Many people reading this are too young to have experienced the demented conversation around the film, Indecent Proposal, when it came out in 1993. The basic premise of the movie is this: two idiots, husband (Woody Harrelson) and wife (Demi Moore) go broke in Vegas. Suave billionaire (Robert Redford) offers them $1 million if Demi will sleep with him. After a lot of bad noise, they go through with it and it messes up Demi and Woody’s marriage. In the end, Redford reveals that he’s a swell guy after all and, using his smile and his holy billionaire bodhisattva powers, helps the husband and wife reconcile (just so the audience doesn’t weep themselves to death by the time the credits roll).
That’s it. It was one of those mediocre OMG. What would you do? movies Hollywood likes to put out when there are no big action films getting all the attention. The movie sucked but it also sucked people in, especially those who get excited by saying cynical things like, “Everybody has their price,” and “You’d do it. You know you’d do it. It’s all about the money, baby.” Right. Back to Vegas with you and please close your mouth while boarding the plane.
Everyone wanted to say what they would do in the same circumstances. It gave people an opportunity to either award themselves with a virginal Good Guy Badge or try to bring others down to their level of money-worshipping crudeness by saying that enough of it can ultimately control anyone.
Even though the plot was very predictable and Demi / Woody / Robert Redford were like walking sock puppets stuffed with tinsel, the movie seemed to encourage a certain egotistical projection and a lot of hot air. There were magazine articles about it. The actors went on late night to talk about relationships and morality. The daytime soaps that had been setting up situations like this for 40 years suddenly enjoyed a surge in popularity.
To us, in 2018, this seems adorable. We have to deal with Donald Trump and inbred neo-Nazis burning crosses in our streets while our data gets harvested and our ability to freely exchange information gets taken away by corporations killing the planet. But back in ‘93, Indecent Proposal seemed highly indecent and therefore highly compelling to people aroused by the fantasy of becoming a high-priced sex worker for all the right reasons. It was stupid. But that’s how people are sometimes.
Interestingly enough, this was also around the time I started requiring a small tarot reading before I would take magical work for a client. I had my own “indecent proposal,” which was neither as sensational nor as tame the movie.
Essentially, a client requested a death curse on her ex-boyfriend. I’d never done a death curse for pay before. But she offered me a lot of money. I mean, it was enough to pay two years of my rent and then some. I was young, in college, and always had some ongoing form of money magic in play to draw funds. I got by, but those were lean years. So getting such a proposal might have been just the thing I needed to keep me fed and keep the lights on. In retrospect, I’m not sure that my money magic didn’t draw this potential client to me, as sometimes happens with prosperity work. Like all magic, it takes the path of least resistance.
I said no just on principle, but she kept at me because I’d previously done some road opening work for her that had been very effective and she believed in my skill. She was South African, very beautiful and charming, very rich, very persuasive. Lots of “verys” applied to her. But she was also insanely, murderously angry at her ex. And even though I kept saying no, I was also powerfully attracted to her and sympathetic to her story. It was long and convoluted but came down to: he was a bad mean man. I believed it and her. So it was very tempting, all things considered. But you can’t just walk around killing people. Even if it’s at the behest of an exotic beauty with a suitcase full of money.
As a way to clear my head, I did a tarot reading and learned that such a working wouldn’t only be an immoral crime against the target. It would also mushroom out into the lives of the people around this guy, causing tragedy and harm in people who were totally innocent. I told the client this, thinking that it would dissuade her, but I should have known better. She simply doubled the money and implied that she wouldn’t mind flying with me somewhere for a week.
Quite a proposal, that. But by then I was also having bad dreams. My guides and spirits were already telling me not to do it. I went down to a crossroads by my house at midnight and petitioned the Queen of the Witches for guidance. She said only a fool would say yes. And mama didn’t raise no fool.
I gave my client my absolute, definitive “no” answer and I’ve never seen someone go ballistic the way she did. In the end (because after months of working with her on other matters, I’d taught her enough magic to be a problem all on her own), I had to do things to take her power away and separate myself from her. It broke my heart, too, because even though she finally revealed herself as a murderous crazy woman, I did consider her a friend.
The moral of this story is not me telling you what kind of magic to do or what is or isn’t ethical. It’s saying, do a reading, inquire of your oracles, of your gods, spirits, helpers, and protectors. Ask a mentor when you’re not sure about a certain magical project. Because the last thing you want to do is misuse this miraculous divine gift for something as stupid as a bucket of money.
Make your own money in honest and kind ways. And if that includes honest magic, then all the better. It’s not all about the money, as much as people like to believe when they’re daydreaming about being Demi or Robert Redford. Sometimes, maybe most times, it’s about being the only grownup in the room.