As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve begun charging for some of my services. I have started at Etsy shop with the same name as this blog. I am offering some readings as well as digital materials including my new ebook, Little Book of Herbs. I know some people find this incredibly controversial, so I want to share my rationale with you, lovely readers.
I think there is a big differences between selling spiritual services and selling spiritual goods. Selling spiritual services corporatizes religion, belief, and faith and is highly unethical. In organized religions, charging money for weddings and funerals as well as other spiritual rites is a form of corruption. Think of the sale of indulgences during the Middle Ages. Priests got very rich off people’s fears of going to hell. It caused a rift in the Christian Church that never fully healed and damaged the reputation of the religion as an institution. I strongly believe that Pagan and Wiccan priests and priestess should be held to the same standards regarding holding rituals for esbats, sabats, and rites of passage. Selling spiritual goods, in contrast, is a way of supporting the Pagan liturgical and lay communities financially since we don’t have a standardized system that compensates priestesses and priests for their commitment to their faith. I consider tarot readings, astrology interpretation, and herbal consultations in the category of goods because they are extracurricular to faith and do not necessarily take place in a ritual. Some people may disagree, but I see spiritual goods as more of a lifestyle choice than a spiritual necessity.
My decision to start charging for spiritual goods outside of Cauldron and Brew blog posts is partially out of financial necessity. I work at a small university that is in financial distress. I do not make a lot of money, and it has been made clear to me that I will not get a huge raise or even a cost of living raise any time soon. While clearly a solution to this problem is to get a different job, I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love the work I do. I am learning so much about education administration and about myself. I can be an open Pagan and no one bats an eye. The fringe benefits almost make up for the small salary. I want to stay for at least another year to continue learning and to take my time to find another job that feels like a similar fit.
But, you know, I have bills. I went to grad school, so I have a lot of student loan debt. Rent and cost of living in my city has skyrocketed. I racked up a lot of credit card debt two years ago when I was unemployed and am still paying it off. I need to make an income that keeps up with my life. Trust me, I have tried everything. I clip coupons, buy store brand, am a temporary vegetarian because meat is expensive, live with roommates, rarely eat out, insist that friend gatherings happen at our homes, and spend most of my weekends doing laundry and borrowing my sister’s Netflix account. I am at my wit’s end when it comes to my finances.
Earlier this month, I surrendered to the Goddess. I said, Girl, help me out and help me find the next step. The next morning something told me, “go through your books and try to sell some back.” I took about forty books to a local bookstore and came out with over $40. Next, I took an extra gig at work. Feeling like I was on a roll, I decided to open an Etsy shop. The intention is never to make it full time, but to be a cog in a series of side gigs to help offset my expenses. I know it won’t be like this forever. Eventually I will be be making a reasonable income and making ends meet will not be this hard. But right now, I have to do everything I can to improve my circumstances.
In addition to my financial worries, it has been my dream for two years now to make C&B financially self-sustaining. I want to control who advertises on this site so I can promote ethical brands I believe in. I want to be able to connect to my Instagram and to pay for a domain for this blog. There is so much more I want to do, but given my financial constraints I cannot go forward with my plans right now.
I have never been the kind of person who just sits by and lets life circumstances just happen to her. I am taking control of my life, one day at a time. Becoming more financially independent is a big part of that, and I see this blog and my Etsy shop as a major components of this independence.
I strongly encourage my readers who have an opinion on this topic to comment on this post, especially if you disagree with me. I think this is a crucial conversation we need to have as a community.
© Ariadne Woods