I recently went through a process of discernment around what I do, and if, when, and how I get paid for it.
It began as a conversation with a friend about whether or not there was a fee if I took them on as a one-to-one magical/witchcraft mentor. Around that, I am very clear: I make no charge. If someone I am mentoring chooses, for their own reasons, to donate to me -- in money, in time, in energy, in skills, or in anything else -- that is up to them, and I will not say no, but it is never, ever a requirement.
That conversation started me thinking about how I feel about other things I do in relation to money. After a long process of mulling and pondering, it came down to three categories: things I do when people pay me, things I do when people ask me (where payment may or may not be involved), and things I do because they are part of who I am.
The lists look a little like this:
Things I do when people pay me: training, organising, community development, research, facilitation, coaching, spiritual counselling, idea wrangling, planning.
Things I do when people ask me: funerals and other rituals, mentoring, being a listening ear, divination.
Things I do because they are part of who I am: storytelling, writing (poetry, fiction, non-fiction), making visual art, spiritual deepening, working for social change, yarn crafts, baking, connecting people, sharing information, teaching.
There is, obviously, some overlap between these categories. When does listening become spiritual counselling, or mentoring become coaching? What would I say to someone wanting to pay me for one of my paintings, or to hire me as a storyteller? But I have a sense of cleanness and clarity for having discerned, in general terms, what fits where in my world.
It has also made clearer to me the ways in which, in the past, how and when I am willing to accept payment for my work has hindered my efforts to create a business. This has been mainly around the distinction between doing things because I'm asked, when I may or may not take payment, and doing things only when people pay me.
Why? What is the distinction here?
Receiving fair payment for my energy, experience, knowledge and skill is one thing; creating a business from or around that is another matter entirely.
Let's take, for example, one-to-one magical/witchcraft mentoring. As I outlined above, I make no charge for it, but if someone I am mentoring chooses, for their own reasons, to donate to me, I usually accept.
Let's take another example: visual art. I make visual art: for self-expression, for artistic and mystical exploration, for all kinds of reasons. Some (not all) of my artworks I make available for sale.
In the case of both magical/witchcraft mentoring and visual art, I am willing to accept payment, either by donation (mentoring) or at a fixed price to purchase a piece (art), but I have made a deliberate decision not to build a business around either of these practices.
The reason for that is simple: a business is an entity in its own right, with its own needs and requirements, its own structures and energies. I have a felt sense that these needs and requirements, these structures and energies, would add only interference to my mentoring and art-making, not benefit them in any way.
I could take a number of different approaches, here. If I want to make a business of magical mentoring or art-making, I could work on making the business aspects a benefit to and in alignment with the mentoring and art-making itself. But that is not where I am, right now.
In this time and place, there is a freedom for me in mentoring, art-making, and all the rest of the 'when people ask me' list not being tied to the framework of a business. Conversely, I resent doing the things in the 'when people pay me' list if I'm not getting paid for them, unless I have deliberately chosen to do that work in a voluntary capacity.
Here and now, I am less interested in working out why I feel the way I do about these different kinds of work than I am in moving with the flow of my energy, and, when the time comes for me to build a business, doing so around the 'when people pay me' list, not around the other two; those can happily remain in the realm of one-off sales, donations, patronage... and me simply being me.
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