—The Messianic Machiavel
While I don’t often turn to the Christian Bible for life lessons, every once in a while there’s a verse that sticks out to me. One of my favorites is Matthew 6:24; I think Jesus has a useful point here:
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
(King James Version of the Bible Matthew 6:24)
You probably see where I’m going with this. Ye shouldn’t serve “God,” but there might be a lot to be gained on the path of Mammon. Where does this path take us? Since Mammon was an ancient demon of wealth (you can read about him in numerous books, the Oxford English Dictionary, or Wikipedia) some assume that he’s just greedy in a self-destructive sense. However, greed can actually be quite fulfilling, and not what the Christians would reduce it to. If we use our greed in the proper way, we will find that it takes us to the only promised land we can be sure of: Earthly pleasure, delight, security, and the satisfaction of seeing the deserving prosper. Money, in its various forms, is what drives most human cultures today. It’s often thought of as a symbol of wealth, but it’s really a commodification of power. Ask those who suffer today without health insurance or who are forced to live in violent neighborhoods: a lack of money is imprisoning. Thus, it stands to reason, a collection of money, at least to an extent, is freeing. What does this mean to the Satanist? One, we need to find a career that we find personally satisfying, but also provides us with access to some level of financial success. Two, we need to learn how to best put this money to use. How much to save? How much to invest? What transformative powers can it grant us, and how can the greedy Satanist benefit deserving humans?
Addressing the first point of employment. In school you’ll hear a lot about college. No matter what you do, college seems to be the answer. For some, getting a degree is exactly the path you should take. However, college is expensive. You know about financial aid, I’m sure, but even a full Pell Grant will only cover a small part of tuition at a four year school today. As for books and living expenses, you’ll largely be left with a huge bill. What if you don’t have the other thousands of dollars in your account? I suggest looking at your local community college. One, tuition is significantly lower, and if they are properly credentialed  you can save tens of thousands of dollars. For the Humanities student, this savings can be incredibly important. I have an MA in English, but because of the usual dogma that had been thrown at me my entire life, I spent my time bouncing around from university to university. I ended up completing the degree, and I have a career that utilizes my education, but I’m also saddled with student loan debt in the five figures. The thoughtful Satanist, and there are many in the Humanities, rejects the popular notion of picking a school based on football record (where a lot of your tuition money goes) and chooses a school that is a better fit for him/her. Trades and career students benefit as well. School is rapidly changing from the brick and mortar models of the past and embracing new modes of learning and career placement. Many two year/community colleges offer CIS programs, Business classes, and degrees in the Health Sciences that can get you in the job market within a couple years. Further, machine, welding, tool and die, and so on, can allow you to finish degrees/certificates very quickly, and you’ll have many careers available to you. Perhaps you don’t want to go to college at all. You may already have a job that can be evolved into a career. Many people start off working a drive thru, bagging groceries, sweeping floors, etc. and in a few years, they’re in management positions. You may have the entrepreneurial spirit, and you’re better off starting a business. Fortunes are made by bold moves like that. The point is, don’t get locked into the dominant mindset of needing to go away to a university. Look at your options, do your research, and find the path that leads you where you want to go.
Once you have the career, what to do with all that money? Income varies, of course, but the properly greedy Satanist can use moderate funds to secure a prosperous future. First, adopt a new mindset. I was born poor , and I remained that way until into my adulthood. Part of my problem was that I thought like a poor person. Saving seemed nearly impossible, so I didn’t think about it. This is a reality for many today, but the Satanist can overcome it. Utilize your greed: if you have 10 extra dollars now, would you rather splurge today, or can it be used better tomorrow? When I was in that mindset, I’d put the money towards a new CD (I’m showing my age, I know). I picked up some solid albums that way, but I also picked up some garbage that ended up being drink coasters. The poor person mindset thinks it cannot afford to think about the future, when in reality, it can’t afford not to. It’s only ten bucks, but what if you set it aside until you needed it? Brakes go out, tires go flat, and appliances break down. If you have a cushion of money set aside, even if it’s only a few dollars at a time, you can save yourself later on. Mammon is the god of greed, it’s true, but that greed will better manifest itself later when you can overcome life’s obstacles with a bit of saved money.
Also, you need to be aware of your own mortality and desire for Earthly delights. Most of us don’t expect to cross the Pearly Gates someday, so we need to get our rewards here in this life. You may or may not be interested in the Vegas strip, cruise ship lifestyle (to be honest, it kind of appeals to me) but even if you’re not into that sort of thing, you certainly don’t want to be working week to week forever, right? Let’s go back to that $10 from before. What if you were able to get enough savings accumulated that you could begin investing it? It only takes around $500 to $1000 dollars to open an account with services like Etrade and Vanguard. If you put $10 per month in an account that was earning around 6% per year, you’ll end up with around $9800 after 30 years. Once you have a solid career in place, you’ll find that you can actually save quite a bit more than that. You can find the equations online for how to calculate this yourself, but I highly recommend just using a calculator like what you’ll find at this website. Play around with it a bit. How much can you save? When do you want to retire? Use your relationship with Mammon to guide you as you set yourself up for a nicely greedy future.
