Money and Craft : a childhood background

There have been a number of conversations around the blogosphere about the issue of charging money in magical and ritual settings recently, and it both got me thinking and reminded me of a bit of my background that I take for granted, and forget not everyone has. Before I go on and talk (in a later post) about my own take on charging for Craft, I want to talk about that.

See, I grew up assuming everyone knew that there are ways to combine a secure financial future with major creative pursuits. Not that it’s easy, mind you – but that it’s fundamentally possible. It’s as much a part of my psyche as the idea that knowledge is the one thing that can’t be taken away from me, or that reading is just the thing you do all the time, in some form.

My adult self, of course, knows that these things are not the way everyone else moves in the world, and no longer expects people to put their values on the same things. But my subconscious self, the one that kicks in first, sometimes forgets.

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Online communication

Phoenix Song, my coven, has had several inquiries over the springĀ  from people interested in learning more about us (and possibly joining us.) This is always a tricky process, but we’ve been through the initial stage enough times now that I want to talk about it here – and why we picked the initial process we did.

Our process is described over here and our introductory letter information is here, if you’d like to see specifically what we talk about.

So, why email?

There are a number of reasons I wanted to start with email. While I recognise that it’s not a perfect communications tool (and that some people will be more familiar with it and comfortable with it than others), I felt that the advantages more than make up for that.

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Happy coven thoughts

There’s a lot of things going on right now for me. Still waiting to hear if my current job is going to hire me for the long-term position. (I really hope so, and should know within the next week.)

But we’ve got two people possibly interested in joining Phoenix Song, which is exciting. One of them we’re meeting at the end of April (as I’m busy next weekend, L is busy the weekend after, and our weeknights are already fairly booked.) The other, we met near the end of February, and had our first discussion evening with on Tuesday.

(If you were to guess from this that we are absurdly busy people, you would guess right, though this spring is more complicated for me than I think it will be in the future, and I’m being careful to schedule sufficient ‘down time’ into my week. More accurately, April is complicated because L and I are totally booked or out of town on different weekends, which cuts into the month a lot.)

Now, the way we’re doing this is there’s some advance reading – and then, our hope is to spend the time together actually talking about it, and what we do, and how it works. Some interesting things came up, and worked very much the way I was hoping it would.

We’re consciously trying to make space to not only say “What do you do?” but “Here’s what we do.” For example, we talked a little about personal practice on Tuesday, and asked her what her current work looks like. And then we talked about what we do, beyond the coven stuff we’ve already talked some about.

We talked about modeling different choices. I am, for example, frankly envious of L’s house (which I love visiting) but for a number of very good reasons, I’m going to be doing more of the hosting for a bit. I live in the tiny little house (400 square feet), and while I’m working on furniture, and more storage options, and so on, it’s not where I want it to be yet.

And we talked about how this is human – we’re all going to do stuff a little differently as individuals, and I’ve got reasons for the choices I’m making in where I live and how I spend my time, and some of my options are different than L’s (as well as some of my choices, and some of my habits.)

This lead to discussion of the problems of pedestals, and why they are uncomfortable places to live, even less fun to fall off, and how we’d like to avoid some of those issues as much as we can. And part of that is my being up front and honest about at least some of the things I think about, and struggle with, and try to do better with.

For example: horrifically busy since January: there’s stuff I’m doing less than I want to be in my personal practice. That’s ok. It doesn’t make me a bad priestess, or a bad coven leader, or a bad human – just means there’s some stuff I want to adjust, maybe.

I’d be a bad coven leader if I wasn’t doing the coven stuff competently or making sure it got done, or wasn’t needed. Or if I didn’t have a personal practice at all.

But I do, I’m just not doing all the stuff I would want to do in an ideal world where I had more time and energy. And I’m glad to have started by talking about that – because I believe very firmly that it’s easier to begin as you mean to go on.

Just stuff I’m thinking about.

More than a year

All right, so I’ve been more than a little overwhelmed since my last post – lots of job-related stuff keeping me busy, and limiting the amount of energy I have to write or focus when I get home. (And what’s left has been going into work with the coven and with other commitments, not writing about them.)

