There has been some discussion among my friends and colleagues lately about how some elements of social media encourage certain people to feel a sense of entitlement to freebies from self-employed visionaries. Some folks think that a tarot consultant or a circle process host or an intuitive coach or an artist should just give it all away for nothing or barter for it, forgetting that these activities are not only our deep delight, but also the ways in which we earn our living.
Once in a while, I enjoy offering a gift certificate for a consultation or a class to a silent auction for a worthy cause to help them raise funds. There are also times when I love to give a free one-hour presentation because I’m giddy about sharing some of my latest work with people. Giving back to the community in such ways feels authentic and comes from my heart. It’s a choice that I make, not something I do because someone has coerced me.
When it comes to barter, most people are not offering something that I truly like, need, or want. I won’t trade an hour-long tarot consultation for an Elvis-shaped macramé plant holder. A 90-minute reiki session in exchange for a cracked meditation CD from 1989? No thanks.
On Facebook, I don’t comment on people’s self-readings or cards of the day because that would dishonour my time and skills. When someone sends me a private message to request commentary on their self-reading or if they ask me to just “pull a card” for their situation, I politely direct them to my Services and Fees page because I want them to know that this is something I not only enjoy, but that is also something for which they are required to pay a fee. Some people still don’t get it, but most people graciously catch on that their request is not something that “James that guy on Facebook” is responding to, but something to which “James the professional consultant, teacher, and facilitator” is responding.
In days of old, villagers honoured the shaman by giving hir food, garments, blankets and other items of value in exchange for services rendered on their behalf. In Greece, people made lengthy pilgrimages to the Asklepian dream-healing temples where they provided offerings to the keepers of the tradition and sacrifices to the goddesses and gods in exchange for their wellness encounters. Nowadays, monetary remuneration is the form that practitioners require in order to buy food and clothing, pay rent and mortgages, and stay sharp by attending workshops and conferences.
Another point is that to just give away our services disempowers the client. When someone doesn’t pay for what they receive, she or he is being treated like an infant who is unable to make hir way in the world, a charity case to be pitied. This robs the client or student of hir sense of being a capable, self-reliant human and further diminishes hir well-being.
In short, while we’re passionate about what we do and while many of us enjoy giving to worthy causes from time to time, skilled, knowledgeable self-employed visionaries offer work on a “for pay” basis for our own sake and for the sake of the people consulting us.
Image: 10 of Worlds from the Voyager Tarot by James Wanless and Ken Knutson.