Investing can be intimidating. There are a lot of terms, numbers, and if you aren’t familiar with the formats of the different sites, it can seem impossible to get started. When my wife and I started investing, I’d done a bit more research than she had, so I started buying individual stocks and some mutual funds. What are those? An individual stock is a piece of a single company that you’re buying ownership in. Popular stocks include Disney, Coca Cola, Netflix, Amazon, etc. There are also penny stocks, which are companies that are currently worth very little, but that you can hope go up in value. Individual stocks are fun to own, but in my experience, that’s about all their worth. If you really know what you’re doing (I didn’t at the time) you can make some good money on them, but just as often, you lose. You’re betting on a single institution, and there are factors way beyond yours or anyone else’s control when it comes to a company’s valuation. Mutual funds are safer, but they are no longer my preferred option. These are collections of individual stocks and bonds that are managed by experts. You have to pay the experts, and every time there are transactions, you cover those as well (don’t worry, you don’t have to actually do anything, as they just take the money from what you gave them to invest). Paying the experts is usually better than competing against them, like when you buy individual stocks, and many successful portfolios are built with mutual funds. Personally, I prefer ETF’s, or Exchange Traded Funds now. These are a lot like mutual funds in that they are also managed by experts, but they have much lower fees, as they aren’t so actively managed. The experts who run these funds tend to set up a strategy and then trust it to work. These are my favorite way to go, but do some research: you may choose a different route. Like I said earlier, when we first started investing, I’d done more reading, so I thought I knew more than my wife. I picked specific stocks, spent hours working on it, and she just went with the suggestions the website she was using suggested (it was a collection of mutual funds). A year later, she was beating me pretty badly in returns. While it’s intimidating, investing is an important part of following the path of Mammon. We started with only $10, but once you have a career going, you may find that you have quite a bit more than that. Using the calculator I suggested above, let’s say you start with a $1000 investment when you’re 25, and you save $500 a month after that. When you retire at 65, you’ll have nearly $1 million. I’m assuming only a 6% return, so you may do quite a bit better. Investing is not for the faint of heart, however. Keep an eye on it, but don’t stress about it. The market will go up and down, but if you have a disciplined plan, you’ll end up with quite a bit more money than you ever expected. A little delayed gratification now can result in huge gratifications later.
We don’t have to limit our greed to just financial pleasures, however; there’s a lot to be said for engaging with our selfish desire to help other people. The Satanist (Mammonist?) who prospers will probably want to share his/her riches with those who need it. How best to help? There are several options available. I have a few dollars deducted from my payroll for the United Way every two weeks, and while I’m happy to do so, I don’t find the act particularly gratifying. It’s too anonymous, and I don’t get to really see the benefits to those they help (not to discredit the United Way at all). I encourage you to pursue options like this, but the Satanist can also find more local, personal ways to share in the blessings of Mammon. First, keep an eye on your local businesses. A lot of restaurants, stores, and shops host a variety charitable events. In my area these are often called “Gives Back” events. It’s usually a pretty simple affair: you bring in a coupon of some sort (usually distributed on social media) and 10% of your purchase goes towards the charity/person in need. You’re helping a person in your community, and perhaps the best part, you can deal with a business you trust who that will operate with lower overhead than a major charity. A trustworthy local business person is going to give all the money directly to the charity/person, so you can be confident your resources are being properly used. Another option: donate to your local homeless shelters and Humane Societies. Those places are always operating on shoestring budgets and can use any support you can give them. There, you’ll have the option of donating food/supplies, but if you’re short on cash, you can also donate your time. This is a nice option, as you get to really engage with the groups you’re helping. Some have argued that this isn’t really greed, but I think the pride you take in acquiring wealth is very similar to the pride you feel in sharing it with those who need it. There are also several “Satanic” charities you can donate to. I’ve been following this movement for about 25 years, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see that the Satanic groups are becoming more and more charitably minded. There probably isn’t a group in your area, as most of the more successful chapters are on the coasts of the United States, but you can still donate online. Just like above, you have options. Do your research, reflect on what you find, and do what you feel is right for you. Some Satanists don’t believe in charity, which is fine, if that’s the path you choose to take. I encourage you, however, to consider it, as there are many who can benefit from our successes.
Mammon works in mysterious ways. While he was probably one of many competing gods at the time when Jesus is alleged to have existed, he seems to be stronger than ever today. Most of the industrialized world, those people who are able to access this essay, live in a society that is, at least to some degree, capitalist/free market based. What is it that keeps those societies going if not that sin of greed? As we’ve seen, however, greed doesn’t have to be limited to just acquiring money for the sake of having it. Greed brings us security; greed brings us pleasure; perhaps most important, greed helps us raise others up as well and set them on the Satanic path. While greed is a very human, natural urge that we should embrace, we must also harness it, and use it to its fullest potential. Do your research, reflect, ponder your observations, and find the path of greed that best leads you to your future.
- Before enrolling, make sure your college is credentialed by one of the following or a comparable institution: The Middle States Commission of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, The Higher Learning Commision, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association for Schools and Colleges, or the WASC Senior College and University Commission. See this link for more information.
- I detest the term “low income.” That’s how rich people describe people with less money than them. If you’re poor, accept it, embrace it, and learn from it.
- To be clear, I don’t really believe in a literal entity named “Mammon.” I’m just using it here as a symbol.
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