The ethics of ‘pay to pray’

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The debate may be as old as the concept as money itself. Is it ethical to require payment for spiritual services? The question has emerged again in Pagan communities, thanks to a widely-shared article on the subject. Those who support payment for services such as divination, spell-casting, crafting and consecration of magical and/or sacred objects and the like often frame their arguments in terms of energy exchange. However, the underlying message appears to be, “I cannot afford to do this for free.” Opposed to the idea of accepting money for such services are people who believe these talents come from divine sources, and are intended to be shared freely; a common subtext to this position is, “Desire for money attracts greed, and greed attracts con artists.”

Public Domain

Public Domain

Jaya Saxena, a contributing writer to The Daily Dot, discovered this schism when she chronicled hiring a witch to cast a sex spell for her marriage. “Commenters called me an idiot for thinking it’d work, friends asked if I’d recommend the process, and at least one person told me I should find Jesus. But one angry response really caught my attention: the bubbling anger at capitalist witches,” she wrote.

While it’s not difficult to find people with esoteric businesses who are willing to defend the practice of charging money, it’s in the comments of articles like Saxena’s that the opposition tends to manifest. The Daily Dot piece inspired other sites to write about the subject, and when one of those articles was shared on the Facebook page of The Witches’ Voice, a lively debate ensued. One commenter remarked:

“Charging someone asking for our help negates what I stand for. I have never charged anyone in need of help ( especially when it comes to prayer) and never will. Of course I limit what I will do for them. . . . However, I would consider bartering in exchange. I helped a lady once and she gave me eggs from her own chickens.”

Another observed, “If I can pass on knowledge to some one who is sincere,and willing to learn, then that is payment.” A third suggested that money could dilute the motivation of the spiritual worker: “[I]t’s not unethical, however, it’s not powerful, either. Casting spells require[s] strong desire and [a] hired witch might lack the same!”

There was also an attempt at compromise present in some comments, such as this one: “If you charge, you should charge for the materials, we all know a lot of our stuff is hard to find and not easy to get depending on where you live. However, I myself would never charge for the actual spell or charm.”

Caterina Lejeune O’Sullivan crafts magical items and works spells for clients as part of her business, La Buona Vita. She sees things differently.

“Time, energy, and whatever ritual items that are used in a spell certainly have value. An exchange, be it a barter or some sort or money, creates a balance. You pay a lawyer for his knowledge and words. Advice based on knowledge is not a tangible item. Sometimes lawyers don’t win a case but you still have to pay them for their time spent counseling you. People pay for life coaching, therapists, counselors, all people with skill sets who encourage you and point you in the right direction to achieve your goals and keep you on track. Again, this not something you can hold in your hand and it doesn’t always work, but is at the very least minimally helpful, and more often than not quite successful.”

O’Sullivan said that she sometimes chooses not to charge for an item or service, but that a gift freely given fulfills the idea of an exchange quite nicely. That concept — that magic must have an exchange of energy in order to work — was echoed by Lisa and Anton Stewart, proprietors of the Awareness Shop. Anton put it in more mundane terms: “Should food stores be banned?” he asked. “Everything donated? Socialism is a wonderful ideal.”

“There has always been an exchange of energy, whether food or clothing or something else, for magical working,” said Lisa Stewart. “The universe is an abundant place, with plenty for everyone, and it doesn’t mean you’re taking from someone else. Believe and you shall receive. If there was no exchange, that would be bad karma. Don’t get hung up on the money thing.”

Like O’Sullivan, the Stewarts provide both completely intangible services — such as divination sessions — alongside physical products like the spell kits that they craft for each full moon and Wiccan sabbat throughout the year. In their case, the spell kits include all of the material components as well as detailed instructions on how to use them. They also recorded an album, Circle In A Box, which is a series of songs structured as a Wiccan ritual for groups and solitary practitioners who wish to work magic of that type without a facilitating priest or priestess.

Along a similar vein is the recently-unveiled Sabbat Box, a magic-in-the-mail subscription service. Where the spell kits from the Awareness Shop have a specific magical focus, a Sabbat Box will contain an assortment of items related to the next Wiccan sabbat, each crafted by artisans who participate in the program. Certainly a service like this would be supported by those Pagans who believe it’s okay to charge for physical materials, unless the expectation is that the product should be sold for cost only. Purely intangible services, such as removing curses and oracular work, tend to be more controversial in this regard.

