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Can’t Get Something for Nothing (Or At Least You Shouldn’t)

Kenaz Filan has a great blog post on the concept of paying for services in Paganism.

This is something I struggle with a great deal. I never want “ability to pay” to be the reason why someone can’t access my services. Instead of having set fees for things, I usually leave it open to the recipient to offer something in exchange, although I have been getting better at both making suggestions so they understand the general worth of what I offer, as well as trying to make sure I get mine before services are rendered. (Even as recently as a few months ago, I decided to go ahead and offer counseling to someone assuming that they’d pay up eventually and had to end the relationship when four sessions went by with not even a conversation about reciprocity.)

To be clear, the reason I “charge” for services is twofold. The first is that obtaining the education/ability to provide said services at the level that I operate (divination, ritual construction, hook suspension, etc) cost me money as well as time, and professionals deserve to get paid. When you hire me, you not only get my training, but also years of experience – I’ve been divining and constructing rituals for almost 20 years now. I also have some very specialized skill sets that you can’t just find in the yellow pages – in fact, I was musing to someone that I’m pretty sure I’m one of only two madness shamans I’m aware of that take counseling clients.

The second reason I expect some form of reciprocity is because these things don’t happen for free. For example, if you ask me for an ordeal, I need to arrange for the right time, place, people, props, ritual items, whatever tools I may need. Because it’s not like I just write a ritual and then it happens – almost always I’m also the orchestrator and administrator, making sure everyone’s ritual script got picked up at Kinko’s on time, and that the wine was chilled to the temperature the Goddess asked for. People balk all the time when I bring up money around energy pulls, as though hooks grow on trees.

Anyway, I’m exhausted and want to hit the hay, and mostly I want you to go read what Kenaz has to say about paying for services, because zie makes a great point how the entitlement starts to bleed over into expecting the Gods to provide everything for free. Which is a concept you’ll see again when I get back to writing Month for Loki posts.

About Del

A shaman who writes about spiritual things, but not in that namby-pamby "everything is light and fluffy" sort of way.

2 responses to “Can’t Get Something for Nothing (Or At Least You Shouldn’t)

  1. Kitten ⋅

    I haven’t read the other post, and maybe the other person mentioned it, but two other reasons for people to pay for services (that are totally about them): 1) when one pays for a service, they’re more inclined to take it seriously. They might think about what they’re going in to a bit more, but, if not, then they might take what they’re doing to another level in awareness, if only to get “every cent’s worth.” They also might take *you,* the provider, more seriously. It’s one thing to have Del-the-friend-who’s-helping-out to do something, it’s another to have Del-the-professional to get advice from.

    2) When someone pays for a service, they are no longer beholden to the provider. For me, at least, that’s an important part of a transaction.

  2. I can’t agree with “kitten” more. I wrote a whole long spiel on this over on a pagan forum I am a regular of, I apologize in advance that it is NOT a short post. But I think it may greatly apply to your situation and perhaps other workers that view these pages. I don’t mean to spam your blog.

    If your interested read on.

    I have noted that in many different pagan communities there seems to be a awkwardness of what seems acceptable of charging for healing.

    Personally I have noticed (my opinion) that things like Reiki and yoga and shakra work, no one bats and eye at paying a fee for. But things like shamanic healing, weather it be working with your totems, energetic moving or even visionary work is for the most part frowned upon. As soon as you mention a price, both the practicing communities and general public look and point at you for trying to earn money off of something they view should be free.

    The thing is this, In the old days it was perfectly normal and if anything expected that you would bring something of payment such as, a woven blanket, eggs, meat etc. Living materials if you will. This was paid to the shaman without asking or question. (I am saying shaman a lot even though I am not a shaman but a Shammon. – sadly your traditional ‘native’ shaman seems most identifiable in the pagan community. Harder to explain UPG and being work with weak teas.)

    On top of it, in most tribes it is custom to add a extra small un- asked for gift, a gift of thanks. My point in saying this is that now a days none of us live in a pure trade system. It sure would be nice though wouldn’t it? In any case why should someone be expected to do any kind of work for free when that time could be spent on other tasks that keeps a roof over the healers head, their pets and family fed and kept safe? Is it not more sacrilegious to ask someone to put themselves and the ones they care for out in the rain than to pay and support a healer? – Not to mention if more healers could do healing full time, rather than work at McDonalds..I think that would benefit the earth far more than Micky D’s having another worker ant.

    There is also the issue of “universal exchange.” When something is given for “free” what the universe takes, might be something you might not have agreed to give. There is also the sad but very true side of things that are freely given are never as appreciated for as something traded or earned.

    Further more: Even within the healing community there is a idealist sense that healing in general should be kept free….I watch healers say this….healers that are emotionally and spiritually drained, worn out and tired….they are this way because they give, they give too much, too often without receiving healing back. I mean this physically, mentally and emotionally. I have YET to meet a single healer that does not suffer from the above.

    We have a perception that we will give until it kills us, and we won’t ask for help, because it is OUR job and duty to be the strong ones that only give. This could not be farther from the truth. What good are we if we are broken? There is another book I read once that addressed this issue – even though it was a fantasy novel. One of the characters who was fed up with the self martyrdom of a particular healer asked; “Who heals the healer?” It was a question thrown at the healer for him to ponder over. After a long grueling physical and mental journey he came to the answer. “It is those that were once healed by the healer, that in turn heals the healer.” I strongly believe this applies to ALL healers, weather your a vet, a Reiki specialist, a shaman or even just someone who has always been the shoulder to cry on or the patient ear. This saying is for all of us!

    So how Gyspei does any of this tie in with the initial topic?
    Well, it ties in because a shaman needs a community. We need connections, we need patients we need to be able to keep ourselves in the clear body mind and soul and to keep our families in the same. We cannot do this by constantly offering services for free. I believe that if a client cannot pay then bring something to trade or go out of your way to pay mother earth. Go plant something, pick up litter. Hell even help someone else out by doing a good deed. But sometimes as healers we do need people to give back to us directly. It’s an unhealthy one sided broken cycle otherwise.

    I bring this up here because I strongly believe that if we wish to stay healthy active healers we need to support one another and also not to scoff at the idea of payment. I have heard from many other healers speaking to the public “Huh, they charge for that!? well that’s not right, I have been giving that away for years. They are probably a scam artist or unethical.” I have heard things like this from fellow practitioners, far more times than I care to mention. Now ask yourself, Why would the public think of paying a legit healer when they hear someone who they respect or even just met, say they would be stupid to pay for healing?

    Anyways this is it for now. Everyone that stayed throughout this rant earned a golden invisible marshmallow!

    15pts goes to whoever can recognize the book that the rough quote of the healer came from! (it’s not verbatim)

    The book quoted for the “As the earth changes, so must we” is
    Dancing with the wheel. The medicine wheel workbook. By Sun Bear, Wabun Wind, and Crysalis Mulligan.

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