Do the Gods Take American Express?
Article ID: 8625
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,554
Times Read: 5,245
Author: Lady Pandora
Posted: July 31st. 2004
Times Viewed: 5,245
Picture this: A Craft store, like any other; a customer's shopping cart, full of candles, herbs, books and even a statue or two. The customer walks up to the counter and sees a flyer: "Wiccan 1st Degree training and Book of Shadows for only $350.00 - Sign up fast - Spots are limited." The customer pauses and thinks, "Should I put back the statues or pass on the 1st Degree training that I've been wanting?" Then the customer asks the cashier, "Do the Gods take American Express?"*
Can you imagine that happening? Can you picture people selling Wicca, selling initiations, selling degrees and the "rare and elusive" Traditional Book of Shadows handed down from generations through an exclusive line? When, they may say they cannot confirm their lineage as it is "oathbound," but their information is just as valid and real, so sign up and for $350 you too can have the ancient secret knowledge.
(Gerald Gardner, as you know by now, is the father of Wicca as an initiatory mystery religion. So Wicca itself isn't much more than 60 years old. Wicca does not date back to the caveman days. Although some aspects used in Wicca are very old, the religion itself isn't.)
By now you've seen the emails or been handed a flyer about training as a Priest or Priestess. Advertised as workshops, classes and training sessions, broken up into parts or for an entire weekend, it seems that "easy does it." You too can become a High Priest or High Priestess in just a few easy lessons so you can start your own coven. These workshops, classes and training sessions usual come with a price. Not the type that requires hard work and dedication but the kind that can get you travel miles with your American Express.
What you need to understand is that Wicca is NOT for sale. Wicca is an initiatory mystery religion. This means you need to be trained in it and initiated by someone who is already a part of Wicca. It requires a lot of hard work, time and dedication. It is a calling to serve and be a part of the Gods. So knowing the hard work and dedication it takes to learn Wicca, to be initiated into a mystery religion, how could it be for sale? How could you learn Wicca in a few easy lessons or by paying for printed text by some faceless name in an email over the internet? If that were the case, then only those with money could have spirituality. Wicca is not a race; there is no end goal that you need to accomplish. It should be learned and practiced with patience and love, not with credit cards.
While I wholeheartedly believe that Wicca is not for sale, I DO believe that there are expenses involved with its practice. First off, there are books to be read. While yes, you can probably read them at a library or borrow them from a friend - as it is not necessary to own every book that is recommended - I've found it helpful to have your own copy so that you can keep them as a reference, mark them up at will, make notes and even underline passages. Then there are ritual supplies: herbs, incense, candles - you know, the usual. Also ritual items and, if you're like me, you're no blacksmith. So instead of making your athame and boline from scratch, you are probably going to buy the ones that call to you. The chalice, the salt dish and the states of your deities. The wand, the scourge, the pentacle, a cauldron and so forth. Yes, there is some expense involved in Wicca. But these are items you consecrate and keep; these are personal items. These expenses are not the same as someone selling the Craft to you.
Common sense - I suggest you use it. There is very little ancient secret knowledge. There are those who profess to have important Traditional knowledge and for a fee will share it with you. WRONG! What they have is some regurgitated information with their own spin on it, folklore or plain made-up stuff. Those that have true Traditional knowledge don't go around telling others that they have it, nor do they sell it, which is why these people have this knowledge. They had been entrusted with the secrets of their Tradition. Traditionalist strive for quality, not quantity, which is why they are selective about who they teach their Tradition to.
There are many people that want to make as much money off of you as they can. So they sell the workshops, classes and training sessions for profit. Then there are those that give the gift of teaching. You can tell that they put love into their teaching. They care about the individual and their purpose is for you, the student, to learn what they have to share. Their teaching doesn't usually cost much, but you still may pay a small fee for attending. Here are some tips to help you tell the difference between someone making a profit off of you and someone giving you the gift of their time:
First off, someone pushing their classes on you is probably after your money. If they are hounding people and the community to attend their classes, that is a good sign that they are out for money.
If you think the classes are a bit steep for what is being offered, ask first. There may be more involved then you were aware of, but still use common sense. If you are taking a class, for example, on candle magic, you may pay a small fee because materials are involved, i.e. printed reference material, herbs, oils and candles. So a class that went for 90 minutes or longer and cost about $25 wouldn't be unreasonable. You're paying not only for the materials but probably the rental of the space where the class is being held. Minor costs or fees to provide a suitable environment and hands on reference material are perfectly okay.
Now take that same candle magic class: If someone is charging you $100 or more, they are trying to make money off of you. Which means their material isn't prepared with the intent that you will come away from it more knowledgeable. In fact, if you don't absorb the material by the end of the class, oh well, you can always try another one of their classes which may suit you better; of course you still have to pay the $100 fee. Which means their heart is not in the lesson but in their wallet.
If you're at all suspicious about a person, their classes or workshops, ask around. Ask trusted friends; ask members of the community who may have taken classes or workshops by this person. Ask the person directly for references. If they cannot give references, or give just a few faceless emails that praise them, be wary. Better safe then sorry.
Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of why some Wiccans and Traditionalist get upset at people selling Wicca and other Craft information. They are not trying to deny you knowledge; they are just trying to prevent their beliefs from being cheapened by the almighty dollars sign. In the end, the choice is still yours.
* Phrasing - "Do the Gods take American Express?" - by Brian
Location: Staten Island, New York
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lady Pandora - Click HERE
Bio: Liliths Cat, a Craft member for over 15 years, lives in New York with her 5 rescue cats. In 1999 she started the first USA Manx Cat Rescue when she rescued her first Manx, Lunableu, from an abusive home. Liliths Cat also runs a networking Pagan Community, called Voice of the Old Ways, for both seekers and elders, in which donations are often collected for the local battered women's shelter. Besides her spiritual practice, she also enjoys: watching movies, writing, Playstation 2, reading, sci-fi, computers and a good old fashioned cat nap.
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