COSMIC CASH is about redefining our relationships with money, currency, wealth and abundance.
I have been pondering this blog entry for a long while, wanting to find a way to "sum" up the concepts that have amassed since I began this journey ten years ago. Now, more than ever, we are living in a time of economic and ecological crisis. This blog entry is just the first of many yet to come. There is too much information, too many stories and tidbits to fit into one place at one time. I have been creating and gifting COSMIC CASH
to people and places all over the world, sharing bits of insight and much gratitude along the way. I will do my best to describe the process in print for you here. I invite you to join the conversation of alternative forms of currency in the communities in which you participate; feel free to send your thoughts my way!
CHANGE (or ex-change) is trading one thing for another. Can you spare some change? Change is the only constant right? When something changes, it has been transformed in some way. COSMIC CASH is tangible transmutation: taking that which has become over-abundant and toxic in our lives, and creating something life-giving and good out of it.
My Cosmic Cash journey began with this realization: I can make, with my own hands, everything I need to survive and provide for my family - I can grow food, build shelters, weave and sew clothing and fabric, make clay dish ware...why is it so hard for me to "make" money? I was feeling the deep ramifications of lack-mentality. Money was not flowing freely through my life in a balanced way; the OUT box was always full and the IN box severely neglected. Then I thought, "Wait, I am a paper maker. Why don't I start making my own money?" As an artist, the process of creating becomes a radical ritual that transforms my relationship with the world around me. I began asking crucial
questions about the nature of money.
I looked closely at the symbols and statements pictured on our American Dollars and imagined what meaningful replacements I would create for my own dollars and "coined" the term COSMIC CASH. Everyday, I was being inundated with paper symbols of debt in the form of credit card offers and statements, receipts, bank statements, legal documents (I was in the midst of a custody battle at the time as well). I began collecting this toxic energy in a bucket - tearing it up into little bits and adding symbols of love and gratitude in the form of journal entries, my children's artwork, wild flower seeds, prayers for abundance, gratitude for all the ways in which we are blessed. When the bucket was
full (which didn't take long!), I added waters-of-the-world which I had collected from Lake Superior, Minnehaha Falls, Pacific Ocean, and a jar of rain from a recent storm.
Think about the word CURRENCY. A current is a flowing energy like in a river or electrical system. Perhaps you've heard the saying, "Don't push the river, it flows by itself." I wondered how to have this kind of easy, zen-like relationship with money. The real value of any currency is in it's motion. Currency as a verb, rather than a noun, conveys the movement of energy. Adding the waters-of-the-world to my 5 gallon bucket of a cauldron, I imagined the flow of energy being infused with the fibers [paper that used to be trees; living, breathing beings that drank water from the earth and sky]. I imagined reanimating and restoring
honor to these sacred beings that had become credit card offers and the like.
The paper was left to soak in this water for several days while I journeyed deeply into the well of transformation in search of answers. I found that I was associating American Dollars with Corporate Greed and I had created a barrier which was preventing my ability to receive money. So, I saved up enough resources to acquire one of each bill: Washington on the one, Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence on the two, Lincoln on the five, Hamilton on the ten (Hamilton was the first Secretary of Treasury and created a Bank Bill that established the privately owned National Bank system - now the Federal Reserve), Jackson on the twenty, Grant on the fifty and Franklin on the hundred. I pondered again, the symbolism on each one. All depicted
affluent, white men credited with establishing the current political and economic system we inherited. I wondered about what any of them would have to say now, from the world of ancestors on the other side of the veil, looking at the America of today. I rolled these bills up together tightly and tucked them into my medicine bag which I wore for 90 days straight, only removing it to bathe. I allowed my dreaming body to commune with the ancestors of these icons and searched the stories of their lives for as many clues and patterns as I could find that would help shed some light on the mystery of money.
Choosing the scraps that will become the next batch of Cosmic Cash
The scraps are put into a blender and made into slurry
The slurry is poured into bins and sifted out using a mould and deckle made from scrap lumber and fiberglass window screen.
