When it Looks Like a Curse, Don’t Go to a “Lightworker”

The only thing more pathetic than the term, “spiritual entrepreneur,” is the individual who describes him- or herself that way. It may seem a bit ironic that I’m saying this, given that I practice public sorcery and charge for such services. But there is definitely a difference between a “spiritual entrepreneur” and a “spiritual worker” as the terms are commonly understood and used.

A spiritual worker is a magical individual (rootdoctor, sorcerer, Reiki master, herbalist, card reader, etc.) who provides a set of spiritual services to a community. These days, that includes an online community. This person may work through various established spiritual traditions and usually tries to educate and counsel his or her clientele. For example, my Black Snake Conjure is not only dedicated to conjure, evocation, and Reiki. It’s also committed to fostering multiculturalism, tolerance, and sharing across ethnic and spiritual boundaries. I do this work not just for my own monetary benefit but also to teach the art of magic and, in the process, to make the world a better place.

Conversely, a spiritual entrepreneur may or may not be a magical individual but will try hard to seem like one (using the most trendy suburban Wiccan* or new age styles, keywords, and assumptions). This person promotes a spiritual technique, product, or service, relying heavily on e-marketing, focused spam via “newsletters,” usually a content-lite YouTube channel, and niche customer targeting to generate as much passive income as possible. A spiritual entrepreneur’s focus is on his or her multi-platform business first, then content, then the clients. For this person, it’s all about the “brand.” If you go to YouTube and type in one of the key words associated with spiritual entrepreneurialism, “witchy,” you will get a veritable phone book of unimaginative cliché examples. After watching one or two of those videos and looking at the linked websites, you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder whether we need another post entitled “Six Signs You Might Be a Witch” or “Crystals Dealing with Toxic Family Energy Over the Holidays” or “Working with Angels and Spirit Guides.”

In the 1990s, more serious (or at least more style conscious) magical people coined the term “fluffy bunny” to describe Wiccans who pretend that they only work with love and light (with an equally pretentious subsequent reaction, “dark fluff”). And many spiritual entrepreneurs still believe that a generous helping of fluff will more easily part a certain type of customer from his or her money. But spiritual entrepreneurialism isn’t about love or “ascension” or, actually, anything at all beyond branding. It’s the most cynical commodification of spirituality available in the West and we see it everywhere. It’s the reason why occult publishers like Llewellyn and Weiser have taken so much criticism from real practitioners over the last 20-30 years, even though they’ve published quality work along with poorly researched, padded, repetitive trash.

Most of what I’m saying here is obvious and anyone who spends time looking through social media and reading Tumblr will quickly come to these conclusions.  As in all things Theodore Sturgeon’s “garbage theory” applies: 90% of a given set of things is crap to support the 10% that isn’t. All well and good. However, it’s not so good when we need spiritual services that actually work.

Uh-oh. Maybe you’ve been cursed. What then? If you think only members of certain ethnic communities worry about curses, you’re dead wrong. Every culture has them. And I can tell you confidently that if you haven’t been the target of a curse or some other form of psychic attack at least once, you will be someday. It’s part of life.

Now imagine you find yourself in a situation where a highly suspicious chain of nasty events is taking place in your life. Maybe you’ve also come down with a case of heavy depression and insomnia. You’re having reversals and problems at work and at home. And all of this happens to coincide with a falling-out you’ve recently had with someone or with some envy-inducing advancement, like a raise or a new relationship or a financial windfall. You say to yourself, why would anyone want to curse me? I haven’t done anything wrong! But curses don’t just work for justice. You can get crossed up by any individual who resents your happiness enough to do something about it.

Most of us, if we’re leading adult lives and not living in a cave, have a sprinkling of enemies who want to see us suffer. Often, a few of those people will either have some metaphysical aptitude or will be willing to go to a sorcerer-for-hire. And many times those people will be very close to us—ex-lovers, family, or coworkers. If you’re a decent person, like most people are, you won’t want to believe it. Jane from accounting?! She’s still bitter about me turning her down but, really, is that enough for her to pay a hoodoo worker to fuck up my life? Sure. Why not? You have no idea what’s going on in her head. She may just frown at you and avoid eye-contact when you pass her in the hallway, but maybe she’s lurking on your Facebook page, spending a lot of time fixating on why you turned her down, etc. With that in mind, do you think it’s so far-fetched that if she has a few books on magic, she might try something? Maybe she starts searching for “love spells” and comes across a professional’s website. And the rest is, as they say, academic.

