On Equal Exchange
July 20, 2016 2 Comments
Recently, I was confronted by someone who thought I was crazy for charging for geomancy readings.* He himself is a diviner, but finds it displeasing that I insist on being paid for divination. I won’t get into why (it’s ultimately a matter of culture and tradition), and suffice it to say that it’s not a debate I want to continue here.
My rule here is simple: if you do work, you deserve to get paid for the work. Yes, I know it’s a recurring issue in Western occultism, especially in the New Age community, where I see different versions of the same thing:
- “It’s a divine gift, and so you shouldn’t charge for it.” It’s a divine gift I have the capability for logic, speaking, and writing, and I get paid for those all the same. It’s a divine gift that I have an able body that can carry heavy loads, and I get paid for that all the same. It’s a divine gift that I have a talent for understanding and working with computers, and I get paid for those all the same. Divination and ritual are no different.
- “You shouldn’t get the mundane mixed up in the spiritual.” There’s no fundamental distinction between the spiritual and mundane; they’re all part of the world we live in, and my spiritual work is fully invested in my mundane life and vice versa.
- “People won’t value it if they pay for it.” They value the help of doctors and lawyers who get paid, yes? They value the roads and buildings made by engineers who get paid, yes? Conversely, I see people tossing pirated PDFs around and disparaging bootleg copies of music and movies; they’re not paying the creators, and I see a lot more disrespect and a lot more devaluing when people get stuff for free than when they pay for it. Getting stuff for free very nearly always leads to people taking you for granted, and even just outright ignoring you because “oh, this dude was free, and I can get more and other free opinions anyway”.
- “People won’t know if you’re telling the truth if they pay you.” Trust is a thing that has to be built and earned, I agree, but I hope that I’ve done that enough by this point. If you can’t trust me, then why are you even bothering coming to me? It’s part of my own schpiel that I am committed to telling you whatever I see, good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, and I commonly remark on how down-to-earth geomancy is with its oft-dire, sometimes-heavy news.
Et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Each ritual act I do is informed and based on a decade of study; when you ask me for something, you call on my expertise. Each ritual act I do takes time, supplies, and energy; when you ask me for something, you take up my resources. Each ritual act I do is done with the intent of good success, good strength, and good character; when you ask me for something, I am beholden to carry out my charge to you. For these reasons, I request payment. If you do not pay, I’m giving you things that I have rightfully earned to keep and am under no obligation to share with you, and I have no guarantee that you’ll value what I give you, which is doubly a waste from my point of view.
Now, I’m not so stone-hearted that I cannot make exceptions. I do! For those who are truly destitute, for those who have nothing to give, for those who can barter or trade in other ways, I’m more than willing to reconsider my terms, but in the end, it has to be an equal exchange. We live in a culture where buy-one-get-one-free deals are a common thing, where we’re accustomed to getting stuff for free, where we can just slide by on pirated PDFs instead of buying actual books, where we take for granted the thousands of years and generations that went before us to get us to where we are today; in some ways, we’re taught that money or trade in any form (χαιρε Ερμη!) is evil and inherently unspiritual, but that’s so far from the truth that it’s ridiculous. I don’t stand for that, and I urge you to do the same.
Additionally, I am not so greedy that I overcharge. I have my own standards and rates, and I know where my limitations lie. I know my peers, what my skill level is among them, and what they charge for the same amount of work. I will gladly direct you to someone who can help if I know that I cannot or will not. I try to be as fair as I can to both you and to myself, so that you’re not overpaying for what I give to you, and I’m not overcharging for what you get from me. In general, I charge less for things I’m not great at, and I charge more for things I am great at, though I still try to make it fair. If it’s not equal in both directions, then it’s not equal, period.
* Just to let you know, yes, I am still doing geomancy readings! Please contact me for more information; I may not have the listings up on my Etsy anymore for readings, but I still do them through September this year. Once October comes, I’ll be taking an extended break from doing readings for people that will last for some time, so if you have any questions you’d like clarified, you only have a few months left from me to get them out of the way! Otherwise, I can direct you to a number of other excellent geomancers and diviners who can help you out at least as much as I can. As always, I charge US$20.00 per query, but we can hash out what you need during our consultation. I’m also free for Skype/Google Chat consultations, too!