The concern that intangible services and hard-to-quantify qualities are fraught with fraud results in laws and rules designed to protect consumers. Attorneys have bar associations which enforce codes of ethics; car dealers must operate in “lemon laws” in many states; and fortune-telling is either regulated or outright licensed in many jurisdictions.

One example of the latter is Salem, Massachusetts, where one local psychic is being investigated for possibly operating outside of that licensing by charging $16,800 “to have a shield placed over him to protect him,” according to published reports. While it will probably be easy to determine if a law has been broken, this extreme example simply raises questions about how magic works: was this bald-faced fleecing, or did the customer feel that a particularly strong spell required a great deal of energy in exchange, in the form of a high price?

While the current debate centers around Witches and Wicca, these questions manifest in all corners of Paganism and related faiths. No matter one’s personal religious practices, Saxena’s conclusion seems to frame the ongoing disagreement succinctly:

“. . . where you stand on charging for spells depends on whether or not you think it’s a scam. If you don’t believe in Witchcraft, you’re unlikely to seek out any magical services, whether you pay for them or not. If you do, you’re either convinced that you’ll get what you pay for . . . or that ‘energy is free’ and these services should be too. And if you’re in-between? Well, $25 on Etsy is a small price to pay to satisfy your curiosity.”

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48 thoughts on “The ethics of ‘pay to pray’

  1. I know of someone who thinks he is GOD who would NEVER do anything for free…no matter what he did for anyone would start at 1100.00 and go up from there….I finally had to unfriend him because it bothered me so much what he was doing to people…he was really nasty at times too!

    • Sure seems like one of the most important advantages of being a polytheist is to be able to unfriend a nasty god! Whether of the pretentious human variety or otherwise.

  2. Back in the days when I was a practicing psychotherapist, a friend once asked me if I ever felt distant from the gods between rituals and gatherings, and I realized that, due to the nature of my work, I really did not. Psychotherapy involved being present and open to what was most sacred, as well as most personal, in each person I saw. I felt both close to That-of-the-Gods in them, and supported by the gods in the work. It felt like a sacred act, that service, and I was grateful to be able to do it.

    But yeah, I charged for it. I spent about thirty hours a week doing it, and in addition to the expenses involved (office rent, continuing education, advertising, insurance, etc.) that was time in which I could not be earning the bread and butter needed to feed my child.

    There are class issues involved in labeling our work as “too sacred” to be paid: if we insisted on that ethic, we’d be making sure that our priests and teachers could only be extremely part time, or independently wealthy. I think that would be a real loss to our community.

    All the same, a degree of common sense is called for. $16,000 for a magical act that probably took no more than an afternoon to accomplish? I’d look askance at a psychotherapist who earned that much from a single client over a whole year of counseling services–that’s an absurd level of reimbursement. (I make it over $300/hour, if we translate it into a year of counseling. Even in big cities, that’s more than double the rate of a qualified psychotherapist in private practice, and over four times my top rate.)

    Of course scams can happen. They happen in real estate and home improvement and in insurance, too. But to think that means that those who serve the needs of our religion don’t need to pay the bills is foolish.

    On the other hand, while I have sold my services as a psychotherapist, I don’t do so as a priestess. Ask me to give you a Reiki attunement or to officiate at your wedding, and I’ll turn you down flat. Unless, that is, you are a member of my community, in which case I will say yes–and I will not charge you in dollars and cents.

    That’s not because I think it is unethical to charge for my services in that area, however: it’s because I charge the much higher coin of connection and mutuality. Only those I love get to taste my home-made pickles and preserves; only those who are part of the living, breathing thing I call my community will receive my services as a Priestess.

    That’s just how I roll.