In a situation like this, do you want to go to a spiritual entrepreneur who charges you $300 to change your vibration with a $10 quartz crystal and some essential oil? Do you want to go to a cute-as-a-button Wiccan girl on YouTube who says she can sage the bad juju away? Really? How about getting a reading from a teenager on Tumblr who snaps it out in just 20 minutes? Because I’ve been contacted by people who’ve taken that route at first. They nearly always write the following: I’ve gotten burned by workers before. Paid a lot of money and nothing happened. Or got a tarot reading and it made no sense / was totally vague. Or so-and-so cursed me and now my life is in tatters and Jenny the Lightworker told me my chakras were just out of balance. And then I have to clean up both the mess that their lives are in and whatever half-baked work the spiritual entrepreneur did (if anything).

All the new-age stuff, all the Wiccan stuff, all the watered-down pop-occult techniques and Law of Attraction and “abundance manifesting” can work. I don’t want to give the impression that “my way is the only way.” The problem is not actually with the techniques. It’s with the branding and the people who think they can make a living off of others by doing very little beyond curating their feeds and smiling into the camera. Most of the clients I get are desperate and sometimes locked in life-or-death circumstances. Many of them have been victims of baneful magic or a deep run of crossed-up luck or some force, whether human or otherwise, holding them down. They have been unjustly harmed and they feel like their options have become very limited. Understandably, they have no sense of humor about this stuff. They’re not playing. They need help and they need it yesterday.

My recommendation is that if you are one of those people in need, do not waste your time on someone surrounded by a lot of slick e-commerce because that’s where all the energy is going. Instead, look for three qualities in a worker: (1) reasonable rates; (2) professionalism (i.e. scheduling, doing a small diagnostic reading in the beginning, providing updates, not seeming money hungry, ethical); and (3) doing more than just protecting and curating their brand / internet presence. It’s important to keep these things in mind if you want to avoid throwing your time, money, and emotion away on someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

 

 

* I actually love Wicca. I’m not putting it down. I’m putting down those who cynically use it to hook customers in support of a superficial brand.

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Begging Does Not Reflect a Strong Magical Practice

Granted, emergencies and unforeseen costs come up when we least expect it.  But when YouTube witches beg for money to do some project or just because they feel like their followers are numerous enough to now hit them up for a contribution, it’s a bit disappointing.  We all need to get paid.  I understand that.  And I support Patreon and all those other crowdfunding sites.  But let’s take a step back and think about what it means when a YouTube witch—someone giving out advice and making videos for a large number of viewers—says she won’t be making videos anymore unless everybody pitches in.

You’re a witch.  Do you think it would be possible to draw some money without rattling your donation cup?  I imagine the answer is yes.  Otherwise, I suggest that you stop giving out magical advice.  Successful and capable witches: (1) can hold down a job; (2) can draw money through magical and mundane means; and (3) give out advice because they’re successful in their magical and mundane work.

Asking for help is a good thing in most cases.  Asking for help when you have set yourself up as someone who can provide help suggests that you need to go do some self-work and improve your skills.  I say this as someone who has been working in the field of public sorcery-for-hire and divination for a long time.  You have to be a specialist if you want to be paid for what you know.  You have to have powerful chops when it comes to making changes—for yourself before you expect to do it for others.

Don’t be a charlatan and a faker only interested in money.  Get your skills first.  Then people will want to pay you because you will have something of value to offer.  Begging suggests you really don’t know what you’re doing.

The Hoodoo That I Do . . .

Greetings to all who follow this blog and my writings elsewhere on the internet.  I’ve been very busy lately with clients, some new, some old, but all with important work to be done.  Stay tuned for more posts about love magic, the art of conjure, spiritual evocation, and finances.  For now, I’ll offer you this excellent passage by Ray “Doctor Hawk” Hess in Backwoods Shamanism: an Introduction to the American Folk-Magic of Hoodoo Conjure and Rootwork, which I highly recommend for anyone interested in the subject.  More soon and happy April.

Once firmly grounded in the traditions and practices of hoodoo as handed down by other successful workers, the next step is developing the skill to perform as described above. This ‘skill’ is seen as no less than the performance of God’s will and, as such, a form of ministry. There are no ‘priests’ in hoodoo because it is not a religion and has no church per-se. Rather most of us believe that all the world is a temple, and the best place to learn because it is the only one wrought by the hand of God. Every plant and tree and person bears the mark of God’s handiwork and, as my grandmother used to say ‘There can be no greater masterpiece than the art that God creates. It is here for but a moment and then fades only to reveal something else beautiful.’

