Spellcasting as a Job--Pt. 2: What It's Like to Work for Others

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,

Now that you have your spellcasting business organized, your spells alphabetized, and a fresh altar cloth spread, it's time to start thinking about the next step--actually dealing with the public.

Cast When You Care...
Naturally, you'll only want to go this route if you're already acquainted with casting spells for other people.  I only say this because working spells for friends and family will prepare you for the feeling of desire that goes beyond the fulfillment of your own personal goals.  I remember learning this feeling through an incident that occurred way back before I really thought much about casting spells for anyone but myself.  Our daughter was a newborn and I was carrying her as my husband and I were wandering through the mall.  I went into a ladies clothing store without him and ended up chatting with the sales girl there.  She was young and cheerful with blonde hair and a sad smile. She watched Gigi eagerly and held her little hand, telling me that she wished she could be so lucky but infertility seemed to be her lot.  It was heartbreaking to hear, especially while I held our healthy firstborn and thought back to an effortless process from conception to birth.  It was something I hadn't really considered being hard for a young person.  I suppose I just hadn't been exposed to many birth stories before my own to understand how often plans go awry.

Now I'm the last person to think that everyone should be a parent and I know well that the dream of a baby is nothing in the world like the reality, but I really felt for her sorrow.  We parted ways after a few minutes but just before we said goodbye I shook her hand and let a blessing flow from me to her, watched a seed ripen inside her belly.  I walked away genuinely wishing her the best.  It was a hopeful feeling, not a smug one like some would get from the thought that they had possibly given someone their fondest wish.  No, I just hoped for her. To this day I hope for her.  It was an odd feeling to connect with a stranger over such a small moment.  Maybe she became a mother, maybe she didn't. Maybe she forgot all about our meeting, maybe it was an incredible turning point for her.  I don't know what happened to her after that day but I know what happened to me.  That feeling is something I still get sometimes when I'm asked for a spell and the problem hits me some place deep.  It's like knowing a kind of fate and I want to help it put the pieces in place, with or without pay.  The time, the place, the means...they are unimportant. There is only magic.

So that's what it's like to cast for someone when you really care about their problems.  Perhaps you've already had lots of these experiences yourself.  But, sadly, I must ruin any hopes you carry of having them happen a lot as a professional.  If you're anything like I was when I first began to cast for pay, you probably expect something quite specific from those who come to you in need of magic.  And if you're anything like I was, you will soon discover that you're imagination is far more interesting, consistent, and polite than any stranger with a request is capable of being.  You will easily have the opportunity to meet a wild cast of characters, tackle major issues with style and finesse, and be richly rewarded in cash and enthusiastic handshakes.  Or you might spend long periods of time where clients seem to only have the same one or two dry, uninteresting goals and no one is all that thrilled when they get them fulfilled.

...And Cast When You Don't
So there's our first stop along the way; what do you do when you just don't care about their problem? Things can get tricky here, and everyone has their own way of looking at this, so I'll just speak from my own experiences.  And here it is: just focus on the money.  Yeah, I know, that sounds rotten but I've been asked to do some things that I would much rather have told the person to grow the hell up instead.  The only thing that stopped me was that they offered good money.  So I was willing.  And you know what?  I cast the spell, it worked its wonders, and we each got what we wanted.  If there is one excellent reason I can give for the magical community to finally abandon its distaste for paid spells, it's that the cash gives the caster incentive to do a good job.  Having a deep desire for the outcome is a crucial element in any spell; sometimes that desire has to be augmented a little to be considered deep.  I don't have any problem with this--reciprocation is logical, polite, and it works.  So focus on what you're getting out of the deal (not just for cash but also bartered objects or services) while you cast the spell.  Let those feelings of happiness, eagerness, and pride sweep up your work and carry it forward to fulfillment.  You may be surprised.

A Few Warnings
Now that you know why your involved and feel sufficiently attached to the problem, beware!  This is the point where many casters go wrong simply because they get overly attached.  They start to worry for their client like a child.  "What will he do next?   Is he going to be okay?  That horrible Meredith (or whoever) better not bother him again or I'll teach her a lesson she'll never forget!"  Calmly tell yourself that this isn't your life and these aren't your problems to unravel.  You are guiding the individual through one bumpy patch, not driving them the whole length of the road with the air conditioner on.  So don't get caught up; know when it's time to let go.  You can certainly be happy for them and wish them well but don't allow yourself to dissolve in their storm.

