When I first read this question I laughed and laughed because nearly every witch I know, including myself, is always strapped for cash. Looking deeper and forward there is serious point of debate here; should Witches sell services and should they make a profit.
We All Have To Live
Unless, dear reader, you are living off the grid (in which case how are you reading this?) you are a part of this Game called Life and like Monopoly a big part of the game is Money. Everything costs and we cut our coat to suit our cloth and work hard to obtain more. When we go to work we expect to be paid for our time and have the materials necessary provided without additional cost (usually anyway). As a Crafter both of Yarn and the Arte I have I have a double appreciation of being paid for my time, efforts and materials. Everything I craft costs me.
A ball of yarn can cost anything from £1.70, an amount which can spiral upwards depending on the brand. I’ve just started on a blanket which required about 12 balls of wool bringing the material costs alone over £20. We’re I to sell it I would want to at least recupe that cost. That doesn’t even take into account the time it takes to make it. Assuming it takes me 10 hours to finish the blanket (it will take way longer but 10 is a nice easy number) at national minimum wage that would translate to £67.00 for labour. Add materials and it comes to £87.00 for my mid quality blanket and you begin to see why people charge so much for crochet and knitted goods using best quality yarn. I sometimes gift my items, often I send them to charities I support. In these cases I ask for nothing but I am asked to make someone something I expect to have my materials reimbursed, if not a portion of my labour.
The same thing goes for magical crafting. There are some people in this life who I will work for on the magical level totally pro bona, everyone else would be expected to pay at least something.
Cross My Palm With Silver
The phrase I’ve chosen to run with in this section really refers to the practice of paying for fortunes from gypsy folk. As a phrase it can also refer to paying for services rendered so it can also be used in reference to paying for the services of Witches and Cunning Folk.
The concept of paying for spells and services from the wise woman of the village is most easily seen in the Later Medieval / early Tudor era in the quiet hamlets and villages where access to ‘medical professionals’ was none existent, and quite likely extends even further back in time. Knowledge of herbs and simples was one way a woman alone could sustain herself or bring in extra food or money into for the family and if she could expand on this by offering love philters, curses, spells to find lost sheep/ items etc so much the better. The Cunning Folk were not just women; men would also offer their services to their friends and neighbours and both were as much at risk should the authorities, religious or secular, come knocking.
In a time when life was hard, where too much rain, or sun, at the wrong time of year could mean starvation for the lower levels of society, nothing came for free. Whilst money may not have been the first option payment in trade is likely to have been more common. The Cunning woman/man was providing a service which took them time and energy to and their customers provided reimbursement.
The same is true today.
There is nothing wrong with selling kits and services, in fact there is a long and time honored tradition of this but the aim was not to make money or get rich quick. It was an addition source of income for people living on subsistence farming with the aim to make life comfortable, not lavish. I believe this should be our approach today as well. We are more likely to spend money on buying our materials rather that self harvest and crafting our materials, and indeed we are more likely to use more in our spell work than our forebears ever did, so relatively speaking we will charge more than our cunning folk ancestors however that does not excuse us taking advantage.
Fraud and Scams
I am all for getting paid for time, energy and materials but when figures reach the order of hundreds and thousands I get just as leary as I would about Evangelical pastors demanding similar amounts in tithes and offerings. I will go into more detail about the charlatans, fraudsters and scammers that rip off the Pagan community next week but for now; do not assume that because someone has talent that they will not abuse it; don’t assume that everyone is as spiritual as you and remember that if someone shows you their face, even if they are showing it to someone else, believe them!