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. These sorts of questions are a delicate balance between two separate factions in witchcraft.
On one hand, you have a faction who believes that it is an insult to their witchcraft 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 magick 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, charging for their effort and knowledge is justified. Just as a carpenter, artist, or schoolteacher charges for their knowledge, training, and efforts, so should the witch. They feel that their personal knowledge, the energy spent in learning their craft and honing their particular magickal 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 of these witches feel that exchanging money as a fee for their talents or knowledge is wrong, but they 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. Wiccans, for example, tend to mostly be in the “give it away” camp, as opposed to charging for magick and the knowledge their craft contains 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 specific worship, 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 paid” rule, which guides them. Needs versus desires may be a breakpoint between charging and not charging for use of talents as well. 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, training, 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 a witch is “working” at spells and teaching that may be considered as 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. 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. Typically, I tend to share the spells, rituals, knowledge, and beliefs here on the blog for all to see and learn from if they wish to do so. That is my way of honoring my craft. Again, that is MY way… not THE way.
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 certainly 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 ”magickally” 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.
How do you practice? Do you charge or give freely of the witchcraft you have learned? As always, when disagreements like these occur, I think it is best to agree to disagree with those who think differently. 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!