  3. i think much depends on people’s motivation for their rates. Fee for service not evil incarnate like so many would have one believe. My experience in the pagan communities is that there is an almost slavish adherence to a poverty mindset. That mindset is detrimental to our basic relationship to manifesting tangible results. I teach ritual practices and yes I ask for compensation of my time, preparation of materials and my knowledge – and I keep my fees reasonable and accessible. I wouldn’t ask an Marital Arts teacher to teach me for free. I wouldn’t ask a Music teacher to teach me for free. So why would someone ask me to teach them for free? As for fees for spells, honestly, buyer beware. I’d rather teach a class on casting your own (yes, for a fee) than cast the spell for you. Fees for tarot readings – is where I get kind of ‘itchy’ – I understand charging for your time, sure. What I don’t understand is how readers tend to charge $150 for 45 minutes – to read some cards. Honestly, it isn’t like you have overhead. Most are unreasonable rates, but again, buyer beware. I don’t play the game, because I don’t believe they’re worth the dollars. You get a choice on where you spend your money.

    • “Honestly, it isn’t like you have overhead.”

      Food, housing, utilities, and more. The cost of living is overhead. Tarot readers deserve to be able to make a living, just like anyone providing a service.

      • No it isn’t. Take a business course. I own my own business, my personal cost of living is not overhead in any business. My dedicated space to my business is overhead, for example you have bricks and mortar office dedicated to your tarot business or even travel too and from a clients place. I’m all for people being paid for their work, but I’m also all for understanding business and business models and pricing everything accordingly. Owning a business that provides services is more intricate than people want to believe.

        • Actually, I’m a former business owner myself, thanks. Yes, I was using the term very loosely, but I was doing so to make a point: people have to live.

        • You are paying for an hour of their time and they get to dictate what their time is worth. If you don’t want to pay $100 to speak to a Valentina Burton for an hour you can always buy a $5.00 email reading from Etsy.

          If we want to talk about people with insane fees let’s talk about lawyers and doctors.

  4. I believe wholeheartedly in charging for our work but he took it to another level. He took advantage of people’s needs. My very good friend who passed many years ago….now he was a GOD! He was amazing. He never once asked for money. He wished to be paid in groceries and kindness towards his little girl and elderly mother. He was sooo appreciative when people brought him gifts of food….Never met anyone close to his gift or abilities….RIP JM

  5. Until we have established communities willing and able to support their priests, diviners, etc. (as they do in many other religions), those religious specialists usually need to charge for their services. It seems ridiculous to me to expect someone to put in the amount of time and energy that competent spiritual and magical work requires, for no compensation. Remember we are paying not only for the service itself, but for the years of work and study and practice that went into attaining the skills. If we truly value that work being done on our behalf, we will be willing to give something valuable in exchange for it – money usually being the simplest way to do this. Just because this has the potential to be abused, with practitioners asking for insane sums of money, doesn’t mean that *any* requirement for monetary compensation is somehow a scam or unethical.

    • And lets come back to the personal responsibility piece – not only does the practitioner have responsibility, but so does the seeker. If I do not see the value in a pricetag – then I don’t buy. My choice. If someone charges $10,000 for an hours work and you PAY IT – then honestly, who should own that? You should. I really dislike this idea that somehow everyone who is in spiritual work is a charlatan and fraud if they ask for payment of the time, prep, and expertise and that the purchaser is somehow a victim.

      • Exactly! No one is holding a gun to someone’s head and forcing them to buy these services, or pay what is being asked. Buyer beware applies.

        I’ll also point out that this is one of the ways in which we risk losing our valuable spiritual specialists to burn-out – if they are expected to perform all these services without compensation, then not only might they feel unappreciated and taken for granted, they also have to work a regular full time job just to support themselves. So you get someone who is over-worked, over-burdened, and ends up quitting or changing their practice to get a break. Whereas, if we pay them adequately, they will be able to devote even more time and energy to spiritual pursuits, and become better at whatever services they offer.

    • “Until we have established communities willing and able to support their priests, diviners, etc…. those religious specialists usually need to charge for their services.”

      No. There you are overstating the case: that is only true where the religious person is performing the service with a large enough share of their time that charging a fee or being on salary is necessary in order to support that person.

      There is nothing wrong with paying for a service–but it is entirely possible to offer services on a smaller scale and without charging. There is no inherent guarantee of skill implied by someone performing a large volume of service, and there is no implied loss of skill in choosing to serve a small and closed community, as, for instance, most models of Wiccan clergy have traditionally done.

