Working Between the Worlds: Why You Should Charge for Sacred Arts Work

Learning and Community

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ola Sacred Artists and Soulful Seekers, today in our Working Between the Worlds series we are going to talk about a very sticky intersection – the one where services in the Sacred Arts meet the requirement to be paid.

When I heeded the call to don the Fool’s cap and go into the Sacred Arts I had not really thought about the perceived conflict between fair payment in exchange for spiritual work – it certainly was not present in any of the actual sacred arts traditions I had grown up with – but a few months and social media streams later I discovered that it was strongly held by many people.

There is a pervasive idea that because one’s work is “spiritual” or “soulful” it should be free. Nope. Click to Tweet

I also discovered during business mentoring that many of my clients who dreamed of starting their own Sacred Arts business (and had great talent and ability to do so) were paralyzed by the idea that they really couldn’t and really shouldn’t charge any money for spiritual services.

People have their own ideas and money, worth, and value and while I’m interested in those areas that’s not what I am want to address today. I want to address the question of why we do charge for sacred arts work.

Now, to some degree the answer is pretty cut and dried: when you render a service, in the marketplace, you expect to be fairly compensated. We could stop there. But the deeper answer is relevant to all soulful seekers.

That answer? Right relationship.

As I was taught when someone requests that you assist them by providing a tarot reading, an astrological analysis, a ritual or a ceremony they are asking for your time, energy, expertise, and resources. You can choose whether or not to share those but if you do then there must be some kind of exchange.

Now, to be clear, this doesn’t have to be a financial exchange (I know a handful of sacred artists who get most of their payment in the form of fresh veggies and chicken eggs) but the exchange must happen. Not because strings are always attached and not because this is a tit for tat transaction but rather because when it comes to magic, the fair and equal exchange is what moves us from occupying a passive role in the situation to becoming an active agent and participant in creating better outcomes for ourselves.

This fair exchange reminds and roots us in our own native power to transform and improve an aspect of life that has, up to this point, left us feeling hopeless and fatalistic. In this framework, the Sacred Artist, is no longer the All Great and Powerful Magician, casting magical spells for delight and success; rather, the Sacred Artist is in a partnership with their client, working together, for a better outcome.

Depending on the kind of work you do and the role you see that work occupying in your overall life, this may or may not be about money. But no matter what role your Sacred Arts interests play in your overall life, the exchange is always about more than money.

Case in point: I take on pro-bono clients every year. They are mostly men who are in prison and locked institutions. This is a group that I feel called to serve and it is a group I have been called on to serve as well.

Because they are pro-bono clients, I receive no money from my efforts on their behalf. But once the work has been done, the blessings have been said, and the talismans have been made I DO require them to make an exchange – usually with a not for profit and/or religious organization.

This can be an exchange of money, time, sweat equity – it is up to each individual. But the exchange must occur because the magic that goes deep down and all the way to the root of an issue?

That kind of magic demands that we all work from a place of sovereignty and self-mastery, no one person above the other but all hands on deck, working at different tasks and degrees, but nevertheless, working together.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Working Between the Worlds: How to Play the Long Game

Learning and Community

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orking Between the Worlds Wednesdays is a new series at Canto where I will occasionally (always on a Wednesday) discuss various points that I think are essential for the professional sacred artist to keep in mind if they want to have a successful and sustainable business.

 

It is easy to get work if you have an online presence of any kind and have written a bit about what exactly it is that you do and why you do it, and have a button somewhere on your site that people can push and that, when pushed, will send money to a bank account that (hopefully) is attached to your name and social security number.

I know that this is unpopular to say but it really is true – getting work is not the trick.

Keeping the work and continuing to work year after year is the real challenge.

This is especially true in the realm of sacred arts and never more true than right now. Businesses open on every virtual corner only to be shuttered 3 months, 6 months, 12 months later.

In some cases this is completely fine because it turns out that the individuals’ who started their businesses did not really ever want to have a sacred arts business – they just thought that was what everyone was doing right now, or they wanted to experiment and decided at the end of the day it wasn’t for them, or they discovered that they wanted to practice only for themselves and their families. All good.

But for the person who genuinely does feel called to work professionally in the sacred arts and cannot seem to get the traction needed to make a real go of it? Not so good.

In the age of the internet it is easy to play the short game: easy to set up a sleek looking site on WordPress or SquareSpace, easy to start blogging, easy to create the social media accounts and take cute instagram photos and write some witty tweets. It takes time, thought, and planning, but none of it is really that hard to do.

The long game is not easy. It requires you to create a business that grows year after year, to develop relationships with your community that are sincere and earnest, to offer services and programs that are not cookie-cutter anything but truly artful, one of a kind, and compelling — just as you are. Those things also take time and energy but they require more…more attention, more excellence, and more love.

Wendell Berry, quoting famous author and teacher of authors Wallace Stegner, in his lecture “It All Turns on Affection” says it this way:

He (Stegner) thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.”

Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.”2

“Boomer” names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. “Sticker” names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope.

The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power.

…Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it.

 

This is to say that for the long game of anything – your business, your relationship, your studies, the first motivation must be one of love; a deep, abiding love that sticks when the times are lean and sticks when the times are fat in equal measure.

So for your business and your work in the sacred arts specifically what, practically, does that love look like?

Neil Gaiman has some good advice on the topic that he gave to artists in 2012 and that absolutely applies to the sacred arts.

People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

 

So, what is the secret of success for those who want to play the long game? Wendell and Neil gave it to us but let’s recap:

1.) Let your motivation be one of love and care, that way you can stick with it.

2.) Do good work.

3.) Be easy to get along with (another side effect of being motivated by love and affection).

4.) Be timely in your delivery of your good work.

Show up when you say you will. Do what you say you are going to do. Be kind to others and be on time. Care about your people and care about your work. That’s how you stick with it.

That’s how you play the long game.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

February New Moon Notes

Lunar Letter

Happy New Moon everyone!

I’m often asked how someone can pick the best teacher or program or class; here’s my answer.

Speaking of classes, March 1st is the deadline for registration for my next class, Beyond the Hedge. It is also the last day you can score the bundle discount price for Beyond the Hedge and Star Magic. Fair warning: this is the last time I will teach Star Magic.

You may register for one or both classes here.

I get asked this question all of the time: what is the best/strongest/most amazing love spell?

Behold, my answer.

Interested in guidance for your sacred arts, mystical, or metaphysical business? Each year I have a very limited number of openings for my Working Between the Worlds mentorship program. 

And finally, in case you missed it, earlier this month I wrote about what it takes to be a truly great lover.

May the gorgeous New Moon in Aquarius uplift and inspire!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.