Paper drying on felt couching sheets
A side view of a stack of dry Cosmic Cash
Contemplating the symbols and expressions that will be printed on some bills...
Gifting some Cosmic Cash to a sacred place...
Let's think about the word GRATUITY for a moment. The term used for the "tip" left for your server at a restaurant shares the same root as the word GRATITUDE. It is a way of expressing thanks. So often, I found my wallet void of American Dollars. I created a green-energy way of leaving a gratuity anywhere I felt compelled to express some thanks. Cosmic Cash has been left as part of my tip at cafes, drifted down rivers, planted in gardens, tucked into a crease in a special tree, shared with hundreds of people. Some restaurants have even mounted them on their walls along with their first American Dollar.
I wrote a Cosmic Cash Financial Statement to accompany the original batch of bills. I have since printed hundreds of these and the symbols and statements change and transform in tandem with my own evolving consciousness surrounding money.
Here is the first batch of Cosmic Cash ever printed. The symbols in the corner were created by stamping a eucalyptus seed pod in some ink. The seed pod is a natural symbol of abundance and potential, each pod contains a multitude of seeds which each possess the hidden potential to become a giant tree. Money may grow on trees after all, it really depends on what we value. For that is what money really is, a symbol of that which we value. The paper we are presently trading in this country is life-less; it is not worth anything all by itself, the way gold or silver or copper or food is. We must collectively agree on it's value, collectively honor that agreement and allow the papers to be exchanged for goods and services. "WE" did not choose this broken system, we inherited it and are continuing to perpetuate it by using it! We can choose to infuse anything with value, the key is the communal consent to recognize and honor the symbols of value
In this original batch, I was focusing on bringing some balance to a patriarchal/hierarchical system of exchange. American Dollars are printed with the words "In God We Trust." And, "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." I printed the Cosmic Cash with the words "In Goddess We Trust" and "This note renders the new." Printed in each corner is the number 13 - there are 13 full lunar cycles for every one Earth year. The moon models for us the natural process of growth, fulfillment, decay and renewal. What is full, must become empty and what is empty
must become full. This is the cosmic way! Everything in balance - masculine and feminine. 13 is also the Mayan galactic prime number, the Force of The Universal Movement of Creation.
Keep in mind, the Federal Reserve is a PRIVATE entity! The paper dollars we recognize as symbols of our national value are printed, distributed and controlled by CEOs, not the Federal Government....and who, then, controls our Government?
Going with the flow...
In 1998, I participated in the creation of local currency for the the Mendocino Coast in California. We based our system on models from Ithica, NY and a few smaller projects. We called it S.E.E.D. and each bill was printed with art that highlighted the valuable nature and culture present in our community. Local businesses agreed to honor the value of SEED as a replacement to American Dollars. There was a basic measure of time, goods and services attributed to each and local businesses could determine what percent of SEED it would accept per transaction. This kept much of the wealth generated by the community - in the area.
There are as many forms of currency as there are cultures in this world and they all have one thing in common: in each community that honors the currency as a symbol of value, the people have agreed to the nature and measure of that value. A good example of this is the Tevau (or feather money) from the Solomon Islands.
Since the creation of my first batch of Cosmic Cash, I have made many new discoveries. The process continues to unfold and the mystery is ever evolving. I have made several batches with my family and friends, hosted community workshops and have been collecting words and images that make their way onto new versions of Cosmic Cash. As I stated at the beginning of this blog, this entry is only the beginning of the story, the Genesis.
As we approach another ThanksGiving HolyDay, I invite you to ponder the ways in which you express gratitude and the symbols you infuse with value. Lately I have been printing the following things on my Cosmic Cash:
What you appreciate, APPRECIATES! Grow Gratitude!
Gratitude is the memory of heart
Uni-Verse = One-Song
Plant Seeds....Sing Songs
To be continued!