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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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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 

First Off, May I Congradulate Whoever Thought Up Discussing This Topic. It's... Oct 10th. at 2:55:44 pm UTC

Tanais (Spokane, Washington US) Age: 19

First off, may I congradulate whoever thought up discussing this topic. It's a "hot" topic and I believe it shouldn't be something taken lightly. What I get from this question is not one of faith but of moral philosophy. Is it right for leaders to be paid for the work they do? In a perfect world, money wouldn't be an issue and everyone would take care of each other. Realistically, who is going to want to clean out a septic tank if they aren't getting paid? It would be a very short institution if a wiccan clergy were to concentrate their entire time to theology and not find some way to at least get by with the basic necessities. By basic necessites I mean food, water, etc. If they make their money through donation then so be it. It seems to work in other faiths and here in the United States, the government to some degree takes care of the clergy with tax exemptions and other things. Do I think that there should be a full time pagan clergy? Short answer is no. I'm a firm believer that if someone wants to be a member of the clergy, then it makes no sense to make a clergyperson seperate from the community they are supposed to serve. What's wrong with working a 9-5 job and hosting rituals or coven spell sessions during time off? Sure there is advantages to spending 24/7 studying theology but I think again that there needs to be a personal and hands on quality that goes hand and hand with being the leader of the people. I find it easier to respect a religious leader willing to swing a hammer as well as plan the event.

As for tarot readings and things like that, sure it's regretably the most common thing associated with the faith. But let me first propose this question. Why are tarot readings so important? What real emphasis is put on candles and incense? I use candles as a symbol of the elements and I do hold them very dear to me rather then what I'm burning. The actual candles I can get at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and it wouldn't really matter. It's the symbolism that they have and the faith that I have which I use said candles to symbolize. The point is that they are used in the faith but are secondary to the actual belief so if people want to make a commercial business in catering to tarot readings or selling religious books then go ahead; I'm not going to stop you because they are tools and we are ultimately responsible with the path we take.

People are attracted to whatever religion for a reason. Whatever reason is entirely valid and personal. I think to teach a student should be and is one of the most honorable professions one can have. Public school teachers today are hardly living the life of luxury as it is but they stay because of a love of learning and what I can only describe as community service. The same principles should apply to religious matters when a newcomer inquires into the pagan faith if not stronger. As a religious teacher, the teacher is ultimately responsible for the development of the student. It's not like teaching math or science because concrete evedence goes along with academic learning. We are talking spiritual learning and that is much different. A lot of the ideals will be based a lot on faith and may even go against reason. The needs of good teachers would be needed for religious instruction and the only way that I see one can become a good teacher is to devote all their time, every day. So, how is a teacher going to make a living? Can't exactly hold down a second job to make ends meet so I believe teachers need to be paid.

Just a few insights from under the black pointy hat

Any Exchange Of Money Needs To Be Considered Carefully Before It Happens... Oct 10th. at 4:26:00 pm UTC

Tony (Tampa, Florida US) Age: 28 - Email

Any exchange of money needs to be considered carefully before it happens. Someone else mentioned the statement that "Money is the root of all evil, " and while I prefer to point out that this is a common misquote and the original quotation is "The love of money is the root of all evil" each quotation has certain merits.

When it comes to the craft, you've got to be very careful that you're doing any workings for the good of the client and love of the craft -- and not for the love of the money. I would believe that in any case, it should be reasonable to expect the client to pay for the spell, teaching or other materials involved.

This Is Just A Rambling Of Mine, So Please Forgive Any Grammatical... Oct 10th. at 6:19:23 pm UTC

Wandering Shadow (North Miami, Florida US) Age: 17 - Email

This is just a rambling of mine, so please forgive any grammatical errors. I understand that people have to make a living, BUT there is a point where I have seen greediness and corruption take over. For example, there is going to be a Samhain ritual about an hour from my house. A local pagan shop is sponsoring it and they require a thirteen dollar entree fee. I know it's not nice to point fingers, BUT they have to be making a profit on the ritual. The ritual is only supposed to last for an hour and a half. Their only visible costs is the bite of cake and shot glass of tea for each participant. That is quite greedy, and seems to be mearly a way to make money. That is just an example of corruption that I see in the pagan community everyday . Another example is the idea of tarot card readers charging a dollar a minute, when frankly they aren't that experienced at it yet, on top of that some of them have the gaul to charge even more if they think they did a better than average job with you. I think everyone has been to a pagan shop were a small candle(not annointed) runs about five dollars. It's not right. I know the pagan supplies industry has grown to be quite large, but I don't appreciate attempts at milking me for money lie a lot of Christian churches would do. It especially sickens me when I see these same milkers decide to teach their vast wisdom to others for a small fee. An example of this would be a local pagan shop holding guided astral meditations of groups of twenty people or more. The sessions are half an hour long and cost twenty dollars each session. Well, thus concludes my rambling. I most graciously thank you for your time to listen to my thoughts. Thanx and Blessed Be :)

Here Is My Humble Opinion, Qualified As Such! I Do Not Feel... Oct 11th. at 1:27:29 am UTC

WitchMama (Berkeley, California US) Age: 40

Here is my humble opinion, qualified as such!

