This is a very thorny and contentious issue that has been raising its head around me recently. Through various recent social media conversations and observing certain statements etc, the issues of magic, money and entitlement around teachers, magicians, writers, priests and priestesses proves to be one that still has not found an easy peace. It is a complex debate with lots of twists and turns, so I wanted to spend a little time looking at this to from a purely magical perspective and without prejudice.
The ethics and morals around the issue of magic and money are purely personal and cultural, and such issues are for the individual to work out for themselves. But the magical implications do not change according to culture and are implications that need careful thought.
Money and magic cross points in various ways, usually in terms of being paid for teaching, writing, divination, healing, magic to order (results magic) and officiating. This can take the form of anything from donations, to charging, to stipends and can vary from covering costs to making a living.
Some of the magical affects from money crossing paths with magic can vary from almost nothing to severe long term implications. The key for a magician is to know what the inner and outer dynamics are, the mistakes that can be made, and balance that knowledge with their personal beliefs/ethics. Approaching it this way enables the magician to function productively over a long period of time. So let’s have a look at the various avenues of magic that tend to involve money.
Some branches of magic involve learning healing techniques that can be very effective and powerful when done by an experienced adept. We live in a society that has many different types of healers from doctors to acupuncturists to reiki masters and beyond. All of them charge: it is their career and livelihood. If a magical adept chooses to become a commercial healer using magical inner techniques the goal posts change.
The power and energy available for a good magical healer is limited over a period of time. In the esoteric world, we often reflect back to the village healer, and point to that model, saying this was fine, they healed the people in the community and they were paid well, they didn’t have a problem. This is true to an extent, though some of the more powerful ones did pay the occasional heavy price (Biddy Early, a renowned Irish healer was very well documented for this).
But such a model does not work in the modern world. Why? A village healer would live in a very small community and would work on probably no more than one or two people in any month. Modern healers who work for an income on the other hand often see four or five clients a day, and up to twenty in a week. Inner healing techniques are not designed for such intensive week after week use.
But what is magical healing: anything that uses a visionary component, an energy component, or ritual interaction with beings. All of these actions are forms of magical mediation, bridging energy from one realm to another, or moving energy about. Regardless of what beings work with you, such mediation is going to impact the healers own energy systems. This creates a drain on the vital force of the healer and eventually they begin to crumble. This is why so many healers end up with chronic fatigue. To think that working with other beings (angels et al) will protect you completely is folly. They will to an extent, but it still leaves some impact that slowly accumulates. This sort of skill and power is meant to be used occasionally in extreme circumstance, not as a regular weekly way of earning money.
If you do not charge for healing, then it is likely that you do not advertise the fact you have this skill and few people would know. This is turn ensures that you do not heal people very often. This enables you to work powerfully when there is great need, not when there is want. Done properly, a magician would only heal a very small amount of people in their lives, but it will be powerful and will probably save lives. Usually in such a scenario, a person is guided to you by chance, impulse, or even dreams. People in dire need cross your path, and you are urged to work on them when they ask you for help. It happens to most adept magicians at some point in their lives, but it is not a regularly occurring thing.
If you do charge for such healing and it is an integral part of how you make your living, then chances are you will spend a lot of time and energy dealing with people who really do not actually need your skills.
Many people who go to see healers often have emotional or life problems, as well as chronic health issues. More often than not they can either be cared for by a doctor/herbalist or they can better their health by changing their life. But often people do not want to change, they would rather go see a healer who will charge them up and make them feel better for a while.
So the whole system devolves down into a very unhealthy scenario. The healer has to work on people that they should not be working on, simply because they need the income, and the clients are being propped up emotively/energetically which is stopping them from facing their own issues. The client builds an energy dependency and the healer becomes chronically energetically deficient. There are a small amount of people who seem to be naturally immune to the energetic impacts of such work, but such immunity is not common.
This is probably the most common way that magicians make money. Many do commercial readings on a regular basis to supplement their income. Divination does not take as much energy as healing does, but it has more risks in terms of picking up inner ‘dirt’ and parasites. Most commercial readers spend their time having to look at people’s love lives, job prospects and money issues, and more often than not the client is really not willing to make any of the suggested changes or take advice. They basically want to be told that everything will be fine.
Every commercial reader will have regulars who visit or call on a daily or weekly basis and essentially they are feeding an addiction (the ‘I need to know’ addiction) where by they wish to be comforted or feel they cannot make a decision without a reading. These regular clients are not turned away as the reader needs to make money, but often these kind of clients are parasited and some are like energetic ‘black holes’: They suck the life out of you on a regular basis.
Divination is a major aspect of magic, and can be a valuable tool, and reading for other people is sometimes necessary for all sorts of reasons. But like healing, it used to be something that was preserved for necessity and would not be used on such a regular basis for other people. The constant contact with low level parasitical beings along with energy draining clients can have a slow but sustained degenerative effect on readers. Some readers learn how to keep themselves ritually clean, learn how to fend off energy drains and know which clients to turn down. These readers seem to be able to operate pretty well for quite a while.
Like the magical skill of healing, the skill of divination was not meant to be used in such a commercial daily way, but our modern consumer society and large population, topped with accessibility has created a situation where by magicians are chronically exposed to energy starvation and impact. What compounds the situation is these issues are often not addressed within magical training and to mention them can be seen as being ‘negative’. People feel they have the right to do what they want. Well, yes they do, but that ‘right’ does not change the actual energy dynamics of what happens people have the ‘right’ to jump off a cliff if they so choose, but it would not be wise! The understanding of cause and effect in magic somehow got lost in the tangle of personal rights. We cannot evolve as magicians in this fast consumer society if we do not face up to the issues that such a society poses.
