(or None of your Biz-Witch: The Business of Witchcraft)
At least once a week a message pops up in my inbox requesting a spell to win back an ex. I awkwardly dance around the message, waiting for just the right uninterrupted moment to open it, composing myself just so in order to pose the questions I need to ask. It’s so common that whenever I get a message request I feel myself tense. That’s because these conversations inevitably go one of two ways:
If the client is too attached to the work it usually comes with a certain amount of karmic gunk: I find out they were the third party in an infidelity and want me to split up a marriage or longterm partnership to get their lover back. Sometimes it’s a case of emotional abuse that was severely damaging to them. They’re willing to pay anything, give me any and all information, personal affects, photographs, whatever they have to get the work done. And I refuse to do it.
And then, there are people who seemed to have fairly healthy relationships that ended because of circumstances out of their control. The only real obstacle is the time or distance between them, at worst a meddling family member, and I can easily suggest a few spells that I think could really help their situations. But when it comes to any sort of exchange, they freeze up. Why should they pay someone to perform this kind of service? What kind of guarantee can I give them?
Both of these situations leave me in an extremely uncomfortable position.
In the last few months I’ve seen a few articles floating around about how to spot a charlatan. The wording is always a strange mix of 2019 buzz and 1860 formality but with the rise in popularity of spiritual guidance and divination it’s a topic that needs to be covered. Youtube teems with videos titled in clickbait variations of “I was SCAMMED by a psychic” but no one seems to understand the business aspect at play. Most lists of warning signs begin and end with “a charlatan will expect payment for spiritual services.” This may absolutely be the case—but so will an honest witch. Why is my time and energy worth any less than yours?
Let me explain a little bit about my business.
Most people get up in the morning and go to work. They spend five to eight hours every day performing a service they’ve trained for and at the end of the work week, they receive a check in payment. That check then pays for other services—it pays the jobs of electricians, plumbers, grocers, doctors, people who keep their lives running smoothly. That paycheck is like energy in escrow and is eventually turned over in payment to others for their energy invested.
My life looks very similar. Every morning, I wake up and get to work. I spend five to eight hours every day helping clients, reading charts, performing services. Some days, I spent the entire span writing free content for my readers. My time is exchanged for payment so that I too can pay grocers and doctors and continue the cycle of service. These are services I’ve trained for—I’ve read extensively, attended classes, seminars, workshops, studied texts and poured over various translations. I’ve honed my skills through exhaustive trial and error for myself, friends, and family. All in all, I’ve devoted my life to magic for over twenty years. Anyone who suggests that witchcraft is an untrained profession and I am not qualified to receive payment for my work should take a look at my workflow:
When a potential client approaches me, there’s a process that I follow. First, I ask about the situation that led them to contact me. The more specific information I have the better I can help you. While intuition plays a large part in my work, I do not sell my services as a psychic—witchcraft should not be a guessing game. Once we diagnose the issue at hand, I make my recommendations. Sometimes it’s a simple one-and-done spell. Sometimes it’s a little more complicated and will require two or more different works. Sometimes it will require a work I personally do not feel comfortable performing and I have to tell someone something they don’t want to hear.
This actually happens a lot. I probably turn away half of my prospective clients because their situations deal with things I simply don’t find ethical. I’ve seen other witches charge hundreds of dollars to perform these spells and at times I’ve gotten angry with myself for having the moral compass that I do—I could have bought a house twice over for all the spells I’ve turned away at the prices I’ve seen others charge. I’m not saying these individuals are wrong for what they do. It’s just not the work I personally feel comfortable or justified in doing and I refer these jobs to others.
