This is a great essay, something I’ve been thinking on for a while now. I’ve been a practicing Wiccan for 33 years now, so I’ve seen how “metaphysical” and “enlightenment” have been through trends that come and go. Lately it’s back on the rise, and I know of a few people — good people, certainly, but they haven’t exactly been trained or educated in any way beyond reading a few things on the internet — are attempting to create careers out of this trend.
Because of this, I have been wrestling with this very concept. The teachers of old didn’t need money, as they were supported by their communities or churches. Nowadays everyone needs money in order to eat and live. Should a writer be able to charge for a book they wrote? I think so. What about providing services, like Reiki, or Tarot readings, or teaching a class? Again, I think this is OK.
So, what is exactly wrong with charging for spiritual teaching? I can’t put my finger on it, but the fact that it necessarily excludes those who don’t have money may be a big part of what I’m uncomfortable with.
When I see people charging admission fees to rituals — especially rituals appropriated from other cultures — that seems like a big red line to me. Like charging for attending a church service, or worse, stealing from another culture and then selling it.
I’m not sure my opinions are “right.” I’m just trying to work out what is ethical, and what is not. We don’t have a tradition of simply following a book or a supreme leader. It’s freeing, but it makes things like this very difficult.