Going along with this emotional detachment is emotional clarity.  Clients will come to you sometimes ecstatic, sometimes frantic, sometimes sobbing, but usually with a confused and tangled mess of a story that they need to tell someone who will understand.  It's up to you to listen patiently, dissect that tale, figure out what is important and what is not, and only cast to the core of it.  You might need to extend your talk as they sort out what they really want the end result to be.  "Fix it" just isn't enough instruction.  They are probably frazzled from the unnerving past of their situation; you'll need to make the future sound quite simple and the plan to get there a calming one.

This clarity also helps you immensely as you arrange your spellwork.  When both caster and client have an exact vision of the goal, there is very little wasted effort.  In fact, have paper and pen ready while you discuss the problem so that you can take notes and leave yourself suggestions of spells that come to mind during your conversation.  This is a good reason to read all your spellbooks cover-to-cover and flip through them occasionally just to stay fresh on what they contain.  You will save yourself a lot of time as you prepare for your clients' work.

Though it may sound counter-intuitive, being slightly detached is also very helpful to the client.  They came to you looking for someone knowledgeable and powerful.  You're not giving them that image when you're crying because they cry and clenching your fists over their awful ex-boyfriend.  Lead them with a good example of strength.  Stay focused and positive, and soon they will become focused and positive. Remember that this is a service, not a relationship.  Like that other ancient profession, make them happy and then send them on their way.

And as one final note, just like with the shop girl who may or may not have had her chance as a parent, I've cast a great many spells (if you can list that bit as being a spell) that didn't come with "closure" for me.  You'll need to be sure you are ready for that.  Some people want to alert you as soon as manifestation happens but others just take their good fortunes and enjoy them.  Both are totally acceptable ways to handle it, just don't try courting one or the other.  Let the individual make the choice to including you in their after-experiences or not.  If they do, be excited, be really and genuinely pleased for them.  And always tell them you are proud of them.  Hand the responsibility of that situation over to them.  It's theirs--it always was--you only held it a short while, examined it, reshaped it.  Now it is ready to to be handed back again.

Next time, the final installment...

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

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Spellcasting as a Job--pt. 1: Setting Up Your Business

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Being a professional spellcaster is a tricky job.  That is why I so rarely do it these days.  I bring magic to the public in many ways, but this is one I reserve for special occasions only.  But that's not to say it cannot be done, only that it must be done with great understanding and care.  In three parts I plan to outline how to give your spellcasting business that kind of forethought, effort, and edge to be a success.

The Concerns Over Professional Spellcasting
We need to begin with a somewhat obvious topic, controversy.  You would think that by now the magical community would tire of judging the living daylights out of one another for their minor differences in preference, but no.  Casting spells for pay is still a hotly debated issue.  Some folks take their magic to be a sacred office and insist that no one should be paid for what is sacred.  This view is popular today, but it is by no means traditional.  The sacred office of ancient priestesses was a paid position that funded the temples. On a mundane level, if you want to get something from a knowledgeable person on any topic, you need to provide value.  In many cases, both ancient and modern, that value is money.

You will probably only have to deal with this issue when you're discussing your work with other practitioners.  Regular folks expect to pay for your work.  I have only rarely been approached by a non-practitioner who asked for free spellwork.  More often than not price is brought up directly after they finish making their request.  So you're looking at two sentences: "Can you do this?  I will pay you that."  But a fellow practitioner will keep you engaged in debate for an hour or more with no intention of engaging your services.  That may sound harsh, but it has happened to me on several occasions.

So decide first how you're going to handle this. My chosen method is to tell the person that we each have our own way of doing things and that they cannot dictate my choices anymore than I can dictate theirs.  This usually does the trick and they leave you in peace.  If they're particularly nasty about it, though, go ahead with a "If you were any damn good, maybe people would be offering you money!"  So, on that note, onward we go...

Another concern is that there is a limited market for this kind of work.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  It doesn't matter where you live, there is someone out there wishing they could meet someone like you.  When a person like that actually gets the chance to meet someone who knows magic, it is really rare that they are interested in casting for others.  Many practitioners won't cast unless it's a situation they completely agree with or have a personal stake in.  As you can imagine, it's not too likely that some random individual will be able to fulfill these obligations with their request.

Having only a handful of spellcasters who are willing to work for strangers means that each practitioner has the freedom to set up their business the way they wish and not be bound by what every other professional on the block is doing.  Also note that with less witches about there is less competition.  With a little effort, you can easily be the go-to caster for your town.

And that brings us to publicity.  Good word of mouth is your best asset.  A newspaper ad (if you can pull it off) might get you some attention out of curiosity, but having solid recommendations passed person-to-person will get you clients.  Interested parties tend to be regular people in desperate situations.  They are often professionals, parents, and those who consider themselves rational yet fairly open-minded individuals. They are always noted by their attitude of being willing to take a chance on anything if it works.  Speak to those people, and you will have a quick following.

