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Magic Is Not for Free (Sometimes)

Author: Deborah Castellano
Posted: December 9th. 2012
Times Viewed: 3,131

Like it or lump it, the Neo-Pagan/Occult movement has a lot of roots in the 1960s radical movement. This means that there’s still this bizarre belief with some people that magic should be free and that taking money for magical services is dirty and wrong.

In the broader sense of the idea, sure. It would be really awesome if artists of all kinds were endowed by the government and given health care and a good salary to create. Some countries do that. Most do not. As such, paying for magic isn't any more wrong than paying for doctors’ visits, lawyers’ services, handmade goods, herbs, massage, magazines, books, movies, or any other good or service.

Unless you are bffs (best friends forever) with a serious magical worker or are a magical worker yourself, why would a magical service be free? I mean yes, when I get some queries from Witchvox, I will often suggest a small working to assist… but that’s because (a) I have a soft heart for sad stories and (b) I’m also lazy and/or busy and I can cross post my suggested magical working in my blog and show that I do have a magical thought process when my brain is not pre-occupied with more pressing matters like Dance Moms (which, btdubs, makes Toddlers and Tiaras look like an afternoon tea party with stuffed animals and cake in case you're wondering) and dodging writing a book. But, small.

Basically here’s the distinction (to me) between paid magic and unpaid magic:

Unpaid magic, when requested and not offered by the provider as a free service, is sort of like a free consultation. For instance, a lawyer is going to give you a very broad idea about your case during a free consultation and ideally, if it's a good idea for you to litigate or not. She's not going to go to trial for you during this consultation.

Unpaid magic is like a favor, something that’s not too big of a pain in the butt for the Witch/Occultist in question but still takes some time and energy to do, a.k.a. something that the Witch/Occultist knows offhand or has a lot of experience with, and can answer without it being A Whole Thing.

Generally speaking, I will offer some practical advice and offer a small spell working for you to do yourself when I am giving free advice. If you want The Whole Thing – divination, a consultation and then wish for me to construct a whole magical working for you and to perform it for you, that is not for free because that is now taking up my time and money, as well as my energy and my magic.

More than the time and energy aspect though, I have found (and this might sound mean and catty) that when you just lead the horse to water, there’s little follow through. To be even more blunt, no one who has ever requested magical assistance free of charge has ever emailed me back to tell me that they followed through with my suggested magical solution and their results of doing the work. I never suggest anything with expensive components or even with components you can't get at the grocery store. But still, there it is: the time and energy I spent in considering a course of action for the petitioner to take and writing it out is unfulfilled.

When someone has to put their own money where their mouth is, that person has decided to make a concrete effort towards their magical goal. That person has decided that s/he wants this goal badly enough to give something up (i.e. part of their income) to get it. Quid quo pro, Clarice. By showing me that you're serious about this, I'm usually willing to get serious about it, too.

If you want anything more than a surface opinion, you want The Whole Thing. Show that you’re mannerly and not an oaf. Don't be That Guy who expects an acquaintance or party friend (or even less of a connection) to do you a massive favor because of their occupation.

This acquaintance, who doesn’t really know anything more about you other than you like the Yankees and you don’t drink red wine, shouldn't be expected to outline your legal defense for you over hors’ d’oeuvres, or diagnosis your sore throat in the spare room at a dinner party, or review your book at a con party where everyone’s drinking test tube shots. You need to expect to pay for it. If you are expecting favors for free when it comes to any kind of service, consultation or artistic work, you are implicitly (if not explicitly) saying that what the ‘expert/artist’ does isn’t worth anything of value, really. And you know who likes that? Yeah, no one.

[Also, super important! In most Neo-Pagan cultures, don’t haggle. It’s rude and insulting to the provider. Don’t get nasty with the provider about their prices. That’s ridiculous. Take your business elsewhere if you don’t want to pay the price.]

If you would like The Whole Thing, whether it’s massage therapy, book proofing, magical services, event planning, knitting or whatever, and this service has not been offered free of charge to you by the provider, here are some gracious ways to see about receiving the Full Blown Service:

1. Say, “I need a love spell/an hour massage/candle work/curse work/an illustrator for my magazine/legal counsel. What is your going rate for that?”

2. Say, “I need X, but I only have Y amount of money. Are you able to do anything for me for that?” That gives your service provider a chance to decide for herself as to what she is willing to do for that, if anything at all.

3. Say, “I need X and I have Y and Z that I can barter for it if that’s an arrangement you would find suitable. If not thank you for considering it.”

Easy, right? And as the old saying goes, it doesn't cost anything to be polite!

Copyright: Deborah Castellano owns the copyright to this article.


Deborah Castellano

Location: , New Jersey


Author's Profile: To learn more about Deborah Castellano - Click HERE

Bio: Deborah blogs regularly over at Charmed, I'm Sure: A Finishing School for Dropout Dilettantes Discussing Charms, Hexes, Housewifery, Hearth Witchery and Deportment

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