I started my pagan journey while a teenager in the 90’s. This meant I had very little in the way of funds, and couldn’t be flashy. The days before social media, I pieced my knowledge together one book at a time.
My first tarot deck was from Barnes and Noble, back in the day when they had a whole bookcase dedicated to metaphysical books. I wrapped my tarot box in a bandanna, and kept it in a wooden cedar lined box with an image of a wolf on it. My first altar included images of the Virgin Mary, a candle, and an incense burner.
Despite my barebones ritual gear, I had many amazing experiences doing rituals. Before I even considered myself pagan, I would pour a can of pop on the ground in the woods as an offering. Some of the most intense rituals were simply standing in the light of the full moon and drinking it with my skin. Others were me sitting at my altar, lighting a candle, a stick of incense, and talking to the goddesses I was developing a relationship with.
As my exploration of paganism continued, my collection of pagan items expanded. I got more candles, different types of incense, statues, oils, and other things that pleased me and helped in my pagan practice. In the early days, very few of my pagan items were bought specifically for my path. I mostly used items I already had and repurposed them. It wasn’t until many years later, when I was able to go to pagan stores and festivals and had more disposable income that I was able to buy things like statues or a cauldron.
While I never gained much skill in witchcraft, this is due to me not spending the time and energy developing them, rather than not having the most expensive stuff. Paganism is a religion about what you do, not what you buy. True, humans are magpies—we like shiny things. Sometimes we need physical things like statues and artwork to focus our minds. But sometimes we don’t.
In the time the Old Gods were worshipped as the dominant religion, paganism was practiced by everyone. The wealthy elites might have left the written records and had the temples built, but those who worked the land practiced as well. Too much of history is learning what the rulers did, and not enough is learning about the lives of everyone else. The idea that only the elites who filled their graves with goods practiced while everyone else had no religion is laughable.
Witchcraft is often called the tool of the oppressed. If you could solve your issues with a letter to the local government, you would not need to rely upon witchcraft. But oppressed also means those with fewer resources. Which means using whatever you have on hand for whatever you need. Powerful magick does not need fancy spell ingredients to work. In the end, the power is in the witch, not the stuff.
American Capitalism teaches us that worth is based in money. That people are only valuable as long as they are productive. That a hobby is only valuable if it can be monetized. That the more expensive something is, the greater it is. That buying the right item, having the right membership, will bring happiness. We are bombarded with these messages every day, and much is invested in manipulating us to get us to keep buying.
Staying free of this is hard. But always remember, money is a tool. It can be used to bring good or harm. Good financial habits are about having freedom and control over money, so you aren’t vulnerable to being wiped out by an accident or mishap.
Never, ever feel you are less of a pagan because you don’t have money to have an altar found on Instagram. The only way to be less of a pagan is if you don’t practice. If you wait until you can have that fancy statue of a god to pray to them, you will lose out on developing a relationship with them. It is only by interacting with our gods that we realize who we want to work with and who is a good fit for us.
Stop fretting about getting the right pagan stuff, and get going on practicing paganism.