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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 28,352,959  

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Question of the Week: 10 - 10/9/2000

Money and the Craft

Money And The Craft is something that Pagans have wrestled with for decades. Are tarot readings and the like really a "part of the Wiccan religion"? Should we consider a "paid clergy"? What do YOU think about exchanging teaching, readings or clergy service for cash?

 Reponses:   There are 82 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I Guess I'll Go Ahead And Stick My Neck Out On This... Oct 8th. at 9:06:40 pm UTC

Justin T. Travis (Munford, Tennessee US) Age: 27 - Email

I guess I'll go ahead and stick my neck out on this one. Why not let honest folks earn a little extra cash for using their "Gifts". There are people earning millions to play basketball and other sports. We have professional dancers and skaters. It's only fair to let gifted Wiccans/Pagans do the same. If folks want to tell us that predicting the future is illegal then we can tell them that they'll have to arrest the weathermen, the almanac publishers, the stock analysts, the fortune cookie makers....etc.

Just because we're "different" to some folks does not mean we should let them push us around.

As far as Tarot and the like being part of the religion....the religion is just part of a way of life as are the rest of our ways. Many of us use Tarot or runes or what have you to get a starting point to go from. We take that tiny peek into our day or week just like the weathermen do for us.

When it comes to teaching our ways for money that's thin ice...
Our way of life is something I believe should be openly shared, but I do believe in certain instances that some sort of exchange is feasable. Teaching someone how to properly use herbs and oils is a hands on thing. If a student will be using the teacher's supplies then yes I can see that compensation would be in order for that. As far as teaching Tarot or Runes to students...It's always been my belief that the cards someone uses WILL or WILL NOT speak to them. Kinda hard to teach when the cards are being onery...

Guess we just have to use common sense. Some things are worth paying for and other things are meant to be given freely. It's up to us to fairly weigh the options, and remember not to let our karma run over our dogma.

I Feel That A Specific Service, Such As A Tarot Reading Or... Oct 8th. at 10:16:23 pm UTC

Stardust (Lubbock, Texas US) Age: 20 - Email

I feel that a specific service, such as a tarot reading or performing a hanfasting should be adequately compensated. However, such a fee should be realistic. I do worry that starting to charge just to learn about the craft, or having a "collection" taken at circle gathering would bar many people from discovering the craft. Making money isn't a bad thing, having money is certainly a good thing, but making money an obstical to a religion is not in the spirit of the craft.

The Day Our Clergy Becomes A Paid "profession" Is The Day We... Oct 8th. at 10:46:41 pm UTC

snow (Jacksonville, Florida US) Age: 24 - Email

The day our clergy becomes a paid "profession" is the day we step down a very sticky path. Our clegy must be real people, with real lives, and real problems, not saintly beings on an unreachable pedestal. Having to work for a living may make for some complicated scheduling difficulties, but I for one would greatly prefer that to an out of touch priest/ess.

No, Tarot Readings Are Not Part Of The Wiccan Religions. Yes, Many... Oct 8th. at 10:54:48 pm UTC

Morrigan-Aa (Woodbridge, New Jersey US) Age: 25 - Email

No, tarot readings are not part of the Wiccan religions. Yes, many Pagans do them. Yes, divination can be a part of ceremony. But no, it's not required. You don't have to own a lot of fancy crystals or the newest new age schlock. It's like saying that the Prayers to Saint Jude printed in the classifieds section are part of the Christian religion. A common practice? Certainly. But to say that it's actually part of the religion gives the impression that it's required.

I think the idea of an actual, paid clergy - separate, one presumes, from the money-donating laity - is abysmal. To me, it goes against everything that drew me to Wicca. It's just one small half-step to believing that only the paid clergy can properly intercede with the divine, or conduct religious ceremonies. It promotes hierarchy, which leads to oppression of the different-minded, and the mystics. We are our own clergy, whether we're doing ritual or bringing a bit of grace and divine awareness to the work-a-day world. That's the beauty of it. Yes, rituals can be a lot of work. But get people involved in the planning and preparation; get volunteers. Or hold your own personal ritual as a solitary. You are no less a priest/ess for that.

I Am Not Sure How I Feel About Paying Individuals For Stuff... Oct 8th. at 11:09:58 pm UTC

Kaicielia BlueDragon (Madison, Wisconsin US) Age: 24 - Email

I am not sure how I feel about paying individuals for stuff such as tarot readings or other such stuff. Collecting money for such things does seem wrong to me, but there is always the arguement that, if these people are going to make a living at it, who am I to say they can't. If there is someone out there willing to dedicate every moment of their life to the study fo our roots, beliefs, and the histories from which our beliefs are adopted, and we plan on using this information as part and parcel to our spiritual lives, then paid clergy may not be a half bad idea.
The problem comes when people accept this person's word on everything, making few decisions on their own. The paths we have chosen to follow are very personal, and there is no one but us who can decide what is right for us. When we begin letting others lead us down their path, we lose a little of our own, not to mention that this is often the beginnings of many destructive cults. In all religions, when one person is accepted as the last and always right word about everything, it becomes destructive.
If someone dedicates their life to studying and giving guidance, and they are good at their jobs and don't take advantage of such power, then I think they deserve to be compensated. You just have to keep a close eye on that thin line.

