You believe that most people really do not understand money, nor do they really think about what it is. Why do people not understand it?
Money is one of the primary taboos of Western society, along with sex and death. To
understand what those taboos have in common we need to delve into collective
psychology best described by archetypes. Archetypes are patterns of emotions and
behavior that can be observed across civilizations and time periods. Historically, the three
Western taboos – money, sex, death – were all key attributes of one key archetype, the
Great Mother. It turns out that the earliest currencies all directly related to the Great
Mother, back all the way to prehistory. For instance in 3200 BC, the original Sumerian
shekel was embossed with a representation of Inanna, the Goddess of life and death,
sexuality and of the grain storage facilities that backed the money of the time. The
English word “money” itself derives from the temple of Juno Moneta in Rome in whose
basement operated the mint of the empire. Juno was the Italic goddess of the menstrual
cycle, sexuality, pregnancy, birth...and of money.
Over the centuries, Western society has totally repressed the Great Mother in our
collective consciousness, sometimes rather violently, leaving us nothing from the
feminine side in our vision of the divine.
When you repress an archetype it manifests itself through its specific shadows – with
money, that turns out to be greed and fear of scarcity. This brings us straight into the
deeper emotional level about money. At the risk of simplifying, you could say that the
reason we don’t understand money is that we don’t understand a heck of a lot about sex
and death, either! That has started to change somewhat, though. The 1960s forced us to
talk about sex, and AIDS now has forced us to talk about death, even with our children.
In my work, I’m trying to draw people’s attention to our money, our last taboo. Think
about it: it’s less taboo today to talk about who you slept with last night than about how
much money you have. It’s a real blind spot in society.
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© Copyright FPA May 2003
VOICE – MAY 2003
Financial Planning Association, Denver USA.
A feminine aspect of our society. Is there anything as such?