I do not feel that tarot readings are necessarily specifically part of the Wiccan religion per se. However, I think divination, both as a service for others and as a tool for personal growth, most certainly IS part of the Wiccan religion. I see no reason why those individuals, Wiccan or not, who excell in Tarot or any other divinatory practice, should not be permitted to perform their art for others in exchange for payment, just as those who excell at teaching, writing books, lecturing, and making products such as robes, jewelry and candles should be able to make a livelihood from their abilities. I think much of the conundrum is one of attitude. I certainly don't want to trivialize the importance and power of divination in the spiritual practice of Wicca. I think it's up to us, as Wiccans, to assure that there is an air of reverence and respect there when we perform these services for others, whether in exchange for money or not.

As far as "paid clergy, " it depends on how you mean it. I've been paid for performing Wiccan weddings. Does that make me "paid clergy"? Or are we thinking of paid clergy in the systemic sense used by Protestant Christians? I have no problem with the former, but have a very difficult time envisioning the latter!

The Wiccan Religion Is Amorphous And Difficult To Pin Down With Any... Oct 11th. at 5:37:45 am UTC

Yui Daoren (Santa Fe, New Mexico US) Age: 33 - Email

The Wiccan religion is amorphous and difficult to pin down with any all-encompasing definition. Thus, I find it impossible to answer the question "Are tarot readings and the like really a 'part of the Wiccan religion'?"
Prognostication has been part of the human experience since the beginning, however. It is probably not beyond the scope of the word "Wicca" to include any form of it, including the use of Tarot cards.
People, such as myself, would very much like to turn the whole of our lives over to our religion. We want to help people spiritually, but we find that we often can not because we can not support ourselves without a "day job". For those brave enough to ask for some compensation for thier spiritual guidance (whether deserved or not - that is a seperate issue in my view) they face the terrible association with charletans that produced those laws in the first place.
In a perfect world, it would be unnessasary for anyone to ask for monetary compensation for spiritual guidance. We all know that this world was not made to be perfect, as we would not learn a thing from being here if it was. So, I wish that it be allowed that those who choose to might ask for money in exchange for thier services. It is left up to the "consumer" to decide if they are worth the price asked.

I Personaly Never Charge For A Reading Besides The Only People I... Oct 11th. at 9:22:50 am UTC

Jennifer Juniper (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida US) Age: 24 - Email

I personaly never charge for a reading besides the only people I read for are my famliy and close friends. As for being part of the craft, tarot is just another tool for divination such as runes and scrying. I have no problem with any tool. Where teaching for cash comes in, I'm a bit fuzzy I have attended "workshops" that took me 10 mins to figure out my money would have been better spent somewhere else. This has somewhat jaded me towards "teachers" who ask to be paid up front. I would much rather gather with a group of my peers and pool our collective knowledge. I subscribe to an email group where the moderator has daily topics of discussion and I find it to be very enriching, and we goof around too:) In closing except for paid handfasting services and magical supply, I find the craft and cash mix just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I Don't Necessarily Have Any Opinion On A "paid Clergy", But I... Oct 11th. at 10:22:50 am UTC

Renae Martinez (Norwood, Massachusetts US) Age: 24 - Email

I don't necessarily have any opinion on a "paid clergy", but I definitely think that tarot readings and the like are part of the *Pagan* tradition, if not the "Wiccan" tradition. I do not consider myself Wiccan; but I follow many of those practices. I do consider myself Pagan, and I do tarot readings, for friends, family, myself. I do not collect money for that sort of thing, though. I more or less think money, though a necessary thing in our society, is kind of pervasive and evil. But that's just me. =) I don't think I agree with exchanging teaching, readings, or clergy service for cash, but I do not condemn those who do so.

Cash For Knowledge? It's Bad Enough We Have To Pay For Water... Oct 11th. at 11:38:50 am UTC

Little (San Diego, California US) Age: 22

Cash for knowledge? It's bad enough we have to pay for water..a free resource of the earth, but to pay for the services of the Gods. If a person is blessed with the gift of reading, he or she should not get money for it, perhaps an exchange in a gift for a gift...maybe lunch for a reading would be allright, donations at your discretion type of thing. But If one is being payed to read the stars to give ease to some ones mind, I think it is abuse of the powers.

Tackling This Question One Piece At A Time. The Easy Part Is... Oct 11th. at 3:09:05 pm UTC

Beth (Silicon Valley, California US) Age: 49 - Email

Tackling this question one piece at a time.

The easy part is divination. My tradition (an offshoot of English Traditional) includes a few simple rules about money and Craft. 1) You may not charge money to teach the religion of Wicca. 2) An artisan is worthy of her or his hire.
3) IF you need to use magic in order to acquire something, you may not haggle over the price. (I take this both ways, though it's only stated in this form.)

Nothing in those rules says that one may not get paid for working magic. And divination is a combination of skill, talent, study, and magic.

