenet to associate with the meaning of money. Why? If money is energy, and energy cannot be extinguished, then logic would state that there is never lack for money.
Now, some of you will watch the moths fly out of your pocketbook and disagree with me. Others of you will happily point out the egregious national debt of the United States. These points, on the surface, give the appearance of lack, but there really is none. Like energy, money is simply someplace else...transformed for other purposes, working in other areas of the world.
You may or may not ascribe to this philosophy of money-energy, but I would encourage you to at least entertain the idea. I urge this because I guarantee you money - having it, or otherwise - is absolutely an attitude. Our attitudes and beliefs about money root themselves deeply in the subconscious, and our subconscious is a mirror reflection of the external world. The inner reflects the outer, and vice versa. So, if our inner attitude about the meaning of money smacks of lack, then lack is reflected in our external world. It's just the way it is.
So, let's deeply explore the meaning of money for the purpose of strengthening our positive attitude about money and its role in our lives. Let's start with a quick-list of symbolic highlights....
To better understand the symbolic language of anything, it's always a good idea to take a look at how an object is viewed in other cultures, in mythology, in legend and in lore. Doing so allows us to round out our perception of things, and also gives us origins to work with. After all, meanings are simply origins that have morphed over time.
We can learn a lot about a culture by how they handle their currency. Observing the symbols used in the production of money is particularly revealing too.
For example, in ancient Chinese symbolism, money was not only a means of exchange in value, but also a symbol of good luck. Money was also a symbol of truth and purity; any attempt to counterfeit it was considered a defilement of honor and a corruption of virtue.
Where some cultures idea of money equates to greed or debasement, we get an element of reverence in ancient Chinese currency. This is specifically found in their coinage. The cash is a round coin with a square hole in the middle. This is highly symbolic. Heaven is represented by the circle, and the square is a symbol of the Earth in Chinese wisdom. Together, they represent the union between heaven and Earth. This denoted a spiritual/energetic connection with currency in its inchoate state of production.
In the Gaulish and Celtic realm, coins were engraved with powerful symbols such as horses, trees, boars and bears. The presence of these symbols on their currency also implies a deep appreciation for the value of money in this culture. Why? Because the Celts had deep respect for such animals. Horses for example, were considered animals of high honor and esteem, and to assign such a powerful symbol on currency would imbue the same quality upon it.
There is an element of magic in Celtic money too. This is evident in the presence of trees on coinage. Trees were considered vessels of knowledge, energy and gateways to other realms of understanding. Marking trees on money would imply currency too is a gateway to wisdom and new levels of understanding.
On an historical note, the Gaul's were reluctant to initiate a currency in their civilization, preferring trade and barter as a means of exchanging value. It was not until the trans-culturation diffusion of the Greeks (their culture absorbing that of the Gaul's) that currency was adopted by these people.
Speaking of the Greeks, they too ascribed magic to the meaning of money. We see evidence of this in the gods and goddesses engraved upon their coins. Regrettably, familiarity bred contempt in Greek currency. We see over time the sense of wonder and magic was cast off, and deific engravings were replaced by portraits of government officials and other people in positions of power.
The Romans were giddy over the Greek's idea of currency, and adopted it with enthusiastic fervor. They also copied the Greeks in engraving real portraits of people in power on coins. In fact, they used coinage as a kind of political marketing campaign. Officials slated to be elected were featured on coins to put their visage in the consciousness of the people, hence winning more votes. The Romans didn't copy everything from the Greeks about money. The Roman emire was the first to produce larger coins as a commemoration of events in their history.
These are just a few examples of how some civilizations viewed the meaning of money. It's an interesting evolution, isn't it.
Early civilizations imparted deeper, even spiritual value to currency. Yet later in human history, the meaning of money was demoted to a purely materialistic value; its sole purpose to be used as a tool for gain (political, capital, etc).
I think this is something worth pondering in relation to our own attitudes about the meaning of money. What if our finances were spiritual? Indeed, some philosophies and religions encourage such an approach. Maybe you already think of money as a sacred energy. If so, odds are you're experiencing a remarkable relationship with money.
That's really the crux of this whole article on the meaning of money. It is a simple invitation to consider the deeper symbolism of currency, and entertain the idea that it is more than it seems, and more than the label the mass of modern (mostly Western) society has slapped on it.
Money is energy. It is how we identify with money-energy that affects our relationship with it.
I like how Henry Ford said it:
"I am not interested in money but in the things of which money is the symbol."
What kind of symbol is money for you? Is it a symbol of lack, fear, control? Is it a symbol of grace, charity, and spirituality?
It's all in the attitude.
I hope this article on the symbolic meaning of money has prompted your awareness about money to go "ka-ching!" and shifted your outlook a little about other potential values money offers. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the links at the end of this page for more symbolic meanings.
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!