Teaching classes, workshops and ongoing groups is an aspect of magic where money often crosses hands. In terms of inner impact, it very much depends on what type of teaching is being done, where and how. Basic instructional classes that are study groups or talks, tend to have no inner impact on magicians.
When that teaching progresses into actual magical work, particularly inner work which comprises of visionary work, energy mediation, or ritual patterning, invocation etc then we are into a different ball game. If the magician is not skilled, then it is not an issue, as little more than a puff of power will be raised. But if the adept is taking people in vision to inner realms, or is teaching a person how to collect power and bring it out into form, or is invoking beings, or working rituals with magical/consecrated tools, then it can become a bit more serious.
When an adept works magically with a group of less experienced magicians, and active magical and inner work is done with the group, the adept carries the energetic responsibility for the group. Most adepts in this circumstance work with inner beings in order to protect and uphold the group, but the energetic strain still hits the adept. There is also another dynamic that happens when inner work is used with a group, something I only learned after I had been teaching for a while, and that is that sometimes such work has far reaching inner dynamics for the student and the adept is also inextricably linked with the energies of that dynamic. This is particularly evident when an adept consecrates (as opposed to initiates) someone. Their energies become linked.
This has manifested itself for me over the years by my energies being ‘pulled upon’ when a consecrated priest, priestess or magician is in mortal danger or is terribly ill. My energies go to help protect the magician until the danger is over. Real magical training and consecration is truly a weaving into a larger tapestry that can echo down the decades. It taught me a hard lesson about responsibility and about choosing wisely what I get involved with.
When such teaching is done properly, the teacher has a limited shelf life as a ‘direct experience’ teacher and usually only teaches a small amount of students when working at a higher magical level. Those students become a part of the magicians ‘energetic’ family and the training/contact can unfold for decades. This was how magic was taught for thousands of years. But with the arrival of the consumer age, these goal posts changed. Magicians found they could make a living by teaching groups, workshops and residential events to more or less anyone who was willing to pay.
Some teachers learned about the dynamics and shifted their teaching methods accordingly. Some did not. Some realised what was happening and downgraded their teaching to a lesser level and some ended up ‘faking it’ by throwing in psychology techniques, drama etc. For myself, I taught commercial style workshops using high levels of magic for ten years before I realised what was happening to me. It was a hard lesson to learn. I did eventually get the message and scaled right back, took out the money aspect and began working with small select groups of people or individuals on an occasional basis. It totally changed how I taught and took it back to a ‘pre commercial’ era style which worked much better for everyone involved.
During that time of commercial teaching, I also observed something more serious that could potentially damage the future of magic and that was the power of market forces. I saw many good magicians teach commercial workshops for their main income and watched them get trapped in the web of teaching what sells, not what needs teaching. Real magical training is not glamorous, is not fashionable and is damn hard work. Such training never attracts enough people for an adept to make a living out of teaching. People want to be involved with whatever has caught their fancy and the teacher bends and twists the magic to fit the current trend. In essence, such action tears apart the integrity of the magic: the truth is not marketable, to the teacher begins to lie. Some magical teaching organisations have side stepped this quite neatly and some have not.
Magic to order
Some magicians make money by doing rituals, curses and spells for people on a pay for service basis. The same issues of parasites and energy that can plague tarot readers can rear their head, as can energetic ties into the situation that the ritual is addressing. Some sidestep this by working with energetic scapegoats, some maintain a distance and have developed techniques to stop any connections with the action once the action is completed and some suffer the full impact of the work, which accumulated over time. This is not about bad karma or making curses or good karma for making healing spells. It is about energetic cause and effect, inner hygiene, and about working methods. Some magicians who do magic for order, work with beings who do the actual energy work in return for something. Some magicians are blithely unaware of the energetic impact that is slowly building and do not clean off the parasites that often come with such magic. If the magician is making their livelihood from such magic and does not know how to properly clear themselves, protect themselves and sever energetic ties, then they eventually become grimy, ill and surrounded by chaos.
These many magical issues often get lost in the debate regarding magic and money. Some magicians do not have any issues with such energy dynamics are they do not actually do the work: they fake it, bullshit their way through readings, teach ineffectual work, reap the financial rewards and have no energetic impact from what they do.
Some soldier on, often unaware of the health and energy burden that is slowly building around them until it is too late. Some adjust their work, scale back or find another way to make their money and do the magical work in a more traditional way. Some teaching groups spread the load between many different adepts, they filter their students carefully and take the magical teaching very slowly. Sometimes that works well, other times it does not and the inner contacts pull away simply because the work is just not getting done. This happens when a teaching group slows the progression down too much and the students are not really doing any high level magical work or learning. There is no reason for inner contacts of powerful beings to be present: it becomes a magical kindergarten where the magic never gets much past the first few steps.
So as you can see, there is a whole other avenue of issues around magic and money before you even get to the line of ethics and morals. Those latter are a matter for the individual and it is not my place or anyone else’s place to say what goes on between a provider of a service and a customer. It is the individual magician’s load to carry so they must make their individual choice. But that choice must also be tempered by a full understanding of the inner effects of magical actions with other people – without that understanding they are walking a potentially dangerous fine line.