I Belive That Accepting Money In Exchange Of Craft Teachings Is Extremly... Oct 8th. at 11:37:08 pm UTC

Raven Nighteagle. (Ft. Lewis, Washington US) Age: 19 - Email

I belive that accepting money in exchange of craft teachings is extremly wrong.
comrecializing the teachings of the craft is to me to sale something that can never be sold, the love and the teachings of the Goddess, you can not sell something that does not belong to you the teachings and mysteryies of the craft are not for anybody to hold and trade, wicca is not a possesion but a way of life; you can not sell somebody a new life!!!! you can aid someone in their search for it, guide them by sharing your experiences but that is about it,
the way I see it it all goes back to the "wicht cannot be told" the mysteries cannot be told , but experienced.


Raven Nighteagle

I Think It Is Reasonable To Ask For Money In Exchange For... Oct 9th. at 1:43:55 am UTC

Karina (Canberra, ACT AU) Age: 14 - Email

I think it is reasonable to ask for money in exchange for teaching, readings, alot of other religions and in society in general, most of the time, to obtain service from someone there is a certain fee. There is no reason to feel that one cannot ask for money for reading someone's tarot cards. If one feels the need, go for it, sell your talent and know that the money was earned. You do a service for someone, it's not unreasonable to expect cash in return. Whichever the person feels is best, to charge or not to charge, I think, is fine. As long as one remains ethical about it.

Hi Dear Folks. My Personal Feeling Is That Tarot And Other Forms... Oct 9th. at 1:56:16 am UTC

Argante Comyn (Silicon Valley, California US) Age: 32 - Email

Hi dear folks. My personal feeling is that Tarot and other forms of divination are not, strictly speaking, Wiccan. I am a former professional Tarot reader, and those who came to me to be read were, 99% of the time, non-Wiccans! Certainly, Witches do Tarot readings and other divinations for themselves and for close Craft colleagues -- but I would suspect that we do them for free, in those cases. I am Gardnerian, and I believe that I should not under any circumstances charge money for instruction in the Craft. Tarot, though, in my opinion, is not "the Craft", and it's ethical for a priest/ess to charge for it when reading for folk outside his/her own close community.

I've Been A Solitaire For About 2 Years, After Spending A Lot... Oct 9th. at 3:12:37 am UTC

Nicole R. (Misawa AB, Japan (USAF)) Age: 26 - Email

I've been a solitaire for about 2 years, after spending a lot of time agnostic without paganism. I think that readings to those in the faith should not be chargeable, but perhaps those outside the faith should be charged for the time used. As for the teaching and clergy services, the idea that one should pay those who teach, since most of the pagans I know work at other things as well, is ridiculous. The only possibility I would acknowledge as being paid would be for fulltime clergy and teachers. They would need to be advertised etc. as the priests and teachers of the other major religions are (at least within their own faiths).

Beeing A Wiccan/buddhist And An Artist Are Who I Am. At... Oct 9th. at 8:37:44 am UTC

Nino Carpenter (Boise, Idaho US) Age: 46 - Email

Beeing a Wiccan/Buddhist and an artist are who I am. At times I feel strange about selling my art as it is a gift I give to myself and to others. But a person does have to eat and pay the rent since we have choosen to live in this society. If a person has the gift of being able to help others through their faith and make money at it more power to them. It gives them the time to focus on the important work of living and being who they are rather than wasting too much time and energy focused on making money in an office or a construction site ect..But if a person is really in need of assistance and has no money, services of the faith should be free. I've paid for reading without a second thought because I can thank the Goddess...

Balance In All Things (just Ask My Checkbook!) Great Issues To Look... Oct 9th. at 9:14:51 am UTC

Trish Telesco (western, New York US) Age: 40 - Email

Balance in all things (just ask my checkbook!)

Great issues to look at, but as usual I'm going to wax long and look at each separately.

First teaching. Most good teachers give a lot of time and energy to the community. One doesn't simply stand up and talk off the top of his or her head -- you have to research your topic and be prepared for the Universe to toss a few curves your way. And then after the teaching you often spend hours ministering one-on-one. This is a blessing, but I do believe we need to SERVE THOSE WHO SERVE -- otherwise our wise people and teachers will burn out. Sometimes this service is physical, sometimes it's kind gestures, and sometimes money (believe me when I say everyone I know appreciates being able to pay an extra bill or buy pizza for the family after an event).

