The Ordains: Part 18 – Don’t Ask Them To Pay
This is the eighteenth entry in a series on a set of Pagan guidelines known as the Ordains. The Ordains, as we know them today, can be found in the works of Gerald Gardener. Maiden’s Circle uses a simplified version that has been edited and altered to reflect our core beliefs.
“Do not set a price on your magickal work.”
This one is complicated. I’ve always had mixed feelings about money in general, and this law didn’t help. As early as ten years old, I learned the necessity of money. I also learned how discussions about money made people uncomfortable and therefore needed to be avoided. This created a confusion and uneasiness around money that I struggle with today.
My rocky relationship with money made it easy to accept this law into my practice at a young age. In fact, I held to the belief that it was unethical to charge for magickal work throughout the majority of my Wiccan life. In recent years, however, my viewpoint has taken a natural shift. The more I’ve come to understand just how unhealthy my views on money have been, the more I question this old adage.
After all, it was written in a time when society was structured differently.
No matter how “enlightened” Gerald Gardner might seem to us today, he was still a product of his time and, as such, his views on money reflected a rejection of mainstream society. Whereas a musician who made a lot of money was considered a “sell-out,” a witch who received pay for magickal work was cheapening the practice. This was also a time when many people believed that money was the root of all evil, so it stands to reason that Gardner would have had some hang-ups.
Nowadays, most Pagans have a different idea of how money works. Many of us see it as one of a million methods of transferring energy. I struggled with this concept for years before coming to accept it. Intellectually, it made some sense. If you exchange money that you earned for goods, how is that different from exchanging time or efforts for goods? You’ve just added a physical representation of your effort.
Of course, that would be true in an ideal world where money wasn’t used as a means for control and separation amongst the people. In reality, there are some issues with money that I believe everyone who hasn’t always had it can sympathize with. In our country, it’s used as a weapon and a method of hierarchical control for certain unsavory sorts.
Still, as a simplified concept, I can see money as an energetic exchange.
This shifting of opinions has helped me to feel a little less squirmy about making money through spiritual pursuits. I realize now that, if I am to follow this path, I need to be healthy. I need to make sure I have food, a safe place to call home, and the freedom to create; only then am I able to fulfill the purpose I believe Goddess has for me. And, in our current society, money is the tool that allows me to have those things.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Over the years, I’ve spoken to many witches who agree that this “Law” is old-fashioned. If we’re to thrive in the current systems and still do our spiritual work, we need to be able to pay our bills.
Someday, we’ll have a world in which everyone is guaranteed a home, food, security, and healthcare without having to worry if they miss one paycheck. A world where people are free to pursue their true cause in life.
For now, we witches need to adapt to survive.
There are limits, of course. While I’m fine with charging for tarot, spell kits, teaching magick, and the like, I’m a little less comfortable with the idea of doing actual spells for other people—especially if those people aren’t there in person to lend their energy to the work. I firmly believe that magick comes from within each of us; and if we have no personal ties to the subject of a spell, it’s not likely to do anything.
Some witches may feel it’s perfectly fine to cast spells for others in exchange for some sort of payment, but I’ve never felt good about that. Even so, I try not to look down upon those who do make money that way. Like I said, we’ve all got to eat and live. So, as long as a witch is behaving ethically and not taking advantage of others, I choose to withhold judgment.
In my eyes, this law speaks to those who would manipulate and lie to coerce people into paying them for magickal workings. This is utterly disgusting, predatory behavior and, unfortunately, we see it all the time. It’s impossible to walk through Manhattan on a Saturday without some street-side “psychic” telling you that you’re carrying a dark shadow. People like that are part of the reason legitimate readers and healers aren’t taken seriously.
Unfortunately, those folks probably aren’t going anywhere.
It’s up to the rest of us to act with honesty and to treat our craft and those who come seeking it ethically. I don’t believe a witch or an artist or teacher or anyone should have to forgo the basic necessities for living a healthy, balanced life—nor do I believe one should have to choose between doing spiritual work or taking some arbitrary “day job” to make due. If a person is drawn to spiritual work, they should be able to do so without the fear of not meeting their basic needs.
What do you think? Should people charge for any spiritual work? Should we find other means of making money while still doing spiritual work? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Abundant blessings to you and yours,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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