      Not everything of value can be bought; for some things, becoming a member of a community that supports one another in ways that go beyond the financial is really the only way to gain access.

      • So, you should only charge if you need the money to live on? Our time and energy isn’t worth anything if we have enough left over to also hold down a paying job? I didn’t say that religious specialists needed to charge in order to survive (although, the less they have to work an outside job, the more they are able to devote to the practices that make them good at their spiritual/magical work). But I don’t see why they should give away what remaining time they have to others simply because the others’ needs or wants are spiritual in nature, as opposed to mundane (which you would ALWAYS expect to pay for).

        Work is work. Small scale or large scale, part time or full time, in no other circumstance would people be expected to do so much for free. Would you tell a craftsperson who also works as a store clerk 30 hours a week, well hey, you aren’t spending ALL your time crafting, you don’t NEED that money to support yourself, so just GIVE me your necklaces/pottery/carving for free because I want it.

        • You might be missing a point Cat C-B is making. Some religious specialists (I’m using that word as a substitute for “clergy”, without the Christian associations) offer only limited services (if any) to the public. They offer more services within a closed community (closed=we know exactly who the members are) of smaller size. Within the community, mores of non-monetary reciprocity or paying it forward are expected of everyone to the extent of their ability. One does not pay the specialist for his time or do favors for her. One offers one’s own services to the community immediately or later as a gesture of appreciation.

          A person who receives services and fail to give back to the community in any way might have less access to services in the future. People who are perceived to be freeloaders or exploiters may simply be kicked out.

          Community members learn the expectations. They should take on specialist roles only to the extent they have both the ability and the time, for the benefit of the relatively small group of people who have a claim on them. Sacrificing one’s economic security in order to have more time for the community is not expected or demanded, but some people do it. If there is no one who has both the time and expertise to do something, it just doesn’t get done. The public might or might not be offered any services at all.

          As Cat says, that is how traditional Wicca is set up. It’s how I roll. I never was interested in marrying, burying or doing pastoral counseling either for free or for pay. I don’t make stuff. I chose to earn a living in a way completely unrelated to my religious vocation. That vocation has been expressedby volunteering within my community, and sometimes outside it when I choose. I do not think this is the One True Right And Only Way (TM), but it has a track record of building lasting communities of committed practitioners.

  6. I wish I could find somone who would pay $10,000 for an hour’s work. I can make a thoughtform to cure their stupidity. On the other hand, dowsing that finds a gold mine does not take much time, but the percentage of the outcome can be a large number but it is worth it to the person doing the digging. It really depends on what the job is.

    Time is a commodity, and unlike other commodities, once used it cannot be replaced, so if something is going to take significant time, there must be compensation.

    • Though that compensation does not always have to be in the form of money. Rearing children, hosting a family reunion, writing a love letter… and many forms of spiritual service are done at a low volume, and, while vital and valuable, are not done for a fee.

      That’s not to say that some of the specific skills associated with those tasks can’t be contracted out, or that it’s unethical for them to be. But fees are not the only form of compensation, either.

  7. I don’t think that the issue we should be looking at is the people who charge vs. the people that don’t, but the people who abuse the trust of their clients and those that don’t. These people aren’t advertising themselves as business owners, they’re claiming the titles of spiritual advisors and all too often the gravity and responsibility of that title is ignored in favor of making a profit. A business owner performs a service that the client only WANTS, the spiritual advisor performs a service the client truly NEEDS. Most magic-for-hires are little better than drug dealers, often enabling delusion, dependency, and fear. True spiritual advisors are like doctors, focusing on attaining wellness and independence, and will turn down a client if they feel their services are not appropriate (going to a witch for an issue that is entirely psychological or physiologically based is as helpful as going to a gynecologist because you need a tooth pulled). Doctors are paid but, but they’re also held accountable when they don’t perform in the best interest of the client. Somewhere along the way we’ve dropped the later expectation of the people we trust with out spiritual growth.

    • “True spiritual advisors are like doctors, focusing on attaining wellness and independence”

      If only all doctors actually did that.

