Friday, April 9, 2010

Fees, dues and donations

In the little section of the blogosphere that I read, this week there has been a lot of rumbling about whether occult teachers, the wiccan clergy and craftspeople (including writers) should be paid. I have kept my head down...there is no way to please everyone, or anyone, involved in this particular issue.

Nevertheless, I think that perhaps I should toss out my personal opinion (or is it a business practice?); after all, I don't want anyone to be surprised by my attitude problem (someone is going to say that I have an attitude problem).

Here is my policy: Outside of lodge, my time is worth twenty-five dollars an hour.

It is a simple policy. The only free work I am obligated to do is for my fellow lodge members and that is only during the bimonthly lodge meetings (readings, teaching, spell-work, rituals, treatments, writing, etc.). Everyone else needs to be aware that my time and energy has a value, and that I can and have charged people for services rendered.

This has not always been my policy. This policy comes from coming home exhausted from doing freebies, and not having enough energy and time for my own personal work. This policy is to keep the leeches and freeloaders at bay. If you have money to spend at the mall, or for other things beyond the bare necessarities, then you have enough money to pay the expert to do their job.

You would not ask a plumber to do their work for free, including providing the materials to do the job. So why should I be treated any different?

Oh, my religion and lodge involvement (someone is sure to say). Honey, I do not belong to a branch of the religion that thinks that there is any virtue in being poor. I spent my entire childhood being poor, and I know first-hand that there is no virtue in being poor (there is also no virtue in being rich either based on my encounters with the wealthy, but given a choice...). Nor did I swore any oath that forbids me from taking money from anyone who is not a member of my own lodge (or any member who cannot be bothered to actually show up at the regularly scheduled meetings).

I spent a decade running a business. I know the value of my time and energy. And I am not going to change my mind about its value, no matter how much people think that I am wrong. Especially those people who believe that their time is more valuable than mine is.

Ye has been warned!


aprilenchanted said...

This is a very old argument, one I began hearing when I entered into Paganland at the ripe old age of 17. I have seen and heard both sides of this argument and I have never had a really passionate opinion either way. What I do know, is that there are many out there, who take what they have learned to the world outside of their_________ and go out into the world and charge hundreds, if not thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for what they learned for free...and all this after they bastardize the teachings to their own liking. We have just seen it this past year with metaphysical teacher James Arthur Ray. We all know the story of Starhawk defying her elders and selling the Native teachings she learned. You cannot control a persons morality, only your own. Immoral/amoral people will always sell that which has been given to them.

On the other hand, you are absolutely right. Our time is not worthless, and when there is a need or a request it is up to us to put a policy in place for services/time we charge for and that which we do not.

I like your policy Morgan. It is clearly thought out and does not betray your oath.

Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

"I do not belong to a branch of the religion that thinks that there is any virtue in being poor."

I was brought up in intellectual Catholic background, where Catholicim was an opressed minority. I hated this "nobler than thou" thingabout being poor. I went to a private college too study business years after struggling with my own clerical vocation in Neopaganism. Currently I am in Vodou which has a much healthier philosophy.

Solitary Dawn said...

I have a mixed feeling here. In general I believe that the tradition, the knowledge as such should be free. I also believe that the mentoring, teaching etc of individual students should be free. Of course any group, order etc needs funding for maintaining their presence, pages, rooms, research… and it is just to take fees in that case. Also if someone gives specific advise upon request, does a reading upon request, cleans a room, apartment etc, these kind of services do not need to be free as we all need to live from something. If you spend your time on writing a book etc, you also should have no second thoughts about taking money for your work. I am only referring to the 101 situation where someone who is a serious seeker and student seeks for advise, mentoring etc.
I am also not buying the general argument that taking fees leaves only the really interested people and keeps the not so serious people away. That may be true for some. But it also keeps the people away who really have to count every penny while there are enough nutheads out there who have enough money but no serious interest apart from a thrill for the fancy. I believe that anyone who is supposed to be a teacher will see – or be able to test – whether a candidate/student is serious enough without filtering it by the willingness or capability to spend a certain amount of money. But again, I do not generally say that everything needs to be for free and that it is bad to be paid for investing time and effort. However, I do hope that there always will be some fraters and sores willing to support the searching student solely out of the compassion to assist someone on the path by sharing valuable experience…. But I agree, there is no rule to be poor in order to be good…

VLM said...

Great post, and I'm surprised you come so cheaply ;) I used to say I wouldn't get out of bed for less than $50/hour.

I've changed some, mostly from moving to an area that's a lot lower cost of living.

I think that knowledge is free (or should be,) but that the teaching of it is give and take (ie: shouldn't be free, or else people get taken advantage of.)

This is not to say it has to be money changing hands, that is simply the easiest form of trade that we have. If people weren't mostly so greed-driven, and selfish, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation at all.

ChandraNova said...

@VLM, yes, knowledge IS free - but it usually has to be acquired (and not in our free schooling education systems, along with your geography and eng. lit. either), and then refined, applied, and updated.

Cattle grow free (ie they don't have a coin-meter on their butt), vegetables grow free, but try telling the shop that when you walk out with a basketful and refuse to pay.

They will (quite correctly) point out the staffing, processing, storage and venue costs that make up the majority of the price.

If people want free readings thay may learn for themselves, if I want free potatoes I may grow them myself - but you get another person's time and expertise involved, and yes, you ARE going to have to pay.

On a related topic, it seems to me that many who smugly offer "free" work are actually just being paid by someone lese - in the UK, often the tax-payer if they're on some kind of welfare benefit, or a rich relative, husband, or someone - but I doubt any of them have a literal golden-egg laying goose, so that housing, food and heating money is coming from somewhere.

I also see what I do as being like a plumber: it's just a skill, no better no worse - I actually have a lurking (possibly unworthy?) suspicion that people who refuse to charge for these kinds of services like to feel outside the run-of-the-mill world, and are aiming at having a pedestal to plonk their bums on in which they transcend our everyday concerns...

mrsb said...

I'm with you on this. It's one thing to give to your coven (and if you are supplying a large amount of supplies to teach the youngsters, you should be getting reimbursed there, too!) - it's another to be expected to give of yourself to everyone.