Mindful Living

Prosperity Powder and the Dilemma of Whether To Sprinkle or Not To Sprinkle

By Cybéle Elaine Werts

Cybéle Elaine Werts has been writing the Mindful Living column for several years, publishing it with several local newspapers. She has also written various other columns including a movie review column and profiles on Vermonters. She works as a Production Coordinator at Learning Innovations at WestEd in Williston, Vermont where she does technical writing, graphic design, and project management.

The other day while surfing the internet waves of ebay.com, I came upon a product called “Prosperity Powder.” It’s a little packet of stuff (mostly aromatic spices) that claims to imbue the owner with prosperity. The idea is to sprinkle it over your wallet or purse, and wait for a wad of bills to hit you over the head. It’s apparently an accoutrement of the Wiccan religion, but not being Wiccan myself, I can’t say much about how it might work for a believer, much less me. But my guess is that it’s not necessarily the powder itself that attracts the cash, because let’s face it - there’s plenty of cinnamon and lemon verbena already in my kitchen cupboard. Perhaps it has to do with the prayers of the person who made it, or my own spiritual state of mind when sprinkling it about. Maybe it’s like kosher matzos which become kosher by way of some combination of prayers and strict production practices. Does it make any real difference if someone, even a holy someone, prays over this powder or this matzo?

If I take the easy way, the lazy way, I might buy the stuff because the packet has its share of charm and kitsch. But am I, even in this little act of buying something that makes easy promises, negating some little bit of my own beliefs about prosperity? My prosperity is a state of inner consciousness, a balance and awareness that allows the good things of the world to be attracted to me. It’s not just about Money, but also about Love, Work and other “capital letter” things. Prosperity is in the details too, like finding an apartment in a city with a .05% vacancy rate. Despite the odds, I’ve always had great apartment karma, and it is, as they say, a self-fulfilling prophesy.

But all these things have to do with praying about affecting people’s consciousness, not about objects like powder, aromatic or not. On the surface, spirit seems to be mostly expressed in living things - people, animals, maybe plants. But sometimes, objects sometimes seem to have some spirit too. I have a little cobalt blue antique inkwell that my sister Cindy gave me last year. It has a little of her spirit in it, and I can feel it every time I hold it up to the light. If I can feel spirit in objects around me, so perhaps I was wrong about prayers only being for living things.

When I asked Cindy these questions, I added that I had no problem with the concepts of my “good apartment karma,” or the fact that I could “image” parking spaces - even on new year’s eve in the city because I have experienced them personally. She replied that the line between living things and objects was kind of wiggly and where do you draw that line anyway? I don’t think she’s talking about being able to levitate the toaster so much as praying to align yourself with the natural course of the universe. She told me a story about one day when she was putting wallpaper border up in a customer’s living room. The customer had only two rolls and the room was quite large. After measuring twice, Cindy knew that the two rolls would be insufficient, so she said a few prayers that the paper would go around, and asked her customer to do the same. At the end of the day, Cindy had bordered the whole room! Even now, she can’t explain this experience except to say that maybe prayers can affect both living things and things that don’t seem to be “living,” at least from our limited perspective.

The problem is that the prosperity powder, living or not, is in a way, a “graven image.” It gives us the feeling that if we use this product, then we will feel spiritual, or get happy, or have more money, or whatever. It’s the shopping channel of spirituality. But what about the people who have those little private altars in their homes? Are these objects just ways to focus their prayer, or do they somehow concentrate spirit, like my lavender votives whose complex scent makes me feel as if spirit were near? Or maybe praying over an object is different than praying “to” an object as if it were God itself. How do we know when our prayers have gone so far that we have lost sight of the object as a vehicle for spirit, and only see it as one more thing to be owned in the pursuit of Ever More Stuff? Is there a difference between an object that has spirit in it, in the sense that God is in everything, and an object “being” God?

It all gets even more mushy when you throw in the God and free choice questions. God put us here to create beautiful things or hurt each other, and we do both. God also made laws like gravity that act if not by choice, at least consistently and independently of our wants and desires. In other words, I’ve never believed any amount of prayer could make it snow tomorrow. On the other hand, I’m nothing if not a lover of the scientific method, and research does support prayer as a significant factor in healing illness. Where is that line between sickness that can be healed (inside the mind and body) and things outside like snow or wallpaper border?

If I could open my mind to the idea that prayer, the energy of the divine consciousness, is as unlimited as spirit itself, then maybe there would be no difference. Maybe it’s not so much about the packet itself but rather that I was inspired to write these words. Perhaps that dollar I bid on the Prosperity Powder was after all, a very good buy.

Cybéle (pronounced C-Bell) lives in Hinesburg with her two spoiled cats, Boca and Program. Thoughts and comments are welcome at CybeleW@aol.com.

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