    • The beauty is finding the combination in both of those. Business owner – providing service the client wants. Spiritual advisor – providing service the client needs. My own business is often considered sort of “normal” or “mainstream” – but it is my soul’s work in the sense that I “make stuff happen” – whether it be teaching someone how to make honey pots or do and LBRP to setting up policies and procedures or management protocols. All of my “business” clients are, on some level, my “spiritual” clients as well. Find your sweet spot people – – your spirituality and your businessality – can and should work together

  8. I think there is a big difference between praying and so-called spiritual services. Tarot readings, astro readings, spells–these are services that don’t necessarily have anything to do with spirituality or religion (and let’s face it, that is what we are talking about when we say spirituality). I read the tarot for money now and again, and there is no praying involved. The client pays me for my time, skill and expertise. Which is what the clients (lawyers) who hire the company I work for pay for too.

    Readings, spells, remedies–in my view it is fair to charge and pay for these. But I would feel weird charging to teach someone about the gods and goddesses. To me, this crosses the line to “spiritual” from “services.”

    • Word! And I like how you said these services “don’t necessarily have anything to do with spirituality or religion” – because you are dead on there.

    • I do pray when I read, but not for the client. I pray for myself, to be guided to see clearly, and communicate clearly, without my own biases clouding the message. So, while Tarot is definitely a service, and the reading is a skill, there’s still a spiritual element to the reading, at least for me. I’m just not using that spirituality directly for the client.

      • That sounds to me like a spiritual person giving a service. I pray at my day job all the time. I work for a small company that provides tech services. So even though I pray on the clock, and have a little totem on my desk, the service is not a spiritual service.

  9. People have been paying for ‘sacred’ service since time immemorial. Whether it be a sacrifice/gift to the gods/spirits, food or labour for the Shaman, or money to the temple curators.

    • Sure, but paying is one thing and charging is another. Gifts, sacrifices, and offerings are determined by the giver. The idea is that everyone in the community receives the same sacred service no matter what their means are. But when a priest or teacher or whatever sets a charge, that will undoubtedly mean those who need sacred services the most will be unable to access them.

  10. But doesn’t that describe the whole New Age Movement. Y’all about selling your fake mubojumbo and shoddy wears and worthless junk. Isn’t that why Sociologist have coined the term Spiritual Supermarket, to describe Y’all.

  11. If spellcasting and divinatory abilities were gifts rather than skills, I might agree with the people who are opposed to taking money for those services. However, I believe that while some people may be more naturally aware of and in tune with the energies that make magic and divination possible, anyone can learn to cast or divine. They are skills, that you work to build and cultivate, not gifts. Hence, there’s no more wrong in asking for payment for using them than there is for asking payment for a painting, story, or one’s learned organizational skills (such as in an office).

    Whether or not someone should be paid for their work, energy, and time at their places of employment is not even a question (well, to most people). Since the dissolution of the patronage system, artists and writers have had to fight tooth and nail to have their right to be paid for their work recognized. Pagans have only recently even begun to recognize that maybe, just maybe, their work deserves monetary recognition as well.

    If a Pagan is one of those lucky Pagans to have a good, steady career with a decent salary that covers all of one’s physical world needs, then they have the privilege to choose to offer their magical work for free without struggle.

    If a Pagan is not that lucky, however, they deserve the right to use what skills they have to help themselves survive. If that Pagan still personally feels it is wrong to charge, then that’s their prerogative. If they do decide to charge, though, it isn’t anyone else’s place to judge them for surviving. Once, I read that to use one’s “gifts” for money would mean to lose them. Well, plenty of Pagans and Witches seem to be charging money and continuing on without any problems.

    Personally, I don’t charge for services, not because I believe charging is wrong, but because I believe it is wrong to deny someone a service just because they can’t pay. However, I have no issues with taking donations, or with working for trade.

    Basically what I’m saying to those people who want to be angry with Pagans and Witches who charge for their services: get off your high horse and your nose out of other people’s business.

  12. I don’t have a problem with people charging a fee for specialized services. In fact, the extreme aversion to it has helped foster what I call a “parasite economy” or perhaps scavenger economy both inside the Pagan movement and in the larger world outside.

    In the last 20 years or more, everyone seems to have latched on to the idea that nobody should have to pay a fair price for anything – goods, labor etc. We scoff at the idea of paying anything at all for creative works. Other people’s “content” – music, journalism, you name it, is our birthright.

