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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I’d like to feature this blog post from Ray “Dr. Hawk” Hess.  I’ve enjoyed his book, Backwoods Shamanism, quite a bit and think he makes a lot of sense here when he’s talking about the idea of paying for spiritual services.  Obviously, I agree with his conclusions, but sometimes it’s good to present a perspective that comes from a different voice with different experiences.  To that end, I suggest you click on this link and see what he has to say: https://doctorhawk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/on-monetary-compensation-for-spiritual.html

I also highly recommend his book, which can be purchased here: http://a.co/9gb6JU3

 

Source: On Monetary Compensation for Spiritual Services…

Taking Money for Death Curses and Other Horrible Mistakes

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.

Love Magic

 

I have a theory about love magic: most people don’t know how to work it because they don’t know what love is.  In the occult world, you generally hear two things about it: “it’s hideously dangerous—avoid it at all costs” or “this is how to do it.”  Some public magicians won’t do that kind of work no matter how much money they’re offered.  Others specialize in it.  Why do such extremes exist?  The answer may be that people go to extremes in love and magic because they’re not making informed decisions about how to feel and what to want.

In my opinion, unconditional romantic love is very rare—the kind that wants a partner to be happy with no strings attached at all.  Most romance has strings: I want X to be happy as long as X makes me happy; I want to make X happy as long as X signs a paper that legally commits X to serving my physical and emotional needs for the rest of his/her natural life; I want X to be happy as long as X wants what I want; I want X to be happy as long as my friends approve of X; I want X to be happy as long as X is making a certain amount and we’re living in a certain place, etc.

Is it love when a client comes to me and says, “I need to get my ex back”?  And I say, “Okay, we can look into that.  How long has it been since your ex left?”  And s/he responds, “15 months.”

15 months?!

You’ve been sitting at home, stewing, sweating, fuming, calling, analyzing, suffering, worrying, and regretting for 15 months?  And now that you’re desperate enough, you come to me and ask for magical help?  Why didn’t you come to me after 3 weeks?  Ah, it must be because you had to get desperate enough that you were willing to hope that magic wasn’t all fakery and BS.  Should I—someone who does this as a professional—feel insulted?  Probably.

Instead, I ask the inevitable follow-up question: “Have you spoken with your ex at all in these 15 months?”

“No.  But I know s/he still loves me and can’t live without me.  S/he just has to realize it.”

Uh-huh.  Righto.  S/he just has to realize it.  

There is a simple diagnosis for your situation: you are deluding yourself.  I know it sounds harsh.  It sounds like I am heartless, but that is not true.  My heart goes out to all those people so confused that they don’t know why they’re feeling what they’re feeling or how to fix things.

The real answer, the difficult yet honest truth, is that someone wasting away for an ex has many strings attached to their concept of happiness and love.  They are operating on an “only then will I be happy” model: only when s/he comes back to me will I be happy.  Only when I get my way will I be happy.  They rarely consider the other person’s happiness.  Unconditional love never enters into it.

But I’m not passing moral judgment on anybody.  Sometimes, bringing an ex back is the best thing to do because the ex doesn’t know what s/he is doing, either!  This is why I do a tarot reading every time.  You’ll tell me that your baby daddy vanished after you got pregnant and even though he’s now living with Lana and Donna in the Bahamas, you know he really secretly wants to move back into your broke-down basement apartment in Queens and support you in your time of need.  And you might be correct, as improbable as that may seem on the surface.  Maybe he just needs some time and space to figure things out.  I make no assumptions.  And the cards will tell me the truth every time.

So when the cards indicate that it would be a good thing to do love magic, reconciliation magic, or lust magic, I have no problem with that.  And I cannot say categorically that it’s good or it’s bad without looking at the particular situation.  I’ve brought all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances together and back together.  And it always makes me happy when I can help them work out their differences (and satisfy those “only then” requirements).

When witches (usually inexperienced Wiccans, but I hesitate to generalize) conclude that love magic is 100% harmful and interferes with the will of those involved, I gently point out that it doesn’t always have to be that way.  Love magic is like any other kind of magic—neutral in its morality.  Like a gun, a scalpel, or a law, it’s a tool.  In the hands of a hurtful or stupid person, it’s an evil tool.  In the hands of someone skilled, it can save lives.

Paying the Price for a Magical Life

After college, when I started my mundane career, I entered a field where there’s no health insurance and no pension.  The money you make is the money you have and you eat what you kill, so to speak.  If you want to go to the dentist, you better have some cash saved for that eventuality.  Take a vacation?  Sure.  Anytime you want, but know that while you’re resting, someone else is taking your clients.

I’m not going to talk about my non-magical work directly because I like to maintain a certain degree of privacy, but I will say that it’s a field where things move pretty fast; you live on your wits; and not everyone can survive there, much less do well.  But I have been doing well at it, sometimes very well, for a long time.  I’m not a genius or some kind of savant.  I was just lucky enough to stumble into a field where I had a large degree of aptitude.  My point in saying this isn’t to brag but rather to make a point about practical magic.  So please bear with me.

When I hit my first big “target” in my job, I thought I was a badass.  Other people were missing it, and I hit it right away.  An older guy, kind of a teacher and mentor, congratulated me but added a warning I never forgot: “You have an obsessive one-track mind and a hard-nosed attitude, which will take you far in this business.  But don’t get cocky.  It’s easy to get to the top once.  It’s not so easy to stay there.”  I soon learned how wise and insightful this advice was when I missed my next goal.  Then I had to find humility in myself in order to keep going.  I had to learn from the failures and let them go.  It’s easy to win, but you only learn a little that way.  You learn a lot more from your enormous fuck-ups.

Last night, I learned that I’ve hit my 100th target in this business.  There’s no doubt I’m at the top of my field, even though what I do isn’t a status- or fame-oriented industry and discretion is a lot more valuable than being able to shoot your mouth off about all your success—like I’m kind of doing here and I apologize for that.  I don’t know any other way to make the same point about practical magic: it’s easy to hit your target one time.  But can you do it ten, fifty, one-hundred times?  If you do enough magical workings and record them, you’ll eventually know enough and be proficient enough that you’ll be seeing a 80-90% success rate.  But that is an enormous commitment.

At that point, magic will be like breathing.  You’ll still get bad cards for workings you think you might want to do, and you’ll sometimes have the odd failure even when the cards are good, but you’ll usually know why it failed and how to approach the situation again from a different angle to get results.  You might even hang your shingle out as a sorcerer-for-hire at that point.

In my opinion, the only way to get to this level is to have constant obsessive focus on actually doing the work day in, day out.  This means magic will have to be more than a hobby or a fun way to seem spooky and cool (actually, most pros in any field look very normal and boring on the outside because they’re too busy putting everything they have into their work).  It will have to be a way of life, which is hard.  It’s hard to integrate something like that into your life and keep it there over the long term.  But that’s the price.  In magic, as in everything else, there’s always a price you have to pay.

So how much do you want magic?  How much are you willing to sacrifice?  How much are you committed to doing it, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?  Constant study?  Constant practice and experimentation?  Meticulous records and journaling?  All while maintaining a mundane life, having a job, family, and friends who don’t know (and wouldn’t respect) a thing about it?  You can do successful magic once, twice, maybe now and then.  But if you want serious chops, you need to work at it and let nothing stand in your way.

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.