Ep. 5: The Spiritual Gift Economy

In this episode I discuss the concept of gift economies and how this framework of reciprocity is a means of navigating spiritual engagement.

Long before modern, predatory systems of economics pushed the world into vicious competition over resources, “the economy” wasn’t a measure of wealth but a means of distributing resources to those who need them. It was a system in which gifts were exchanged both to provide goods and services and also, and perhaps more importantly, a means of strengthening community bonds through collaboration and exchange. Economy was the embodiment of reciprocity at work -and reciprocity is a universal law of equilibrium which keeps the cosmos in coherence.

In this episode we’ll explore the concept of gift economies -the monetary kind- and then investigate the idea that our relations with spirit and the more-than-human world actually function on the same fundamental principle of reciprocity. We’ll take a look at a wide variety of examples across spiritual practices, magic, and even ufology, as potential evidence for the existence of a “spiritual” gift economy at work in the cosmos.

And, if true, what this might say about the nature of one of the earliest and most universal of all spiritual practices; of giving offering. Are offerings gifts? And does the exchange of gifts / favors / etc between magicians and spirits function, like a gift economy, to give both parties what they need to thrive while also strengthening bonds between the physical and spiritual (or visible and invisible) worlds?

This episode draws inspiration from some diverse and fascinating sources, including Charles Eisenstein, Avner Offer, Claude LeCouteux, Jacques Vallee, and, of course, my own experiences negotiating with the spirits of the jungle where my wife and I are building our future homestead, sanctuary, and spiritual healing center.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Eisenstein, C. (2011). Sacred economics: money, gift, & society in the age of transition. Berkeley, Calif., Evolver Editions. (Read online for free: www.sacredeconomics.com)

Avner Offer (1996). “Between the gift and the market: the economy of regard,” Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _003, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

Claude LeCouteux (2015). “Demons and spirits of the land: ancestral lore and practices,” Inner Traditions.

Jacques Vallee (1989). “Dimensions: a casebook of alien contact,” Ballantine Books (NYC).

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