 

Being a Spirit-Led Conjure Worker

A long time ago, when I decided that it would be a good thing to offer reiki and ritual services, I knew nothing about working for clients apart from doing public tarot divinations.  I already had a lot of magical experience, but it was mostly through doing work for myself, close friends, and family.  I had yet to discover the ins and outs of working for positive change in the lives of complete strangers.  But I would soon learn that there are many hidden lessons in this line of work.  It changed my magic.  It changed my outlook on the world.  And it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.  It was a crash course in interacting with the human condition as well as in the complexities of sorcery for hire.

The first lesson I ever learned was that everyone is sincere—even the most acerbic doubting Thomas.  Everyone, without exception, who contacts me for conjure or reiki on some level wants the benefit of my services even if they are too nervous or shy to allow themselves to fully admit it.  Strangely enough, the doubters are the ones who want to believe the most.  And it’s really good to doubt if you’re going to give a complete stranger your money in exchange for a spiritual service.  You should be thinking critically about this person: is he acting professional?  Is he clear?  Is he responding intelligently to your situation?  Critical thinking comes from doubt.  But we also know that you can have too much of a good thing in this case—too much doubt gets in the way of the entire experience.  So from the very beginning, the client and I walk a fine line of trust.  The client evaluates me and I evaluate him.  We enter a sincere partnership and do everything we can to create change.  Learning to trust complete strangers meant I had to mature in ways I never anticipated.

Another key lesson I learned was that no situation is simple—every life is hard; everyone’s doing the best he or she can with available tools and resources.  If someone comes to me, they have a problem that they haven’t been able to solve through mundane means.  Their lawyer stole all the money.  Their fiancée ran off with the neighbor.  Grandpa went missing in the park.  Maybe they got assaulted and are having a hard time healing from lingering psychological and physical pain.  Maybe their career is stalled.  Maybe they just need to have a spiritual experience, something completely alien to them because of the way they were raised.  Whatever the case may be, they’re suffering on some level.  Learning to understand and appreciate the suffering of others meant I had to get over myself and learn compassion.

A huge lesson I learned was that the magic doesn’t come from me—it comes through me.  This is the “spirit led” part.  A sorcerer or reiki practitioner who “tries to do things” fails a lot.  Beginning practitioners often mistakenly think that if they just concentrate hard enough, if they just WILL something into being, the world will respond.  This can work sometimes, but grabbing the world by the throat and shaking it more often results in nothing or even in the opposite coming to pass.  Instead, through a lot of grimoire work—by seeking out both human and non-human mentors—I quickly came to understand that the most powerful work has a spiritual origin, not a human one.  I started to relax and let my spirit guides, spirits of divination, familiars, and other contacts do their jobs.  This is the secret to my success.  It’s not me.  It’s spirit working through me.  Learning to trust my connection to spirit meant I had to develop a large amount of faith in a world I could not see or touch.  Paradoxically, doing so eventually helped me see it and touch it, but that took time, belief, and the willingness to be patient and practice the art while not having all the answers.  I still don’t have all the answers.

One lesson I had to learn multiple times in multiple ways was that people in pain are often very unpleasant to be around.  We all know this to some extent.  But doing conjure is sometimes like working in the customer service section of a department store.  People are angry, sad, bereft, despairing, or even suicidal before they even speak to you.  You have to be ready with mundane solutions as well as spiritual ones, keeping a suicide hotline number handy, having online links to addiction recovery centres, women’s shelters, walk-in clinics.  Learning about my community so that I could help others made me a better spiritual worker.  It also meant I had to get out on the street and pay attention.  Now very few things escape my notice in my spiritual or physical environment.

These are only a few of the important lessons that have come from this work.  One of my teachers used to say that “many are called but few are chosen.”  And I wouldn’t truly understand what she was saying until I actually set up my website, made business cards, started doing community reiki, sorcery for hire, and counselling others.  Then I understood what “gifted for the work” really meant.  To be chosen for something like this means you have to have skills that others don’t—not just the ability to perform effective rituals, but a whole panoply of hidden qualities that enable you to thrive in this field.  And if you don’t have them right off, you learn the hard way whether you can find them in yourself.  But I wouldn’t trade those experiences, even the painful ones, for anything.