Witches’ Ethics: To Charge or Not to Charge

A heated debate often rises when witches of various paths get together. Is it acceptable for witches to charge for teaching witchcraft or doing spells for others? Is it anathema? May witches take donations for spells or barter for occult knowledge lessons? Should magickal application and teaching be free? Should a reasonable fee be acceptable if a witch chooses to charge? The arguments go round and round, eternally.

On one hand, you have a faction who believes that it is an insult to their craft to charge a fee. These witches feel that it is a dishonor to their deities and/or themselves to charge for what they know and can do. They state that the time invested in learning has already been spent and, as such, they should help others learn what they know without charge. They invested time, due to their own desire to learn and they want to pass on this knowledge, solely as a way to give back to the craft. They believe that to teach others is an honor and they accept all comers to their craft with equanimity. They feel that if they have the knowledge and power, then they are duty bond to help those who ask for assistance.

On the other hand, you have a faction who believes that, as with any other crafts-person, charging for their effort and knowledge is justified. They feel that their personal knowledge, the energy spent in learning the craft and honing their particular talents was their own and that as they paid for their skills with time, study materials and more, they have the right to charge a reasonable fee for the teaching of others or working magick on their behalf. They feel that if someone wishes to get their needs met with greater ease by having personal instruction, instead of searching out the knowledge on their own, or having spells cast for them, then why not charge. Money is a commodity that makes many things in life simpler to attain, magick falls into this realm for them. Some witches feel that exchanging money as a fee for their talents or knowledge is wrong, but have no problem with using a barter system or accepting donations from the person seeking knowledge or assistance.

So the question remains, should witches charge or give freely?

The breaking point between the two factions comes, most often, at the point of religion. Most of the “freely give” witches seem to be in the camp who consider witchcraft to be their primary religion. For those witches who see their practice of the craft as a religion it is sometimes incomprehensible to contemplate accepting a fee. However, those who consider witchcraft to be a practice, or secondary to their religion, tend to be in the fee, barter, or donate camps. They consider the craft an application of skills, intention, and effort, not related to their specific worship, if they have any, so the issue of a fee does not have the same sense of distaste the other faction feels for fees.

Other reasons for their decision may also depend upon whether or not the person learning or receiving the spell work is inside the witches family, friends, coven, or group. Many witches have an “in is free” and “out is not” rule, which guides them. Needs versus desires may be a break point between charging and not charging for use of talents at times. Whereas one person may have a serious illness in their family, another may want to find their dream job so they may leave one they dislike. Circumstances vary, and most often, so do the determination between charging a fee and giving freely.

Most often, it is a case of “to each their own” when it comes to magickal knowledge and practice. If one feels comfortable charging a reasonable fee for their time, knowledge, and energy, it is their call. If others feel duty bound to teach free, that is their prerogative. However, if someone is spending a great deal of time working on spells and teaching others to practice witchcraft, they may choose to charge when they otherwise would not. After all, everyone needs to make a living; if they are “working” at spells and teaching that is their job. Many witches are primary earners; others may help with family financial obligations. Is it right for them to give away what can earn finances for food, clothing, and bills for their family?

Personally, the only thing I charge for are tools and spells I create for others upon request or numerological readings I make for people I do not have a personal relationship with. Again, that is MY way… not THE way. I sometimes break my own rules, write spells for strangers in need, and cast for new acquaintances on occasion, just because their need is so great.

However, if I were to take on a full time student, again, create lesson plans, “labs” of spells and take the time to evaluate their learning, quantify it, and target a plan specifically to that person… I would have no problem with expecting to have my time paid at a reasonable rate. A teaching job is still a job, regardless of the matter taught. I do not expect the teachers educating my sons in high school to work free.

Some witches, myself included, have had the experience that without a modest fee, some pupils tend to be less serious about their studies. Some “free” students have even had the nerve to become annoyed when asked about homework assignments. They are not serious about lessons, because to them, the free lessons feel frivolous and expendable. After all, it was not as if they were paying for the privilege of lessons. I have learned to separate wheat from chaff by charging a fee initially, then, if the student is respectful of the time it takes to plan and execute the lessons, if they try in earnest, the fee may ”magically” disappear. It is witchcraft after all. 😉

So to recap:

Free: If it comes naturally to you and you feel it is an affront to charge for your gifts, then more power to you, spread the wealth of knowledge freely and free and may you be blessed for it.

Charge: If you have labored long and hard, studied vigorously, learned much, and want to share the knowledge you have gleaned in a one-on-one setting and believe that it is worth an honest restitution for your efforts, then charging a reasonable fee is perfectly acceptable.

As always, when disagreements like these occur, I think it is best to agree to disagree. After all, as with all other things witchy, everyone is entitled to their opinion. No one way is the only way.

As for teaching others, personally, I do not think the question of pay versus no pay is anywhere close to the importance of questioning and/or investigating the ethics and morality of those who approach us to teach them. I want to be assured that the people I teach have a similar belief system regarding honor and accountability before I agree to provide them with the tools and knowledge to work spells and rituals. However, that is fodder for another post!

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Children’s Spell: Knot a Problem

Spells for children are by their very nature, easy to learn and easy to practice. This does not mean, however, that the magick itself is any less strong. It merely means that the child is starting with easy to learn practices and that the spells can be worked with a minimum of magickal items, a minimum of words to remember, and a minimum of actions to take in order to make the spell work.