Once we’ve determined the work to be done, I explain my payment structure. I usually ask for a certain amount up front to cover supplies and time I’ll need to invest in preparation. I form a schedule for the work itself and let the client know exactly what day I’ll begin. Depending on the urgency of the situation, it could be immediately or it could be the next lunar cycle. I may need information or supplies from them—a personal affect, a photograph, something of personal importance. These are all factors in the pricing of the work. Once I’ve gathered supplies and done some meditation on the work, how to perform it, words that I’ll need to say, sigils to be carved, etc, my client pays the balance we’ve agreed upon and the work is performed. Often, this is more than one night of work; certain spells are worked for months at a time. My client receives a full write-up on the process and anything I found notable about the way the spell went—sometimes this is candle wax divination, sometimes it’s a dream I had before or after the work was performed—and a photograph of the remaining materials. Depending on the spell, I’ll often give them the option of hanging onto the remnants to keep safe until they receive their desired outcome or dispose of on their own terms. Sometimes, disposal is the last part of the work for me and requires me to make a specific pilgrimage.
How do I know it will work?
With most professions you have tangible evidence of completion: you hire a contractor and your house is built. But there are plenty of professions that work with more of the abstract. A therapist is paid weekly to listen and untangle your psyche—it can take months to see tangible evidence of their work, and sometimes, it just never pans out. Do you demand they refund your payments, or do you just find a different therapist? A doctor often makes educated guesses over what treatment to prescribe to an illness. If it doesn’t work, you simply go back and try a different course.
But anyone can do what you do.
Maybe. But most people don’t have the background or the belief. If you feel you can perform these services yourself, you’re more than welcome to try. But it does not entitle you to demean my profession.
I tell every single one of my clients that intent is 90% of magic. If you need “proof” of my work before we even start, rest assured you will never receive it. If you don’t believe, you doom the work from the start. Most of us are familiar with the Law of Attraction which has had its pop culture moment at this point: you receive what you align yourself with. If you approach a work with suspicion and hesitancy, I have a lot more obstacles to work against. Magic is a collaboration: for our work together to be successful, we need to trust each other, experience ease of conversation and communicate openly. If I know that you doubt me from the start, it puts a very particular kind of stress on me. I go into the work anxious and attached to outcome. This is not an environment in which magic can thrive.
Would-be clients sometimes try to haggle or defer payment. They don’t understand that my prices aren’t set arbitrarily for my time—I also need to pay for supplies. I make most of my own oils and candles, but I’m still paying market price for the base materials, the carrier oils, waxes, dyes, and herbs. Many of these are consumable, disposable, and I need to replace them with each and every work I perform. Am I allowed to go to these vendors and explain that I’ll pay them when I see the value of their products? When my work is done and my client is happy with the outcome, when they’ve determined how much my service was worth to them, then I’ll return to pay for my waxes and my herbs according to exactly how helpful they were in my life. Maybe this is a better system. It is not, however, the current system in place and I can’t live based on these rules.
Yikes. Why don’t you just get a different job if people give you so much trouble?
I don’t mean to sound sour or bitter. This post evolved out of one of those hard-days-work rants that absolutely everyone in the world regardless of their job has at some point or another. At the end of the day, I love what I do. As I’ve said before, magic has been my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve worked other jobs and each and every one was soul-crushing. I never thought I could work in a field that actually gratified me the way magic does. I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve carved out a space for myself in a world that actually means something to me. I’m thrilled to work with all my clients, and it means so much that they trust me and allow me a place in their lives. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what I do. This misinformation causes me—and so many other spiritual professionals—a lot of stress and anxiety about taking on new clients.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that witchcraft is an art. Of course that presents its own problems as artists face a lot of the same problems in their careers. I don’t disagree that there are a lot of harmful scam artists out there, but it’s very easy to separate them from real, honest people if you approach the process openly. Look at the content from your potential spiritual professional: I personally put out a ton of free content every single day. You’ll be able see my experience and knowledge right there in front of you, and you’ll also get a feel for my approach. Any professionals I recommend do the same thing–between their daily Instagram posts, blog content, and testimonials, you can see that they’re legitimate and transparent. Look at this content like a digital portfolio. Understand that this is what you’re getting when you contract our work. But it is work. We invest our time and energy into these efforts and we deserve the same respect and compensation afforded to other professionals. And if you’re not ready to invest in our services, that’s okay too. We’ll be here when you are, and we’ll be more than qualified to help.