Wednesday, September 25, 2013

There's no such thing as a free lunch

To pay for magical services or not to pay.  That is an interesting question and one that I got into a debate about today.  There are so many pagans out there who cry from the rooftops that one should never have to pay for any magical service, be it divination or spellwork, teachings or some other service, and I don't understand that thinking.  We live in a society that puts a value on everything, so it would stand to reason that magical services would be no exception, but they are the exception.

Someone posted on a social networking site that they needed a 'real psychic' or a 'real tarot reader' and wanted to know if anyone knew one.  Several people said they did, but no one offered up a name.  Even I said I knew several, but there would likely be a price.  The asker panicked and declared that she was homeless and couldn't pay anyone anything for a reading and that it had to be free.  (Yet, she had access to the internet for most of the day according to the time stamps on her posts.)  Another poster went off on a tirade about how disgusting it was for any magical person to charge anything for a magical service and she did these things simply for the sheer joy of being able to help others. (Though she didn't openly offer to do a reading for the original asker.)  My own thoughts on the subject are as follows and I replied as such to the outraged poster.

As someone who performs certain magical services and charges for them, I find it silly that one would give divination for the 'sheer joy' of it.  What if that card reading is all gloom, doom, and death?  Where is the joy in telling someone that?  What happens when that free reading isn't what the other person wants to hear?  Does one receive joy from the other person calling them a fraud because they are angry?  I have been there and I certainly don't find it joyous.

I charge for magical services for a couple of reasons, none of which are to become rich.  First, if there is no exchange in the physical, a gift for a gift, then the exchange is purely energetic and I may not want that other person's anger in exchange for my time and effort.  Does this make me selfish and egotistical?  Maybe.  Like any transaction, free or not, there's always the risk of buyer's remorse.  If the other party has something invested, he or she is a little less likely to dismiss the outcome if it does not meet with their own expectations.

Also, many people don't understand the concept barter or exchange when they want something, in today's society.  It is perfectly alright to charge a small amount for giving classes and such, for materials and supplies, but if something only involves time, well, they don't see my time as being valuable.  It is not worth anything to them, but divination takes time, doesn't it?  Chakra balancing, auric cleansing, Reiki, house blessings?  Those don't necessarily demand a lot of money for supplies, but they can be time consuming.

My own personal practice is to ask for a gift, whether it be money, a cup of coffee, a stone, or any number of random things that a person might want to exchange.  It isn't about the monetary value of the thing.  It is about the value of the thing to that person.  I was once given a tee shirt in exchange for a chakra balancing.  This shirt didn't cost much for that person to have printed, but she only had a limited number of them printed and it was the last one she had.  For her, it was something she was quite proud of, but it was something she was willing to sacrifice in exchange.  For me, she honored me by offering the very last shirt of a limited number she would ever have.  That level of sacrifice humbled me greatly.

Another reason I charge something for magical services is because I wouldn't simply demand an outcome from my Gods.  Were I to tell Hekate or Ares, "I have performed this spell, now give it to me!" they would thump me on the forehead (or worse!) and laugh!  We don't make demands of our gods, the spirits, or our ancestors, why would we make demands of each other?  We don't expect the gods to hand us our requests on a silver platter, so why do we expect it from each other?

Once again, it goes back to value and the fact that we are programmed to put a value on everything.  What does that say about magical services when we think they should be freely given for the sheer joy of helping?  It says that we don't value each other.  It says that we don't value divination, learning, blessings.  It says that the intangible can't possibly have a monetary value.  However, I see the intangible like a friendship.  The value it has, I can't even begin to pay what it is worth to me.

I understand the knee-jerk reaction of most pagans to scoff at those who would charge hundred of dollars for certain magical services, but the idea that magical services shouldn't be an exchange of some kind is ludicrous.  One does not walk into the grocery store and gather up a basket full of groceries and expect to walk out without paying for them and magical services of all kinds should be viewed in the same manner.  An exchange happens no matter what and we should be willing to sacrifice something in that exchange.  No matter if it is a physical object, a family recipe, a happy story about ones grandmother, or a hand full of cash, the practitioner is giving his or her time and energy, as well as giving his or her undivided attention.  We should always remember to value each other and honor the spirit within.

Brightest blessings my friends!!