Curated by Cat Gina Cole
The Green Egg Forum is a lively hotbed of thoughtful discourse, moderated by Cat Gina Cole. In this column, Cat shares some of the most interesting and interactive posts and threads from the forum. Want to get in on the conversation? We would love to have you! Go to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1069823176940972/ to join.
Money & Ethics
This week in the forum there was a great discussion about money and ethics, that began with this question, “I am a victim of my own ethics. I have a hard time paying what I consider a high fee, meaning over what I myself would charge for such an event. I may very badly want to attend but as of yet, have not been able to break this ethic, and pay the fee even if I have the money it is just a hard no. I imagine the solution to my dilemma lies in my shadow work, but in the meantime what is an ethical poor Pagan to do when as a provider or a customer we have ethics that are conflicting that sometimes can hold us back? And I ask, where are you and your ethics on this issue?”
The responses varied and were very enlightening.
“The only Pagan thing I do charge a fee for at the moment is a tarot reading. I charge $60 per reading (usually about 90 minutes), which is half what I charge to do massage for the same amount of time.
$60 per hour is also what I charge to edit, and $100 for original content.
My prices for everything I do are low compared to what others charge for the same. I have decided that my time (my physical presence and attention) is worth a minimum of $60 per hour and that’s my boundary. It is also the amount that I would be comfortable paying someone for that service. It feels fair. That said, if I know someone is struggling and really needs my help, I will often have spontaneous “special prices today.”
The only festivals I have read at have been large private events where it was a favor to a friend, so it was for free, as well as a local environmental event where I read every year and don’t charge anything because that is my contribution to the cause.
And all that said, I often read tarot free of charge for people when I get the urge to do so because it seems like the right thing to do. Like the Universe is orchestrating it, so I go with it. I also have led a monthly tarot workshop for about 7 years and do not charge for it, nor do I charge to read privately for those people. These free things are gifts to the Goddess, and just feel right to me. Good energy.
It is super hard to declare what your time is worth and set that boundary, particularly if you’ve struggled with self-esteem issues your whole life. This is why, for me, having to promote my books is torture.
In my mind, when I charge for something, it is work, and that is what my time is worth. When I give my time away, it is a gift, it is service to the Goddess, and I am pretty generous with that. In my mind, this balances it out.
I really share in your angst. I think the Pagan community has long had an attachment to poverty being the “right” choice. Maybe it is time to advance from that, and view that being financially comfortable isn’t a Pagan sin.”
“In my mind, it is all about my time and what that time is worth. I think it is fair to charge a fair rate.”
“The thing is, though it’s a skill many of us learn in the Craft, it’s independent of it — lots of practitioners learn it elsewhere — and therefore doesn’t fall under the prohibition against charging.”
“I look at it this way, there are basic tarot skills you use to do readings, then there are the advanced skills initiates use…those I don’t charge for and am very select in who I teach them to. When I am out using basic or common skills, yes, I will charge for those.”
“My feelings are very similar to yours. One can neither buy nor sell spirituality, no matter what the new age snake oil sellers do. But our entire modern culture is transactional, primarily around money. Those of us who try to act otherwise not only go broke but get taken advantage of.”
“Even if I am comped at a festival, and the classes I do teach at a local metaphysical shop, it doesn’t pay for the gas, the time, eating out, or other incidentals. I realize I need to start charging something. Sure, I do this for the love of people and giving them tools to grow spiritually, emotionally, and psychically. I’m retired, and I can’t live off of what I do otherwise. Incidentals add up pretty quickly. If people want your expertise, they will have to support you. LOL< and if you tell them they have to do work and practice, you aren’t going to be popular. Selling and speaking to one’s beliefs and philosophical biases in a way to make them feel good, seems to be a popular way for some speakers. I don’t use glamor.
“At some point, people are going to have to learn to trust and verify the wisdom of elders and those that elders deem worthy. OR have a way to test people out.”
“If we were paid for just being part of the society to help out those on the fringes, that would be good. But we have been relegated to the shadows. I know we have been coming out of the closet for 50 years. Still as working covens and magical groups, we tend to be very small and selective.”
“Many are philosophically or secularly pagans or Wiccans. They learn enough to for their biases and comfort. Our culture has it so we don’t trust leaders, teachers, groups, or religions. So we become isolated and remain easier victims alone. And we trust anyone to have community. Energy exchange, and support of those who spent a lifetime developing expertise, our culture isn’t willing to pay for teachers, our public teachers even. We don’t keep good, qualified teachers that care. We don’t protect them either. I get it that the high moral road is the way of the spirit and requires no money or goods. But how do we quantify and respect the effort developed and the expertise cultivated? How do you trust people who are not part of tried-and-true tradition?”
“I think services and merchandise should be compensated for what they are worth. I have no problem with bartering to meet that value. I don’t believe in haggling. If the price is too high, I go elsewhere. Knowledge, on the other hand, is priceless and meant to be shared. I don’t believe in charging for that.”
“Sadly, it’s the reason so many Pagan businesses, events, magazines, etc. shut down: people want teaching and ritual and revelry but don’t want to pay for it (for good and less-good reasons) unless it’s “stuff” like jewelry, robes, and boutique books. The money is being spent, in very large amounts (even Walmart sells all the witchcraft supplies you could need to get started these days), and I think it’s shaped our culture(s) in negative ways. I wish we would value our ritualists and teachers as much as stuff.”
“I have a slightly different approach. When working in the mundane business world, as an expert word processor and editor, I earned $35/hour. I am a professional and that was fair compensation in Los Angeles. When I became a paralegal, my per hour was considerably more. So, what is my time, skill, and value as an intuitive reader? I provide my services based on what it would be worth for my time, expertise, and skill in a value-added comparison. So my minimum for in-person readings are $45 per hour. And just as I was paid mileage in the mundane business world, it’s $0.35 per mile. While I believe my value is greater as an intuitive reader, I charge based on my mundane rate. It’s never been perceived as out of line in L.A. and trust me, there are people here in L.A. that charge lots more for less skill. I use tarot cards as a prop because they make people more comfortable. As a Witch with a background in several traditions, I never charge for my gifts from the Goddess. Those are sacred and oath-bound. If someone wants training in the Craft, that is a whole different ball of wax, and I only teach those willing to commit to a 6-month period of intro to the Craft in general. If they show true commitment to becoming a Witch, it’s a year and a day, outer court training, one on one with introduction to different groups so they have the opportunity to evaluate for themselves which path they want to follow. Even then, I listen to my Goddess for guidance as to who I teach.”
I love the diversity of responses the forum provides! Money and ethics has often been portrayed as an either-or situation. But as you can see there are ways the two points of view can and do live side by side.
Cat Gina Cole is a Herditary Witch and author of Psychic Skills for Magic and Witchcraft (Llewellyn, 2022). She is the founder of The Coven of the Rising Phoenix and Staff Coordinator for “Green Egg Magazine.” You can reach her at www.catginacole.com.