How to Do a Good Job
Sure, it may seem easy to hang your shingle on the door and be open for any magical business that comes your way, but there are a few things to work through first.

How will you manage your business?  Unless you work from a storefront (lucky you!), you're going to have to arrange business hours and days of availability.  Now decide how you will make this public.  Keep it really simple and you won't have to bother with signs and other fanciness; people will just know when you'll be around and can easily spread the word to others.  Maybe your hours are weeknights after 7 or only on weekends.  Give a comfortable yet personal way to contact you (a cell phone number or IM, perhaps--not your house phone) and openly receive your clients at those times.  

Will you receive walk-ins?  Some people just want something small and they want it today. Can you provide that?  If you're doing this from home, you must realize that there's a good chance you'll get occasional surprise visitors (usually accompanied by someone you already know) on your doorstep during your "open" hours.  Can you have some goods ready ahead of time for them to take?  Set a reasonable price for these goods before you begin.  Try to make them all about the same value so that people know how much cash to bring.

Remember, too, that you may have to be firm about your hours.  Do not extend them unless you're ready to set that as the new norm.  If knocks at the door at 11 PM and phone calls at work are out of the question, you must insist that they stay that way.  People don't often recall that you made an exception for them, they just know that you were okay with it.

Your next step is to set your spells.  Don't feel bad about excluding certain types of magic.  For example, I really don't like doing love spells anymore.  It's not a moral thing, I just have had too many bad experiences from it in the past.  Many of the love spells I've cast were for people so painfully desperate that they could not let go of the situation so that the spell could work.  Others ruined their own success by acting weird when their love interest suddenly began to moon over them.  I can't work like this!  I just got so disenchanted with the whole issue of bringing together these people who won't let their own fondest dream come true that I don't even want to do it anymore.  So I hold the rule now that I don't do love spells.  Simple as that.  If a client wants one, there's other witches out there that can help them.

Choose the forms you are comfortable working with on a regular basis.  As you know, I really like formulas. So my clients get a lot of them.  But I also like many other things, too, like talismans, knots, novena candles, conjure/mojo bags, poppets, and anything with herbs.  I have a high success rate with them, know them well, and have all the goods to work them on a regular basis.  So that's my core and I pick spells from them when I'm going to work for someone.  This makes it easy for me to stay stocked up on the necessities and quickly research spells to use, as well as helping a client know what to expect from me.

What's Next
After-care of a spellcasting is another important part to consider.  As I mentioned before, some folks are not
too keen to let you do all the work while they twiddle their thumbs.  They get restless and can end up working against their own objective.  Giving them things to do can be a real help to the both of you. Anything from positive affirmations to repeat every time they have doubts to ritual baths to consecrated talismans can work in both a magical and a mundane way to console their restless minds and further your efforts.  Consider how you will offer these things and when, plus what kind of items and advice you will give.

Another aspect of after-care is how long you will be available to clients after the spell is cast.  I've had folks that came, got their spell cast, and I never heard from them again.  And then I've had those who thought that fixing all their problems forever would be a life-long effort on my part.  If you're still receiving calls about the ups and downs of a client's relationships or their job months after you're done with their spell, something needs to be done immediately.  And before you get ahead of me, this isn't about whether or not your spell worked; problems that don't have a definite ending will always have the potential to turn from wonderful to not so favorable from time to time. Let's say your client wants to improve their relationship with their mother. Things go well after the spell is cast, so they call and share the great news.  But then mother gets ill and they are worried.  So they call and ask your advice about whether years of your directed anger made her sick.  Now she's on the mend but resentful of the amount of time your client was unable to be at her bedside, so they call and worry that the spell is failing.  This can go on for years!  Make your clients aware of how long afterward you will be available to discuss the matter.  After that point, they should know that they will be responsible for maintaining what you have created.

Being a professional spellcaster can be a difficult job but with a few tricks you can simplify it into a very rewarding one.  Make the essential points clear to clients: the value you offer, the price you request, time to wait for results, what to do in the meantime, and what will happen afterward.  Tell them the kinds of spells you cast, when and where the working will take place, and if they are allowed to be present.  Make sure they know that they are responsible for coming in with a clear idea of what they want to have happen (though you can counsel them with this beforehand, if you choose), how much information they're willing to share, and to obtain some personal item of the target if such is necessary.  Let them know your terms before you begin and you have a greater chance of a successful result for all concerned.

Next time...

Spellcasting as a Job--pt. 2: What It's Like to Work for Others

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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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