As with any magickal workings at young ages, you need to remember to show the child the process several times over before allowing them to do the spell on their own. Working with children calls for learning things by rote,  through repetition and practice. When it comes to the recitation, if the child has a problem remembering the order and words of a spell, print it out or make it into a song for them. Children can learn almost anything, no matter how complex, if you put it in song. Our children learned their home address, including the zip code, the phone numbers with area codes to our house, my cell, their aunts’ houses and Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house all in a few days practice during the year our eldest started kindergarten. Bear in mind the twin were 17 months younger, so that is very impressive if you ask me!

This is a simple spell that an elementary school aged child can learn to work. The spell requires nothing more than a piece of yarn and an ability to visualize and recite a small chant.

If the child is having a problem in school or at home and is stressing over it. Help them pick out the proper color yarn to address the problem. (This is an opportunity to start teaching the child about color magick as well.)

Have the child sit in a comfortable position. This would be a good time to introduce deep breathing as a way to attain calm before working a spell and breathing slowly and in a measured pace while performing the spell. Once the child is calm, you are ready to begin.

Have the child hold the string and close their eyes, tell them to “see” what the problem is in their head. Are they having a problem remembering their ABCs? Are the multiplication tables giving them fits? Is a child in their class distracting them when they are trying to listen to teacher? Is a sibling annoying them with questions?

Ask the child to “see” that this problem is not going to bother them anymore. Explain that through the use of the magick they will not stress over the alphabet or math tables as these will start to become easier. They will not have a problem in the future when ignoring the chatterbox distracting them. The younger sibling will not bother them as much even when the questions continue because the child will have more patience. You might also stress that the younger siblings are typically in awe of their older siblings being so much smarter, stronger, and knowing so much more.

When the child has the “solution” to the problem in mind and can “see” it clearly, have them tie a knot with their eyes closed while focusing on the solution and recite the first line in their head while breathing in and the second line while breathing out:

What was a problem once before,
Is not a problem anymore.

Tell them to keep “seeing” the solution as long as they can. Each time they finish a knot have them repeat the chant at the same time; have them think it, repeatedly as they feel the magick working. Tell them that they should think this chant and tie knots for as long as they are able. Once they cannot “see” the solution anymore or if they run out of room for tying knots, then the spell is done. They should take the yarn outside and bury it in the yard. Tell them that as the yarn starts to rot, the problem will start to fade away and as soon as the yarn is gone, so the problem will be gone, as well. Remind them that they cannot disturb the yarn once it is buried or it will undo the spell and the problem will return.

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Witches Tools: Trees Correspondence

Trees have been sacred throughout our known history on the earth. Whether referred to as The Sacred Tree, The Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, The Tree of Knowledge or the World Tree, it is clear that the worship of trees has been a widespread commonality between most if not all of the various religions.

In witchcraft, whether practiced as a religion or a standalone practice, witches consider that all things on earth have their own natural energy. This energy may be incorporated into magickal workings in many different ways. When it comes to the magick of the trees, these uses abound. Their branches may be fashioned into wands, staves, and stangs. Their fruits and nuts have special properties beyond their nutritional uses. Carrying a nut or piece of bark from a tree may transfer the magickal properties to the carrier. Using the leaves, flowers, fruits or bark in spells, incenses and rituals will incorporate the magickal properties into the spell. Simply placing a wish bag in a tree, decorating it with ribbons, flowers, etc. or sitting beside certain trees and communicating with them can work magick.

Each species of trees is known for having unique capabilities and properties. This is a brief correspondence of the most well known varieties. Hopefully, this will help you decide what types of trees to use in your own magickal workings.

Acacia: Clairvoyance, protection

Apple: Fertility, optimism, honor, health, love

Ash: Courage, reverence, confidence, broaden perspectives, protection, healing, induce prophetic dreams

Aspen: Protection, healing, purification, trustworthiness, female fertility, wishes, stress relief

Beech: Wisdom, healing, determination, nature and earth magick, organizational skills

Birch: Fresh starts, protection for children

Cypress: Protection, consecration

Elder: Working with the fey, healing

Eucalyptus: Healing

Fig : Creativity, fertility, health

Hawthorn: Beauty, protection

Hazel: Protection, leadership, mental acuity, fertility, insight

Hickory: Endurance

Juniper: Protection, love

Magnolia: Loyalty, love, strength

Maple: Animal and nature magicks, family bonds, healthy relationships

Mimosa: Comfort, calms anxiety, lift spirits, relieve nightmares

Myrtle: Fertility, love, strength, stability

Oak: Protection, increase intuition, physical and emotional strength, working with fey, shifting consciousness

Orange: Happiness, fertility, calmness, change, peacefulness, relieve nightmares, relieve insomnia

Peach: Abundance, happiness, fertility, mental and emotional peacefulness

Pine: Protection, fertility, purification, new beginnings

Rowan: Protection, healing, divination, luck, moon magick, transition

Walnut: Prosperity, abundance, fertility, healing

White Willow: Protection, healing, harmony, draw down blessings from the moon, wishes

Wild Cherry: Reconciliation, tranquility