Spellcasting as a Job--pt. 3: When to Say No

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply /

Sooner or later, you will have to turn someone down.  Maybe it will be a moral thing, maybe something less tangible.  But whatever the reason, you'll still have to go through with it.  Make sure that you reserve this right only for a few select reasons that are really important to you.  You don't want to be known as that person who is available to help but never does.  So use your veto power sparingly.

Your Rules and How to Uphold Them
Your first task, then, will be to know your limits.  I intend to outline a few good reasons why a spellcaster would turn down a client.  Don't think that I mean all of these reasons to be your own or that there might not be some not mentioned here that are just as legitimate.  You might disagree with some of these as even being a problem; I give them only as reference to experiences that I have had and how I felt about the work I did (or opted not to do) because of them.  Remember that your goal is only to provide the strongest dedicated magic you can for the client; all your efforts should be toward that end.  Going against your principles surely won't do it.

Know, too, that you will have to enforce these limits.  Don't worry about mentioning it beforehand; unless you have cooked up a complex set of rules for the client to follow to the point that you have to draw up a contract (good god, please don't do that), you really don't need to talk through what you won't do for them. Imagine interviewing for a secretary and before you can even ask about her background, describe her potential duties, and tell her the salary she's asking for days off.  Don't get ahead of yourself!

So how will you enforce your limits?  Keep it as simple as possible.  Ask that requests be short and to-the-point.  Something like "My girlfriend and I just broke up and I want her back" is perfect.  Then, if you have to say no, you have the perfect moment to do so.  Here's an example exchange:

Client:  Hi, my name's Deb.

Witch:  Hi, Deb. What's on your mind today?

Client:  I have this awful cousin who gets everything she wants.  Now she's got a big fancy car, a rich boyfriend, and my dream job.

Witch:  Okay, I understand.  What wold you like me to do?

Client:  I want her to die.

Witch:  Wow, sorry, I don't offer that.

See?  Piece of cake.  If, conversely, you do offer death spells--though quite unlikely in this age--at this point you would discuss the particulars such as what you'll need them to do and how much the spell will cost.  If you are not willing to cast their spell but still think the request itself can be salvaged, you can talk it through with the client to come to an agreement. Always keep your discussions professional, even if your reasons are deeply personal.  "Oh my god!  You're a monster to want that!" is not an okay response.  Rarely is a person asking for magic just out of their evil nature.  They're usually just hurt, sad, confused, or lonely and trying to process those feelings however they can.  Try to unlock not just the core of the problem but also what's going on in the client's heart as they deal with it.  You'll be casting the spell to heal both of them.

Morality-Based Rules
Morals are a tricky thing.  What's important to me might be very different from what's important to you.  I will absolutely not be telling anyone the kind of spells they should or should not do.  Nor will I warn against certain things because of how it will certainly backfire, hurt the caster, or otherwise go awry.  I hate that stuff.  I guess you could say that doing so is my moral limit.

But everyone does have their morality to consider.  Most of what comes up when we talk about this is black magic.  And it might not even be hurtful, per se, but only aggressive or selfish, to be considered as black magic by many practitioners. Take some time and think about where you stand with things like curses, coercion, and collateral damage (ooh, I think I see a title for another post!).  Are you okay with certain forms of black magic and not others?  Are there some circumstances that you feel are justified? Where do you draw the line?

Rules Outside of Morality
Now we get into the really interesting stuff.  It's easy to say "It was an ethical decision" when we talk about other reasons?  Is that so easy?  There are bound to be times when you want to scream "No way!" at a person because of a subtle yet undeniable something.  Here are some of the issues that may come up that will make you itch under the skin until you say that blessed word "no."
turning away potential clients, but what about those

Think about a client who comes and requests a type of spellwork you don't like.  "Can you make me a special talisman?"  Ohh, you think, I'm really not into talismans since that time I made one for my sister and she got that terrible rash.   Stop right there.  Don't you dare say yes!  Not only will you be forcing yourself to face what you dislike or have issues with from the past, but you're doing it on someone else's dime.  Sort yourself out when you're the only one at risk; don't take clients along for the ride.  And because there's a very good chance that you're not going to feel positive about your work, the work itself will suffer. Now you've given a person in need an item that helped you to deal with your own hangups but is useless for them.

Connected with this are the times when you're just not feeling good about the work.  It'll probably creep in as an indefinable feeling, but it's definitely there.  The timing might be off or you just don't think the spell is right to do or is the right spell for the situation.  Whatever it is, or whatever it might be, adjust things around a while to escape the negative feeling if you can.  If you can't, abandon the project or suggest the client come back at another time.

Also think about your other responsibilities.  If you're sick, overextended with other spells, working overtime at your job, or dealing with personal issues only go through with commissioned spellwork if you really think you can handle it.  It's unlikely that with so much on your mind you will do the task justice, and that's bad for you, your client, and your future business.

Rules on a Business Level
Now for the problems that are not so personal as they are professional.  Some people like to be in charge, even when it comes to hired services, and you will have to deal with individuals who want to tell you how to do your job.  In fact, they'll want to say how to do it, when to do it, and what to do it with.  They may as well do all the work themselves, but they will be adamant that this is for you to do for them.  Naturally, this kind of attitude is most common with people who have some of their own experience with magic, but it can happen with anyone who is used to being in charge.

What you will do about this depends on your personality.  How do you handle bossiness in your work or your personal relationships?  For myself, I allow a certain amount of interference and then I draw the line with a few clear words.  "You came to me so I would do the spell but if you feel this strongly about every detail, you'd better do it yourself.  So if it's going to have my name to it, I'll be in charge."  Don't worry about sounding mean as long as you keep it brief.  Some casters will take extreme offense to this kind of behavior out of a client, others are perfectly willing to take the assistant position and allow the client to lead.  But other issues that may arise should be handles swiftly, no matter what you're usually methods.  Here are a few of the most egregious:

  • He's asking for all the wrong things.  As in, it's not going to work no matter how incredible you are.  Make some reasonable suggestions, instead.  
  • He's lying or you think he may be lying.  Don't wait around to find out.
  • You don't like him.  Nothing good will come of this unless he's offering huge sums of money.  Huge.
  • He wants Hollywood *poof* magic.  How good are you at fireballs?  
  • He wants to break natural law.  Law of man, okay.  Law of nature, I don't think so.  I'm just not going to attempt to make it snow in July or reverse time.
  • He's using you to test his poorly written spells or those he found online.  We each have our own views on clients who bring their spells.  I tend to see it like taking your discount parts to a mechanic: It's okay, I guess, but if it turns out to be garbage don't cry to me.  And I may be bumping up the price a little for the irritation.

I don't recommend putting up with any of that.  I'm sure as you progress you'll be able to add your own thoughts to the list.  Just remember that no matter how remote your location nor how many or how few other practitioners there are in your area, you don't need to compromise what feels right to yourself in order to win over a customer.  There will always be more and even if this person walks away, another will rush in, eager to fill his place.  And this is because there will never stop being troubled lives nor hopeful souls nor magic enough to fulfill us all.

I hope this three part article has been helpful to new and potential professional casters.  If you have any questions or comments on aspects that I didn't cover here, feel free to write in the comments below.

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About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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