I do want to do a “One year later” post, though, so even though it’s a little late, here we are!

We’re still here!

First things first – we still exist! And, at this point, seem pretty likely to keep doing so, assuming that other factors (jobs, etc.) don’t force a change in physical location. We’re very happy with that.

We’re still small (two people, and in the process of considering a prospective member), but my covenmate has also been working privately with a student outside the coven context. Given our other commitments and things in our lives, we knew we wanted to take it slowly to start with – and I don’t regret that decision at all.

One of the things I believe very strongly is that balance between different areas of life is critical – and my job situation has been unusually complicated in the last year, with a lot of uncertainty and and change and resultant stress. So, I’ve been very careful not to push ahead too fast with the coven work, and instead to do things that stretch us, yes, but not overwhelm us. There will be other years.

What have we done?

  • Celebrated the Sabbats and the moons (generally full moon, but we swap to the new moon in months where the full moon and Sabbat come close on each other’s heels.)
  • Developed deeper and multi-faceted relationships with the deities we work with and honor. (You’ll notice I haven’t talked about this in detail, because it’s personal, but we’re doing it.)
  • Had ongoing discussions spurred on by various books and other topics. This year, we’re embarking on an in-depth study of the Anglo-Saxon runes, after taking a rune class together last December.
  • Done a lot of talking about *how* we want to do things, and why we’re making that choice – and documented them. It seems a little silly on one hand to document for a very small group, but we think it’s worth it to help new members understand where we’re coming from (and to remind all of us what we were thinking about when we made specific choices.)
  • Had a lot of good food and good drink and good conversation that challenges us to think of things in new ways.

What I’m glad we did:

  • Taking our time. I’m so glad we haven’t rushed this process, or set arbitrary deadlines for ourselves.
  • Writing things down: Both in public like this, but also in private and in coven-only notes.
  • Not trying to make every ritual the Best And Deepest Ever ritual. We’ve backed off from trying to do 4 or 5 things in every ritual – many of ours have had one central focus, and a bunch of conversation around that. Not only are these less stressful to arrange, but we’ve had many beautiful moments of serendipity by leaving that space.
  • Keeping things simple: we’ve deliberately kept our ritual set-up and coven items minimal and simple, so that we can set up and take down our ritual space in under 15 minutes (usually, it’s well under that.) Not only does this reduce stress, but it gives us more time for other things.
  • Deciding well ahead of time what we’ll generally be doing – but not scripting intensely. We have an idea, we talk about it, but we then run with it once we’re in ritual. Advance discussion gives us a chance to do personal work related to the ritual on our own, and to think about any things that might be an issue.
  • Taking a break from ritual with others. (Though I’m about ready to see about visiting our parent group sometime when my schedule frees up again.) I knew intuitively that I really needed the time to do our own thing, and I’m really glad I insisted on taking that time.

What’s next:

Assuming that a couple of things in the near future go the way I hope they will, our next step is going to be working on a bunch of student content – and then continuing to be open to new potential students and group members. I’m really excited about this, because I deeply enjoy teaching, even if Phoenix Song is not intended to be a teaching-focused coven.

I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about the use of technology in coven work, but will be writing about that separately. (Can you tell that I just finished attending a conference on library technology? I’m always thinking about how to apply what I do in the day job to the other parts of my life, and especially so after lots of great conversation about different ways to use tech tools.)

But really, we want to keep doing more of the same – but with enough new that we continue to challenge ourselves to go deeper, further, and become more entangled with the mysteries we’re exploring.

It’s been a year

It’s officially a year since the coven‘s first ritual. I’m way too busy today (and tomorrow!) to write much immediately, but I do want to write up a “What I’ve learned this year” sort of post.

If there’s anything you’re particularly interested in seeing me discuss, please do let me know. (Comments here, on LiveJournal, or by email are more reliable than telepathy, smoke signals, or Morse code.)

L and I are spending the evening not in ritual, but in making music. Seems appropriate. (One of the musical groups whose concerts we regularly attend is doing a workshop at a local library: we’re going. Should be fun!)