Divination: Religious tools, Entertainment, or Exploitation

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In a dim candlelit room a crystal ball flickers a reflection of flame and glistens. Cards, bones, or runes cast about the table, the room smoky and fragrant. Across from you sits a person, eccentric in their own ways, they know everything about your past, present, and future… Or do they?

Divination is an age old practice and for most who seek it, divination is part of their religious practice.
However, just as long as divination has been in existence, there have also been those who seek to make personal gains from exploiting the religious or spiritual needs of the querent. People who seek to take the spiritual and religious tools and turn them into a form of entertainment for hire.

Individuals who seek divination, often deal with a deep need for healing, emotional or physical. Divination practices can be a form of therapy and a component of what I call a “Holistic Care Continuum”. Through divination, an environment is made where most querents feel comfortable bringing to the surface the things they lock deep inside. This bringing to the surface of information is best worked with by a certified therapist or one legally able to give spiritual guidance. Likewise, in Healing Practices like Reiki, conditions are being addressed that should also be addressed by medical sciences. In the scenario of treatment and therapy, both divination and healing should at a minimum be in tandem and connected to or coordinated with medical and scientific treatments and therapies. It is important for individuals who provide these services to not only be legitimate, but to also be able to connect a querent to relevant scientific health services.

Sadly, the vast majority of people are not using their gifts of healing or divination to help people, they are using them to help themselves to the money a prospective querent has. They exploit the faith of the individual and the belief they have in these practices to part them from their coin. The vast majority of Psychics, Mediums, and Healers are nothing more than con artists with no gift at all aside from their ability to grift money from your pocket and place it in their own. They often hold no legitimate credentials, often work under the table, evade taxes, and often have no legal existence as a business in any form.

This brings to question, should a person who seeks divination and healing in a spiritual aspect be charged?
Should they be able to get these services for free from clergy of their faith who possess a true gift?
Could it not be treated like any other basic religious operation, such as blessing, ritual, worship?
Must the individuals providing these services be duly qualified and vetted to do so?
Ultimately, the prospective querent is the one who will have to decide these factors for themselves by who they choose to utilize for such services. However, I caution that if there is a price tag or required donation to anything but a legitimate charity, you are being conned.
You should seek elsewhere or simply purchase the tools of divination for yourself and learn your own gifts.

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Every religion has some form of what is known by some as a “Prosperity Preacher”. Though what these individuals are called changes based on faith or denomination, they all have one thing in common. Every single one of them require your money to do a religious function in return, often under the promise that a deity will grant your desires. It is the act of self enrichment of an impious individual through the divestment of the faithful’s resources. Your belief, is their selling point. Within Paganism and Witchcraft, this is a huge issue but has no label such as “Prosperity Preacher”. However, people have spent their entire fortunes to a con to do divination, blessings, spells, healing, and other services along this line. Those who seek your money for their own pocket are putting on a show for you, and most are quite good at what they do. Some are truly and genuinely gifted, but they have fallen on a path of greed, and are motivated to tell you what you want to hear, but only so much so you keep coming back.

Ironically, these con artists are the single greatest threat to the Pagan and Witchcraft communities as a whole.
This is by large, why most Sanctuaries and Covens have a tough time growing financially, or cave to becoming cons in order to stay afloat. There is a vast difference between offering the service donation optional or once in a while donation required at a fundraiser to raise funds compared to those who always charge or charge most of the time.

In most religious institutions of all faiths, it is grown and tended by the contributions of the faithful.
When you divest the faithful, they have little or nothing to give. This has caused many legitimate Sanctuaries and Covens to charge dues, charge admission fees to events, charge fees for taking rituals to advance in grade, and charge for classes they offer. Some even put basic religious services behind a paywall.
Legitimate religious institutions have to compete against scams and con artists, because there are so many con artists and illegitimate Sanctuaries out there. The genuine community rarely grows in a vested manner due to this, while cons garner wealth. This is why in non-Pagan faiths they have zero tolerance for mediums and craftwork, because how will they survive if their faithful are divested. They shun these practices because it is a threat to their financial security under the guise of it being “unholy”.

In Paganism, for many, divination and craftwork are cornerstones of their very spiritual truth. This religious need has fueled an industry of scams. No legitimate Sanctuary would ever disavow these cornerstones, and most either look the other way or fall into becoming part of the problem as a method of funding. These are cornerstone aspects, and all legitimate Sanctuaries should offer freely within reason and ability, these services in a limited manner consistent with what a function of clergy should be. These services, should be already covered by the donative capacity of the community served, and funds used to enrich the community as opposed to any individual.

When discussing the issue of not charging for services like healing or divination, the question of how those doing these services get compensated often comes up first sadly.
In all faiths, it is common and not unreasonable that clergy and staff are fairly and modestly compensated for their functions in the religious institution, but that compensation should never amass great wealth.
I have never been compensated for any of my duties here at Sanctuary of the Phoenix. I donate my time.
All of our clergy and staff volunteer and donate their time. Our Sanctuary has a lot of work to do before we can consider such things as compensation. I feel this method is a major difference in how we operate. We care that our community is properly served first. Those who enrich themselves seek only to enrich themselves, and they will leverage your faith in order to do so.

My final summation is this. Beware of con artists, they are a harm to you and to the greater community.
Consider what happens to the funds you part with, and what it enriches after it leaves your hand.
Does it buy a second car for a smooth talker, or does it buy a place for the community to meet, or does it fund a legitimate charity that is a 501(c)3 addressing an issue you care about. There are genuine providers out there in divination and healing outside of our Sanctuary even who do donate every penny they receive to a real legitimate cause, or a real legitimate community project. There are also those out there who share their gift freely because they understand that the nature of a gift is to give. However, I do give a bit of extra caution, as there are those who claim to be running a charity but are not a 501(c)3 or any other kind of subset of charity organization. These are very sketchy situations as these “charities”, even if the funds are used as intended, are often evading taxes and not operating in a legal manner, which means in a legal sense you would be the victim of fraud, or a willful accomplice in a criminal act. Always check databases like the IRS’s for the name of the supposed charity, if it is not in that database then don’t support it without further investigation. If it is not in good standing, do not give to it. Be mindful, a “church” or “religious institution” is not required to file for 501(c)3 status, but the ones that are serious and legitimate do for the protections and validity. So even be mindful and check if they say they are giving aid to such institutions of faith. You have to look carefully, because chances are, you already have several con artists in your social sphere tugging at you to open your pocket if you have not already. By being careful and recognizing when there is a scam at play and when a genuine religious service is being offered you can save yourself some heartache, potential troubles, and you can save what funds you are willing to part with for things that you truly desire, or to support the causes and institutions you genuinely care about.