Friday, April 9, 2010

You Guessed it ... even MORE on Paying for Spirituality (for Alexandra)

Since my last post inspired a fair bit of commentary, I thought I would respond to some of those comments in separate postings. First I wanted to address Alexandra's comment that
i do expect *my* elders to be better equiped for the future than what a lot of Pagan Elders nowadays display, that is, to actually have retirement plans, to care for their health in the best way possible, to save their money for rainy days. In short, to be responsible for their lives. I, for one, think that its self absorbed to think that anyone has to carry you *general you* around because you provided something, specially when that something already comes with a price tag.
I agree that many Pagans (including quite a few Pagan elders) are appallingly bad with money. I think that part of the problem stems from the 1960s/hippie era idea that money is inherently evil. Many of the big players in the transformation of British Wicca into American Neopaganism were hippies and countercultural types. Their distaste for "the Establishment" and big business was reflected in their general distrust of any kind of financial transaction: they felt that everything worthwhile should be freely given and freely offered. And of course if you disrespect money you shouldn't be surprised to find that money disrespects you back.

Perhaps one of the best thing Pagan elders and elders-to-be can do for themselves and the community is recognize the value of their work and set appropriate boundaries. If that means that more elders start charging money for classes, then so be it.  If it means saying "I have to support myself with a day job and hence you will have to work around my schedule for teaching and other needs," then that is fine too. And if it means slapping some folks upside the head for their sense of entitlement and their idea that "information should be free" (meaning your knowledge should be given to me with no cost or obligation on my part), then it's about time somebody did it.

Expecting that you are going to devote your life to the Craft freely and in exchange people will look after your needs freely is obviously not a workable model. Perhaps a better model is "you will pay me what I am worth for my services, or at the very least you will contribute your share of the cost of running this group." I think that once we get past that sense of entitlement and that distaste for all things financial (on both sides) many of these problems will take care of themselves.  My friend Galina has commented on the "doggedly downwardly mobile Pagan aesthetic."  We all - elders AND acolytes - need to recognize that what we are doing is valuable. There is no shame in demanding a tangible exchange for goods and services. (Alexandra suggested several non-monetary possibilities in her original comment, such as "Helping out around the house, doing chores and errands, helping in what i can in my line of work and so on.") There is shame in expecting things to be given to you on a silver platter.