    Nobody seems to be able to make the connection between this race to the bottom and the consequences – massive ecological destruction, low wages, the hordes of Pagans who are forever too broke to go to festivals or do much of anything beyond their own living rooms, the seemingly constant ad-hoc funding drives to scrape up enough money for a decent burial for our elders. The idea that everything should be free or that no one must ever be turned away is utterly unsustainable, and sustainability is, to my mind, a core value of Pagan practice.

    • I’ve seen this pagan poverty firsthand, and it’s disturbing. With the erosion of the middle class, it’s even worse than it used to be.

      What about bartering? What about a payment plan? I’ve both offered these to students and clients, and happily availed myself of these age-old systems myself. I *especially* like to pay those I care about, even though they’re the first ones to offer something for free. If someone I Iike offers a good or service that I want or need, why wouldn’t I want to pay them?

      I also found that those who budgeted for my services weren’t the dramatic, victimized, needy types, thankfully.

      • Bartering is a fine system, so long as it works as a mutually agreed upon fair exchange, and the items or services are delivered in a reasonable time frame within the provision of your service.

        • Yep – that’s what bartering is. I can use some of your homegrown veg and eggs, and that knitted scarf, but I can’t use those potted palms as payment for the work I did.

          How about I do errands for you, petsit and take you to and from the airport for your vacation to cover some tarot readings?

      • Bartering is great, but only if what is being offered is something you need. If I need rent money or utility bill money, that’s what I need.

  13. I don’t, personally, but I don’t have an issue with charging for anything that is a good or a service. Speaking from a trad Craft point of view, the only thing I would never charge for is the religion itself — Craft training toward initiation or the initiation itself, or coven membership (beyond mutually agreed upon dues or donations to cover costs, or something). Public 101 classes are a grey area, I suppose, but really, they’re another animal altogether. No one who takes a public 101 should be expecting to be initiated at the end of it in return for their class fees, and it’s up to the presenter to make that clear right up front.

    I have a separate job and I can pay my bills, so I don’t charge for the occasional tarot reading or house warding or whatever, but then again, I’m not usually doing those things for strangers. I would cheerfully charge a reasonable fee to act as legal clergy for a wedding, if it was a couple I didn’t know. (But I don’t advertise that, so it doesn’t really come up.)

    I do have a problem with punishingly exorbitant fees, though. Gouging people by playing on their fears and vulnerabilities is unacceptable, to my mind. (On the other hand, if I were doing something for an heiress and told her to pay me what she thought it was worth and she wrote me a check for $10,000, I’d cash it without blinking. The customer’s ability to pay is a factor for consideration — again, as long as you’re not coercing them through fear.)

    • I love that point: that offering your services for members of your community, as opposed to offering them for strangers, puts this on a different footing.

      I wish more of us gave and charged the higher value coin, of being members of a spiritual community with one another. Not that you cannot charge money for services within a spiritual community… but that spiritual communities often offer both sides of an exchange a much greater value than the money economy can provide.

      Money’s great–I use it, and sometimes charge it, myself, for certain things. But community is the coin that is golden.

  14. The simple fact that old fashioned Witchcraft was a business and witches were paid in whatever manner that was possible. Even today nonWiccan Witches are likely to charge and it is expected. If you provide a service, you deserve to be paid. You don’t have to charge, but we do live in a cash economy. I have not charged so far on the few occasions I have provided service, but the most of the time I only use my abilities to take care of things needed to take care of in day to day life.

  15. I can, indeed, afford to do things for free for others. For loved ones, I do. Even so, there are a few friends that I don’t think fully understand what goes into the working, so they’re pretty casual with their requests, so I’ve learned to manage that, and their expectations.

    One of the most common ways for the client to invest in the outcome is to pay for the service they’ve requested, be it a class, spell, product or consultation. I’ve known many practitioners who’ve ended up frustrated by their clients or students, because of how little the seekers has invested, either by barter, payment or other system of reciprocity.

    After donating my time and services over the course of months, I saw for myself how little the students were invested, and I won’t ever invite that into my life again.