The difficult part is the question of pagan clergy and payment. Accepted practice in the tradition is that one may "charge" or request fees sufficient to cover costs. But how do you calculate costs? Actual cash layout for a class includes renting space (what about teaching in one's home, where one must house-clean and make ready and prep space?), purchasing consumables (incense and candles, cookies and juice), photocopying materials (handouts, class notes, synopsis, flyers or posters or mailings), cost of travel to and from the class location for the teacher(s)... What about time? Is a teacher's time worth anything? I'm not speaking here of the dozens or hundreds of hours of preparation of class materials, lesson plan, handouts, ritual design, etc. Nor travel time to and from a site. I'm only talking about the 2-3 hours per session that the teacher(s) spend(s) with the students. Why does that matter?

Many teachers are sharing information garnered over decades of study (not all of it formally within a Pagan religion). Studies in mythology, magical techniques, ritual, psychology, counseling, divinatory techniques, hypnotherapy, herbalism, parapsychology, energetic techniques (including martial arts and healing practices), and plain old comparative religions. They also share information gathered from experience, and winnowed for the grains of useful truth among such experience.

Teaching the Wiccan religion comes cheap even at New Age prices. If you choose your teachers carefully. That doesn't make me any more comfortable with charging anything like my true costs when I teach. There are far too many out there who resemble the seeker in the Zen story, who demanded of the master to be taught the wisdom of the world while standing on one foot. For that, buy the Teen Witch Kit and begone.

The first Wiccan seminary (ATC) in this country is already credentialed (, and look for the link). There are other avenues for the Pagan clergy of the future to develop, but they're pretty durned hit-and-miss. Painful lessons at the hand of one teacher or group, which scar the Wicca priesthood even as they all grow into what they will be.

Support them how you may. And if you think that money buys wisdom, you'll find that you're probably right. But not the way that you thought.

Being A Merchant In The Pagan Field, Let Me Tell You That... Oct 11th. at 8:29:11 pm UTC

Ken (Raleigh, North Carolina US) Age: 25 - Email

Being a merchant in the pagan field, let me tell you that it is always a constant "karmic" struggle as to what fees should be charged with what. I own a small shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, and from the beginning, we set out with the mission to provide the local pagan community with items and tools that can best benefit them at affordable cost. However, the issue comes up when people want to receive "guidance" through things such as astrological charts and Tarot. When it comes to that type of thing, I do cringe a bit.

We do have an astrologer that works on our site. Because she is not affiliated with our store financially (we make no money from her and just let her use a part of our shop as an office), she does charge for services. But, as stated, I feel it is wrong to take money for this, so the store does not benefit from her readings beyond her clients coming into our shop. We also do have someone that has come aboard that does Tarot readings, however again, we make no money from him. Basically, we just give these two people a front to use so that they can provide a service if we have clientele that desire it (and some do). For that is what it is. Things like Tarot are services...not a part of the religion, at least in my opinion. If a person is good enough to charge, then by all means let them...but it better be a VERY good reading by a true Tarot artist.

As far as religious teaching goes, I am not a proponent of charging for admission. In other words, we feature free discussion groups and classes on things such as Tarot and a "Witchcraft 101" course, as well as Spell-Crafting courses that are offered by a local High Priestess. There are no charges associated with these courses beyond a donation to the instructor to cover expenses such as photocopies and the like (but even then, a person does not have to pay, nor is it encouraged). We also work with a local group that holds open rituals for the 8 holy days as well as bi-weekly worship circles. There is never a charge for admission, NOR SHOULD THERE BE!

I detest nothing more than groups that like to say things like, "If you pay me such and such, I can make you a 2nd degree initiate yadda yadda..." It is my belief, and this is just me personally, that to do things such as that are wrong. The best teachers I have ever had were people that didn't know they were teaching or guiding me.

This is a time of opening possibilities in this world...unfortunately you are always going to have those few that like to take advantage of those starved for knowledge. It is up to all of us, ALL, to put that to an end, and to let people know that the best information comes from the Earth and Stars Herself, not from the wallets of men and women.

I Do Not Approve Of Anyone,for Any Reason Getting Money By... Oct 11th. at 10:12:17 pm UTC

billie (fort scott, Kansas US) Age: 48

I do NOT approve of anyone, for any reason getting money by way of religion-mine or any other.I refuse to be an emotional and monetary hostage to any religious cause.If you want to read the tarot, by all means do so, but do not charge for it!No minister, priest, high priest or priestess should charge for offering religious guidance. billie

In My Opinion Any Service To Help Should Not Have A Set... Oct 11th. at 11:30:33 pm UTC

Joe (cameron park, California US) Age: 28 - Email

In my opinion any service to help should not have a set price.
look at some of the weathy christions and there fat pocket books at the expence
of others in the name of kindness.?
that is part of what i think makes a witch diferent is giving and helping
without thought of payment, if it could be done without loss of selflesness
then great, but i think reading the cards and other services to aid.
should be free, unless the person youve helped ofers a gift of there own free

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