To provide a personal example up until about 2 years ago I didn't ask for anything for my time, save getting me to the event and home, and feeding me! Unfortunately over time this took it's tole on my finances because I was giving up work time and had to pay a babysitter (yep, I still work a 40+ hour a week job alongside my community stuff). It was also quite exhausting. So, I began to ask (not demand) that some type of stipend be provided to help offset that loss -- some of which could be bartered. Does the lack of a stipend keep me from an event? No. If a group cannot afford it I waive that option, and if an event turns out smaller than the host/ess hoped, I tell them not to worry about the agreed amount. This is only how I handle things, but I've found most people are very understanding about this system, and it seems to work out for everyone nicely. Perhaps this idea can work for others too.

Second we come to readings. Since I travel and provide readings as I go, I have watched people closely and the sad reality is that folks value what they pay for more than the "freebie". Generally speaking a person who pays for a reading is more likely to tape it, take notes, and ask questions than one who does not. I've also noticed that the paying client tends to actually ACT on the reading moreso than the free reading. In looking around the US the currently accepted rate for readings among ethical seers is about $1.00 per minute. Do others charge a lot more? Sure, but remember that no one forces anyone to pay for a reading -- it's a choice. The consumer must be responsible enough to decide for himself or herself if the service is worth the fee involved.

We must also remember that a reader isn't just sitting there doing nothing -- they're away from family, from work, etc. and it takes a lot of personal energy to give a good reading, let alone dozens in a day. That energy needs compensation in some way. In old times it might have been the gift of a chicken, some fabric, or a little labor... now we use cash. It's less personal, but certainly functional.

That having been said, no one should *suffer* through a difficult spiritual time without guidance because their pockets are empty. This is the ideal time to say, "hey come here I'll take a peek for you" and expect nothing in return. Unfortunately there are those in our community who take advantage of the good-heared readers too -- and immediately after bemoaning financial difficulties, rise from a reading and pay a bundle for a trinket!

Finally, paid clergy - ok, I'll say it. Our community NEEDS full time clergy. We need individuals who can focus wholly on our ever-growing numbers and their needs. To do this, however, we have to make sure their needs are met. Does this mean our clergy are "high and mighty" -- NO! Choosing such individuals needs to be a carefully-considered endeavor, but think of what we could accomplish with even a handful of ordained, trained, magickal ministers who not only helped and healed the neo-pagan community, but did outreach where so many of us cannot due to other obligations.

Part of becomming a recognized religious group is having some semblance of organization (yeah, I know that's a four-letter word to many folks) and standards to which the world can look and say "this is them" -- clergy would help fill some of that gap. And, yes, clergy would need to come from many pagan walks to fulfill our diversified vision/needs, but as we have more pagan-owned lands and communities, full time clergy becomes a natural stepping stone. Might some people abuse this power? It can happen - but since that is going to happen with or without 'paid clergy' (just ask some people who have had coven fall outs because of a power hungry priest or priestess), why base our action or inaction on fear?

Right now we have ministers in our community who are walking the walk, but I see them getting weary. Not everyone is up to this task, and even those who are should not have to give without some type of balance point. What are we doing for our leaders people? How are we supporting them? What are we giving them in return for their time and effort? How do we expect them to keep running on empty?

Ok, stepping off my soap box. As you can tell I'm a little passionate about this.

The Idea Of Paid Clergy And Services Has Been Knocked Around For... Oct 9th. at 9:27:37 am UTC

Sean Wilson (Champaign, Illinois US) Age: 31 - Email

The idea of paid clergy and services has been knocked around for a while. First off, Wicca does not necessarily include divination. Although many Wiccans believe in it, Wicca itself doesn't include it. So, such services are not strictly religious to Wicca although individual Wiccans may have them as part of their religion. Certainly, these things are chargeable and the diviner may or may not be Wiccan or pagan (there are many Christians who read Tarot or palms or whatever).

More central to the issue is should we have a professional clergy? We as Wiccans do not need a priest to intercede with the Divine but other priestly services are needed. Such a priest would need training in theology to answer some tough questions, in counciling to give advice on problems, in group dynamics to give support in times of crisis, and in healing, both physical and spiritual, to give solace in times of hurt. There are some who have done this on their own, including many who are termed "Elder." But, I do feel that a kind of "seminary" is needed. However, we needed to be careful that we do not create a dogma that limited the freedom that Wicca gives us.

Should this kind of person be paid? I personally don't see why not, but the question is how and how much? Should the professional priest be paid per service offered? By everyone regardless of whether they use the services or not? I don't think Wicca is ready for a paid clergy. There simply aren't enough of us to justify it. I think that Wicca needs professional priests to provide the services listed above and the communities where they exist should give them support. That support could be an occasional meal, encouragement for a job well done, or an offer to help with providing this service. If we provided this level of support, more people who take it on themselves to become professional priests to fulfill these needs.

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