  16. ‘But witches and shamans charged money way back when’ is an interesting argument. There is evidence of this, yes, and also evidence that Pagans way back when were sacrificing animals and people to appease the gods and spirits in various cultures … should we then bring that practice back, simply because our forebears did it? I don’t think this logic stands up very well at all. That does not mean that money shouldn’t be asked for, in exchange for a service or action – especially one that requires money on the part of the person being asked to perform the service or action. I just think justifying the taking of money with this argument is not effective. I think honesty is a good way to go in such situations: when someone comes to us, seeking a service, we need to be honest with ourselves about what we need in order to perform that service; then we need to be honest and up-front with the seeker about our needs. To date, I have never needed to charge money for helping someone in need – materials that may have been needed to do so, I have always sent the seeker to gather or even purchase on their own, as a means to further involve them in their own solution.

    The seekers also need to be more realistic … people who pay thousands of dollars for a psychic shield obviously have too much money laying around. They could be advised (by a more honest advisor) to take some of that money and donate it to a worthy cause, and shield themselves with good intentions and worthy deeds.

  17. I find i have never NEEDED to ask for money when providing any form of service, nor have i wanted to. But this isnt to say that if i was desperately struggling and selling spells, charms and the various fair to make a small living because its the only way i could then fair on that; or even when attempting to fund raise for school/world trip/health exchange, i see the gift of money for those life experiences equally exchanged for spell work or other witchy things. To add to that point, during this Saturday’s full moon i will be guiding a small ritual of about 10 people, providing all materials myself, simply because they invited me camping, no need to charge when im doing it anyways. the more the merrier!

  18. One thing that is rarely pointed out, if ever, in these discussions…as a tarot reader, who charges a modest fee, a large majority of the questions asked of me would be considered “frivolous” to most anyone. So should I set up and do free readings for anyone who wants to know if “John Doe is attracted to them, and whether he will call this weekend”?? Seriously people this is what most tarot readers hear! Would I ever turn down a person in real pain due to their lack of funds? Hell no!

  19. I have no problem paying for magickal services. You would have to pay for any other good or service. People need to make a living and their time is important not to mention, some materials cost money. It’s not like a people are forced to purchase services. That being said just as in any other trade there are quacks and charlatans. Just like anything else, “Buyer Beware.”

    • “Buyer beware” bothers me when it comes to these services, because when the community backs this notion, they’re backing the idea that people are allowed to be abusive, and if they do wrong, then it’s their victims fault for being hurt.

      On the one hand people are saying “yes! these are quantifiable, legitimate services that are being offered” but then they turn around and say “you’re an idiot for believing in someone claiming to perform them!”

      Consumer culture sides with people who take advantage of others, and it stinks to see this happening in our back yard.

  20. You pay for a psychologist, a medical doctor, or a counselor – why wouldn’t you pay for any other service?

    “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

  21. I have a problem with people performing
    spiritual services for profit, if you want to say “look this is what it is
    going to cost me in materials to do this so this is what it’s going to cost
    you” fine. If you want to take un-coerced donations for services fine. I
    just don’t think it is in the best interest of the community or society in
    general for people to make a living in a full time capacity for performing
    spiritual “services”. Many times the promise of profit attracts the wrong kind of people. It has the potential to compromise ethical behavior. For example
    some may try to convince people they need services they really don’t simply to
    increase the cash flow. It’s amazing all through the Pagan community I have
    heard the arguments against the for profit health care system because it is
    corrupt and sets up a system where those with the most money or best insurance
    can benefit from it, yet others are denied services that could save their life
    but the argument to support for profit spiritual care is different? The only reason
    I say these things is because it happened to me. A simple tarot reading turned into “you
    need to buy $500 worth of crystals so I can work on your behalf and if you don’t, who knows what might happen!”. Most of
    us have turned on the Television and seen seemingly insane preachers scheming
    and screaming for money and the sad thing is people send it to them! Surely most of you have seen it in other belief systems,
    when I was growing up EVERYONE and their cousin was a preacher and had some gig
    somewhere “to get paid”. They were not doing it because they cared
    about the poor broken people who came to them for help. Also lastly, I think it may cause people who need to be encouraged to work harder for their own happiness and well being to be misled into a line of thinking that they can pay others to work for those things for them.